Give me my school, 91-year-old tells Ambode
It would be recalled that in 1976, via the Private Secondary Institutions Special Provisions Law, the military administration in Lagos State took over 48 private secondary schools from their owners, including Metropolitan College. In the process, Isolo Secondary School was carved out of Metropolitan College on the same expanse of land hosting the college.
The nonagenarian, who was accompanied by other sympathizers, were armed with placards which reads: “Your Excellency, please help me; The Lagos State Government should obey the law and release the school; Ambode do justice; Bring Back our school” and others.
At the entrance of the Ministry of Education where the protesters commenced their protest match, there was a mild drama between the government officials and the protesters who demanded that the issue must be resolved immediately.
Addressing reporters at the scene, Ololo lamented: “I do not know the reason they have continued to withhold my school because I did not steal the money.”
“I and my late husband established the school with our legitimate money. If not tribalism, why are they yet to return my school.
“I wouldn’t have come here today if the government had acted on my demands. At my age, I should not be passing through this stress. “But I have decided to do this for Nigerians to see what the state government has done to me. I don’t know if it was crime for one to establish school in Lagos State.
“I do not mind if the rain continues to fail. All I want is my school. God is with me. I am not laying claim to what does not belong to me. I have children who could manage the school effectively if handed over to me,” she added.
The Guardian gathered that the rancor in the family led to the delay in the handing over of the school 15 years ago.
Reacting to this, the nonagenarian said: “What concerns the government with the family issue? All they needed is to return the school to the rightful owners. I grew up in Lagos. I don’t see any reason they have continued to withhold the school.”
Counsel to the 91-year-old woman, Malcolm Omirhobo said: “we have asked them to stop admitting pupils but they refused.
“The former governor, Babtunde Fashola agreed that the school will be returned gradually. And we asked that they should desist from admitting pupils. But the government continued to admit.
“Taking over the school doesn’t mean that we will disengage the old pupils. We will allow the old students to graduate while we also admit students,” he said.
Addressing the protesters at the State House, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Olabisi Ariyo noted that there was rancor within the family and the school could not have been released amidst family crisis.
According to Ariyo: “They were fighting over the property. And that was why the school was not returned 15 years ago when others were return to their original owners. It was after they resolve the issue that government is now having issues with them. The delay in the handling over the school to the Ololo was caused by them,” she added.
Ariyo, however, assured the protesters that they will resolve the issue soon. “We don’t want the issue of tribe to come into this issue. Irrespective of your tribe, we are all Nigerians. We will treat everyone fairly.”
She added said government was already looking into the issue and that the process would be fast-tracked in order to ensure amicable solution to the issue at hand.
She said that government will accord justice and fairness to Lagosians regardless of their religious or ethnic background, adding that government is mindful of the age and health of the proprietress and will do everything possible to be fair.
She appealed to the protesting youths to be peaceful as government will leave no stone unturned to address the issue. The meeting between Ololo and state officials was already on yesterday, as at the time of filing this report.