Group petitions Ugwuanyi over alleged sharp practices in Enugu schools

THE Irish Republic is ready for a bilateral trade discussion with Nigeria to enhance economic development of both countries, Ambassador Sean Hoy announced during his courtesy call on the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, at the Government House.

THE Irish Republic is ready for a bilateral trade discussion with Nigeria to enhance economic development of both countries, Ambassador Sean Hoy announced during his courtesy call on the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, at the Government House.

A non-governmental organisation, the Anti Corruption Awareness Organisation Nigeria (ACAO), has sent a strong- worded petition to the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, over alleged fraudulent activities in the management of public secondary schools in the state, by the Post Primary School Management Board (PPSMB).

The group is also accusing the immediate past PPSMB of ripping off parents, students and promoting mediocrity in the system, stressing that this was responsible for the poor performance recorded by students of public secondary schools in the state and contributes immensely to the loss of interest by members of the public in public schools.

In the petition dated July 23rd, 2015 and entitled, “Save Education System in Enugu State,” the organisation specifically alleged bribe-for-juicy posting of schools’ principals; fraudulent use of scratch cards; imposition of levies and extortion of students by school heads, under the watch of the immediate past Permanent Secretary of PPSMB, Mrs. Josephine U. Onyia.

Sources at the PPSMB told The Guardian, however that since the PPSMB was dissolved about a year ago, it was yet to be reconstituted.

Since then, however, activities of the agency had been run by permanent secretaries. Mrs. Onyia, was however redeployed to the Water Resources Ministry recently, and replaced by Mrs. Favour Ngozika Ugwuanyi. Ugwuanyi held her maiden briefing with the staff of the agency penultimate week.

The petition signed by the organisation’s Director of Intelligence, Mr. Chijioke Attah, State Legal Team Leader, Chuka Machie and Josephat Omeke, and obtained by The Guardian, detailed how the immediate past board, in connivance with some school heads, constituted set backs to the promotion of quality education at secondary schools in the state and urged the governor to probe PPSMB activities in order to save public secondary schools.

The organisation stated that its findings were based on investigations it conducted recently in public secondary schools in the six educational zones of the state, comprising Agbani, Awgu, Enugu, Nsukka, Obollo Afor and Udi.

They NGO wrote: “Verifiable evidence has revealed that there is decay and massive fraud at the PPSMB, and that many school principals are being exploited steadily by the PPSMB in connivance with the permanent secretaries. They charge N250, 000, N300, 000 and more (depending on the students’ population), to post principals to a heavily populated school in Enugu State.

“To post (transfer) a principal to a school and allow him/she remain there, the principal has to continue to pay gratifications, else another one that bids higher bidder will be sent to replace the principal. These actions are taken at will in most of the schools visited in Awgu, Agbani, Enugu, Nsukka, Obollo Afor and Udi in the course of this investigation.”

The petition cited the case of one of the newly retired principals who was transferred from Community Secondary School, Mbulu Owo, to the CSS Amagunze, which has a high students population, after he allegedly paid over N300, 000 to the board.

“The then principal of CSS Amagunze, who was replaced had protested that he should be allowed to exhaust his three-year minimum tenure in the school, having worked hard to build the place. He was ignored because he could not afford the kind of money paid by his successor,” it added.

Criticising the sale of scratch cards to students to check and obtain their promotion examination’s result as being “untimely,” the outfit said from its investigations, “Over 85 per cent of schools in rural areas have no computer studios, and
no access to cyber/Internet cafés in their various localities.”

“Secondly, the fraud associated with the scratch card is bad. The real cost of the scratch card as ascertained from the producers, “Bronzebit Consult Ltd,’ with office at N0. 142 Zik Avenue, Uwani, Enugu is N150. 00.

“It was also discovered that the former Commissioner for Education, Prof. Uche Okoro, approved an astronomical cost of N800.00 per students for the scratch card, thereby defrauding every student in government-owned secondary schools in the state the sum of N650.00

“To add insult to injury, some principal of schools capitalised on the foundation of the fraudulent action to increase the cost of the scratch card from N800 to N1, 500 per student.”

The petition cited Idaw River Girls Secondary School, Awkunanaw, Metropolitan Girls Secondary School, Ogui, City Girls Secondary School as some schools, where the scratch cards were being sold at abysmally high rate by the authorities so as “to cover cost of transportation to where it would be deposited into the designated account of the board in charge.”

According to the organisation, registering of students for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in public secondary schools is another avenue where the students are exploited heavily as there are no uniform rates, so principals charge as much as they wish.

When confronted with these allegations, Mrs. Onyia, told The Guardian that as a civil servant, she could not speak to the press without authorization, adding that the petitioners “wrote to the governor and I am entitled to respond to the governor if called upon to do so. But making allegations on extortions and what have you and supplying phone numbers may not prove that they have enough evidence. So I am really not interested until I am called upon or asked to respond to the issues in their petition.”

Also contacted, incumbent Permanent Secretary at the agency, Mrs. Favour Ugwuanyi, denied knowledge of the petition saying she would not comment on the allegations raised.

“I am a new Permanent Secretary in this agency. I have not received officially, copies of the petition being referred to. I cannot comment on what I know nothing about,” she said.

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