Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Teachers, Students Revolt Against Principal

* My Enemies Are Instigating Them Against Me... Principal

Okonta Emeka Okelum, Asaba

As early as 8am yesterday, the premises of Zappa Mixed Secondary School, Asaba,  recorded an experience that is unbecoming of a teaching and learning atmosphere.

Our reporter's arrival at the school at 8am witnessed a school in total state of disorder, with students chanting anti-principal chants.

Teachers on duty were seen wearing long faces, harshly talking in low tunes about their displeasure.

According to some staff who agreed to speak off tape and anonymously, their case was that of too many poor leadership and the principal's high handedness at engagement with staff.

Trouble, they say broke out last Thursday, during the school's morning assembly session.

While interviewing the school's principal, Mrs C.K. Oraegbunam, she shared her bitter encounter, tales of violent attack and fetish mesmerized acts one of the teachers, Mr Uzor Isiuwa, unleashed about her car, upon arrival at the school's premises.

On the contrary, some staff in hushed tunes, speaking anonymously, maintained that the principal during the assembly was seen chasing Mr Isiuwa about the school's premises with her car.

The principal further told our reporter that Mr Isiuwa of late had become a tick in her flesh, after the post primary education board authorities discovered his many official absence from duty and effected some slash on his salary.

My Isiuwa had gone round telling all who cares to listen that I cut down his salary, I never did such, his salary was cut by the board authorities, not me, the principal said.

Attempts to meet and get opinions of Mr Isiuwa was not successful as our reporter was told he has gone to the board's zonal office to brief the authorities.

Our reporter was told that after the Thursday ugly experience at the morning assembly session, the leadership of State chapter of Nigerian Union of Teachers(NUT) and authorities the post primary education board intervened into the matter on Friday, and at the board's office the matter was resolved.

Mr Isiuwa was asked by both board and NUT leadership to apologise to the principal, with a marching order that on Monday, being yesterday, at the school's assembly ground, that he Mr Isiuwa before both staff and student must tender another apology.

Yesterday's trouble broke out during the assembly session, according to an eye-witness account, as the students and staff await Mr Isiuwa's apology, officers of the Nigerian police arrived the school compound demanding that Mr Isiuwa go to the police station with them.

Before one could say Jack, both students and staff resisted the police action and massive near violent protest rented the space, only intervention of NUT & Board's officials made possible the police movement out of the school compound.

The students improvised a chalk and slate protest insignia, demanding that the principal be transferred as well as other unfavourable statements against the principal.

Some staff interviewed accused the principal of zero cordial relationship with them, illegal staff salary deductions, unapproved demands of levies from parents.

They also shared that there is no cordial relationship between the principal and the members of the parents teachers association (PTA)

Some staff also narrated how with total disdain and with zero respect, the principal talks down on the teachers even before the students, they also narrated how in time past, she asked students to pay about N2,000 for procurement of classroom desks and chairs, saying that up it now none has being supplied.

Worried and confused, the teachers said they could not make any sense out of the principal's demand to the school prefects to light candlesticks during school hours, fearing that it could mean some evil fetish initiation proceedings.

On her own part, Mrs Oraegbunam, maintained that she is still in charge as the school head and that what played out was only the handiworks of her career enemies, whose sole aim is to tarnish her professional records.

About the police action that morning, the principal noted that with the NUT and board's intervention that she has forgiven Mr Isiuwa.

The student's protest against their principal and willing demand that she be changed and transfered continued till about 10am in the morning, as the presence of some NUT Executive members helped calmed the charged atmosphere.

Our reporter's attempts to meet with officials of the post primary education board met brick walls as the officials were engaged in various meeting sessions and could not share any official position on the matter at hand.


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