Tuesday, 26 March 2019 13:11

Success and the dividends of stubbornness - Eugene Enahoro

It’s difficult not to fall in love with success whether it’s in the form of the literal meaning of the word or in the form of 7-year old Miss Success Adegor.  The little girl is a primary school pupil of Okotie Ebo 1 Primary School in Sapele Delta State. Success’s neighbor recorded footage of her walking alone down the street in her school uniform during school hours. When questioned, the little girl replied in fluent pidgin-English which is to all intents and purposes the lingua-franca of the Niger Delta Area. Driven out of the school compound due to her parents inability to pay certain fees Success said “no be say I no go pay . Instead of dem to flog person dem go pursue person. Make dem flog me Dem go flog, flog, flog, dem go tire!…”  Then she walked repeatedly muttering “as dem say dem stubborn I tell them say I stubborn pass!”

The footage was posted on the internet and went viral triggering an outpouring of sympathy and a surplus of offers to help pay her fees through to university. The whole affair has resulted in upsides and downsides which bear closer scrutiny. Firstly as an upside it proved all those who portray the average Nigerian as uncaring and tribalistic completely wrong. Offers to assist Success came from all corners of the nation and from citizens of all religious persuasions. Such compassion is the true nature of Nigerian people, and the more it’s highlighted the better the image of the nation will become.   On the downside the affair highlighted the abysmal state of government primary schools in Nigeria. As a result of growing interest in Success’s story, the print and electronic media descended upon the school to carry out investigations.

 

The first shock was the almost total dilapidation of the school buildings. It is a disgrace that the Delta State government which receives the highest allocation of any State from the federation account  could be the “proud” owners of such a school. What is even worse is that the school is named after a legendary son of Delta State the late Chief Festus Okotie Eboh Minister of Finance in the First Republic. He would be turning in his grave at the sheer insult, and if alive would probably insist that his name be removed from the school signboard! The first line of defense for Delta State Ministry of Education officials was that funds are scarce and have to be rationed because free education is offered at primary school level in the State. When it was pointed out that Success was sent out of school for owing money in a “free education” system, the School Head Mistress was asked to explain how come? Live on national television she claimed quite preposterously that while education was “free” the school had to charge the pupils N800 for examinations!

After a visit by the State Commissioner for Education, the Headmistress was suspended and issued a query asking her to explain the “the illegal collection of examination levies from pupils”. Those in the know claim she is simply a scapegoat for the failure of primary education policy in Nigeria. Every Headmistress in a government primary school knows that government will not supply chalk, brooms for sweeping, biros for staff, electric light bulbs, cutlasses for cutting grass, or cleaning materials. Even worse salaries are hardly paid promptly.

 

The sad truth is that State Governments have relegated education to the background.  Governors prefer investment in photogenic infrastructure, rather than investment in the future through excellence in education.  Paradoxically having said that Nigerians in general are kind hearted, there is the small matter of the lady who recorded the viral video.  Reports have it that Success’s family has received over N5 Million in donations and she wants her share of the action! She has asked for “only” one million!  While some have labeled her greedy, others have said that the family should show appreciation and “shake body”. The problem with the latter point of view is that the money was donated for the welfare of Success and not for the family to settle obligations to others. To the dismay of many in a new video Success dropped the pidgin English she spoke with such eloquence. Using “correct English” she advised teachers to take care of school children and not send them away from school because bad things may happen to them.

This is very true especially in these days of rampaging kidnappers and ritualists.  All said and done it’s a credit to Success that she stubbornly prefers being flogged to being sent home for something she has no control over.  However the little girl should be forewarned that while her stubbornness paid dividends this time around, much later in life when she is in her matrimonial home she shouldn’t try to prove to her husband that she “stubborn pass”!

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