From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State has described the closure of all primary and secondary schools in the state by the All Progressives Congress (APC) of Governor Kayode Fayemi, because of the National Festival of Arts & Culture (NAFEST) as ridiculous and unexplainable.
The Ekiti State PDP State Working Committee (SWC) took this position after an emergency meeting held at the State party Secretariat in Ado-Ekiti at the weekend to deliberate on various developments in the state. The meeting which was presided over by the PDP acting State Chairman, Hon Lanre Omolase, unequivocally declared the APC ruling government as an enemy of education.
The state’s Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Raphael Adeyanju, in a statement made available to journalists said that it was appalling that Ekiti children have been made to stay at home since last week just because the state is hosting NAFEST.
‘While we are not against the celebration of our culture and tradition, it is unexplainable that a government who goes about claiming to be restoring our values in Ekiti could close schools for two weeks just because the State is holding NAFEST,’ the party said.
It lamented that education, which is the pride of Ekiti and its people has been sacrificed for a mere festival of arts and culture by the APC government ostensibly because Governor Fayemi and his party do not value education.
The statement read:
‘Up till now, we are still unable to fathom out the reason any government will close primary and secondary schools, including private ones for two weeks simply because Festival of Arts and Culture is holding in the state capital.
‘Here in Ekiti, pupils were simply told to stay at home until further notice with no explanation from anyone.
‘We wonder about the benefits of NAFEST in which the only activities that can be seen at the venue is a display of wares, including used clothes and shoes, to Ekiti State such that the future of thousands of our children will be put into jeopardy.
‘Most importantly, even if NAFEST has become so much a priority to Governor Fayemi and his APC government, what is the rationale behind the closure of schools in other towns where the event is not being held? Or is NAFEST holding in all the towns and villages in Ekiti State?
‘In all these, what we have seen is a clear misplaced priority on the side of a party and government that does not care about the future of Ekiti children and by the power of God, just like all the afflictions of the Israelites, this phase too shall pass next year.’
But responding, the APC State’s Publicity Secretary, Segun Dipe, said the one-week vacation was declared to prevent students from sneaking out of schools, by being attracted by the festival, observe their midterm and prevent students cohabiting with strangers, who are presently occupying some hostels owned by public schools.
Dipe, who described the vituperation as unreasonable and belated, said no governor could have loved education like Fayemi, who declared free education in primary and secondary schools and abrogated the levy allegedly imposed on pupils by the immediate past PDP administration.
Speaking with journalists via telephone on Saturday, the APC spokesperson, insisted that Fayemi has not committed any crime for declaring the holiday for students.
‘Let me remind the PDP that the holiday was declared to prevent students from sneaking out of schools to go and watch the cultural fiesta. But if they are under the custody of their parents, nothing of such would happen. Again, it is also a time for them to observe their midterm holidays, having got to the middle of the first term.
‘How can they expect visitors to be cohabiting with students in hostels? Because the contingents are using the school hostels. There was no governor that has been education-friendly like Governor Fayemi. He was the one that removed the pupils out of the tax net. These show that the governor is a caring leader.
‘We all know the economic value of NAFEST. It Marvels me that the PDP could be talking now after the expiration of the vacation. For Fayemi’s love for education, school enrolment has gone up, teachers’ salaries are paid regularly, they can access loans easily and they are given incentives like training and workshops to sharpen their performances.’