…PTA chairman’s inability to embezzle money, elongate his tenure, responsible for false allegations – Parents
…I stated the obvious; those accusing me are hired labourers benefiting from the school – Ofobike
By Elizabeth Uwandu
The last may not have been heard of the spread of an undisclosed illness that allegedly affected over 1000 students of Queens College, QC, Lagos, one of Nigeria’s foremost unity schools, following counter- accusations by some parents on the one hand and the parents teachers association, PTA chairman, Mr John Ofobike on the other hand.
Although the Lagos State Ministry of Health through the Permanent Secretary, Mr Ayomide, had since refuted the claim after he paid a visit to the school, he however, stated that there was incidence of flu across various schools in the state, adding that investigation was on by a team of medical personnel to address the situation.
Meanwhile, some parents are alleging that the PTA chairman had ulterior motive in coming out with report of spread of undisclosed illness in the school. “Why didn’t he go to the media three years ago when three students died from diarrhoea outbreak which also led to several students being hospitalised across various hospitals in the state? Why didn’t he call for PTA meeting now when he visited the school to see the students? It seems Ofobike is playing politics with the lives of our daughters,” an aggrieved parent stated.
Also at a recent press briefing organised by some parents of Queens College students, led by Mrs Esther Olubunmi, an erstwhile principal of the school was fingered to be responsible for the power tussle between the school management and the PTA chairman.
According to Mrs Olubunmi: “The allegation of an epidemic is propaganda. But the genesis of this problem started during the tenure of a former principal of the school. She not only imposed Ofobike as the PTA chairman, she turned QC into a money-making machine.
“Despite her transfer from QC due to the outbreak of diarrhoea that claimed the lives of our daughters and her being placed in an exalted position, she has continued to show interest in the school.”
Another parent identified as Mrs Ogunyemi said the erstwhile principal sent another principal to the school because she had an issue with the current QC principal, Dr Tokunbo Yakubu-Oyinloye. “Imagine having two principals on the assembly ground on the day of resumption? We were alerted by our children and upon inquiry, we learnt that the former principal was the one that sent the new principal after she had an issue with the current principal over finances.
“I want to believe the former principal and Ofobike have an agenda for spreading lies against QC,” Ogunyemi said.
“It is also noteworthy that Ofobike’s failure to get the principal’s backing to compel the parents in June to pay N5,000 each for their wards for the renovation of the PTA building when his tenure will be expiring on October 15, fuelled his anger. On realising that the panel set up to investigate the principal over unfounded rumours was not in his favour, made him go to the media to declare there was epidemic in Queens College.
“When there was epidemic three years ago, he denied it. Now that there is no epidemic, he is saying there is epidemic. Our concern as parents now is that Ofobike (PTA chairman) should be held responsible if anything happens in QC,” another parent added.
I stated the obvious; those accusing me are the ones benefiting from the school
– PTA chairman
When Vanguard contacted Queens College, PTA chairman, Mr. John Ofobike, who initially declined to comment on the flu issue since the Lagos State Ministry of Health was on it, explained that the report of an outbreak of sickness in the school was true.
When asked why the figure stated seemed exaggerated, the PTA chairman observed that it was the inability of the principal to show him and his colleagues the medical report of the students affected that made them assume the figures were high, having visited the sickbay and found several students there.
Ofobike said: “On the issue of the number of students that went home, I won’t go into that because the Ministry of Health is on it. However, the question is; was there any health issue in the school? The answer is obvious.
“Even the doctor that they called to take care of the children also reported on the platform lastThursday that over 100 students have left for home. When we got this news of students being sick, on Sunday, myself and the treasurer went to the school and asked the principal to see the record, she refused. If you don’t have any hidden agenda, why are you hiding the record even from the stakeholders?
“And on Tuesday when they heard that the Permanent Secretary was coming, they bought new beds and new mattresses. The issue is that in 2017 when we had similar issue, the Ministry came to our aid and gave us some amount. Where is the money? Because if the N70 million has been used to do the water plant, we won’t be having water issue now,” he said.
Reacting to the allegation of him wanting to embezzle money knowing that his tenure was about to end, Ofobike said: ”How can I embezzle money from parents? I have my own business. What I believe is that corruption is fighting back and those complaining are labourers and are the ones benefiting from the school.
“On trying to elongate my tenure as PTA chairman through distraction by going to the Press, I never try to distract anyone in order to contest again. Our constitution states that election should be conducted every three years and within the first term of a session.
“PTA is not the job I do for a living. I come here any time there is a meeting and once I’m through, I go home or to my office. So those complaining are labourers; they are the ones benefiting from the school,” he said
“Accusing a former principal of instigating the media report and my wish to elongate my tenure are all lies. When you know your hands are clean, why are you bothered? The Ministry has sent people to investigate, so why pointing fingers? Ofobike queried.
On the issue of demanding N5,000 from parents, the PTA spokesperson, Mrs Ify Obi-Nwoye explained: “The principal is aware of the N5000, she was in the meeting when the donation was raised, however, because the principal was queried by the Ministry over the management imposing levy on SS3 students, she then turned back to query the PTA chairman. “she noted,
No infection in QC — QCOGA
Queen’s College Old Girls Association, QCOGA has stated that there was no case of infection in the school. This is as they warned against unverified reports.
In a release signed by QCOGA general secretary, Engr. Ayomide Onakoya, the association said: “We will leave no stone unturned to ensure the quality of the school and quality of care for every student. “We write in response to a report in the Punch Newspaper of September 30, 2019 headlined: Again, infection breaks out in Queen’s College, hundreds of pupils affected. We appreciate Punch Newspaper’s right to exercise its freedom of press but would request that a thorough investigation is conducted to accurately report the health situation of the students at Queen’s College. An accurate report prevents public panic, and also helps everyone develop appropriate strategies and remedies to address the realities on ground.
“Our investigations started on September, 26 when we heard of the issue, revealed that: *The QCOGA Medical Committee comprising a wide range of medical professionals have been in contact with the school authorities over allegations made. Based on their visit and discussions , some students are affected by the flu with only 2 students in the sickbay as at Sept. 30, 2019.
*Our findings have shown no relation to any other illness and thus has no correlation with any water- related epidemic,” the release noted.
To avoid unpleasant issues in QC, govt. should make the principal’s tenure stable
Parents who spoke to our reporter noted that there are tired of incessant unpleasant reports in Queens College. They noted that the federal government should ensure that principal transferred to the school spend enough time with the students. Mrs Chika “ Looking at what has been happening in QC. I believe constant transfer of principals to the school is a major setback. Students are unable to bond with the new principal, and as such would not be able to share their experiences.
“So, on the part of the government, I just want the Federal Government to have a stable principal in Queens College for the first time.” the mother pleaded.
Another parent, Mr Kunle Tayo ( not real name ) said, “My daughter is in SS3 she entered in 2012, from 2012 to this time the, school has had the following principals: Mrs Osime was there from 2012-2015; Doctor Lamia Amodu 2015-2017; Dr Mrs Bola Aare 2017-2018 and then Mrs Yakub Tokunbo 2018 till date. This does not speak good about the school and the students in general.” Mr Tayo explained. What QC needs now is a principal like Dr. Mrs Bola Aare who our children called Grandma. She was able to treat these children like her own. It is a pity, she could not continue to be the principal as she retired.