•St Malachy, Sapele pupils still roam about as a community, gov’s aide flex muscles
DELTA… THE BIG HEART OF THE NATION
By Ochuko Akuopha and Paul Olayemi, OLEH
STUDENTS of Emiye Girls Grammar School, Oleh in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, unbelievably stand or hang on windows, while some sit on floors to study, due to lack of seats.
Curiously, tongues are wagging in the state, as pupils of St. Malachy Government Primary School, Sapele in Sapele Local Government Area, who had the roof of their building removed by a land prospector, weeks ago, still roam the streets, even as government officials that are supposed to handle the matter are embroiled in a show of power.
Students cling on windows
Walking through the main gate of Emiye Grammar School, Oleh, last week, NDV sighted some of the students clinging to windows to see and hear the teacher in one of the classes.
A source said some new intakes into Junior Secondary School, JSS 1, were yet to attend classes due to insufficient seats, more than three weeks after resumption of academic activities in the 2021/2022 academic year.
Though some of the classroom buildings in the school are in passable shape, the environment is not conducive for learning, as students go through several ordeals daily in their bid to be educated.
We lack teachers, chairs, blackboard —Anthonia, student
A student, Anthonia, said: “This school is over 40 years old, and other schools are laughing at us that Emiye Girls Grammar School is one of those lacking seats and other facilities. We plead with the government to, as much as possible, provide seats for us.
“Most of us have difficulties coming to school because it is located towards the end of town, so l like the government to also provide buses for us too. If buses are provided, the population of the school will increase.
“Also, we do not have enough teachers. Some of us go to classes and do not have anyone to teach us, so we want more qualified teachers,” she added.
We sit on the floor —Odafe, student
Another student, Odafe, asserted: “Whenever we receive lessons, we sit on the floor and our uniforms get dirty, sometimes we sit or stand on the windows, so we want the government to provide seats for us so that we will not be sitting on the floor anymore.”
The principal of the school, Mrs Edherue, declined to speak to NDV on the development.
Many Isoko schools have no seats, teachers —Alakri, community leader
Reacting to the development, the President-General of the Oleh community, Chief Believe Alakri, stated: “I think the government is on it now after l sent the signal, the Commissioner for Basic Education was here and promised to do something about it. It was not good enough, that was why l had to raise the alarm.
“It is not only in Emiye Grammar School, l now later learned that many schools are having such problems. In Isoko South generally, most of the schools do not have seats and other facilities.
“You will not see security in the schools, so how will you be able to take care of the school facilities? There is a shortage of teachers. If you go to some schools, you will not see science teachers. One teacher will take students from Senior Secondary School, SSS1 to SSS3 in science subjects and this is very wrong.
“I think the Parents Teachers Association, PTA, should try and meet and channel these complaints to the appropriate quarters. Most principals are not helping matters because if you have a problem, what you need is to write to the appropriate quarters and copy other organs so that they will help you to do the needful,” he added.
We’ll visit the school—Asada, Isoko South chair
Contacted, Chairman, Isoko South Local Government Area, Mr Victor Asada, promised to visit the school with the member representing Isoko South Constituency l at the Delta State House of Assembly, Ovuakpoye Evivie, to appraise the situation.
Latest on St. Malachy
Commissioner for Primary Education, Chika Ossai, who visited the school after the “invasion” ordered the immediate removal of the padlock used to bolt the school’s gate and sand heaped at the entrance, saying: “Whatever reason that anybody has, every land is on trust to government and government also reserves the right to override public interest anytime”.
The commissioner’s directive and action elicited joy from the over 350 pupils, teachers and parents, who had earlier sent a Save-Our- Souls, SOS, to the state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, but hardly had the commissioner returned to Asaba than a Senior Special Assistant, SSA, on Security Matters, Omasan Mabiaku, led over 30 boys to repossess the premises.
Mabiaku seems to be working for the Chairman, Delta State Oil- Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, Hon. Michael Diden, who allegedly bought land from the Ogodo family in Sapele
Pupils, parents fume
Meanwhile, the expectation of pupils and teachers of St. Malachy Government Primary School, Sapele, that after the visit of the Commissioner for Basic Education, Hon. Ossai, that their plight would be ameliorated, has not been met, as government officials engage in a power show.
“We thought that after the commissioner’s visit, the school will be renovated and we will go back to our classes, but nothing has happened, they left us here and it seems nothing will happen,” a teacher in the school, who craved anonymity, told NDV, weekend.
Madam Silva, who has two pupils in the school, asserted: “We wake up every morning with the hope that they will resolve the whole issue; that the children can finally go back to their school; and that I do not have to worry again, but that is not the case. Where do we take the children to? The closest school here is at Okpe road and that is expensive for me.”
While parents, pupils and teachers continue to ponder over what will become of the school and their future, the land tussle continues.
Mabiaku who stormed St Malachy with Sapele youths to reclaim the school land for the DESOPADEC chair barely 24 hours after the commissioner visited the school, accused the Sapele Council Chairman, Hon. Eugene Inoaghan, of concealing facts about the school.
He said St. Malachy School was relocated from its site at Ajimele to the present location for repairs and the pupils should return to their site, which had since been completed. Mabiaku’s outburst that St. Malachy School was originally situated at Ajimele and the Local Education Authority relocated the school to Ugbeyiyi when the Ajimele School building roof was leaking, triggered fresh controversy on the matter.
However, an elderly man, who spoke to NDV on condition of anonymity at Ajimele, said the Ajimele school building was still uncompleted and St. Malachy was not relocated from there as claimed.
The problem has also become more confusing with a video on the Facebook page of Sapele Voice, saying the school referred to by the SSA was as a health centre, while residents of Ajimele in another breath, declared through the said building used to be a school, St. Malachy Primary School never relocated from there.
Former chair of the area under whose tenure the council relocated the school, Hon. Godwin Atose, could not be reached for comments.
Council boss angry at NDV
An informed source hinted that the current Sapele Local Government boss, Inoaghan, who has refused to speak on the matter since the controversy broke out, was livid at NDV for reporting the story.
“The issue would have been settled by now; there was an arrangement with the Navy. This matter would have been a thing of the past, but you guys just brought everything out. The Nigerian Navy was willing to give land for relocation of the school, but for the involvement of the press, they chickened out,” he said.
Police inaugurate c’ttee to resolve the feud
NDV gathered that the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, Sapele, invited all concerned parties, including Cyril Ogodo of Ogodo family, Sapele – Okpe community chairman, Dr. Patrick Akamuvba, Sapele Okpe Land Trust Secretary, Dr. Kingsley Abeke, and Inoaghan to the Sapele Police station, where a lengthy meeting was held.
However, there was tension at the police station after Chief Abeke openly told newsmen that the said lease which the Ogodo family claimed to have signed, was actually signed by the Sapele -Okpe community in 1951, a claim that enraged Chief Ogodo.
Unable to handle the case of the heavyweights, the DPO contacted his boss, Commissioner of Police in the state, Ari Mohammed Ali. Last week, the parties headed to Asaba where the state police boss set up a committee to handle the land claim.
NGO establishes peace/conflict mgt clusters in 15 schools
A leading Nigerian civil society organisation, Center for Peace and Environmental Justice, CEPEJ, has inaugurated Peace and Environment Clubs, PECs, at over 15 secondary schools in the country.
National Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer, CEPEJ, Sheriff Mulade, said: “The mandate is to promote peace, whilst advocating for environmental best practices among young ones, for a better society.
“The most recent PECs were established in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to serve as safe spaces with the idea of catching them young and bringing the next generation together from different social and cultural backgrounds to discuss critical issues, especially those relating to peace, conflict prevention/management and environmental sustainability, as well as share values of tolerance and civic responsibility.
“The general principle of the PEC is to bring about a change in awareness and thought patterns that will transform the behaviour of young Nigerians. This will result in young people imbibing values of mutual respect, fairness, teamwork, discipline and tolerance, which will in turn result in a society that values peace and environmental best practices as a state of mind, value, norm and a way of life (culture).
“I thank and appreciate the FCT Board for the partnership to enable us establish PECs at Government Senior Secondary School, Bwari, and Mabushi Secondary School, both in Abuja,” he said.