Nigeria: ATSO Lagos, to consolidate professionalism – Gov Abiona

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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Governor-elect, Association of Tutorial School Operators (ATSO), Lagos State Chapter, Abiona Samson Kayode, a Financial Expert, Chartered Marketer, School Owner, an Educational Consultant and a Law Student, who has cut across all the strata in the field of education, in this interview with OLUWASEUN SONDE, speaks on how ATSO Lagos Chapter will consolidate professionalism and discipline among members, reinvigorate efforts to get due recognition from Government Agencies, Examination Bodies such as WAEC, NECO, NABTEB, IJMB, JUPEB and JAMB, so as to take its rightful place in policy making and stay within the ambit of the law in their business activities and in their relationship with other stakeholders among other things.

Can you tell us more about ATSO?
The Association of Tutorial School Operators (ATSO) was formed in the year 2013. At inception it was a voice against oppressive and suppressive policies of some of the stakeholders in the educational sector. ATSO was the lone voice in the wilderness by then. The association was able to agitate on behalf of the hapless students and their poor parents who were as at then being denied the right to be admitted to the institution of their choices even after passing the UTME examination. The campaign was successful and some of those policies were reversed or adjusted. Afterwards, the association saw the need to continue standing together to continue being the voice of the voiceless and to bring back the lost glory of education in Nigeria by instilling professionalism, discipline, diligence and zero tolerance for examination malpractices. ATSO has not looked back since then. We have largely achieved most of our aims and objectives and we are still matching forward.

With your expertize, why did you choose to contest for Governorship of ATSO Lagos Chapter rather than the Presidency at the National level?
For now, Lagos is the hub of the activities of ATSO, although members are all over the country, Lagos State still commands the majority in terms of membership. My inspiration has always been that if we can get the Lagos State Chapter right from inception, the effect will radiate to other states and ATSO will stand the test of time. Now, if we must get it right in Lagos, we need our best hands who have the experience, capacity and capabilities to run the State Chapter to assume positions of responsibility right from the very beginning. I know I have the knowledge, experience, expertise which I am ready to deploy to take ATSO Lagos and by extension ATSO in general to an enviable height. At the National level, ATSO is equally in good hands with Comrade Oludotun Sodunke at the helm of affairs as the National President.

As part of your manifesto before the election, you promised total rebranding of ATSO in Lagos State. How do you intend to do that?
Rebranding has to do with improving the public image come public perception of ATSO. Lagos is the eyes of Nigeria. Whatever the perception public has about tutorial school operators stems from their perception about tutorial school operators in Lagos. There are so many erroneous impressions about tutorials school operators out there and to correct those fallacious impressions and perceptions, ATSO must first put its house in order. In the last eight years, ATSO at the National level has been engaging in massive drive to ensure members imbibe professionalism and discipline. ATSO Lagos is ready to complement this drive by implementing various programmes that will change the narratives positively and we also intend to go on massive sensitization drive to make sure our members continue to stick to the core of the teaching and counseling profession, which is to promote the spirit of hard work and reading culture in students and also to inculcate positive moral values in them. With this, we shall be able to unleash the power of a rebranded and rejuvenated ATSO.

What is your administration plans to ensure Government policies favour your members?
Ordinarily, ATSO is a major stakeholder in the educational sector of the economy in Nigeria. Hundreds of thousand jobs are being constantly created by our members across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Also, it is a common researched knowledge that 75% of secondary school leavers pass through our tutelage in a bid to gain admission to their various tertiary institutions of choice and 70% of UTME candidates are our products. We are the bridge between secondary and post secondary education in Nigeria. So, ATSO should be a major participant in policy setting for the educational sector and industry. There have always been efforts by the National level of ATSO to get the attention of policy makers and the efforts yielded some positive results. ATSO Lagos will now reinvigorate the efforts to get due recognition from Government, Government Agencies and Examination Bodies like WAEC, NECO, NABTEB, IJMB, JUPEB and JAMB, so as to ensure we take our rightful place in policy making and to ensure policies are favourable to our members.

How do you intend to sanitize the system to stamp out unprofessional attitude among existing and prospective members?
Sanitization of the system has always been one of the major mandates of ATSO. ATSO has deliberately adopted the policy of zero tolerance to examination malpractices. Our members are constantly being monitored and sensitized to ensure they do not derail from this policy. The birth of ATSO Lagos will further consolidate professionalism and discipline among members because it makes close monitoring easier. Prospective members will only be admitted after thorough screening to establish that they have the prerequisites in terms of character and capabilities.

Another prominent agenda in your manifesto is “Legalizing the Business Activities of Members” Can you tell us how you intend to implement this?
ATSO Lagos will bring its members close to Government, Government Agencies and Examination Bodies. This will ensure that members are well aware of their rights and obligations and they stay within the ambit of the law in their business activities and in their relationship with other stakeholders. Government, Agencies and Examination Bodies will also be urged to see tutorial school operators as partners in progress. Ultimately, all parties will operate in the atmosphere of trust and partnership.

The achievement of this agenda will also depend on the people you are going to be working with. Who are the members of your cabinet and how ready are they for the task ahead?
Fortunately for ATSO, our human resources are our greatest assets. ATSO is peopled by highly educated, service oriented and focus driven individuals. As you rightly said, it is not going to be easy to achieve our objectives considering the game-changing agenda we have set for ourselves as the first elected Executive Council in the Lagos State Chapter of ATSO, both at Zonal and State levels; however, I am extremely fortunate to be elected alongside some highly goal-oriented Executive members and Zonal Chairmen. They are policy makers and consummate achievers. We are all ready for the daunting task ahead. Permit me to briefly introduce the Executive Council and The Council of Zonal Chairmen who are going to be the drivers of our agenda.Deputy Governor, ATSO Lagos, Comrade. Olowu Oluyemi, Chairman Surulere Branch of ATSO Lagos, Dr. Olusola Awolola, Chairman, Ketu/Kosofe Zone of ATSO Lagos, Comrade Okunola Waheed, Chairman, Mainland Zone of ATSO Lagos, Comrade Dotun Akinriola, Chairman, Ikeja Zone of ATSO, Lagos, Mr. Ajibola, Chairman, Alimosho Zone 2 of ATSO, Lagos, Hon. Adekanye Adeyinka Johnson, Chairman, Alimosho Zone 1 of ATSO Lagos, Comrade Edunwoye Adeniyi, Chairman, Lagos Island Zone of ATSO Lagos, Comrade Tunji Dacosta, Chairman, Agege Zona of ATSO Lagos, Comrade Toyin Peters, Chairman, Ikorodu Branch of ATSO Lagos, Mr. Ajasa Aboyede, Gen Secretary, ATSO Lagos, Comrade Akeem Kasali, Assistant General Secretary, ATSO Lagos, Mr. Unuraye Augustine, Financial Secretary, ATSO Lagos, Mr. SKAM Olalekan, Treasurer, ATSO Lagos, Mr. Kayode Olukoya, Welfare Secretary, ATSO Lagos, Mr. Okino Emmanuel, Chief Whip, ATSO Lagos, Mr. Enunwa Emmanuel.

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