opinionBy Simeon Nwakaudu
On Thursday, June 7, President Goodluck Jonathan flagged off a mass book distribution initiative aimed at returning the country to the days of qualitative learning with a view to building a critical foundation for the general development of the nation.
The flag-off which was performed on behalf of the President by the Vice- President, Namadi Sambo was witnessed by state Education commissioners, chairmen of State Universal Basic Education Boards, teachers and pupils from the 36 states of the federation.
Vice-President Namadi Sambo who represented President Goodluck Jonathan at the event held at the Model Primary School, Maitama Abuja took time off to personally distribute the books to selected children from the six geo-political zones from the primary and junior secondary school cadres. From the faces of these kids, one could see their joy and appreciation for the President's worthy priceless gift to them.
In the next few weeks, the Federal Government will conclude the direct distribution of 14million copies of primary one and two textbooks in English Language, Mathematics, Social Studies, basic science and technology.
Also to be distributed are assorted library resource materials for junior school pupils totaling 4,929,593million copies. These books are to be distributed directly to benefitting Nigerian children.
Many stakeholders have raised the issue of the distribution network of the books. There are fears that like in the past, the books may not get to the intended end user, the Nigerian child. To this end, the Federal Ministry of Education and UBEC have put in place mechanisms to check the activities of fraudulent officials in the supply chain.
One of such measures is the setting up of all-encompassing books' distribution commitees from the federal through the states, down to the the local government councils to ensure that the books get to the Nigerian child.
Timelines have been given to the committees with the overall supervision by the Minister of State for Education to be assisted by the Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr Ahmed Modibbo Mohammed for the direct distribution of the books to the children. At the different levels, independent monitoring schemes have been established to prevent criminal diversion of the books to markets.
Another measure introduced is the bold inscription on every page of all the books that they are not to be sold, but to be distributed free of charge to the less privileged Nigerian child in public schools. Beyond all these is the involvement of security operatives to participate in the monitoring process.
Security operatives at the states and local councils have been detailed to arrest and prosecute any official or trader found to be in possession of diverted copies of the books.
Minister of State for Education, Barr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike believes that the structures put in place by the Federal Ministry of Education and UBEC are robust enough to protect the interest of the Nigerian child and ensure that the books are not diverted.
Simeon Nwakaudu is the Special Assistant (Media), to the Minister of State for Education