The Imo State government says it has spent over 40 billion naira on its free tertiary education policy since inception.
The State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, made the disclosure at the Heroes Square in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
He was speaking during the ongoing revalidation and verification exercise organised for Imo indigenes who are beneficiaries of the free education programme in all state-owned tertiary institutions in the state.
Addressing the students, Governor Okorocha who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu, noted that the state government has decided to concentrate on Imo indigenes and drop non-indigenes from the programme.
He explained that the state government has spent about 40 billion naira to sustain the policy, adding that it would have to drop non-indigenes from the scheme as Imo indigenes in other state-owned schools across Nigeria do not enjoy such benefit.
The governor, however, assured the students of the government’s commitment to sustaining the programme beyond the life of the present administration.
However, some of the students disclosed to newsmen that the free education programme has actually helped them achieve their dreams of a better and higher educational standard without payment.
A student said “because of the free education, I could achieve a lot in the medical school. I have not paid a dime since I got admission into the university. If not for the free education, I don’t think there is a way we can do it but I just thank the government for giving us the free education”.
Recall that at the inception of the Governor Okorocha led administration in 2011, education was declared free at primary and post-primary levels in all public schools in Imo State.
The government subsequently extended the gesture to all the state-owned tertiary institutions on February 14, 2012, including the Imo State School of Nursing and Health Technology.
As an extension of the free education programme in November 2012, the government slashed the tuition fee of non-indigenes schooling in the state-owned tertiary institutions by 50%.