BY KAYODE ANIMASAUN
Ijo Mimo Oluwa High School, along ijoka road in Akure, the Ondo state capital is currently witnessing crises that have led to serious loggerheads between the school principal, Mrs Abiola Fashina and the chairman, Parent Teacher Association, PTA, Pastor Ajibola Owolanke.
The crises have also caused division among the staff as well as parents and have drastically affected academic and social activities of the school.
The lingering crises, it was gathered, has made Mrs Fashina to be under serious fire over allegations of misappropriation of part of funds meant for the payment of NECO examination in 2020.
Mrs Fashina was also alleged of illegally collecting money from students ,a step that has now led to uproar in the school from parents.
It was gathered that the principal who was deployed to the school late 2019 had allegedly mismanaged about a sum of #439,600 meant for the NECO registration of the SS3 students sitting for the 2020 examination.
A source who preferred anonymity told our correspondent that Mrs Fashina in connivance with some teachers and the current school registrar, Mr Atiba embarked on illegal collection of another #2,000 from each student without the approval of the state ministry of education.
Investigation however revealed that #2,000 was collected from 175 final year students by the former registrar of the school, Mr Adeyemo, which in total was #355,000 in collaboration with all parents and the leadership of the school.
Investigation also revealed that the #355,000 collected had been in operation in the school with the purpose of bribing all external invigilators from both WAEC and NECO for them to give room for examination malpractices which had been helping past students of the school to clear all their papers.
A source in the school said that “They used to collect some money from the parents with the involvement of the registrar. They all used to have meetings with the parents to pay a sum of #4,000 so that they can help students during exams.
When broken down, #2,000 is always deducted from the #4,000 per students for examination malpractices. The remaining #2,000 is for project and collection of testimonials and whatever left in the money meant for invigilators, they have always been sharing it among themselves. ”
Though the principal denied being aware of such development, it was gathered that she got aware of such illegal act when she got to the school ,questioned it but was asked to ‘look away’ just like her predecessors had been looking away.
It was gathered that it had been the practice in the past and that former principals always looked away and pretended as if they were not aware.
It also was gathered that the relationship between the principal and the PTA chairman turned sour in 2020 when schools resumed after the Lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a source who preferred anonymity, Mrs Fashina borrowed a sum of #439,600 from the former registrar to purchase necessary items needed for the new COVID19 guidelines by the state government and clear the school premises, a step that did not go well with the registrar and the PTA chairman.
In an interview, the PTA chairman, Pastor Owolanke said “When she was posted in 2019, there was no rancour between her and the parents because she was cooperating with us and we were friends . I have been working with four or five principals in the school without any misunderstanding to the extent that no money is spent in the school without my signature to approve it and I have never been involved in any corrupt practice in the school.
Singlehandedly, I have once borrowed the school a sum of #150,000 from my purse to help the ongoing projects in the school before the lock down.
The school had paid back #100,000 and it remains #50,000. So , if I could borrow the school money, I am not going to be involved in any act that could dent my image as a pastor.
Even in the ministry of education, the officials recognise me more than the principal, maybe because I am more vocal than she is, I don’t know. Many times ,she has asked me to represent her at events. So we have been friends since she came in.
Before the lock down due to covid-19, the State government gave us an approval to collect #1,000 from each student for the renovation of the school hall. The principal didn’t spent a kobo from the money. We all monitored how the money collected was expended on the project.
We have 1,326 students in the school so we got # 1,326,000 from all students and having spent the money and there were still work to do on the hall because the iron sheets purchased were not enough to cover the roof.
We have to go for another 13 bundles at the rate of #15,600 each. We could not get money so my brother stood for us as surety which cost us around #300,000.
All money in PTA account has been spent on the project as of September last year. So after lock down, the school needed money to do some repairs and clear the premises.
Meanwhile,I didn’t know that the school registrar, Mr Black Adeyemo had collected NECO registration fee from SS3 Students and that the principal had been borrowing money from him but I was not concerned about whatever happens between the two of them.
When I was involved was the time when it was just two days left for NECO registration to close. On that fateful day, my Treasurer called me that the PTA must rescue the school because all the money that the principal borrowed ,she didn’t want to pay back and NECO registration will close in two days.
I had to call a meeting and invite stakeholders in the school, the two Vice Principals, including the Principal to avoid any embarrassment. At the meeting, Mrs Abiola Fashina and the school Registrar , Mr Black Adeyemo were arguing on the amount of money she borrowed from him.
It was then we knew that she had actually borrowed from the school registrar. , Mr Black Adeyemo. So when they called us that NECO registration will close , and that we would need over 900,000 to pay NECO for the examination. She claimed she didn’t have money to balance up.
However, there is another #4,000 the school collect from all SS3 Students every year. We tagged the money ‘Project money’ because I am aware of that money.
The purpose of the #4,000 is to take out of it to carry out some projects like renovation of classes and buying needed items in the name of the set that contribute the money and name it after them. We also use part of the money to entertain external invigilators that came during the examination.
Part of the money is also used by the students to collect their testimonials. In fact, Principal is not always involved in the collection of the said money. So it is sole responsibility of PTA to collect such money and set aside the money meant for the collection of testimonials which is #1,000 per student and hand such money to the Principal in charge.
That has been the tradition from time immemorial, during formal principals, Fakolade , Adeyeye and Olaoye , and we have even collected for the current set of SS3 Students in the school.
Those who wanted to write the last NECO exam were 157 in number, so the registrar brought along #157, 000 to the meeting and handed it over to me openly, saying that’s the amount deducted from the #4,000 collected from the SS3 Students and meant for execution of projects on their names.
So we now asked her how she would pay the almost #600,000 with her but she started crying, so I had pity on her to rescue the situation. The #157,000 given to me by the registrar and another #50,000 from my personal purse was handed over so as to make sure our students registered for the examination. She later signed an undertaking to pay back the money soon with her vice principals as sureties. I have copies of the documents.
Since then ,she had changed to me. She took over all duties of the registrar in anger. She later replaced him with one Mr Atiba and has been trying not to involve us in her decisions again .
The ministry of education is fully aware of this case and they have invited me and i have told them my own side of the story.
I told them that she had also been collecting illegal ,#2,100 from SS1 students instead of the approved #1,100 and She has been queried over that.
On the issue of ongoing school Hall project,the ministry gave us a go ahead to collect #1,000 per student and commence the rehabilitation of the hall. We have spent more than #3million to the hall because we have also spent all the money from the statutory #900 PTA fee that students pay in the state.The project is yet to be completed.
She cannot singlehandedly issue cheque, so all money spent on the hall project was spent jointly. The only issue is that the money she borrowed, she is yet to return it.
We have been paying that ‘project money’ for the past four to five years and all parents that have children in SS3 class know that that’s the tradition. That’s why our children have been coming out with flying colours in their exams.
I initiated the idea of that #4, 000. I summoned all parents to meeting and threw the idea that we needed to do some certain things and they accepted it and agreed to be paying the money with joy every year.
They know that for the past four to five years that I have been leading them , our children have been doing well in their exams.
My advice is that Mrs Fasina and some few teachers should be transferred from the school because things are falling apart in the school at the moment. Without that, the school can not grow.”
In a reaction, the school principal, Mrs Fashina alleged that the PTA chairman was doing everything to unseat her, adding that the allegations were baseless.
Fashina said “They want to frustrate the administration of the school. Some teachers, most especially the former registrar and the PTA chairman.
It is the PTA executives and some of the teachers that have been in this school for so long and have made themselves an institution. They want to bring the administration of the school down and I have been to the ministry to explain everything to them and they are on it. They have even asked me to bring the list of those teachers that are causing problems in the school.
So it is the PTA executives of the school, most especially the chairman of the PTA, Pastor Ajibola Samuel Owolanke.
When I first came to the school, the teachers told me that the tenure of the current PTA executives has expired and that they don’t want them any longer because of the way they act. In fact I was briefed on how my predecessor made plans to dissolve them and have a new leadership and how they went behind to get a letter from the state PTA that their tenure should be extended.
And when I came ,I pleaded with the two parties (teachers and parents) to allow peace to reign in the school. I didn’t know all they have been doing before I came in November 2019, I don’t know they will extend it to me. They act like they want to usurp my position.
I have been having issues with the PTA. I told the PTA the demands of my teachers. I told them they should change for peace to reign.
In fact, my teachers told me how they have been parading the school and monitor their activities as if they were inspectors. They come to this school every day and the teachers complained on that.
They always instigate students against teachers . Something happened last week. Some students came to school and said they wanted to collect their testimonials. I was wondering how could multitude of students come for collection of testimonials.
I told them they should come in batches because their testimonials could not be processed at once. We would need some information from them and use such details to write their testimonials. That’s what I told them and they started shouting, they went out outside and started throwing stones to the roof. I had to call the police to rescue me. I have also reported the case to the ministry of education.
The PTA leadership should vacate their offices because they have outlived their offices. There has been one crisis or the other since they have been in office.
On the issue of money they claimed i embezzled, after the lock down that we resumed last year, and the students normally pay #1,000 for project. They said they wanted to use the money for the completion of the hall but I kicked against it.
When we resumed, the school was so bushy and so dirty that nobody could enter anywhere. The government asked us to clear everywhere on our own and that we must not engage the students to do it . They also suggested that we consult the PTA to assist. I called them and told them the situation of things and how they could help me.
Obviously, we all knew there was no money in the PTA account because of the hall project we are executing. So I told them that we should borrow the money the students paid for practical for clearing of the school. In fact the money was not enough because we bought buckets, sanitisers , infrared thermometers .
Those who wanted to clear the bush asked us to pay #300,000 which the PTA were all carried along as we did all that and I said that was on the high side.
Surprisingly, the PTA chairman had earlier rejected the suggestion of using project money for same purpose and insisted that the project money must not be spent for other purposes. He directed that it must be paid into PTA account.
It is true that the money is the project money and traditionally, the students decide how the money would be spent. But to rescue the situation, we would need to use the money to buy necessary things and clear the premises and sort it out later since it’s our responsibility to take care of the school and that government did not give us anything for same purpose.
That was why the problem started. I didn’t know the man from Adam . I just thought we could live together in peace. But he would be acting as if he was the principal.
The former registrar, Mr Samson Adeyemi is a Rogue and that was why he was transferred out of the school. He had been the one collecting both WAEC and NECO registration fee from students.
When I came i tried to correct that system that the students ought to be paying directly into the bank.He claimed that the students might end up paying into other schools ,that that was how he had been collecting it before I came. If I had known I would have stood my ground. At least this year ,the students paid into the bank and when government said we should refund the students, we did without any hitch.
There was a time some parents came to me that Mr Adeyemo was demanding #30,000 from them to get their children admitted. I called him and cautioned him. He was angry because I warned him. I didn’t know he and the PTA chairman have connived together to be doing all that atrocities.
I called the registrar and told him why we must rescue the situation because government officials were moving around and sanctioning schools that failed to comply with covid-19 protocols and that I didn’t want my school to be sanctioned.
He told me that it was only money meant for NECO registration that was with him. I asked him that what of other money, like the payment of the project money? He said the students have not paid. That’s where they roped me . I then questioned him that I learnt that there was a way he used to sort the money out in the past.
Because I know what he always did was that once students paid for exams, he would first remove that #4,000 project money and would go back to the students to tell them that they needed to balance their exams fee for the school to register them. But he told me that the students have not been paying, that it was only NECO money that was with him.
I then told him that he would have to take out of the NECO money so that we can sort the school out and later when students pay other charges, they will balance it up.
That’s where they roped me that I collected NECO money from them.I showed the PTA how we spent the said money in the school.
Surprisingly, they turned it around and alleged me that I am owing NECO money. They now ganged up with Adeyemi and asked him not to handover other money with him till I looked else where to pay back the money.
They forced me and maltreated me to sign the undertaking that I borrowed NECO money. I was under duress ,in fact ,if u see me that day, you will pity me because they threatened me that they would now allow the NECO registration to take place if I didn’t sign the undertaking, so that my name will be tarnished and proberbaly the ministry will sanction me and parents will storm this place.
So all the practical money and the Admin charges that it is only the principal that knows how to dispense it was added as my debt to sign and alleged me of collecting illegally. In fact, I was the one who sourced for the practical and admin charges during the exams because I paid those people that carried out the practical.
The PTA chairman has instigated parents and alumni unions against the school. Some old students have come here to help us ,but we would not see them again. They would come on their own to help us, but this people would go behind and turn them against the school.
I caused it because I have put all my trust on him and now he has turned himself to a small god. I have been warned several times even from the ministry of education but I still trusted him. He even has represented the school in the ministry and people kicked against it, but because I wanted everyone to live in harmony for the development of the school. ”
Meanwhile ,it was gathered that the ministry of education headed by the permanent secretary, Mrs Lola Amuda had summoned and questioned Mrs Fashina to come and explain all that transpired .
A source said “ she had been summoned and she had confessed to some of the allegations and denied others .She had also agreed to refund the embezzled fund.
Report on her case had been submitted and necessary action would soon be taken so as to ensure sanity in the school.But I must tell you, she will be transfered to another school.
She has also been asked to refund the money they tagged ‘project money ’ and collected from the current SS3 students to the parents. ”
When contacted ,Mrs Lola Amuda, the permanent secretary, ministry of education, science and technology confirmed the crisis in Ijo mimo high school, Akure, saying investigation had commenced on various allegations against all parties involved.
Amuda said “The ministry actually received reports from some old students and some parents and we have investigated and we have taken some actions so, the concerned individuals can be rest assured that the ministry is on top of the matter and we have taken necessary steps towards addressing issues raised so that sanity will be restored.
We have asked the school principal to take some steps and i believed the steps should have been taken by now. We actually gave her specific directives as what to do and I believe by now she must have complied.
On the school’s involvement in examination malpractices during WAEC and NECO, she said
“We are still carrying out investigations and until we have full report,then we shall take necessary steps. The zonal education officer , Akure south has been directed to take necessary steps over the matter.”