By Emeka Nwokocha
The Executive Director of Value Rebirth & Empowerment Initiative (VREI), a frontline nongovernmental organization in Nigeria, Pastor Edewor Egedegbe, has called on the government of Delta State, stakeholders in the education sector and community members of Marine quarters, Warri to urgently address the infrastructure challenges at Aileru Primary School, Marine quarters, Warri, in Warri South local government area of Delta state.
Pastor Egedegbe made the passionate call on Thursday 18 November, 2021, during a 1-day Stakeholders Capacity Building Programme for Marine Quarters community, organized by VREI in collaboration with Dr. Henry Ovri. The theme of the programme was, ‘Quality Education, A Must For Society for Marine Quarters community.’
Speaking on the topic, “Leadership, Citizens’ Rights & Responsibilities,” Pastor Egedegbe, identified the unbroken link between good leadership and citizens’ rights/responsibilities, stating that, “the roles of the citizens in influencing good governance cannot be over emphasized.”
Continuing, he said, “the focus of our discourse today is to acquaint ourselves with the dilapidated infrastructure at Aileru primary school so that it will spur us to taking collective action to correct the obvious wrongs and catalyse the growth of the school, so as to restoring its old glory and even surpass it.”
Expatiating on the topic, Pastor Egedegbe, spoke concisely on leadership, citizens’ rights, local leadership, community champions, community volunteers, active citizens, and patriotic citizens, noting that they are cardinal pillars that sway good governance. He identified a nexus between good governance and quality education, stating that active citizens’ participation in governance is critical in ensuring political office holders implement the right policies and action that engender development in the society.
He tasked the audience on knowing their rights as enshrined in the 1999 constitution as amended, even as he charged them to be active and patriotic citizens.
He said, “know your rights, obey the laws, respect the rights of other citizens, pay your tax as a government worker or non state actor. I urge you to be an active and patriotic citizen. That way, you must participate in governance by interfacing with your representatives in government; you must ask questions about policies and projects being executed in your community.”
He further charged the people to maintain the infrastructure in their community, even as he enjoined them to be community champions who act as volunteers working assiduously for the development of their communities.
He said, “your community needs you to be champions and volunteers that will catalyze the development of the community and activate modalities to compel the authorities to address the infrastructure need of Aileru primary school.” He added, “a bad situation you didn’t intervene will get worse; when you do nothing, you will get nothing, but when you do something, you get something.”
He charged all to do everything possible to put Aileru primary school in good shape for the good of the society.
Speaking on the topic, “The Value of Education,” an old ‘student’ of Aileru primary school, Dr. Rachael Atomatofa, HOD, Integrated Science, College of Education, Mosogar, spoke eloquently on the importance of education in society. She defined education as, “learning that results in change in behaviour,” adding that education brings development of the mind. She stated, “when you go to school, you become refined, your values change, and everything about you changes rightly.” She further stated, “education helps in moulding society to become a refined entity; it improves our cultures by discarding harmful societal practices such as female circumcision; it gives protection to the female child and empowers her to stand out prominently in the society; and it builds confidence in the child.”
Continuing, she defined school as a place where a person receives formal education, adding that informal education takes place in the home or outside the classroom. She stressed importance of learning in a conducive environment, saying that a school environment must be conducive for learning at all times, noting that a child that learns in conducive environment does better in school and also have good behaviour. “A child performs better in academics when she learns in a conducive environment, but non-conductive environment retards the learner’s performance in school.”
Stating the gains derivable from schooling, Dr. Atomatofa said, “school is a place for learning; you don’t go to school to learn harmful practices; it is not a place for gangsterism, cultism and other social vices; not a place for prostitution, smoking cigarettes and marijuana.”
Dr. Atomatofa added that communities benefit hugely from a functional school, saying it creates jobs; helps communities to grow; and inspires scholarship. She called on stakeholders to add value to schools by planting trees and flowers to beautifying the premises, including renovation of school buildings.
Speaking, residents of Marine quarters, commended VREI for organizing the programme, saying that they would put to practice what they have learned at the programme. Continuing, the duo of Mrs. Oluwakemi Kolawole, and Mrs. Okweri Elo, who have lived in Marine quarters for over 40 years, recalled the pleasant memories of the 70’s and 80’s, saying that Aileru primary school was known for its beautiful and serene environment with bursting population of pupils. They seriously lamented the dilapidated state of the school currently, adding that ravaging flood poses serious threat to the school, saying that owing to the bad state of the school, the population of the school has reduced drastically. They called on governor Ifeanyi Okowa to rehabilitate the school to restore its past glory.
The PTA Chairman, Mr. Joseph Akhamiemona, and the community leader, Mr. Shola Abe, thanked VREI for the programme, saying that it was an expository session the community looks towards to having regularly, noting that the information dished out by the resource persons an ‘eye opener’ for the people of Marine quarters community, even as they promised to take coordinated action to do the needful to ensure Aileru primary school is in good shape.
On the VREI team were Mrs. Stella Odita, moderator of the programme, Dcns Mrs. Joy Egedegbe, Mr. Success Osharekurhe, Mr. Kelvin, Comrade Emeka Nwokocha.