King’s College Lagos, known to have existed for over 100 years providing quality education for Nigerian’s youths. This Nigeria’s premier secondary school is a brand, synonymous with standard and it is highly respected and revered, most parents wished their sons were educated in the college. This college has remained peaceful over these years, but heaven let loose on June 28,when a group of parents by name concerned parents staged a protest at the college’s annex, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The college which is more of elite’s school has produced who is who in the country and it is currently immersed in tension over the activities of the June 28. The battle line has been drawn between the concerned parents and management of the college, Federal Ministry of Education, PTA and School Based Management Committee (SBMC).
The protest was targeted at the Principal of the college, Otunba Dele Olapeju and Parents Teacher’s Association (PTA), and SBMC for what they called negligence of students’ welfare. It was more of a drama as the concerned parents publicly took the entire nation by surprise staging what could be described as the first parents protest in the history of the college, accusing the Principal and PTA of subjecting their children to inhuman condition.
Prior the protest, according to the college’s authority, text messages had been sent out to parents about the cancellation of the June visiting day, given that students just returned from midweek break, a week ago and their examination was coming the next week. The concerned parents claimed not to have received any text messages from either the management or the PTA.
While protesting, they carried placards with different inscriptions, accusing the PTA and the principal of neglecting their sons’ welfare. According to the protesting parents, their sons’ welfare were not considered and the school management and the PTA were not doing anything to remedy the students’ sufferings. Brandishing water fetchers, they claimed that the college has no water and students were made to use water fetchers to draw water from wells, when there should be running water.
The concerned parents numbering about 20, said management refused them access into the school because they were hiding something from parents. According to them, it is a constitutional that every last Sunday of the months, there shall be visiting day; they wondered why the college management canceled the visiting day. They also accused the college of forcing their sons to buy sachet water, while disallowing parents to bring water for them. The concerned parents also accused the principal of conspiring with the PTA to force students to pay N3, 000 for laundering services, while students still wash their clothes.
Disturbed by the level of allegations, the PTA, school authority and SBMC called a press briefing and took Journalists on tour of the college in efforts to extricate themselves from series of allegations preferred against them by the concerned parents. Speaking during the briefing, the chairman of SBMC, Mr. Samuel Olufemi said SBMC was like a board and it manages the college and also interfaces between the federal ministry of education and the principal/management.
According to him, king’s College has 3000 students, out of which 2000 are boarding students. “I was a principal of king’s college for years, I know for sure that the college has boreholes, built by the colonial masters and it is still functioning. The borehole is an industrial borehole that can supply the whole of island with water, why would some parents demonstrate falsely’ he added. He also said the college has constant supply of electricity on campus, because the college is linked to Lagos power.
According to him, the college PTA was putting a finishing touch to a five storey block as part of efforts to remedy the challenges of students’ accommodation. He said KC has over 6000 parents, out of which less than 30 protested, ‘this shows their ulterior motives and lack of knowledge about the transformation going in the college’. Olufemi said, in every system there are procedures for seeking redress and wondered why these people refused to channel their grievances, ‘if any’ through the appropriate channel. He regretted that these parents instead of becoming models to their children turned into something else.
According to him, if the conditions of the services in the college are not good for their children, they can take them to day students, rather than destroying the image of the college built over 100 years. “It was not compulsory that their sons must be boarding students” he said. Also speaking, the king’s college PTA chairman, Chief Emmanuel Oriakhi dissociated themselves from the protest, saying that if they have any grievance they ought to have channeled it through the appropriate channel, rather than unionizing themselves. He said the demonstrators showed the kind of parents they are, saying that PTA would not allow any person to bring down the reputation of the college. According to Oriakhi , KC does not deserve such vilification from parents and must not be allowed.
“Leaving your son in the king’s college is not by force, if you think the standard is bad, you have the right to withdraw him and stop staining the image of the college” he said. According to him, the college is linked to Lagos state power distribution and it has three giant generators to supply power whenever there is power outage, ‘why would any person say the college has no light and no water’?
He said, the college has industrial borehole and wondered while would any person say there is no water and light on the campuses. The PTA chairman said government has done enough to the college and must be appreciated. Reacting, Olapeju said the annex has a generator of 11 years, and last year when it developed problems the PTA bought a new 300KVA at the cost of N12million.
According to him, the college management decided to cancel the June visiting day because students just returned to campus, a week ago and their examinations were coming up the following week. He said the protest was concocted and executed by 15 families who had threatened to invade the college and cause commotion that would lead to the exit of the Principal and PTA. “It is an unfortunate development as they attempted and indeed embarrassed the college.
In fact, it is coup against my administration, but with the help of God and the Police it is a failed coup” he said. He asked “how could the Protesting parents come to the school with al> P.30 ready made placards, arranged media houses and yet they claimed they were visiting their sons. They came with intentions? “Why did these parents refused lawful order of cancellation of the visiting day? Other schools like Queen’s College, Federal Government College, Ijanikin and Federal Science and Technical College, Yaba with same calendar did not witness the mayhem?” he asked. According to him, the last five year of his tenure had witnessed monumental transformations and wondered why the protest is coming at the twilight of his tenure.
He disclosed that an administrative investigation panel has been set up to look into the immediate and remote causes of the protest and to report back to the management in a week time. According to him, all the allegations made by these people are baseless and frivolous. He said, he has never seen a water fetcher in the college since he assumed office as the principal of the college, just as the college does not have wells. “Only God know where they got the water fetchers” he said.
He said, Kings College is mixture of the poor and the rich students and to give them equal treatment, they decided to be providing them with only sachet water at cost of N5, so that every student can afford it cost. On the laundering issues, he said the school uniform is white and since some of these boys had never washed in their lives given their ages, there is need to protect the uniform, since they cannot wash them clean. The PTA agreed that each student shall pay N3000 for laundering and this has been working effectively in the college and has assisted to maintain sanity and cleanness.
“Most of these boys use their pants and underwears to clean up and dump them in the toilets, thereby, littering the toilets. The money does not go into the principal or PTA’s pockets; they are used to wash students’ clothes. It is pedestrian for somebody to say that these young men are living without water and light “he added.
According to him “a student pay about N150, 000 for entrance, and N50, 000 development levy, after which each pays only N8.000 per term for boarding, including feeding. You cannot have the same treatment with somebody who pays one million in private schools”. After the briefing it was almost 6pm and they had wanted Journalists to only tour the main campus, but Journalists insisted on seeing the facilities at the annex since, it was the campus that was complained about.
“After much debates, Journalists left the king’s college main campus to the annex at about 6.25 pm and got to the annex late, and were taken round the promises, “We saw functional water treatment plant, running water, good looking barbering salons, state of art auditorium, clean cafeteria, hostels, laundering house and even clean toilets.
We also saw functional generating plant and a well lighted college” Few days after, the concerned parents also called their press conference in response to the PTA, Principal and (SBMC) tour with newsmen, at this time they agitations shifted to probing of the Principal and the PTA executives for mismanaging the college fund. They said the principal has pocketed PTA, and the management staff of the college, describing him as an emperor. Addressing newsmen on behalf others, Mr. Obisike Nwosu said king’s college used to have the best PTA, but today is disjointed. “The nonchalant attitude of the so called PTA chairman is unbecoming.
It is even misnomer to call Emmanuel Oriakhi, the PTA chairman of king’s college. It seems that those running the PTA cannot see the rot in the college. How can the school be lighted off after 10 pm? The college clinic is nothing good to write home about. We cannot allow our children to continue in that condition. They only called for one PTA meeting since this session and most of the first year parents have not witnessed any PTA meeting, and we believed that they deliberately chose not call meetings because of some hidden agenda ” he said. He said bedbugs were ravaging their sons, and management was not doing any to remedy the scourge.
According to him, the unhealthy condition and water sanitation of the college were disturbing to them as parents, saying that the PTA executives were manipulating the constitution to favour their interests. He accused the collage management and the principal of gross mismanagement, saying they have evidences of gross mismanagement.
Nwosu also accused management of extorting money from the parents through the laundering services, even when their sons still wash their clothes, saying that they want the laundering services to be optional. They also lamented about NICON insurance policy, which they said was purchased by the school authorities, and terms were not made known to parents. They also complaint about the commercialization of the college and over crowed classrooms, accusing the principal of raising the entrance score to enable him negotiate price with parents for admission.
He said that, none of the concerned parent-members received test messages, canceling the visiting day, adding that the purpose of the cancelation was to stop them from seeing the decay on the campus. When our reporter wanted to asked, if they know the amount of subvention given to the college and if they are aware that government had asked various institutions to increase their internally generated revenue (IGR), the concerned parents predominantly made of women shouted him down.