OGUN GOVERNMENT VS MISSION SCHOOLS (the AGGS issue)

THE AGGS ISSUE (what you are reading is a private opinion. You are advised not to believe any of it or act on it until you verify the authenticity)
During the days of the Otunba Gbenga Daniel led administration of Ogun State, we suddenly found that the government and some private and religious bodies were in discussion for the return of schools. These schools were originally owned by such missions and private bodies until years ago when the government took them all over. The re-awakening occasioned by the poor state of facilities, government neglect and poor performance made governments of various states consider the idea of returning the schools to their original owners to arrest the downward trend.
Among the schools pencilled down in the Ijebu area were Anglican Girls’ Grammar School, Ijebu ode, Our lady of Apostles Secondary School, Ijebu Ode, Adeola Odutola College, Ijebu Ode, Ijebu Ode Grammar School, Ijebu Ode and Baptist Ogbogbo. We were told by rumour-mill that the Muslim Community turned down the option of taking back their schools. A Muslim friend suggested that the reason was that if the bigger public schools were all taken away by missions, most children would only afford the very poor schools left in the hands of the government. And we also heard that the take-over bid (by the Anglican Mission) of Ijebu-Ode Grammar School met with opposition because some prominent indigenes believe that the school has become too much of a cultural identity for anyone to take it away. These last two details, I cannot verify. They are not the focus of this writing.
The discussions continued until AGGS, OLASS, and AOC were handed over to their original owners. The phasing out plan was for the two establishments (public and private) to function alongside each other. The public school would cease to admit while focusing on their existing levels until they graduate. The new owners would admit from the lower classes until they take over the schools. This arrangement worked. There were occasions for friction but somehow they all managed to operate without any notable conflict. Then a new administration came in.
When the new administration came in, rumours milled around that they would wrestle the schools for the missions and private bodies. For many, it was not a probable action since the transaction was properly done. But it did happen. The executive had handed over but there were a few more legislative days for the assembly. The estranged speaker of the Ogun State Assembly and his team returned to the assembly and began to upturn some of the actions taken by the last administration of which they were a part until conflicts overwhelmed and shut them out. Among the decisions they took (which they argued did not follow due process), was to upturn the handing over of the schools that had been concluded long before.
The Christian Missions were nonplussed by this action. The dismay did not last too long because they rallied at once and instituted a case against the government. But before any of these happened, activities immediately picked up in the schools that were at the edge of winding up. They put out adverts and began to make plans to admit into classes that had become extinct. Unfortunately too, some of these schools had been stripped of installations and fittings in buildings as well as anything that could easily be dismantled. Fingers were pointed at the staff of the schools that were leaving.
We argued over this in the public arena and on Facebook. Many held that the transaction did not follow due process but no one could actually specifically point out where the due process had been breached or who had been short-changed in the transaction. In the news, we followed the case in court. Soon after, the news reports came in that the Christian Missions had obtained an injunction retraining the government from admitting students into the schools pending the determination of the case which was then referred to Arbitration as contained in the terms of the MOU they signed with the government.
But as it stands, common entrance examinations were conducted and adverts were placed to admit students into JS2 –SS3. This is where the conflict resides. As of last week, the teachers of AGGS who had just concluded the NECO examination (which expectedly should have been their last action in that premises) returned. They have advertised Vacation Lessons and placed their board under the banner of the Mission School, both advertising a similar event. The Mission School had sent letters home to parents explaining their lessons would cost N1, 500. The public version cost N800.00. This should not have been any problem if the students were allowed to choose. But the teachers of the public school stood by the gate on Monday morning receiving money from students for both programmes, reassuring the ones that brought N1, 500 that they had saved a healthy sum. Maturity saved the day as any confrontation was averted.
Then last night, the Hon Commissioner of Education announced that some schools were being handed over immediately. One of the schools is Adeola Odutola College, Ijebu Ode and the others are Mayflower School, Ikenne and Ebenezer Grammar School, Abeokuta. The Commissioner said this was in consideration of the huge investment of the private owners of the schools. He also explained that they would hand over the other schools but not immediately. He said they would be returned within one to two years because they had to arrange to relocate students who had been admitted into those schools. This is where the questions would arise.
i. To which students did the honourable Commissioner refer?
ii. There are no senior students in these schools at the moment. So if the reference is to JS1 students TO BE admitted, they would need more than two years to complete their first phase. This is made more unrealistic because the Junior Secondary School arrangement would have been phased out long before then. So where would be the terminal point?
iii. Which of these schools in the number of years they have operated this franchise has not invested huge sums in procuring materials and infrastructure? Which of them does not grapple with teachers’ salaries and which of them is not confronted by the new minimum wage challenge?
iv. What is the point is fighting a battle that is not even a losing battle, but one is not willing to see through?
v. Why is the government holding on to these schools? The government does not own them. And for a government that has challenges of paucity of funds, why hold on to these schools? In most of these schools.
vi. How long before all the other owners rise up and take back their schools?
For sideline observers like us, we wonder what happens in the corridors of power and we wonder what is true and what is made up. But simply, all we can do is say it the way we see it. This is the duty we owe and this is the duty I discharge. You can find out more for yourself if you are interested enough to ask questions. I thank you for taking the time to read.

2 Comments

  1. Juwon said,

    You know, when people in government don’t know the history of these schools, how will they know the damage they have done and are doing. Check out the products of these various schools and you will appreciate the huge loss our children suffer bcos certain idiots sit at a table and just make stupid decisions.

  2. Ibidunni Pedro said,

    Waoh, this is serious, if Ogun State government returned some schools based on the input of private owners, i think AGGS, should top the list. There has been laudable improvements since 1999 when i left the school, those of us that were there in the time of Morafa and Adebanjo will testify to this fact. I think old students who are in government shld fight it out so that the touch which we pass can be passed on to as many as is possible.
    please i am interested in further happenings on this subject matter.

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