Parents of students in Federal Government Colleges otherwise known as unity schools at the weekend threatened a showdown with the principals of the schools over alleged compulsory introduction of an insurance scheme for all students.
Already, the affected parents have petitioned the Minister of Education, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau, over the issue.
THISDAY checks revealed that the insurance scheme which was said to have been proposed by NICON Insurance in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education, is seen as a new way of exploiting the parents and guardians of the students in unity schools across the country.
But some parents under the aegis of ‘Concerned; Parents, of Unity Schools in Kwara State” at the weekend stormed the state secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), along Offa Road in Ilorin to protest against the alleged move to exploit them in view of the present economic situation in the country.
They alleged that some Unity Schools, including the Federal Government College in Ilorin, have commenced the implementation of the scheme by mandating all students to pay N5,000 premium before resumption on January 4, 2015.
Addressing journalists, the spokesperson of the parents who preferred anonymity, for fear that his children might be victimised in the schools, alleged that they have the feelings that the management of the schools were conniving with some stakeholders to raise campaign funds for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2015 general election under the guise of insuring students.
According to them, “NICON Insurance, the company engaged for the scheme is owned by a PDP chieftain and that the insurance scheme ought to be optional and not compulsory even as they noted that the premium of N5,000 to be paid by each student is on the high side.
“The feelings of parents is that the PDP is trying to raise campaign funds through these students because NICON Insurance is owned by Jimoh Ibrahim, who is a PDP financier,” their spokesperson said .
The concerned parents said the Principal of Federal Government College, Ilorin, Mrs. Rita C. Okpaleke, based her justification for the collection of the levy on “a text message” allegedly received from the Federal Ministry of Education directing principals of Unity Schools to collect the insurance premium.
They lamented that despite the resistance from the National Association of Parents Teachers’ Association (NAPTA), the Principal of Federal Government College, Ilorin insisted on going ahead with the collection of the N5,000 compulsory premium.
“They said any student who does not pay the money will not be allowed to stay in school when the new session resumes on January 4, 2015.
“The most disgusting thing they said is that in case of any unforeseen event, the sponsor of the beneficiary will be paid entitlement of N500,000. Are they saying that is the worth of the life of our children?” the spokesperson asked.
They said when their children and wards were served with the circular and forms bearing “students welfare insurance scheme for unity schools powered by NICON Insurance”, on December 18, 2014, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent, they approached the principal of the college for explanation.
“When we met the principal, she said she was acting on a text message she received from the Federal Ministry of Education directing her to collect the money.”
They however threatened to institute a legal action if the levy was not reversed when the students resume next term.
When contacted Okpaleke, did not answer her calls.
A text message sent to her in respect of the parents’ claims was also not responded to.