* It is a legal levy – Commissioner for Education
By Cletus Opukeme, Warri
Association of Independent schools proprietors of Nigeria ( AISPON), Delta state chapter has kicked against new alleged illegal levy of N5,000 and N6,000 on private schools proprietors in the state.
In a 8-paragraph petition signed by the association President , Delta state chapter, Barr. Ofuedo John Tobore for and on behalf of AISPON members and addressed to the executive governor of Delta state, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, accusing the commissioner (Basic and secondary schools education, Delta state, Chief Patrick Ukah, Deacon Monday O. Ifoghere, NAPPS Deltsa state chairman, Comrade Keno Emaso, APSON, state chairman and Mr. Bagh Ekrebe, TOPSON state chairman, accusing them conspired to dupe the private schools owners with what the Association described as an illegal collection of N5,000 and N6,000 respectively.
They said the ministry of education, supervised by the commissioner for education Mr. Patrick Ukah imposing an alleged illegal levy on about 574 private schools to pay N5,000 and N6,000 each respectively for both primary and secondary schools without due process which cumulatively makes about a total of N31. 5million.
The petitioners claimed that the ministry of education had intended to dupe private school owners with a coerced payment of the sum of N5,000 and N6,000 which makes a total of N31.5million from all the private school owners. That the gang-up from the ministry of education had intimidated members, threatening to close down their schools, if they failed to comply. By so doing, it facilitates the payment of the illegal levy with speed.
Reacting to Daily Watch inquiry, the Commissioner for Education, Basic and Secondary School, Chief Patrick Ukah denied allegations of N5,000 and N6,000 illegal levies from primary and secondary school owners in his ministry. He said the money in question is a mandatory levy he inherited from his predecessor.
The commissioner for education, Chief Patrick Ukah spoke through his Media aide Mr. Sam Ijeh noted that circular from ministry of Education demanded levy from all private primary and secondary schools in the state. That the N5,000 levy in question is legal payment approved during Delta state executive council for private schools revalidation of schools in line with Delta state government educational policy.
Sam Ijeh insisted that there is nothing new about the payment . He said, the commissioner for education Mr. Patrick Ukah inherited the policy from his predecessor during Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa’s first tenure.
” The N5,000 is approved payment for revalidation of license by the state government. The bank draft should be in favor of the state. The payment started before we took over” He told Daily Watch in WhatsApp inquiry .
AISPON President had accused the commissioner for Education Chief Patrick Ukah of lying. According to him, ” Schools revalidation exercise was conducted by his predecessor who is now the secretary to the Delta state government Mr. Chiedu Ebie. I paid my school revalidation fees of N10,000 in first bank in favour of Delta state ministry of education and receipt was issued. This levy is a bogus and fraudulent levy as the circular made us to believed so and the commissioner has no justifiable reason for the payment” He told Daily Watch.
AISPON President, Delta state chapter, however called on the governor of Delta state Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa to urgently draw the attention of his commissioner for education to stop him from making things difficult for private school proprietors, thereby, painting the hard working governor of Delta state in bad light for his selfish interest.