Real eeasons have emerged why Kogi State Governor Idris Wada stopped the payment of West African Examinations Council (WAEC) examination fees for indigenous students due to the inflation of the sum from N276.7 million to N500 million by some dubious government officials.
Therefore, there is disquiet in the state Ministry of Education, as government sources say heads may roll as government has begun investigations of the extent of the fraud.
Apparently piqued by the outrageous figure the Governor earlier expressed disappointment that the WAEC fees was so inflated by some officials working against the good intentions of the state government considering what the state get from Federation accounts monthly.
According to Wada, when he assumed leadership in 2012, N270 million was paid as WAEC fees for the students stressing that in 2013 the amount jumped to N300 million plus and in 2015 rose to about N500 million.
The governor had set up Reconciliation Committee after due diligence in unraveling the reason behind the outrageous figure discovered that only N276.7 million was required for the WASCE fees of all indigent students as against N515 million presented by government officials in charge.
The findings of the Committee headed by Hajia Mariam Ladi Ibrahim, government officials were neck deep in the fraud even as it recommended a stakeholders meeting on education to address challenges in the sector.
The committee, which was set up at the outset of the rise in in the cost of bulk payment of WAEC fees said a number of factors accounted for the quantum rise in thee fees.
First, it identified self-violation of the rules guiding the unified eligibility examination by the ministry of education occasioned by inclusion of ineligible candidates in the examination bill.
It also identified poor regulation in the establishment of private schools and their inclusion in the examination bill.
Another area uncovered was the overbearing influence of some renegade staff of the ministry who imposed students on School’s principals for the examination.
She indicated that the trend paved way for increase in the examination bill, creating avenue for those who attempted and failed the examination as well as non-indigenes to be drafted in through the back door, adding weight to the bill.
It took the committee four weeks to come up with their findings.
The Governor had insisted that the state government could not afford to continue to close its eyes to the irregularities around the well-intentioned welfare scheme.
According to Wada, government does not have that kind of money at present, stating that to prevent the fraud from continuing, parents should make payments and thereafter forward the receipts to government for refunds.
“I am convinced that the figure they are giving us was inflated and we cannot be throwing money away because we have a lot of developments to carry out.”
He said it was unfortunate that people entrusted with such responsibility turned around and are now manipulating the system for their own selfish interest instead of serving the people. We have looked into it and we are taking a major step to correcting the anomaly,” he said.
The decision to stop the payment had thrown the innocent students and their poor parents into hardship as many of them especially those in rural areas were practically going to drop out of school if alternative arrangement was not made to address their plight.