By George Onah
PORT HARCOURT—ALL children in Rivers State would be offered free education from October 1, 2010 and any parent who denies his child of school age the opportunity to go to school would be thrown into jail, the state Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi said, yesterday.
He added, however, that only four children per parents would be allowed to benefit from the compulsory school arrangement.
Amaechi who disclosed government’s plan at Abonema in Akuku Toru Local Government, said that parents would pay a specified sum to complement what the state government would provide to enable the students enjoy free uniforms, sandals, books and feeding.
The governor said: “If the schools charge fees, many poor parents cannot afford to send their wards to school,” adding that the people should prevail on their representatives in the House of Assembly to pass the bill on social contributory levy.
Amaechi told the people at the town hall meeting that the area was in dire need of land and that there was the need for land reclamation to enable the area expand.
He urged the Amanyanabo of Abonema and his council of chiefs to identify a site for the state government to embark on land reclamation to assist them, adding:”No matter the amount of pressure for government to give you road, the point remains that the most important thing you need is land for the expansion of the community.”
The governor who praised the Joint Task Force for restoring peace in the area promised to tackle the new wave of piracy in the Soku and Kula axis of the state.
Meanwhile, the State Government said it has created no fewer than 5,000 jobs, particularly in the construction sector, since the inception of the current government, while investment and tourism have grown by about 30 percent in the last two years.
In addition, it said that more teachers and medical doctors had been employed to man the new model schools and health centres across the state.
Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, said in Port Harcourt that “for every 10 kilometres of road constructed, contractors say they employ not less than 500 people. We are currently building about 900 kilometres of road, and if you multiply that you would discover that at present we have engaged 4,500 young people on roads alone.”
Semenitari who was speaking at a media interactive session, reasoned that construction was not the only concern of government but that the welfare of the citizenry was taken into consideration “because of the long neglect suffered by that area over the years.”
On how the growth of its investment and the tourism sector was arrived at, she said the government commissioned a study on hotel occupancy and discovered that the figure shot up from 30 percent in 2007 to 60 percent as recorded recently.
The commissioner who reeled out some of the achievements of the present leadership said the government was poised to provide “world class infrastructure to the people to reduce difficulties faced by the citizenry in the conduct of their daily activities.”
She, however, rejected the belief in certain quarters that the government was averse to public opinion, stating: “Governor Chibuike Amaechi_led administration welcomes public views as far as they are constructive and developmental and as a responsible governor, Amaechi has demonstrated his openness by convening town hall meetings in the various council areas.”
The aim, she said, was to feel the pulse of the people and to meet the people at their points of need, adding that this was why a “public communication stakeholders forum is being held in the state where it would refocus the authorities to reflect on current trends.”