Written by Odimegwu Onwumere
To rule a state is a big task than to train a child. The trained child brings civilization to the state, for a better society and easy to govern. At old age, the importance of education is cherished. But this, some people do not know.
Since the return of 56 secondary and 1040 primary schools in Anambra State to the missionaries on the 21st November, 2011, Governor Peter Obi of the state has experienced vocal and written mayhem in few weeks than he had ever experienced in the years he had been governor. While many observers have condemned Obi’s action from the view of politics, the governor was seeing his action from the moral point of view and was of the opinion that the society needs a big whip to flog in the lost moral decadence back in the lives of people.
His regret that government should not have taken over the schools from the missionaries in the first position may not be out of place. What may be out of place is the manner with which government hijacks every aspect of human endeavours due to political and economic interests without minding the social implications. It is believed that what this soft-spoken governor handed over were mission Schools, which the missionaries are the original owners, and not the contemporary schools dotting every corner of this country christened Private Schools. It’s this ‘Private Lifestyle’ that the society is introducing that has brought capitalistic tendencies in the people. Capitalism has broken the cable of unity in our deeply revered Communalistic ala-Igbo.
Anybody saying that the handing over of the schools is not for the good of the schools is far from saying the truth. What consultation does anyone need if the State House of Assembly undisputedly acceded to the secession of the schools to the missionaries? Anambra State House of Assembly passed an executive bill mandating the immediate release of the schools run by the state government to the missionaries. These are men and women elected by the people to see and decide on the affairs of the Anambra people at the state level. Stakeholders in the education sector are very important when it comes to education but not when a sovereign state with its lawmakers decide to implement laws that they deem pleasant would take their state to the next level. Any external input is aggressiveness!
The fear that there would be situations teachers working in the missionary schools would be given additional responsibility and mandated by the missionaries to return in the evening after school to participate in church activities is just the judgement of detractors. If all brethrens in the churches are not mandated to choir practice and catechism and other activities by their priests how come anyone would imagine that the fate of teachers in Anambra would be different in the hands of the missionaries?
There would always be job security for Anambra teachers if the priests themselves are not expelled from service without immunity. Since 80% of the people in Anambra can be said are Christians, the insinuation that education in the hand of the government is reachable to the poor masses is a circus. The people are closer to their churches than they are closer to their government, and closer to their priests than they are closer to their governor. This does not mean that the governor is not accessible. The governor also can be said is a product of the church. The truth is that religion in the world is taken seriously. This is why the policy would benefit parents, their wards and the teachers in the state. When there is strike, it will never affect the students.
No one has ever read anywhere that the governor said teachers’ rewards are in heaven, as we have been informed. This statement is without doubt the product of mischief makers in the state or in the education union. What every concernedonye-Anambra should be looking for is ways to address (as regards the Missionary Schools) the politics of Catholic Churches and Anglican Churches, which predates today. To cool their political nerves, Obi must give them equal opportunities in the area of funds.
The action of Obi is never hidebound or a caricature of governance. The project is never elitist’s or projected to undeserving the children of the poor masses and has never violated any Act of ‘the compulsory free universal basic education Act 2004.’ What Obi is doing is ensuring that there are adequate and equal educational opportunities for all in the state at all levels. If he was not bent on making this a reality, he could not be assisting the mission schools (not religious bodies as some education unionists have posited) with the billions of naira. Handing the schools back to the missionaries does not mean that Obi wants to prosecute “religious education”. Rather, he wants to promote moral virtues. No matter how corrupt anyone may see that the churches are their corruption will never be equated with that of secular state.
The people and secular state have built Capitalism around their way of life and have thought it the best way to live, since they have come to live with it for a very long time. They are the ones today hounding Obi for his act instead of celebrating with him, the satisfaction his Communal programming merited, as his government is not relinquishing the finance of the schools and pay salaries of the teachers to the secular educationists. What makes Obi’s put unique is that he is not importing our white slavers to come and manage the schools. The schools are going to be managed by our brothers and sisters, who were left with the colonialists’ form of spirituality. No matter how we may see it, there is still some form of sanity in this colonial-spiritual order than in the secular milieu.
It was due to this capitalistic and selfishness and laziness nature around us today that a group lobbied and worked for the military takeover and total destruction of the missionary school system in the 70s. So, what is the group’s moral stand today for the members to shamelessly open their mouths to complain that governments are not paying teachers well and that the typical education has fallen?
There was no better way Obi could have been managing and sustaining the State resources as knowing what is right for the state at the right time. He is also achieving enviable records in the multi-sectarian development strategy of his government. The governor’s legacy of hard work has put the government of his state on the billboard of not only good government but on the mountain of transparency and accountability. Imagine how the citizens of Nigeria are shouting and crying about the insecurity in the country! In earnest, insecurity is not lonely left to the killings and wanton destruction of property. The worst of insecurity is when experienced on the character and integrity of a people. The lack of this brews the killings and destruction of people and property. This, Obi wants to further strengthen the security network in the education of Anambra State.
Obi gives money directly to the school and monitors the execution of the project the money was given for. His mindset for doing this was hinged on the belief that missionaries would do better with money given them than the secular contractors whom he believed had formed the habit in shoddiness with money given them. Any union or group challenging Obi on this policy is just exhibiting selfishness and politics and other primordial unionist sentiments.
Myopic Anambra people and their hack writers should not refuse to appreciate Obi’s not-of-its-kind sacrifice for the State. No Anambra person should place politics before the welfare of the people. Obi had remained a caring father. People are reciprocating his love. The ancestors of Anambra State must be dancing in their graves because of this magnanimous posture of Obi in tackling and attacking illiteracy in the state. The churches concerned should live upto expectations for this noble and wonderful move by his Excellency to work out very well. Obi has done one rare thing only the wise can do: He thinks about the future of our children. Giving the schools back to the missionaries puts him on line as a man who wants the revival of character and integrity in the society, which are the highest form of education, in a non-oil producing state like Anambra. Besides, western education didn’t come with the government; it came with the missionaries.
Obi deserves his people’s expression of satisfaction. Ndi’Anambra must remain worthy Ambassadors of their state. There could not have been a better time to stem the rot in the education system than now. No group or individual should be biting the finger because of what could have gone to their personal bank accounts that would not benefit the collectivity of the people. In fact Obi’s decision in handing schools to the missionaries will be Anambra saving grace in the future, if only the governor will follow his footstep and the students not forced to be Christians against their own volition. This is why it is expedient at this project to separate God from Christianity.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Author and Media Consultant based in Rivers State. Call: +2348032552855. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org