BY AKIN FADEYI.
I've been battling with cold, catarrh and other weather and stress-induced ailments for days. But somehow was dragged into some high demanding tasks this week. I had the urge to eat something from cooking pots steaming on naked fire. Before my official engagements would commence, I headed for an Amala joint off Mabuchi road adjacent NEXT SUPERSTORES in Abuja.
As we made to get into the Bukateria, my colleagues (Gàníyù Olówu ,Adun O Martins and I spotted about 17 students of GSS Mabuchi sitting and chatting the day away on the fence shielding the Amala joint. The hour of the day, like 11am was awkward for students to be lazying around instead of studying in school. Well, there was the first "Wetin konsign me" salient reaction. But getting into the premises, something about what I saw did not sit well with me. Same discomfort was running through Gani.
Gani went to the fence and out of sheer anger mixed with love and hope for these students to do well in future, he ordered them to go back to school. Reluctantly, looking at Gani and wondering "who appointed this Moses over us", they got up and were walking away. Then something struck me. What if these students, rather than go back to school now pair themselves into BOY and GIRL and go into further valentine "Biology practicals" a way from our sight at some venue from our reach? I beckoned to Gani to hold fire and chose to engage the students. I greeted and exchanged banters with them. When they relaxed and felt comfortable a little, I asked them "why are you not in school?". They said "we were chased out for school fees". I asked "how much". Listen to this…they said #2,350. Two Thousand, three hundred and fifty Naira only!!!! This is the sum of money these boys and girls couldn't pay and for which their futures might waste!
I was touched! So I told them to write their names and their reachable phone numbers in a piece of paper for me which they did. I told them "go home now, but go back to school tomorrow". They looked curious and wondered "how". I said to them again, JUST GO TO SCHOOL TOMORROW! We based ourselves Bye and then I told my colleagues, "let's go to the school". When we got there, we met with the Principal who told us "Yes, we chased them because they've been owing. Then he added the very painful part. He said "Do you know these students are house helps to some very big people in this Abuja? They will send their own children to good private schools home and abroad but keep their house helps here with us and still refuse to pay their little school fees"! I considered that the UNKINDEST CUT OF ALL!
But what can anyone do? I felt angry and sad at the same time!
I collected the school's account number, did the needful and those students will be back in school tomorrow. I shall do this more and more. I shall check into schools and seek to help. Today I helped TEN. If you also help 10, and someone else helps 10 and 10 of us help 10, we would have assisted 100 students and keep them in the four walls of schools rather than send them out to the wolves! We would save them from one demented ritual killer or one insane kidnapper lurking in the dark like a panther ready to pounce!
In this society, beleaguered by greed, avarice and stolen funds stashed in a "lucky" soak-away, we must be our brothers' keepers. The Principal Mr. Maikeffi Brown Adamu, The Vice Principal, Mrs. Ibrahim and the second VP, Mr. Paulinus were so shocked they became prayer warriors pouring heartfelt supplications to God in gesture of appreciation. While saying AMEN to make them happy, I actually felt in my heart, GOOD FOR NOTHING SLAVE THAT I AM, WHAT I OUGHT TO DO I HAD DONE! Gani and I walked away, and are still fulfilled as I type!