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Bayelsa State Governor introduces compulsory education levy

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The Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson, has introduced a compulsory education levy in the state.

The governor, who made this known at a media chat on Friday evening, said the tax cut across public officers, civil servants, businesses, contractors, parents, among others.

Dickson, who said the levy was part of the measures to protect the future of education in the state, insisted that anybody opposed to the tax would be considered as an enemy of the state.

The governor said to drive the process, his administration had set up an Education Development Trust Fund, rationalising that the fund would guarantee the sustainability of the policies and programmes that the government had put in the education sector.

Dickson said, ”From now on, funds will be pumped into the EDTF account to support the free feeding, free uniforms and other items of the students. And it will take little contributions from every Bayelsan; some will pay as little as N400, N500 per month. There are others that will have to pay N1,000 or more depending on their business.

”For those in the public service, they will also contribute. It is better for us to put resources to fund mass education. Yes, in this state, you have some educated people but the judgment I have made over time is that we have yet to get that critical mass of highly skilled and qualified professionals and unless we have those, the state will be in trouble.

”This is the problem we have and we must address it together. So, this education trust fund is not going to be contributed by only those in the public service. I have set up a committee and we in government will pay the highest.

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”The governor of the state will pay more. My own contribution every month is N100,000, the deputy governor’s contribution is N50,000, the Speaker of the House will contribute N30,000, the Chief Judge will pay N25,000 , the commisssioners, Assembly members, senior special advisers, special advisers and senior special assistants will pay.

”This is a compulsory levy. The future of this state has to be protected and this is a levy everybody must contribute. All those doing business in this state will have to pay particular percentage as education levy. Everybody doing government’s contract from now on has to pay tax. I have directed that a minimum of five per cent of the IGR of the state will also go into that fund.’

”If we do this, you will see that with the foundation that has been established, this state will be number one. Those states that are doing well are states where their leaders took this type of decision. Their people made sacrifices and today they are reaping it.

”Let it not be said that any Bayelsan is saying no to this levy. You have to bear it. I, personally, will consider anybody who opposes it as an enemy of the state.”

He also announced the introduction of Tertiary Education Loan Board, saying the board would give loans to indigent students in tertiary institution, particularly the Niger Delta University.

He said with the establishment of the loan board, the incidence of drop outs from tertiary institutions, particularly by brilliant indigent students would be no more.

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Dickson added, ”All over the world, what people in government do to help the young people acquire education is to provide a loan to make it easy for them to go to school. For a brilliant child who does not have financial support from family, the child should not drop out of school.

“So, this is a challenge to all young people in Bayelsa State; we have opened the doors of education to you, if you have admission into NDU, go and register with the scholarship board and you will access loan that will enable you to round off your education.”

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