ADIEU TO MY FRIENDS’ ALMA-MATERS
Mr.Onyekachi Observer Emekowa and Miss Chihurumnanya Grace Ohalete are indigenes of Uru-Ogwa Community in Mbaitoli local government area of Imo State . Apart from being close friends of mine, Emekowa and Ohalete were by my primary schoolmates at the Community Primary School , Uru-Ogwa.
Upon the successful completion of our primary education, we ent into secondary schools.I got admitted into the Umueze Ogwa Secondary School , Ogwa, while Emekowa and Ohalete found theirselves at the Ogwa Comprehensive Secondary School and Ogwa Girls' Secondary School, respectively.
Having graduated from these three secondary schools, which were the pride of Ogwa Clan, we came to be proud old students of these three schools.This posture remained like that until January 4, 2010 when the Imo State government decided to merge the Ogwa Comprehensive Secondary School and the Ogwa Girls' Secondary School. With this development, both Emekowa and Ohalete, along with thousands of other indigenes and non-indigenes of Ogwa, who had passed through the two affected school lost their alma-maters.
The State Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim had, at a stakeholder's forum held on Monday, January 4, 2010 said the government was embarking on the policy of disarticulation and re-articulation of Junior and Senior Secondary schools in the state in order to reduce cost and make teachers available for teaching functions.
Under the policy of disarticulation, the Ogwa Comprehensive Secondary School and the Ogwa Girls' Secondary School, which, as at the time of the merger had a total number of 100 and 90 students, respectively were among the 10 secondary schools in the state affected.
Not few indigenes of Imo State , especially those from my native Ogwa Clan saw the state government's action as an act of marginalization but I refuse to see it so. I believe Governor Ohjakim acted in good fate to save our educational system from crash landing.
Though, it is not untrue that successive governments in the state had paid less attention to the development of infrastructures in primary and secondary schools in the state, but the people of Imo State, nay South-East geo-political zone had always relied on their self-help efforts to maintain structures of schools in their domain, not minding the fact that these schools were managed by government.
In Ogwa Clan, the story was not different as the people of the area, through their various village meetings mobilized to raise funds in order to maintain the infrastructures in the three secondary schools in the clan, not minding the part of the Clan where the schools were located.
Left for me, I will say that the reduction in the number of students at the two secondary schools in Ogwa, which finally forced the Ohakim-led government to merge them, was caused by the creation of autonomous communities in Ogwa Clan. Today, Ogwa, which was once noted for its peaceful disposition has, being split into five communities with five government-recognized traditional rulers.
The five autonomous communities are Ibeama-Ogwa, Oboro-Abazu-Ogwa, Idume-Ogwa, Alaenyi-Ogwa and Umunneato-Ogwa.
At the end of the day, the Oboro-Abazu-Ogwa had two secondary schools, the Umueze-Ogwa Secondary School and the Ogwa Girls' Secondary School on its soil while the Ogwa Comprehensive Secondary School found itself in Umunneato- Ogwa.The three other communities namely; Ibeama-Ogwa, Alaenyi-Ogwa and Idume-Ogwa were left with no secondary school.
My native Ogwa people seem to have forgotten that almost all of them pass through one of these three secondary schools, which they have succeeded in contributing to their dearth.
It is on record that there is no community in Ogwa Clan that does not have at least one private secondary school and these private schools are well patronized by indigenes of the host autonomous communities. Most communities who have only private school are tasking themselves to ensure that they encourage their people to establish more.
Let us all know that such ugly situation is not limited to Ogwa Clan alone but to all other parts of Imo State as our people have allowed the issue of the creation of autonomous communities to over-shadow our sense of reasoning, thereby jeopardizing the right of our children (born and unborn) to qualitative education.
Yes, we love having our autonomous communities with our own traditional rulers and a lot of us agitated for the creation of such communities. But one thing we forgot was that, the creation of autonomous communities will affect our lives negatively, especially in the area of infrastructural development in our communities, our secondary schools being the worst hit.
Today, it is our schools that are affected, tomorrow, it may be the hospitals, but God forbid.
Creation of autonomous communities is good but is cost my generation what we valued much, education.
What do we tell the next generation?, That we allowed the creation of autonomous communities to snatch two secondary schools from Ogwa Clan or what?
I will never stop to wonder!
Onukwugha is a journalist based in Port Harcourt , Nigeria .