Nigerians have criticised President Goodluck Jonathan for sending his children to school despite the Federal Government’s directive for pupils to remain at home for the duration of the ongoing voter registration.
Government had last week extended the resumption date for the second term from January 10 to February 4. It was later changed to January 30.
Though school owners and parents opposed the order, the Federal Government had refused to shift ground, insisting that a number of public schools were to be used for the registration. However, a national newspaper on Tuesday reported that a high-brow school, the American International School, Abuja, where two of Jonathan’s children are pupils, defied the government’s order.
This caused an uproar as furious parents and school owners said the President’s attitude amounted to an ‘insensitive and discriminatory’ disregard for government’s orders. They said the fact that the President’s children had continued to attend school while children of less privileged Nigerians were at home showed that Nigerian leaders were ‘above the law.’
An aggrieved school owner, Dr. Titilayo Shittu, told THE PUNCH that it was wrong for Jonathan’s children’s school to disobey government’s directive.
“If it is true that the President’s children are in that school, it means that his children must be in school because that school is the only private school that has opened its doors to all its pupils in Abuja since the government directed us to extend the resumption date to February 4. But if his children are in SS3, then they are not doing anything wrong.
“Otherwise, I will describe the action as a double standard and I will call for the urgent reversal of the order,” she said.
A source in the school, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “The information you seek we cannot give because of security. We do not want a situation where our students will become targets for kidnappers.”
When contacted by one of our correspondents, the Director of the school, Amy Uzoewulu, asked that all enquiries be directed to the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy.
She said, “We are not allowed to speak to the press on any issue without authorisation from the president of the board of governors.”
A promise by a Public Affairs Specialist at the embassy, Mr. Sani Mohammed, to get back to our correspondent did not materialise as at 8pm on Tuesday. Also, officials of the Federal Ministry of Education saddled with the responsibility of enforcing the directive declined comments on the development.
Calls and text messages sent to the mobile phones of the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqquayyat Rufa’i; the Minister of State for Education, Chief Kenneth Gbagi; and the Deputy Director (Press), Dr. Peter Obidiegwu, went unanswered.
However, some parents said the President was not leading by example, noting that even if his children were in SS3, it was morally wrong for him as the nation’s leader to allow his children to be in school.
A parent, Mrs. Hope Orivri said, “It is unfair for some children to be in school while other children are forced to stay at home. They should be in the forefront of what is being propagated. They are not leading by example.” Also, the Secretary, Nigeria Union of Teachers, Somolu Branch, Lagos State, Mr. Familugba Samuel, “If it is true, it is condemnable. They are the ones who give orders while others obey. This simply means that they are above the law. I see no reason why people who call themselves leaders cannot abide by the laws and orders they make.”
Another parent, Mr. David Sule, “No government official, from the presidency to the local government, should be seen disobeying the law. But it is unfortunate that is happening in our country and there is nothing can do. What they are telling us is that their children are more important and superior to other kids; it is bad.”
Another school proprietor, Mrs. Deborah Okuwoga, said it was ‘a selfish act.’
“This is wrong, they gave the directive that schools should not resume, so why are they now kicking against this directive? This is selfishness. This shows that our leaders don’t have sympathy for the masses,” she said.
Source: Punch Newspaper – www.punchontheweb.com