Roof of Wuye LEA Primary School

By Ndidichukwu Odoh

Nigeria’s Out-of-school problem may just go worse as over 360 pupils of Wuye LEA Primary School in Abuja were locked out of school following an order that the school roof be removed and gates locked on Wednesday.

The LEA primary school is the only public primary school zoned into Wuye district, but has been running in makeshift buildings on a land marked as the permanent site for Federal Government Boys College, Apo.

Gate of Wuye LEA Primary School under lock and key

On Wednesday morning, residents said the roof of the school buildings were allegedly removed to ensure it was no longer convenient for Pupils who are mostly from poor families to access the building for studies while the FCT administration relocates the children to another school.

“This is the only primary school in Wuye. There is no other place our children will go to school,” said Gambadi, whose three children are affected.

Resident in the neighborhood who gave his name as Michael Oche told that workers were sighted taking roofing sheets off roofs of the buildings used as classes in early hours of Wednesday.

The Wuye LEA primary school is populated by mostly rural children whose parents can’t afford private education in the district.

An enquiry by the school’s Parents Teachers Association (PTA) found that the principal of Federal Government Boys College HA Abdullahi allegedly ordered the removal of roofs and lock down of the school.

The chairman of the school’s PTA, Ibrahim al-Hassan, who has spoken on phone with both the principal of FGBC, HA Abdullahi and the federal education ministry’s permanent secretary, Sonny Echono, said both men have been passing the blame from one to the other.

Efforts to reach Abdullahi through calls and messages were abortive, Residents said the LEA school which started under a tree, then moved into abandoned buildings on the site has been locked for three days and pupils sent home.

On Wednesday, the FCT education authorities which control the LEA school agreed to convert one structure on the site into temporary classrooms pending a permanent structure.

By Thursday morning, the gate was shut and a civil defender placed on sentry duty on instruction of the principal of FGBC.

“What I see is that the principal of the FGBC, the permanent secretary, and the people of FCDA, their plan is to spoil the knowledge of the children of Wuye,” said Al-Hassan.

“Removing this roof means our children will not go to school.”

Chika Offor, of Vaccine Network, which has helped drive up enrolment of girls amidst plans to repurpose classrooms for nursery learning, said both education authorities of both the federal government and the FCT are having “this confusion as to who owns the school or not”, adding, “All those things are irrelevant to the children.”

“What is relevant to the children is to have a place where they go to school. If FGBC says the land is theirs, fine. If LEA says it wants a small portion of land where the children can go to school, no problem. The problem now is when you drive the children from this place, where do you want the children to be?” said Offor.

“We have a lot of girl children from different communities who have now been convinced to attend school here. Some of them just started last term. What will become of them? How do you go back to re-convince the parents that schooling is important?”