Leading the debate on the Bill today at plenary ,the cerebral lawmaker said the main thrust of the Bill is to provide a comprehensive legal framework to accelerate and enhance the educational development in public schools through the imposition of an education levy on companies ,be it multinational or local and firms operating in Akwa Ibom State.
For the former Speaker,the Free Basic and Compulsory Education policy of the State which was launched in 2009 is expected to be sustained since no government now and in the future will be excused in any attempt to truncate what Akwa Ibom Children are now enjoying as a right.
Stating the underlying objective ,Elder Uko maintained that throughout the drafting of the Bill was the need to ensure that companies meet up a fair share of their contribution towards the development of Akwa Ibom State which provides them a conducive environment to operate and thrive, meaning there should be a sort of reciprocity existing between the government which provides a safe, secure and enabling business environment and companies which take benefit of such environment to maximise their profits.
X- raying the various components of he Bill, the Lead sponsor advanced that the Bill has been structured into 18 Sections and one SCHEDULE.
While sections (1) and (2) impose the educational levy and makes the payment of he levy on annual basis,sections 3,4,5,6 and 7 makes the Board of Trustees, ensures mandatory remittance of he levy to the account of Akwa Ibom State Trust Fund,issuance of notice demanding payment as well as issuing of companies that have paid their levies a payment receipt .
Sections 8-18 harps on demand notices ,offences,sealing of the companies premises by Board, penalties as well as mandate the governor for possible waivers.
“This Bill is a clarion call for us Honourable Members to intervene in the educational fortunes of our children in public schools and by so doing secure a better future and prospect for them” he submits.
The Speaker,Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey however gave members the opportunity to air their vies on the Bill.
Taking the lead to speak in favour of the Bill,the member representing Eket State Constituency, Rt. Hon. David Lawrence thanked the Lead sponsor for the Bill which according to him was quite timely.
“I want to thank my brother from Ibesikpo Asutan and my neighbour for this timely Bill. Education requires finances especially when we are running a free and compulsory education. This Bill Mr. Speaker is a booster towards the sustenance of qualitative education” he maintained.
For the Chief Whip and member representing Ini State Constituency Rt. Hon.(Otuekong) Emmanuel Ekpenyong Bassey, the Bill offers a solution to the crux of a very vital matter as education.
“Reading carefully through the content of this Bill I see a tripod that will sustain and strengthen the education sector in the State for a better tomorrow. Again, my brother from Ibesikpo Asutan thank you”.
In the words of the former Deputy Speaker and member representing Oron/Udung Uko State Constituency ” The sponsor has acknowledged the essence of education .This Bill is a lubricant to the free and compulsory education policy “.
Also speaking in favour of the Bill, the Deputy Chief Whip and member representing Onna State Constituency, Rt. Hon.(Otuekong) Nse Essien sees the Bill to be a noble venture worried by the fact that a lot of companies comes to Akwa Ibom State make a lot of money and and cart away with it without engaging in any Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).For him,the Bill when passed into law will check the abnormally .
Still speaking in favour of the Bill,the member representing Ika/Etim Ekpo State Constituency, Hon.Mfon Idung said the Bill will help the government to stabilize the nascent free and compulsory education .
The Bill was however referred by the Speaker,Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey to the House Committee on Education for further legislative action to report back to the House in a month’s time.