More than half the teachers at a major public primary school in Borno State were absent during school hours on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, made an unscheduled visit to Lamisula Primary school in Maiduguri and demanded to see all the teachers.
Less than half of them turned up.
The governor was in the school to personally present seats and desks to the pupils, following complaints from concerned parents that many pupils seat on bare floor to take their lessons.
Mr. Shettima who was also informed that the school is the largest in the state with a total of 87 teachers, could not believe his eyes when only 38 teachers showed up.
The angry governor demanded the list of all teachers from the head teacher for a head count. To his amazement, most of the teachers who receive monthly salaries, have chosen to stay at home while their pupils and students play all hours in class.
The spokesperson to the governor, Isa Gusau, informed PREMIUM TIMES that the governor has made it a regular practice to visit schools without prior knowledge of teachers.
“Governor Shettima has regularly embarked upon unscheduled visits to assess infrastructural and facility needs of schools and to supervise renovation works being carried out in many schools across the State”, he said.
All senior management staff of the school were drenched in their body sweat as the governor directed the state’s Head of Service, Yakubu Bukar, who was on his convoy, to call out names of teachers in order to identify those absent.
Despite frantic efforts made by some teachers to call their colleagues to show up before the governor completes his head count, only 38 turned up. That figure represents 44.6 per cent of the school’s teaching staff.
The miffed governor questioned the passion and commitment of the teachers who could absent themselves from duty and continue to ignore the decay of infrastructure in the school.
“Those absent will face punishment to serve as deterrent to other teachers and workers” Mr. Shettima said in anger.
“It is really disturbing that in the heart of Maiduguri, our children are seating on the floor to learn despite thousands of school desks we have distributed”, he said.
“We have desks here that are bad and kept in one class, no one brought this to my attention and children who are desirous of learning are now seating on the floor. Even when the pupils are seating on the floor, more than 40 per cent of teachers are absent.”
The governor spent nearly one hour at the school, interacted with each of nearly 1,000 pupils who expressed their displeasure over continuing absence of their teachers from classes.
Lamisula is an elite public school in Borno State. The school has produced a lot of the leaders in the state. It recorded its highest pupil intake in the last few years as Boko Haram chased many residents of neighbouring towns and communities into Maiduguri.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered from some teachers in the school that the situation was even worse in remote local government areas where teachers display similar unbridled lack of commitment to duty.
In his speech, Mr. Shettima reiterated his stance that the only way out of the Boko Haram mess is through education.
“It is in our enlightened self interest to educate these army of uninformed children and youth.
“If we fail to do so, posterity will not only judge us harshly, but these same neglected children will become the Frankenstein monster that will come and consume us all like Boko Haram,” he said.