From Mathew Jwantu, Minna
UNDER constant pressure, Niger State Government has concluded talks with the National Examination Commission (NECO) to release the result of about 30, 000 students of the state withheld by the examination body.
Government has also paid well over a billion Naira, from 2017, to various examination bodies to date and will continue to provide free and compulsory basic education to all in the state.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mrs. Mary Noel Berje and made available to our correspondent, indicates that the state government has paid over N200million to NECO this year to offset part of the students examination fees.
It also added that the state government has agreed to pay the examination body N50million monthly for the outstanding balance that have accrued over the years.
“The state government has met with the officials of NECO, we have agreed in principles, after making some payments last week, that they will release the results this week”.
While acknowledging education as the bedrock of any meaningful development, the statement expressed government’s commitment and effort towards revamping the education sector as one of its top priority assuring that it will not be compromised.
It could be recalled that the debt owned by Niger State government let to some of the over 30,000 students from various public schools, missed post-UTMC in various Universities of their choice as NECO refused to release their results.
Meanwhile, the state government has admitted that it is owing the examination body N470 million, adding that they have managed to pay N150 million.
The Permanent Secretary of the Niger State Ministry of Education, Abubakar Aliyu, who spoke to Journalists, admitted that they are owning the examination body but appealed for consideration to enable the students access their results, especially those due for post UTME screenings.
The state government has been paying NECO and WAEC for its students from the previous government and the arrangement has always been that when the government has funds, we pay in installments.
“NECO is owed N400 million this year and the government has commenced the payment. Last week Friday, we remitted N150 million to them and we are still negotiating with them to release the result but they have not. Hopefully, they may release it today (Monday).”
Aliyu declared that the government does not have enough money to give to NECO at once but promised that they will pay whenever there are available funds.
Furthermore, he said: “For us, as a government, we do not have money to release at once but as a responsive government, we have a clear picture of what we want to do. Once we get money, we will make release to them. Within the availability of resources, we have given what we have and we will continue to give them what we have until we clear the accumulated debts.”
He, however, stated that if the results were not released before the end of Monday, “we will look for ways of sourcing for money to pay the debts. One of the Directors in the Ministry is still in a meeting with NECO.”
The Information Officer, Mallam Azeez Sani, who told our correspondent to sent him text massage is yet to reply as at the time of filing this report.