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Stats: 16,670 members, 64,013 Topics, 14,560 Comments. Date: March 24, 2019, 10:08 pm

Adelani Temiloluwa
School Of Nursing Ondo
Nursing Student
300Level, Nigeria.

One word that best describes many of the public primary and secondary schools in Abia State: is this: Eyesore. Some look like pigsties and poultries, so dilapidated and rotten that you wonder how they got to such repulsive state. Yet, they are places where pupils go to learn from teachers who are frustrated and disgruntled.

Investigation revealed that no form of renovation or facelift has taken place in most of the public schools in the last decade or thereabout. The pupils learn in conditions unfit for human beings. Some of the schools do not have ordinary boards and chalk even as pupils sit on bare floor to learn. Of course, the schools do not have toilets.

Since government’s presence is seen nowhere near the schools, some individuals have converted portions of public schools to farms. Umuagbai Primary School in Aba is one of such.

Indeed, many schools in Abia contend with all manner of challenges. For instance, students of National High School, Aba are endangered. There is a mountain of refuse at Crystal Park junction on Port Harcourt Road, beside the school. When Daily Sun visited the area in January, thick smoke from the burning rubbish covered the entire school. It was a horrible sight. Worst still, acrid odour pervades the environment.

Cry, my beloved alma mater

Mr. Uche Onwuchekwa, the Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere, is a sad man. His sadness is so deep to the point of anger.

Onwuchekwa is sad about the state of his alma mater. Consider what he said: “In the first place, going to my alma mater was like a journey to hell. Umuagbai Secondary School, Aba, Abia State, located along Port Harcourt Road, was one of the easiest places to access when we were there.

“The same cannot be said today because the popular Port Harcourt Road has become a valley of the shadow of death. A journey, which ordinarily should have taken just a few minutes from Asa Road, took about two hours last month because traffic caused by craters and valleys-dotted road.

“But if I was disappointed at the condition of the road, I got the shock of my life when I got to the school. To step into the premises was a herculean task, as I had to park my car far from the school gate because there was no way to drive in.

“The culvert into the school was gone. The school fence was also gone, making it a paradise for Indian hemp smoking hoodlums.

“The football field, the first feature that ought to welcome any visitor, was looking like a farm, with gullies all the over place. The lush green grass we used to know was gone. It was on that field that some of Nigeria’s ex-international footballers, like Promise Nwachukwu, Ndukwe Chukwu and Karibe Ojigwe, among others, horned their skills.

“Indeed, the pitch used to be the nest of champions. During inter-college competitions, the players from the school excelled, conquering other secondary schools in the old Imo State.

“Looking at the ruins that had become my beloved alma mater, my heart sank. A one-storey building facing the field looked frail, as if one push could bring it down.

“The entire structures or what was left of them were in a highly deplorable state. The roofs were blown off, windows damaged, floors broken, everything like a scene in a horror film. My heart somersaulted as I wondered how children studied under such a dehumanizing environment.

“Then I broke down. Involuntarily, tears flowed down my cheeks freely. I could not believe my eyes. Just like a woman in labour, I was restless moving from one point to another in search of my JSS classes, the school laboratory, senior secondary blocks of classes. These structures were all gone and only their ruins and over grown weeds could be found. “The staff room was also gone while the only standing block was also dilapidated, with roofs already falling apart.

“About four staffers of the school on ground looked as dejected as the school. My misery was complete when I learnt that a school that used to boast of about 4000 students now has less than 50.

“The teachers said that snakes invade the school sometimes and when that happens, everyone runs for their dear life. They said they were praying for a governor who cares, not a governor only in name and convoy of cars as the case is presently.”

When some of the teachers and students spoke to Daily Sun, their words were coated in frustration. For the unmotivated and hungry staff of the school, the situation is hopeless.

They said they had written to the state government of Okezie Ikpeazu many times but to no avail.

A teacher said: “We seriously need help. The school used to be only boys school but in our effort to revive it, it became a mixed school. We used to have over 4, 000 students but we now have only 50 of them. We are also beckoning on our old boys who are well-to-do to kindly intervene since the government is not forthcoming.”

Another teacher complained bitterly about the utter abandonment of the school to rot to the point of scandal.

She also raised the alarm on the risk of staying in any of the few facilities still standing as they are on the brink of collapse.

“Our major problem is the risk of the buildings collapsing on us and our students. The ceilings are collapsing by the day, the roofs are off and the remaining ones are leaking so badly. Termites have finished the woods, so they can drop any time. Worse still, snakes, including python, have invaded the premises on some occasions. So, any time you are within the premises, fear will grip you,” she lamented.

Like Umuagbai, like others

Umuagbai Secondary School is certainly not alone. In fact, many public schools in urban and rural areas in Abia State are in doldrums. The disgusting state of disrepair of public schools account for the depreciating number of pupils in them.

“Almost all the children in public schools are from the poorest of poor homes. The desire of parents whose children are in public schools in Abia is to take them away some day. Can you bring your children to this kind of environment to learn?” a teacher asked the reporter in Obingwa LGA.

For instance, City and Township Primary schools in Aba South Local Government share the same premises. They face similar challenges. Apart from the fact that the two schools are clustered by shops, making them look more or less like market place, the condition in which pupils learn is scandalous.

While most of the facilities collapsed, hoodlums and homeless persons go there to smoke illicit drugs and answer the call of nature because they have unhindered access to every part of the school.

On entering the compound, the smell of excreta hits your nostrils like a force. It was also learnt that there were occasions when ladies were dragged into the premises and raped brutally.

Secondary Technical School, Ehere Aba, Obingwa LGA, is a disgrace. It shares the same features of neglect. Investigation revealed that the school was not too long ago returned to the original owner by the state government after it had been run aground. Worse still, no grant was given to the owners, hence it is in total ruins.

Obiora Road End Primary School in Aba South LGA is also in terrible state. Also some blocks of classrooms in Etche Road Primary School, Aba needs urgent attention even as flood ravages the school at the drop of rain.

If you see Eziama Mgbaja Community Primary School, Osah, your heart will bleed. The state of the school is purely a manifestation of wickedness.

School in Gov Ikpeazu’s village and others

The mother of rot dwells in some schools in Umuobiakwa axis in Obingwa LGA, Ikpeazu’s homestead. They are pitiable. It’s shocking that the governor still moves about the area without lifting a finger with regards to remaking, remodeling and redefining the sector as expected.

At the City Nursery and Primary school, Umuahia, teachers spoke on condition of anonymity for the fear of being identified and penalised by the powers-that-be.

“They removed the roof sometime ago and said they were coming to fix it, but we have not heard anything since then. But because we have no alternative, the pupils have to stay here to study inside the building without roof to study,” a teacher in the school said.

In Urban Nursery and Primary School, lying adjacent the City Nursery and Primary School, tale of woes filled their mouth over unpaid salaries.

Also, a staff at Eziama Mgbaja Community Primary School, said most of the buildings have been abandoned by teachers due to leaking roof.

“We have only this place to stay because almost all the buildings are leaking,” a staff told Daily Sun.

There are some schools in Abia where learning could take place. Ngwa High School, which was founded in 1954, has good structures but there is still the problem of over grown weed. It was gathered that the lucky few got help from proactive and benevolent Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs).

Umugo Community Primary School, Ugwunagbo LGA got a facelift through donor agencies and international organisation.

Girls Secondary School, Abayi is good, just like Community Secondary School, Obehie in Ukwa West LGA.

Teaching in tears

In Abia, teachers’ reward is certainly not on earth, as they do not get their due on time. The NUT state chairman, Elder Comrade Agwu Kalu Kizito, lamented that the salary situation of Abia teachers is unbearable because the secondary school teachers are owed eight months salary. The last salary they received was for May 2018 and they received it last December. So, from June last year till today (January), you can count how much they are being owed.

What the primary school teachers received is nothing to write home about. The teachers’ salary enhancement scheme was not paid. They removed it from their salary, so they are owed arrears. So, what they paid is just a token of their salary.

He said: “But the secondary school teachers, whose TRA salaries are built in their basic are owed. The salary situation in Abia is not good at all, so we are pleading to government to see what they could do to remedy the situation.

“Teachers are hungry. Remember the proverb that says that a hungry man is an angry man. They did not offer any reason for tampering with the salaries of the primary school teachers or refusing to pay the secondary school teachers.

“The primary school teachers are being paid from the federal account, through ASUBEB, but the secondary school is managed by the state. Maybe that is why they are being owed but for the primary school teachers, even when their salaries are coming from the federal government, they are still tampered with.

“What happens is that when the salary comes, it goes into the state account. So, it is the state body that will organize and disburse it, and in the process of doing so, no one can tell what will happen. That is the reason the local governments are talking about autonomy so that money will be coming directly into the local government account.

“But in this situation where the money still comes through the state account, the state has every power to toy with it and even if you protest, it will make no meaning. We have pleaded to the governor to at least pay the primary school teachers what they are supposed to pay them, because what they are being paid is very small.

“Last year, two months were paid through the help of local government but at a point, it was removed. So, the union has been making frantic effort to ensure that that money is being placed back in their salary because it is their money and their statutory allowance.

“I am not going to fight the government as an organized labour, but we are pleading that government should do something about it to remedy the situation. I still remember the slogan that says that teachers’ reward is in heaven and remembering that teachers’ work is work of conscience.

“That teachers still have the mind in going to school to teach despite the way they are being treated is a plus on their side. I want to say here that since 2015, Abia has been making the best result in WAEC, from the analysis. Despite the fact that the government owes us, we are doing our best for the sake of the students. We still do the job perfectly, yet we are not being treated fairly.”

Penniless pensioners

In a document made available to Daily Sun in Umuahia, dated January 8, 2019, signed the state chairman, Comrade Chukwuma Udensi and state secretary, Elder Dr. O.C. Arungwa, Abia pensioners lamented the ill treatment being given them by the state government as far as their entitlements are concerned.

According to them, retirees of MDAs and secondary school teachers are owed 15 months pensions arrears, ranging from October 2017-December 2018. Retirees of Local Government Service Commission and primary school teachers are owed 13 months pension arrears, from December 2017 to December 2018.

The pensioners explained that gratuity was last paid to them completely in 2001and has stood in arrears since 2002 to 2018. The list can go on and on, they stated.

They stated further that the glaring neglect of pensions payment by the government has led credence to the suspicion that Abia has joined the league of those pensioner unfriendly states that see pensioners as dead woods. They reminded government that they served the state and nation meritoriously and deserved protection and care.

“Right now, many of us are facing serious health challenges. Others are bed-ridden while some have passed on as a result of frustration hunger and lack of medical care,” they said.

ASUTH

Abia State government did it again with the Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba. It was gathered that retirees of the hospital are owed more than 45 months arrears, stretching from the previous administration.

When Daily Sun visited ASUTH in January, it was a ghost town. The staffers were on strike over 11 months unpaid salary, completely crippling activities there.

“Since we are on strike, we reject patients. So, they seek solution elsewhere. I learnt that about four of the patients rejected in the first week of the strike died. It’s a pity,” a staff said.

A few weeks ago, Abia State College of Health Sciences and Management Technology (ABSCOHMAT), Aba was literarily on fire as workers protest the 10-months arrears of salary owed them. The Rector, Prof Chidi Ezeama, was held hostage for hours by the protesting workers and was only freed when policemen from the Area command forced themselves into the institution.

Leadership of the institution’s workers union under the aegis of Joint Action Committee (JAC) was said to have demanded for the payment of their 10 months arrears of salary.

However, instead of addressing the issue, one of the workers who pleaded anonymity said Peter Nwosu, a member of JAC, was suspended from office.

The source said the suspension of Nwosu infuriated the workers and they locked down the institution as they embarked on protest, demanding the lifting of the suspension of their colleague and payment of their salary arrears.

The workers locked the main entrance to the institution from within, thereby preventing movement in and out of the college and holding the rector hostage in the process. It was gathered that the rector had to invite the police to come for his rescue.

On arrival, the police contingent could not gain access into the institution as the major entrance was under lock and key and they had to scale the fence to get into the school premises.

When the police operatives gained access into the institution later, they started shooting tear gas canisters. Gunshots could also be heard from afar and people scampered for safety. It was not clear whether anybody was injured in the melee that ensued.

People who came to the institution to transact one business or the other were caught in the web of the brouhaha. It was learnt that after ferrying out the rector to safety, the police returned to arrest 15 members of staff of the institution who the rector believed were instrumental to the protest.

The unionists were taken to the Area Command where they were asked to make statement and later released on bail.

Workers owed everywhere

A staff of Aba LGA said: “The condition of service at the local government is not conducive at all. Salary does not come as when due and some of the benefits you are supposed to get as a civil servant, you don’t get them. Towards the end of 2018, we received half salary for October and nothing has been paid since then. Leave, hospital and transport allowances are not paid. The minimum wage is not being paid.

“There is no difference between the previous government and the present one. T.A. Orji and Ikpeazu are like father and son. Their policies are the same. In fact, when Ikpeazu was coming into office, he said he would continue from where his predecessor stopped. You can see that his predecessor did little or nothing in terms of workers’ welfare; so he is following in his foot step.”

An Abia State based legal practitioner, Nkem Nwosu, said: “Payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities of workers should be on the first line charge. Thus, a governor who is unable or unwilling to pay salaries, pensions and gratuities of the work force as and when due should throw in the towel. He has no business with governance, as governance is about people.”


Source: https://www.sunnewsonline.com/in-abia-schools-are-in-terrible-condition/
In Abia, Schools Are In Terrible Condition - Primary/SecondaryIn Abia, Schools Are In Terrible Condition - Primary/Secondary

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