Unfair Play in WAEC Fees: Yahaya Bello’s Lack of Transparency and Leke Abejide’s Call for Accountability

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By J.O. Abel-Ontop

The controversy surrounding the payment of WAEC fees in Kogi State has taken a new turn, as Governor Yahaya Bello’s administration is accused of obstructing Rep. Leke Abejide’s plan to extend free WAEC registration to all students in the state. For the past six years, Abejide has been running a successful program, but in the 2023/24 academic session, the state government seemingly copied the initiative in a bid to gain popularity ahead of the upcoming Governorship election.

Leke Abejide, the candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the November 11, 2023 election, had earlier made public announcements declaring his intention to pay for the WAEC fees of all eligible Public and Private secondary school students in Kogi State. However, Governor Yahaya Bello, who has been in power for eight years, suddenly vetoed the plan just before the initiative could be implemented, preventing public secondary schools from receiving Abejide’s generous offer.

While it is not unusual for governments to adopt successful initiatives, the insincerity and lack of transparency that are often associated with Governor Yahaya Bello’s administration raise concerns about the proper execution of such programs.

Governor Yahaya Bello ought to learn from Leke Abejide’s track record in good governance and resource management by carefully examining how the free WAEC payment has been effectively executed in the past.

Yahaya Bello, through his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Onogwu Muhammed, has announced that the purported payment of WAEC fees will only cover students from public secondary schools, thereby excluding private secondary school students from benefiting from Abejide’s intended gesture. Abejide had initially planned to support eligible students in both public and private schools. The interference from Yahaya Bello disrupted the data collection process, as the Leke Abejide Foundation Committee responsible for the payment was nearly done with their work.

What also raises eyebrows is the allegations of insincerity and corruption tainting the government’s gesture. The government’s publication claims that they are paying N497 million for 15,033 students’ WAEC fees. However, when you multiply the WAEC fee of N18,000 per student by 15,033, the total should amount to N270,594,000. The public rightfully questions where the remaining N226 million is going. This lack of accountability raises suspicions of fraudulent activities.

On the other hand, Leke Abejide has always demonstrated transparency in his public projects, including the payment of WAEC fees. He issues bank drafts to each secondary school and publishes the details. To gain the public’s trust in this project, the Yahaya Bello administration should provide evidence of payment for these WAEC fees.

The ongoing controversy highlights the need for transparency, accountability, and fair play in executing public initiatives. It is crucial for the government to address these concerns and establish credibility by ensuring that education in Kogi State receives the attention it deserves.

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