Traders in Aba and Umuahia markets are now willfully selling free textbooks distributed to pupils of primary and students of Junior Secondary schools by President Goodluck Jonathan in March this year as schools resume across the state for a new academic session.
The President in a televised symbolic distribution of the free textbooks, where he was represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo had warned parents against buying the books, asking them to report anyone selling the books to the nearest police station. In Abia, this advice has been ignored. The Federal Government has distributed 16million free textbooks and library resource materials for this year,
UBE customized books are produced by the Federal Government and ought to be distributed free to pupils.
Abia State Government denied that the books being sold in Aba market are not those distributed to the state by the Federal Government. The State Government has however, taken no measures to arrest the traders selling the books to stop the illegal activities.
Scan-News gathered that the South-East Zonal office of UBEC has been directed by the Minister of State for Educatio, Barr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike to mobilize policemen and operatives of the Department of State Security to comb Aba and Umuahia markets for traders selling the books so that the origin of the books can be ascertained and those involved in the action prosecuted.
Barr. Wike had last year involved security agencies to help monitor the distribution and use of textbooks. Four store officers working with Niger State Universal Basic Education Board had last year sold the books to Onitsha traders, who were later arrested by the SSS. The store officers are now spending jail terms after being found guilty.
Though it is boldly marked “not for sale”, it was learnt that teachers have been asking parents to go and buy the books in the open market, an action that smacks of connivance.
“Governor Orji must be mad with those involved in this illegal act,” an aggrieved father said in an interview.
A mother, who simply identified herself as Maureen, disclosed that she was given a list of books to buy for her children and paid N1,100 to acquire “Pupil Book 1 UBE Edition Learn Mathematics for Primary Schools.”
When confronted, Chief Micah Onyebuchi, ASUBEB chairman in the state, said the books which were being sold in the open market, were not meant for Abia State schools.
Onyebuchi said that all the books from UBE for the state were sent to his office directly, adding that they had been distributed to the schools in the state.
He stressed that the books were customized and not meant to be sold.
He said: “When the books are sent down to us, we stamp them with ASUBEB stamp beside the UBE/FGN not for sale and are given out to the pupils and I am sure that nobody in this office is playing pranks with the books meant to be given to pupils for free.”
The shocker remains why parents choose to buy books that are clearly marked ‘not to be sold’ on all pages, with security inscription of FGN/UBEC free textbooks on all pages.
Observers say that it is the usual Nigerian mentality of not taking advantage of positive government programmes and turning around to blame the government for every social challenge.