Community: Akure people contributed towards building the schools
Mission: We’re ready to let go the school, if Akure community insists
Controversy has continued to trail the ownership of some schools released by the Ondo State Government to their original owners, leaving Akure community and the Anglican Church Communion at each other’s throat
There is deep disquiet following the ownership tussle between Akure community and the Anglican Church Communion over the right owners of some schools to be returned to their original mission owners across the state by the Ondo State government.
The return of some schools forcibly taken over by the state government some decades ago from their mission owners has become a source of discord, tearing apart the community and the Anglican Church community.
The two parties, which are currently at loggerheads, are bickering over the ownership of the “government schools” which the Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN)-led administration is set to hand over to the original mission owners.
The planned return of the primary and secondary schools earlier forcefully taking over under the military regime to their original mission owners is in fulfilment of the state government’s policy to release some schools to their owners following agitations among the missions and the private owners to take back their schools on one hand, and the need to return sanity and restore discipline back in the schools given the present level of moral decadence in the school system.
Thus, when the state government mooted the idea of returning some of the mission schools to their original owners, the motive was to improve quality, enhance access and the delivery of qualitative education in the state.
But, the irony today is that the ownership of some of the schools has continued to generate controversy among some stakeholders, who are now at war over who are the right owners of some of the schools.
Meanwhile, with the return of Aquinas College, Akure, established in 1951 and also Saint Louis Grammar School, Akure that was established in 1960, as well as two other primary schools in Akure to the Catholic Church Mission, their original owners in conformity with the policy of the government, there had also been agitations among the Anglican Church Mission for the return of some their schools to the mission.
While there was no controversy in the case of the ownership of Aquinas College and Saint Louis Grammar School, respectively, however, there have been outcry and disagreement over the ownership of Oyemekun Grammar School and Fiwasaye Girls Grammar School, all in Akure. Oyemekun Grammar School is a boys’ school, while Fiwasaye Girls Grammar School is for girl’s only.
While the Anglican Church Mission is claiming ownership of Oyemekun Grammar School, the Akure community is insisting that the school was built and established by the people and hence it belongs to the community, as its heritage.
Following the contentious claim of ownership of the schools, the Akure Community, led by its monarch, the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, insisted that Oyemekun Grammar School belongs to the community, and the Anglican Church under the leadership of Archbishop of Ondo Ecclesiastical Province, Most Rev. Simeon Borokini is also claiming that the school belonged to the church.
Giving historical background to Oyemekun Grammar School, an old student of the school, Mr Kunle Ajibogun, recalled that the school was established in 1953 by the Akure community when the indigenes, whose children and wards found it difficult to secure admission into Aquinas College, which was said to have been established two years earlier, were agitating for a school that would address the education need of the people and their children.
According to him, one Mr Adinlewa, who incidentally was an Anglican Church priest, was the pioneer principal of the school. Ajibogun further disclosed that it was the Akure community that sponsored the education of this first principal (Adinlewa) to Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone, who in return after his education reciprocated the people’s good gesture by establishing the school for the community.
Akure community’s position
However, stating their position on the ownership of the school, the monarch and the community, who spoke through the Press Secretary to the Deji of Akure, Mr. Michael Adeyeye, said the school was solely founded or built by the Akure community as a result of the yearnings and agitation of the people for secondary school education.
Although he said it was a good idea for the missions to take over some of their schools from the government since funding and management of education could not be left to the government alone, the monarch’s spokesman, vehemently objected to the Anglican Church mission’s claim of ownership of Oyemekun Grammar School, Akure.
He said: “The case of Oyemekun Grammar School is a little bit different and Akure community has said it over and over again that the school is a community school as it came to being as a result of the need for secondary education based on the yearnings of the Akure people for a secondary education during the reign of Oba Afunbiowo Adesida I, who was the 41st Deji of Akure kingdom then.
“By that time, Ondo and Akure communities were almost running head to neck when it came to the issue of development and education.
And, at that time Ondo Boys High School had been established for which the Ondo community was able to get a secondary school ahead of Akure. Later, Aquinas College, Akure was also established through the help and support of the Catholic Church Mission.
“Despite this, Akure people never rested as they wanted a community school and eventually that was what gave birth to Oyemekun Grammar School, And, even from the name of the school, you would realise that it was named after the Akure community.
“If you look at the other schools established solely by the Anglican Communion; such as St. Stephen’s School; St. David’s School; St. George’s School, and so on, were named after the church missionaries.
So, the position as of today is that the school in contention belongs to the Akure community. It is one of the heritages that Akure people and the entire community are holding on to. If you go to Oyemekun Grammar School presently, you will notice that part of
the compound was only carved out and given to the Anglican Mission because they wanted to instil morals, discipline and godly characters into students and this was done because majority of Akure people then were members of the Anglican Church.
This makes it look as if it was the Anglican Church Communion that owned and took charge of the school. It has been said before and should be known that those who were not members of the Anglican Church Communion also contributed to the establishment of the school. “We have people who were not Christians; those who were traditional worshipers who cherished education and also Muslims, and because there was no Muslim school then, they all contributed to the establishment of the school.
“It was a communal effort with the support of the Anglican Church Communion. As we speak, the Chapel in the school is less than 15 years old. The land for the Chapel was requested from the management of Oyemekun Grammar School.
So, if the school and land were theirs (Anglican Church Communion), there would have been no need for them to make such a request before building the chapel.” However, Adeyeye, who stated that the Akure community would not antagonise the Anglican Church from taking over schools that rightly belong to the mission, insisted that Oyemekun Grammar School is purely an Akure community affair.
Although he acknowledged the contribution of the Anglican Church in founding the school, he further added that there were non-Anglican Church members that also contributed to the establishment and growth of the school.
Anglican Church’s position
While reiterating that the reason for the taking over of the management of school from the government by the church was to ensure high moral standard, godliness and discipline among the students, the Anglican Church Mission, however, said that it was ready to hands off the school if the Akure community insists and does not want to surrender it to the Mission.
Meanwhile, the Anglican Bishop of Akure Diocese and Archbishop of Ondo Ecclesiastical Province, Revd Borokini, insisted that Oyemekun Grammar School, Fiwasaye Girls Grammar School and some other schools were founded by the Anglican Church.
He said: “May be they are not aware that when you are talking about the community, you are also talking about the churches. So, you cannot separate the churches from the community.
Who were the people that composed the community at that particular point in time? We have the records, but many of the people in the community have the records and unless they want to deny their history, they can claim that a school, like Oyemekun Grammar School belongs to the community.
“In the case of Fiwasaye Girls Grammar School, it used to be Fiwasaye Anglican Girls Grammar School. But, at some point in time, they decided to remove the Anglican from the name of the school. Also, we have schools like the Ondo Anglican Grammar School, which is very close to the Bishops’ Court, and at a point in time they also removed the Anglican from the name. Today, the school is being referred to as Ondo Grammar School.”
On the reason the school was named Oyemekun Grammar School, and not named after any Anglican Saints, the cleric said that “it doesn’t matter if the school was named Oyemekun Grammar School. We named some churches after personalities and some Saints.” For instance, the Bishop Gbonigi Anglican Church in Oke-Aro, Akure, Revd Borokini pointed out, does not make Bishop Gbonigi’s family the owner of the church.
“For the mere fact that the school was built and named Oyemekun Grammar School does not make it a community school. It was both the community and the church that worked together to build the school,” he added. The Bishop, however, noted that if the community does not want the church to take over the school, there are other schools the church will focus on to take over.
The Bishop further stressed: “So, it is for their benefit and that of the entire people of the state, but if the community said they are not ready to allow the mission to take over the school, we have other schools. What we are doing is that we don’t want posterity to judge us in future, because we do not know what leaving the school to the government could lead to.
“Since the Roman Catholic Mission has taken back their schools, we Anglican Church Mission also cannot fold our hands. We also want our school back. “So, if they are not willing to give up the schools to the mission, there are other schools that we would take over. If they do not want something that is Godly, it is left for them.
And, again, it is whether or not they are happy with the level of moral decadence in the school and the atrocities being perpetrated by the students.”
Old Students’ Association
The National President of the Oyemekun Grammar School Alumni Association, Dr. Adeniyi Ijogun, who said he was not ready to speak much on the issue, however, told New Telegraph that the disagreement would be resolved internally and amicably.
“After the resolution of the matter a statement would be issued on the resolutions arrived at by the community and Anglican Church at the end of the day,” he added.
Meanwhile, records revealed that the Christian Missionaries, who came to the country, and particularly the South-West geopolitical zone of the federation, were the purveyors of primary and secondary school education before the establishment of school by government and other private owners.
The missionaries, who were said to have come with education as a decoy, established schools in parts of the country where the first sets of elites of the country were educated by the missions that brought Christianity to the country.
However, the takeover of the mission schools by the government under the military regime made education the prerogative of the three tiers of government – federal, state and local government – which placed education on the Concurrent List.
And, to oversee the activities of the schools, the government set up various organs and agencies with the responsibility of supervising, regulating and monitoring the affairs of the schools at different levels.
For instance, part of the agencies set up by the Federal Government include the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the State Universal Education Board (SUBEB) at state level which are in charge of Basic Education sub-sector (primary and junior secondary schools), while the Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) in the states is charged with the responsibility of superintending over secondary school education, and the National Universities Commission (NUC) is in charge of university education with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) for polytechnic education, among others