For allegedly using the head-teacher of a Delta primary school as a scape-goat for its own alleged ineptitude and inefficiency, a human rights group, the Citizens Advocacy for Social Economic Rights (CASER), has given the state government 48 hours to rescind its decision or face investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
It has also threatened to get the international community and other civil society organisations (CSOs) involved in an orchestrated campaign against the government.
But the state government appears to be sticking to its gun on Igbigwe, insisting that it has done its best for schools.
When Nigeria Everyday (www.everyday.ng) reached Mr. Aniagwu Charles, the Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa, he forwarded a written response stating: “Since the last one week when the story of our dear little Success broke and went viral, we have watched and read divergent views on the subject matter.
“While we appreciate those who have genuinely expressed concern on the issue and assure such persons of our determination to further strengthen our efforts in repositioning our school system in Delta, we make bold to say that we will not be distracted by those who wish to take advantage of the situation to advance their personal gains.
“It is important to restate that Delta State Government runs free education at both primary and secondary school levels in all public schools in the state and therefore any staff of government who engage in acts that undermines the good intentions of government can not be spared of appropriate sanctions.”
In his statement titled, “Our Resolve To Provide Quality Education In Delta Remains Unshaken,” Charles stated further: “In the last forty six months, the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has paid special attention to the improvement of education in Delta state, especially in the upgrade of infrastructure and retraining of Teachers and Instructors….
“While we acknowledge that we are yet to fix all the schools, it is pertinent to state that the Okowa led administration since assumption of office has built and reconstructed over 4,000 classroom blocks and provided furniture, learning and instructional materials to public schools in the state with a view to making them conducive and competitive with the private schools.
“The Government has equally trained and retrained teachers in the employ of the State Government with a view to making them adapt to modern teaching techniques hence the establishment of an ultra modern Teachers Training Institute at Owa-Oyibu Ika North East Local Government Area of Delta State.
“In order to fill vacancies created by retirements in recent times, the State Government has equally directed the Post Primary Education Board (PPEB) to advertise for the recruitment of qualified teachers in critical areas such as the sciences.”
CASER frowned at the suspension of Mrs. Vero Igbigwe, for a sin that was clearly that of the government and its officials.
CASER likened the action of the government officials who suspended Igbigwe to that of the biblical servant who was forgiven a very big debt, but got a fellow servant imprisoned for a small debt.
Igbigwe is the head-teacher of Okotie Eboh Primary School 1 suspended for sending famous school girl, Success, home for not paying an examination fee of N900. Success, in a viral video, had said she preferred to be flogged and stay in school to being sent home.
A subsequent viral video by a concerned individual in which Igbigwe acted as guide, pointing out the neglect of the school’s dilapidating and collapsing infrastructure by government, many suspect, is at the root of her suspension.
The statement by the Executive Director of CASER, Mr. Frank Tietie, on Thursday in Abuja reads in full:
The Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER) considers as shameless scapegoatism for the Delta State Government to suspend the head teacher of Okotie-Eboh Primary School in Sapele Local Government Area, Mrs Vero Igbigwe, over
the embarrassing video captured and relayed on social media regarding the state of dilapidation and decadence of the primary school.
CASER maintains that it is the officials of the Delta State Government who should be in prison for corruption and criminal neglect of the primary school, who in fact drove the poor head teacher to adopting unscrupulous means to source for school maintenance funds in such an undignified manner.
The action of the Delta state government in suspending the head teacher can be likened to the unforgiving servant in the parable of the Lord Jesus Christ who was forgiven of a big debt only to go and send another fellow servant to prison for failing to pay a very small and insignificant debt. Can we attempt to compare the offence of the teacher to that of the political leaders and administrators of the state who have presumably stolen billions of Naira yet they are walking free and enjoying their I’ll gotten wealth? They are the ones to face the prosecutorial music first before the head teacher.
Whereas, the EFCC being overburdened with political matters is yet to investigate, prosecute and imprison many official thieves in Delta State who have stolen billions meant for the maintenance of public schools, it is these same officials who now want to use poor Mrs Ibigwe as a scapegoat. This is unacceptable and must be resisted.
Whereas CASER is presently joining forces with other civil society organisations and NGOs within and outside Nigeria to expose the corruption and neglect in the management of public schools in Nigeria and, to ensure that any officials found wanting will be prosecuted particularly in Delta State, we state in emphatic terms that if by the end of 48 hours from today, the suspension of Mrs Ibigwe is not rescinded by the Delta State Government, CASER shall make haste to compel the EFCC to arrest, investigate and prosecute the officials of the Delta State Government, beginning with the commissioner for education and many others.
CASER shall also begin and sustain a campaign to ensure an international travel ban against all officials of the Delta State Government for what we describe as a wicked and criminal violation of children’s right to education in contrast with the huge financial resources available to the state.
We at CASER are of serious resolve on this matter.