GOVERNOR ABIOLA AJIMOBI DEMANDS APOLOGY FROM RAMPAGING SECONDARY SCHOOL

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 Governor Abiola Ajimobi demands an apology from some errant
secondary school students who recently took to the streets,
rampaging and destroying both public and private properties
and in the process, severely disturbing the peace of the state capital.
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For the sixty seven-year old state governor’s ‘temerity’ in asking that
vagrant 13/14 year old pupils be taught the elementary rules of decent
social behaviors and proper upbringing, some commentators (including some
parents!) have gone public to criticize Senator Ajimobi for being so
fastidious. ‘After all’, they seem to be saying, ‘they are only children’.
While the majority of opinion expressed seem to understand the rationale
for the governors’ parental instincts at proper child upbringing, some
seem confused as to the role of the elders in shaping the future
generations while yet others have deliberately chosen to misconstrue the
object and purpose of Ajimobi’s deliberate effort at redeeming the
misguided ones among our secondary school students.

Obviously concerned about the seeming impasse occasioned by the continuing
industrial strike of some government workers, the Oyo State chapter of the
National Association of Parents Teachers Association (NAPTAN) visited
Governor Ajimobi a few  days ago to discuss and find some amicable
solution to the lingering stand-off, especially as it affects  the
re-opening of public secondary schools.

But first a statement of personal interest: I am a parent of three
children, all of whom were once secondary school children in Oyo State; I
have a grandson who will be in secondary school someday soon; I currently
serve in public office as spokesperson to Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo
State. I therefore have a personal stake in the subject under discussion
here. In this piece therefore, I have chosen to speak for MYSELF on a
subject of considerable concern to me as a citizen, parent and public
official.

Not long ago, and like many other residents of Ibadan, I ran into some
public secondary school students who had gone on rampage across the street
of Ibadan the Oyo State capital. The were wielding cudgels and throwing
missiles, harassing road users, destroying properties of private
individuals, wreaking havoc on public resources on their path – with such
glee, impunity and impudence that I could only recoil in utter shock. I
was driving through the stretch from Oke Bola to Molete when I ran into
their barricades ad witnessed what for me was a most traumatizing
experience; I was to learn that other sprees took place around Ikolaba and
Basorun areas of the city. By the last count, about thirteen secondary
schools were found to have been involved in this sacrilegious act of
defiance against Law and Order. To my utter dismay, I was to learn that
some teachers (TEACHERS!) and their friends in the Labour Movement of Oyo
State had gone into those schools to lie to the children, motivate them
with falsehoods and even equipped them for the violent demonstrations.

All through these bizarre happenings, I kept wondering and shuddering at
what the future holds in stock for our community if our twelve, thirteen
and fourteen year-old children could be made to look so much, act very
much, and carry on so equally-to-the-task like marauding ’Area boys and
girls, gone haywire.

I thought I had seen the worst of this until a few days later when I
became an unwitting witness to this serial orgy of violence. Captured in a
series of videos that had gone virile on social media, these apparently
professionally shot documentaries had been exported across the world by
those who clearly took time to plan the riots and hired the videographers
to graphically record the eruptions on tape for the obvious denigration of
Ajimobi, his family and government. But it was more than that; it was an
act of celebration, a testament to their inverted victory at disrupting
the erstwhile peace and tranquility that had pervaded the state since the
advent of this government in 2011.

And oh, what gory pictures and videos of our little children? Happily
wielding offensive weapons, joyously excoriating Ajimobi and his family,
excitedly chanting anti-establishment songs, uncontrollably frothing at
their mouths, those children looked every inch like drunken barbarians at
the gates of the Hell. I could barley watch those videos to the end; even
now I squirm at the thought of what little I saw and can hardly go back to
watch them for fear of seeing those young children turned into beasts, of
babies turned into cannon fodders by an obviously depraved group of adults
who cared so little for these impressionable souls that they thought
nothing of using them as shields and surrogates for battle they themselves
dared not lead.

In a swift response, and to minimize the damage already done to those
children, the government promptly shut down its public secondary schools
to ensure that such mindless and unconscionable adults do not continue to
employ those otherwise innocent children for more dastardly and ruinous
tasks. As if programmed on cue, the teachers and some of their fellow
workers embarked on what is clearly an illegal strike; illegal because all
the normal preconditions for an industrial strike were not met, including
the mandatory notices, etc.  But that’s for the industrial Court to decide
now.

You may recall that the Oyo State government had in May, 2016 invited
stakeholders (including teachers, parents, community representatives, old
students’ associations, etc.)  to an education roundtable to discuss its
proposed initiative on the participatory management of public secondary
schools . Rather than attend like other invited groups, this meeting was
violently disrupted by some individuals, (including some university
professor and other so-called human rights activists as well as known
opposition politicians) who had apparently hijacked a peaceful
demonstration against what was purported to be the government’s plan to
sell its public secondary schools.

Not satisfied with their illegal and antidemocratic behavior and
disruption of a government-organized programme of stakeholder interaction,
these fellows tore into some secondary schools, lied to multitudes of
impressionable students and incited  them onto the streets. Not only were
they made to unleash mayhem and defy constituted authorities, they were
‘engineered’ to cast aspersions and chant unimaginable vituperations
against the person of the governor, his family and the government he
heads. (Premeditated and obviously professionally shot videos subsequently
went viral across the world wide web).

Even after several refutations, explanations and clarifications by
government, some labour leaders, their sponsors and naysayers continue to
spread blatant falsehoods (that secondary schools are up for sale in Oyo
State) and imputations (that the governor and his family have gone ahead
to buy some of the choice flagship schools!). Thankfully, the good people
of Oyo State know better and are hardly taken in by the machinations of
those bent on sowing seeds of disaffection in the minds of citizens.

As I was saying, the Oyo NAPTAN – like other interested, good-natured
stakeholders -came calling on the Governor to see how best to resolve the
unnecessary impasse. In his response, Governor Ajimobi stressed that the
central importance of taking responsibility for all our actions and their
consequences in order not only to be mindful of what we do, in the first
instance, but also to learn from the results of those actions. He spoke
about the fact that there are universal laws that govern all relationships
in Nature; about the fact that without such moderating codes, the world
would have since degenerated into one interminable caudron of chaos. He
took the conversation towards the Yoruba concept of ‘Omoluabi’, the
essence of which is the inculcation and demonstration of all that is noble
in character and social upbringing.  He concluded his philosophical
framing of the issue at hand by stating that no matter how many hours or
moons a parent spends at the alter of prayers, if his/her child is not
properly trained in morals and social etiquette, such a child would
inevitably bring shame and odium to family and community. He reiterated
the popular wise saying that what you sow is what you reap; that we cannot
sow brigandage in the life of a child and expect to reap the virtues of a
saint in latter years.

He then asked his guests to ponder the following questions:
1. As parents, are we teaching our kids the right codes and showing them
good examples that can appropriately prepare them for the future?
2. Is it right and proper for teachers to lie to, indoctrinate and
mobilize their students and wards to be…
–       Disrespectful of constituted authority and the office of a Governor?
–       To openly abuse and malign and make libelous statements about the person
of a Governor without any proof whatsoever?
–       To wield offensive weapons and engage in thuggish behaviours and
–       To destroy public property that were procured at great expense to the
public treasury even while putting them in harm’s way?

3. Can these children be fully and truly rehabilitated without their
formal acts of penitence?

4. Can they fully recognize the depth and gravity of their antisocial
misbehaviour if they are not consciously made to apologize for their
misdemeanor?

5. Were we not all taught in our cultures and religious traditions that
the quickest and surest way to redemption is through forgiveness? And that
this comes in this basic sequence:  first, the recognition and acceptance
of guilt; then, the confession of it; then, the repudiation of it, and
finally; the request for forgiveness by the rendering of an apology.
6. Is it not only right and proper that our misdirected and vagrant
children be shown the right and proper path to redemption rather than can
continue to encourage them to sin and yet hope that glory shall abound?

These are the questions `I ask us to ponder too.

That is why I support the Governor’s fatherly insistence that those
children must confess their vagrant behaviors, reassure that they will not
fall into such habits again and ask for rehabilitation by school and
society. That is why I was completely aghast on reading/listening to some
of the completely surprising reactions to the Governor’s demand by those
who ought to lead the remonstration in the first instance.

Let me leave you with the very reassuring and thankfully redeeming words
of the Punch Editorial of June 29, 2016 which ended in the following
words:
“As for the rampaging pupils, who destroyed property during their
protests, they have gone beyond their bounds. The government should not
allow their indiscretion to go unpunished. Arson is a criminal act and
carrying weapons is illegal. Secondary school pupils should not be
associated with this. The law has to take its full course” – Punch
Editorial June 29, 2016.

Yomi Layinka
Special Adviser,
(Communication & Strategy)
to Senator Abiola Ajimobi,
Governor, Oyo State.

9th July, 2016.

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