By Ibraheem Solaudeen.
The lawmaker representing Irepodun/Ekiti/Isin/Oke-Ero Federal Constituency, Hon. Abdulraheem Olawuyi Ajuloopin, has reacted to controversy surrounding the proposed citing of the Federal College of Education in Omu-Aran, Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State.
The lawmaker’s constituents had expressed displeasure over the proposed location of the project, adding that the state-owned College of Education, Oro, should have been proposed for upgrade into a federal status instead.
Ajuloopin, who’s the sponsor of the bill which has successfully passed first reading, however highlighted reasons that prompted his choice for Omu-Aran while addressing newsmen in Ilorin today.
He listed them as follows:
1. Geo-spatially, Omuaran is uniquely central to all axis of the Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Oke Ero Federal Constituency.
2. By far, within the region, it has one of the greatest proximate and accessibility index with respect to all the adjoining demographic delineations that have been listed. It is the largest and most strategic city in the entire Igbomina-Ekiti axis of Kwara.
As a result of its multi-directional accessibility, all the bordering delineations and communities, (from Kwara to Osun, Ekiti and Kogi States) will directly benefit optimally from the pluripotent advantages that a tertiary institution of the stature proposed will bring.
3. Importantly, Omu-Aran, Local Government headquarters for Irepodun LGA and 3rd largest city in Kwara State is the headquarters of the Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Okeero Federal Constituency as well as the Kwara South Senatorial District.
It is therefore noteworthy that strategic as it is, this city has no single federal or state government tertiary institution. With the attendant huge resident population, establishment of at least one public-funded tertiary institution in this strategic demographic centre is very much needed.
4. Feasibility: Take-off of the FCE. Omu-Aran is feasibility-wise, an instant win. Blessed with abundant, vast plain land and picturesque; a site for the permanent institution is instantly available.
Additionally, standardised options which can temporarily house the College, pending completion/relocation to the permanent location abound in Omuaran already; significantly reducing establishment cost.
In terms of infrastructure, Omuaran is modestly replete with basic infrastructural parameters including healthcare facilities, staff accommodation and others that will ensure a seamless and cost effective take-off.
Ajuloopin further noted that the bill is premised on the following:
1. The need to expand educational opportunities for youths and other eligible citizens in the Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Okeero Federal Constituency, environs, Kwara and the entire Nigeria at large.
2. Dearth of qualified teachers in the different disciplines and subjects remains, perhaps, the greatest challenge confronting Nigeria’s educational system.
3. Specifically, the FCE Omu-Aran will be of great utility to prospective students in the Federal Constituency, Kwara and neighbouring proximate communities in Osun, Ekiti and Kogi States.
4. The FCE Omu-Aran will serve as a melting point for academic pursuits and human resource generation by way of training and retraining of ‘standard-gauge’ teaching professionals.
5. The institution, once in operation, will also serve as a channel for engagement of qualified persons into academic and non-academic staff positions; contributing to offsetting the unemployment index in the nation.
6. Furthermore, this institution will increase economic activity around the radial perimeter of its location within Kwara and the adjoining communities in neighbouring states.
The federal lawmaker also clarified misconceptions regarding the bill:
1. These Bills will not in any way affect budgetary provisions for Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIPs) in the Federal Constituency.
2. ZIPs for the Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin /Okeero Federal Constituency in the yearly budget of the federation are evenly distributed on needs-basis across the Constituency.
3. Currently, I have inaugurated a Constituency Central Working Committee (CCWC) made up of members drawn from all component areas. The CCWC is providing further foregrounding for me in ensuring that ZIPs are optimised for all parts of our Constituency. This is the first time in the history of our Federal Constituency that such a working group interface will be established.
4. Apart from consideration and utilisation of the ZIPs, legislative interventions are critical in my blueprint for actualising positive improvements by way of governance in the lives of all my esteemed constituents and Nigerians at large. Evenly spread and anchored on needs basis, comparative advantage and other realistic factors, the coming months are full of lofty promises for all, from Oke-Ero, Ekiti to Isin & Irepodun LGAs.
5. Indeed, the second Bill which also passed the first reading is in reality an intervention for the entire Nigeria! The Federal College proposed belongs to the people of Nigeria and not to the host communities. Officials of the institution may be mobilised from any part of the country.
6. It is pertinent therefore to state that in carrying out this kind of interventions, it may be impossible to satisfy every whims and sentiments. I am oath-bound to be fair, realistic and place fundamental interests above other sentiments.
7. With absolute confidence, I assure all our people in the Federal Constituency that I will use this seat you have asked me to occupy at the National Assembly to bring to everyone and delineation, the positive dividends that ought to come their ways.