The leadership of the Owners of Private Schools Association of Nigeria has called on the Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, to review the “outrageous” taxes and levies demanded by various government agencies from private school proprietors in the state.
The association said the state government viewed school proprietors as “business ventures” and, as a result, had been giving them exorbitant taxes and levies while exonerating the public schools.
The National President, OPSAN, Prof. Uzochukwu Nwanonyuo, stated this in Onitsha, on Monday, during the transition and inauguration of the body’s new state executive led by Sir Earnest Iwuamadi.
Nwanonyuo called on Soludo to urgently intervene and bail the private schools from the challenges of multiple taxes, illegal levies and other unwarranted payments.
He said, “We are hoping that over time the issue that boils down to multiple taxes will be addressed, that has been our major challenge.
“Another challenge is the encroachment and harassment currently witnessed by the supposed group called ‘Anambra State Joint Enforcement Unit’.
“The state government needs to make the regulatory unit understand that schools are not similar to commercial environments. It requires decorum; otherwise, [their activities have been affecting quality education in the state].
“We, school proprietors, are not running profit-oriented businesses, rather, we are doing social services to God and humanity, helping the government address the decadence in the educational system.”
The newly inaugurated president of the body’s Anambra chapter, Sir Earnest Iwuamadi, on his part, decried the marginalisation of private schools in several areas.
Iwuamadi lamented that the state government exempted public schools and government-mission schools from multiple levies and taxes.
He also criticised the government for showing favouritism towards public schools when providing assistance or making appointments. Iwuamadi pointed out that this approach overlooks the fact that every government-approved school is co-owned by the government.
“For instance, government officials demand levies for school premises, signage for billboard, signboard, school van, chasing and harassing the pupils while on transit.
“We are calling on the governor to remove multiple taxes but rather harmonise all the school levies into one main tax payment for schools,” Iwuamadi added.
He assured that he would ensure that all OPSAN member schools yet to secure government approval were assisted to be approved within the shortest possible time.
A member of the Board of Trustees of the association, Dr Mary Obiokoye, pleaded with the Anambra State government to consider giving more political appointments to proprietors from the private schools sector.
“I want government to include at least two or three OPSAN members in this administration. Incorporate us into school boards, commissioners or Directors, we have resource personalities to help in governance,” Obiokoye added.
Efforts to get the reaction of the state government through the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh, proved abortive as calls and enquiries sent to her phone in that regard, were not responded to as of the time of filing this report.