Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde has said that his administration was ready to collaborate with the British government to enhance training and retraining of teachers in the bid to improve the standard of education in the State.
The Governor disclosed this on Thursday, while hosting a team of British High Commission officials led by the Deputy High Commissioner, Mrs Harriet Thompson, at the Governor’s Office, Agodi Secretariat, Ibadan.
According to a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, Governor Makinde also stated that his administration was ready to collaborate with international organisations to enhance positive growth in the four cardinal programmes of the administration.
He noted that the Oyo State government was ready to leverage on the age-long relationship between Nigeria and the United Kingdom, saying that one of the areas where he felt the British government could assist Oyo State was in training for teachers.
“Nigeria was a British subject and we belong to the Commonwealth. So, there is a long history to this relationship between Nigeria and the United Kingdom. Also, we run a federation, which is what we have been harping on.
“Oyo State, as a federating unit within Nigeria, can actually do few things by itself within the ambit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Makinde noted.
Key to prosperity
The Governor stated that his government is focused on four major areas, of which education is one because of the belief that education is key, if the people are to be taken out of poverty into prosperity.
He affirmed that, “I am an example because I came from a very humble background. I was given free education in this State. Eventually, I went to the University of Lagos, did my National Service with Shell, worked a little bit there and became a subject-matter expert on Field and Gas Metering.”
“I did some training at the Auto Control Centre in Kent on measurement quality and I can stand with anybody from any part of the world to talk about measurement. Meanwhile, this is somebody from a small corner in Oyo State. What brought us to that table is just education,” Makinde said.
The Governor expressed confidence that if education is given the appropriate attention, a lot of the citizens would willingly take themselves out of poverty by being creative and useful to the State, country and even the world at large.
He noted: “I promised the State that we will focus on training of our teachers so that they can, in turn, take quality into our class rooms. So, it is an area which we want to explore further to see how we can collaborate and get assistance here from you.”
The Governor explained that the other areas of his administration’s focus include health, agriculture and security.
He said: “We have had interaction, in my private capacity, with British companies and we know the capacity that is available in there. So, we will like to expand. We want to really interact, get our people to come together.”
Makinde added that Oyo State is huge in terms of landmass and close to Belgium, noting that in terms of vegetation, the State has the most arable farm in the western part of the country and is open to any British entity that is willing to do business with it.
The Deputy High Commissioner of the British High Commission in Lagos, Harriet Thomson, disclosed that the United Kingdom was open to ensuring that the partnership and cooperation with Oyo State and other States in the South-West become more valuable going forward.
While expressing appreciation to Makinde for the warm reception and congratulating him on his election as Governor, Thomson affirmed that the relationship between Nigeria and the United Kingdom has a long history and is very broad as well as very deep.
She said, “We are here in the South-West of this country in the last couple of days to understand more about how we can make that partnership useful and relevant as we are going forward rather than just looking backwards.”
“We want to ensure that the partnership is valuable to you and to the people of Oyo State in the future as well. Some of the areas we are looking at include a partnership for education and formal learning represented by our colleague here,” Thomson noted.
She revealed that the Commission, through its representative, has been working with the Oyo State government as well as with others in the region to learn from each other in terms of improving the governance in Oyo State and other States in the South-West.
Thomson said, “I am also very pleased to note that we have recently signed an agreement with a British company, LEDCo Energy Company, to provide street-lighting solutions right here in the State and that is another example of how we can bring real value to the relationship and partnership.”
She told the Governor that, “We are delighted to be here early in your term to understand your priorities and the objectives of your government for the people of Oyo State and to understand the areas of opportunities where we can strengthen that partnership and cooperation.”
Some of the government functionaries that attended the event were the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Bisi Ilaka; the Secretary to the State Governor, Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun and the Head of Service, Mrs Amidat Agboola, among others.