Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Abia youths under the aegis of Progressive Abia Youths, PAY, has urged Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, to quickly declare a state of emergency on the education sector in the state with a view to rescuing it from total collapse.
The youths who made the call at a press conference after assessing the the achievements of successive administrations since the creation of Abia State 31 years ago, expressed disappointment that the state is still lagging behind in so many sectors.
Expressing worry over the backlog of salary arrears owed teachers in the state, the youths advised Ikpeazu to suspend the school feeding programme and use the allocation to clear the backlog of salary arrears owed teachers in the state.
“We request that the school feeding program, gulping hundreds of millions of our revenue, be suspended and the resources be channeled to the payment of teachers’ salaries.
“It doesn’t make sense to feed school children when their teachers are owed. School is not an eatery; it’s a place for learning and the priority is on education, not eating or feeding as you call it.”
President of the non-partisan youth body, Kingsley Ekejiuba, said that Abia youths had decided to come together for the first time, and champion the cause of good governance.
The youths in a 13-point communiqué, expressed concern over the backlog of salary arrears owed staff of Abia State University, Abia Polytechnic and Abia College of Education Technical Arochukwu, respectively, and urged the Governor to declare a state of emergency on the education sector to save it from total collapse.
“Sadly, accumulation of salaries in the public education sector is now a norm in Abia State with over 60 months (5+ years) of cumulative salary arrears owed to lecturers and other staff, including primary and secondary school teachers.
“Primary and secondary schools are perpetually moribund, and while a majority of them are understaffed, others are completely dilapidated.
“As a result, we urge the incumbent to declare a state of emergency in all the state-owned schools in a bid to tackle this issue and restore pride in our public education sector before the end of this administration.”
The youths who gathered from across 17 Councils in the state, decried the deplorable condition of the state which they blamed on bad leadership.
They expressed disappointment that not much progress had been recorded in the state 31 years after it was created, demanded accountability and inclusion by Government.
Lamenting the high rate of unemployment in the state, the youths tasked Government to create the enabling environment to support business growth and private sector development.
The youths who vowed to help enthrone good leadership in 2023, declared that the era of using them to rig election was over.
They decried infrastructural decay in the state and tasked Gov. Ikpeazu on the delivery of all road projects awarded by his administration.
“A 31-year old should be able to clothe himself but at 31, Abia lacks the necessary apparel that bequeaths a 31-year old.
“To this end, we call on the incumbent Governor to ensure that all awarded road contracts are executed before May 29, 2023.”
“Environmental issues have continued to increase in the last 31 years. From flooding in Aba to oil pollution in Ukwa and erosion in Isuikwuato and other areas of the state, our people have been unintentional victims of environmental hazards.
The tasked candidates for various elections in 2023 to focus on how they would solve the many challenges of the state.
“We call on the political candidates contesting the governorship position in Abia State to focus on solving the many issues confronting the state.
“The days of bad governance and stealing public funds in Abia State are over. We have risen to take our destiny into our own hands to protect our democracy and ensure result-based leadership for our generation and the next.”
They said they had no preferred political candidate but would help to facilitate the emergence of a better leadership in the state in all cadres of the election.