Mrs. Elebiyo Grace Yomi is the Kogi state commissioner for education. In this interview, she speaks on the alarming trend of ghost teachers and workers in the Kogi state ministry of education, while also promising government’s readiness to employ 2000 teachers soon.
Can you tell us what is responsible for the poor condition of teachers salary in Kogi State? - The issue is seriously going on especially that the governor has recently instituted a special committee that is taking care of the implementation of teachers’ salary especially at the primary school level. We thank the Governor who has been paying the relevant rates and the new committee is already working towards the full implementation of the minimum wage for all teachers including the primary school ones.
It is being alleged that there are a lot of fake teachers in your ministry. What are you doing to curb this menace? - The rumour is true because the Attorney General (AG) has brought out that report over schools he has screened since about 10 months now. He said that he has detected over 800 ghost teachers and over 300 schools that were said to be existing but we are still working hard to ascertain this report.
Was the previous salary state wide screening exercise not able to detect these 'ghost workers'? - To the best of my knowledge, I can say that the screening exercise was not a complete one because, there are some workers who are still on the ground but were screened out to be part of workers in the state. So, we are still making efforts to re-screen the teachers, and re-instate those who are still genuinely on ground.
Another educational problem is that, there are many pupils and students still learning under the tree shade and not in classroom blocks. What are you doing to salvage the situation? - We thank God and the leadership of Capt. Idris Wada the governor who liaised with the relevant authority for the construction of befitting school blocks and to rehabilitate the dilapidated ones.
What about the secondary schools? - Also, something good is going on with teachers because for the past one year, they have been enjoying the minimum wage package which their primary school counterparts are yet to enjoy. Generally, we thank God that the secondary school structures teacher welfare and management are a lot more improved now and in good condition than ever.
What is the Governor doing about the poor condition of students’ scholarship in the state? - Since he came on board, he has been disbursing scholarships to Kogi State indigenes who are in schools especially those that applied.
What is your assessment of the score-card of Prof. Hassan Isah, the Vice-Chancellor of the Kogi State University? - I was there on a visit and discovered that his score-card is quite superb. Highly commendable job.
So, do you support the second tenure advocacy for Prof. Hassan Isah as the V.C? - I am quite in agreement with those who are saying he should come back for a second tenure as the V.C because he has done a lot of good jobs.
Comparatively, how do you view the Kogi State of yesterday and today? - The difference is clear between the affairs of the past and today in the administration of Kogi State. For example, Lokoja town is neater today because Governor Wada employed many youths (who were jobless) to clean the environment through waste disposal. This is a tip of the iceberg. He has also started well in other sectors, especially in education, health, agriculture and rural infrastructure.
But recently, Gov. Wada was castigated by some PDP elders as a looter of state treasury. What is your position as an elder in the party? - Those who are saying something bad about Capt. Idris Wada are fake people such. People will always exist but their castigation is fake. Even when they know that you are doing good, they will not say it is good but paint everything black. They are only making useless noise. If such people were in the system of Capt. Wada, they would have had something good to say about him. So, they are making wrong noise.
You are very close to the wife of the Governor of Kogi State. How do you assess her a woman? - The big mummy of the State – Hajia Halima Wada, is a very responsible woman, very hardworking, with an open door policy. She has achieved a lot, especially through the Kogi Women Empowerment Network (KOWEN), that has established some vocational skills acquisition centers like the palm oil mill at Ankpa, advanced tailoring and designing centre at Lokoja, the proposed smoked fish equipment at Idah, her support to polio eradication and rural health, the distribution of kerosene to women, help to flood victims and others. Honestly, she is a woman we need to reckon with because she is of high substance and relevance.
As the Education Commissioner, what would you like to be remembered for at he end of your tenure? - I want to leave a legacy that will be better than what I met in the Ministry by God’s Grace.
Is there any hope for employing more teachers in the State? - There is a very great hope for the employment of qualified teachers. Even before I came on board, His Excellency gave the education ministry the go-ahead to recruit 2,000 qualified teachers into secondary schools. And we have decided the modalities for the recruitment. Although we have not concluded the exercise, but God willing, we shall recruit, 2,000 teachers soon.