Former ES Benue TSB debunks Education Commissioner’s falsehood against his personality


… Reveals illegality perpetrated by the commissioner in the Board

By Titus Atondu, Makurdi

The former Executive Secretary Benue State Teaching Service Board (TSB) and the Associate  Professor of History at the Federal University’ Lafia Professor  Wilfred Uji has dismissed in its entirety the falsehood and mischief peddled against his personality  by the Honourable Commissioner of Benue State Ministry of Education Professor Dennis Ityavyar about his conduct and character while serving as the Executive Secretary of TSB.

In a press statement signed by Professor Uji, reacting to the press conference at the instance of the Education Commissioner and made available to Nigerian NewsDirect over the weekend,  have the following  observations on his press conference to the public that the Statutory deductions at the Teaching Service Board predated his appointment as the Executive Secretary.

That the practice had been in place for over 30 years, as was done by the Executive Secretaries preceding him.

That the same convention where deductions are done on the salaries of principals of secondary schools at source, who obtain receipts from the Board and reclaim such monies through their respective schools’ accounts under their custody.

He further stated that it  is the age long practice he inherited in 2016 and If these deductions were illegal, then past Executive Secretaries were guilty of the conduct.

He questioned that after about thirty years convention, why is it suddenly illegal under his tenure,  it is pure blackmail and personal witch-hunt by Prof. Dennis Ityavyar on his person.

He further explained that In a meeting, Association of Nigerian Conference of Principals (ANCOPSS) complained about miscellaneous deductions without the approval of relevant stakeholders. Under his tenure, every miscellaneous deduction was done with the full consent of the stakeholders and there are signatory documents to back this up.

That as the Executive Secretary, at no demanded for the production of my official portrait, this was solely the unanimous  decision of ANCOPSS in 2017; to pool resources and produce his official portrait and this was done with the consent and resources of principals of secondary schools.

That In 2018, the Ministry of Education directed the Board  to pay the sum of N6million to one Bem Ggbe, the Benue State Treasurer of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Board comply without delay  to supply portraits of  the Governor Ortom, President Buhari as well as Nigeria flags to the Public secondary schools, until now the contractor did not supply the said items.

It is surprise  to note that Bem Gbe is from the same Local Government area with Prof. Ityavyar and was abuse of power to use the office of the Honourable Commissioner to direct the office of the Executive Secretary, to pay additional  1-million naira to Bem Gbe.

That there wasn’t any financial transaction between the office of the Executive Secretary and members of the public under his watch, which did not follow due process or that was used for personal gains and if  there was any  case, the Commissioner is  free to approach the court of law.

That the Executive Secretary did not, in any way interfere with thrift and cooperative societies of the Teaching Service Board.

Explained that these thrifts and cooperative societies operate accounts under their signatories and not signatory of the Executive Secretary and how was it possible to withdraw money from such accounts by a unilateral approval of the Executive Secretary?

He stated that It is rather unlawful and illegal for thrifts and cooperative societies to use the Board to deduct funds for members as there is no law that supports such deductions.

He maintained that it is falsehood and blackmail that the Executive Secretary collected monies for signing letters of retirements and promotions and if the Ministry has such evidence, he would be glad to be persecuted in the court of law.

On ethics and rules of the civil service, it is a point of ignorance on the part of Prof. Ityavyar; not to know the clear distinction of roles between the Ministry and it Parastatals. Ministries are supervising agents responsible for policy formulation, while implementation and execution lie with the parastatals and It is a gross abuse of the Civil Service Process for the Commissioner to perform the role(s) of the Executive Secretary as enshrined in the Edict (1988), establishing the Teaching Service Board where  Appointments of principals, postings, transfers as well as staff discipline are duties of the Executive Secretary (with supervision by the Ministry).

By stating that he is not answerable to the Benue State House Assembly (sub-Committee on Education), that does not have oversight function over him as a commissioner, it is an insult and disregard to the constitutional powers of the House of Assembly for a Commissioner whose nomination was approved by the same legislative chamber to ridicule the oversight function of the State House of Assembly.

The Executive Secretary by law is appointed by the Governor of the state and can receive queries from the Executive Governor or Secretary to the State Government, the Executive Secretary is not an employee of the Ministry of Education, but a political appointee, answerable to the Governor of the State.

The Executive Secretary complied with remittance of statutory levies (sport levy) to the Ministry except for 2017/2018 year, when the Board got the tentative approval of the Commissioner as well as Virement from the state House of Assembly to renovate the main administrative block at the Board headquarters which was commissioned by Prof. Ityavyar in October 2018.

What is incompetence, if the Executive Secretary delivered on his mandate in the areas of sport development, quality control and workshops on a regular basis? Is it incompetence to have renovated the main administrative block at the Board headquarters, which was commissioned by Prof. Ityavyar in full public view, with praises and recommendations from him?

Is it the incompetence of the Commissioner or that of the Executive Secretary, the directive of the Commissioner to sack 37 principals accused by WAEC for Examination malpractice, without any concrete evidence or law that backs it? Who is incompetence? Is this in the best interest of the Benue State Government; to face national ridicule?

Is it the incompetence of the Commissioner or that of the Executive Secretary, that all grant aided secondary  schools be returned back to their proprietors by August 2020, without proper financial documentation or arrangement?  Who is incompetence? Is this in the best interest of the Benue State Government; to face national ridicule?

On the whole, what is more illegal for these acts perpetrated by Prof. Ityavyar, using his Public office for personal gains:

The Directive that all school fees regime be collected by a private Consortium known as Gamit and the Directive that all secondary schools purchase grass-cutting machines and monies paid to the ministry in the sum of N250,000 per secondary school.

That the printing of school fees receipts by Principals of secondary schools for the collection of school fees regimes in secondary schools.

The Ministry of Education collects ground rent of at least two hundred thousand (N200,000) from every secondary school in Benue State without proper documentation and accountability.

That the Ministry of Education started a biometric data capture for all students of secondary schools in Benue State in the last five years, under this platform, each student is mandated to pay five hundred naira (N500). This is affecting an estimate population of five hundred thousand (500,000) students (in the last five years).

The project is handled by a consortium – Gold Finger, the biometric capture was aimed to produce students’ identity cards, which is not supplied till  date.

That there is a one thousand, five hundred naira (N1,500) ICT fees per school child in public secondary schools and these monies have not been justified in addition to the biometric data capture project by Gold Finger. This is a double taxation of school children in Benue State.

He revealed that in  his  period of 4 years, there was no imprest, overheads or maintenance fees ever allocated to the office of the Executive Secretary, while Directors of the Ministry take monthly income of N500,000, each on monthly basis.

Prof. Uji stated clearly that Prof. Dennis Ityavyar is also a public appointee of Governor Ortom and he is responsible for his actions and inactions in government and there must be a distinction between Prof. Ityavyar and Governor  Ortom as the two are not the same. May it please the Governor to investigate these practices by Prof. Ityavyar, to exonerate his government of corrupt practices.

He stated that if  the allegations by the Ministry of Education are grounded on facts and sufficient evidence, the right step to have taken according to the rule of public service would have been to set up a commission of enquiry, and if the Executive Secretary is found guilty, then a sack from service would have been appropriate.

He further explained that to have “sacked” the Executive Secretary without due process and fair hearing is in itself an act of illegality and nullity, It rather proves one point that Prof. Dennis Ityavyar is a feudal lord who is power drunk and who does not believe in the rule of law.

That  in the press statement,  Prof. Ityavyar has not defended any of the issues raised in my letter of disengagement, which I sent to Governor Ortom,  It was the Governor that appointed him into office and he also disengaged his services to him without rancor and acrimony.