The committee stated that evidence of the inquiry showed that BCMPS is an Anglican School built in 1956 and should be given to the Anglican Church.
Chikadibia Obichukwu Jr
Many right-thinking people of Anambra State, including scores of professionals, academics, legal luminaries, clergy of all denominations, traditional institutions and leaders of thought are daily watching the unfolding drama of pain and theatre of the absurd unfolding in Anambra State as Governor Willy Obiano continues to maintain a firm grip on Bishop Crowther Memorial Primary School (BCMPS), Nkisi Road, Onitsha. In spite of entreaties, he has vehemently declined to released the school to the Anglican Church.
It is not a political imperative for a government to fight the church, as posterity will not be gracious to the so-called shakers and movers of history who are bent on distorting facts and realities of history.
It is un-Christian for those in authority to unleash political, denominational, literary and unbridled brutality against the Anglican Church.
This is coming at a time the real enemies of the state are, through thick and thin, deceiving leadership in the state even when available records clearly showed that the Bishop Crowther Memorial Primary School, Onitsha, belongs to the Anglican Church. Truth, it is said, is sacred. It is also as stubborn as a banana peel on the surface of the river: it cannot sink, no matter the forces of oppression and suppression.
It is shameful that even though the National Archives had stacked away documents on the ownership of the BCMPS, Onitsha, government commissioned writers and other faceless sycophants and hangers-on, who embraced journalism of stomach infrastructure solely to attack, rubbish, disparage and lower the dignity and office of members and leadership of the Anglican Church in the State. Succinctly documented in the National Archives is the fact that the BCMPS, Onitsha, was established by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1956. The original signboard of the school lends credence to this fact.
The state government should not be oblivious of the fact that, in 1926, the CMS was already in possession of a mission property in the Government Reservation Area (GRA) in Onitsha Waterside. It was, in fact, on this land that BCMPS was built in 1956, which was then referred to as Primary School, Nkisi Road (Government Reservation).
According to available archival records, on May 11, 1957, the CMS had requested that the following schools they built be transferred to the Local Authority, namely, Nkisi Road, Inland Town, Nupe Square, Fegge, Lafiagi Square, Fegge, Agaie Square, Fegge and Otu Obosi Square, Fegge. The back-up letter of the same May 11, 1957, was signed by the Provincial Education Officer, while the CMS Officer endorsed it on May 13, 1957.
Unfortunately, the Anglicans have placed these facts, with copies of historical records attached, before Governor Obiano, but because of circumstances beyond his control, which was possibly out of undue pressure from the enemies of progress, he has continued to prevaricate.
It should be noted that, on July 25, 1957, the Provincial Education Officer referred to the letter signed by the CMS for these aforementioned schools to be made Local Authority Schools. On November, 19, 1957, the Provincial Education Officer again stressed the need for more buildings to be added to the above listed schools, which the CMS happily obliged.
On November 26, 1957, the same Provincial Education Officer reminded the CMS that an agreement had not been completed on some of the CMS schools transferred to the Local Authority, which was also perfected on December 31, 1957. Like what is obtainable today between the Anambra State Government and the churches, the then Local Authority paid the teachers, while the CMS, according to records, managed the schools.
That was exactly why, in1970, the Local Authority schools managed by the CMS were transferred to the East Central State Government under the government takeover of schools (Public Education Law). In 2011, the Anambra State government signed an act to return schools, primary and post-primary, previously owned by the church, primarily to facilitate the grant of subvention to such voluntary agencies.
Out of the six CMS (Local Authority) schools already stated above, only three were returned to the Anglican Church: Inland Town (now Obi Okosi Primary School, Onitsha), number 163, Otu Obosi Square, Fegge (now Niger City Primary School, Fegge, Onitsha), number 174, and Nupe Square (now Nupe Primary School, Fegge, Onitsha), number 175.
Unforrtunately, out of the six CMS Schools listed above, three are being held by government for no justifiable reason, contrary to its law and decision on the return of schools to the church. The relevant schools include Nkisi Road, Government Reservation (Crowther Memorial Primary School, Onitsha), Lafiagi Square, Fegge (Lafiagi Primary School, Fegge, Onitsha) and Agaie Square, Fegge (now Agaie Primary School, Fegge, Onitsha).
This rather deliberate and costly omission was brought to the attention of the Anambra State government, which listened to the yearnings and aspirations of the people and set up a committee to look into the barrage of agitations and protestations, following the non-return of some schools to their rightful owners.
On February 21, 2012, the same Anambra State Government inaugurated the Justice Godwin Ononiba Committee to handle the explosive issue. Although the committee submitted its report to Government since December 28, 2012, the White Paper is yet to see the light of day.
Now that the report of the committee has gathered enough dust and cobwebs at Government House, Awka, common sense dictates that the relevant mouthpiece of government would have gone to town by publishing the White Paper of the Justice Ononiba report for all to see its recommendations.
Actually, the committee stated on page 43 of the report that evidence of the inquiry showed that BCMPS is an Anglican School built in 1956 and should be given to the Anglican Church.
From these submissions, factual and truthful archival records, the Anambra State government should no longer delay in implementating the Justice Ononiba Committee report. The government of Chief Willie Obiano will be doing the state the greatest good if he can summon courage and political will to hand over the school to the Anglican Church. Failure to do just that will amount to violation of Anambra State Government law on the return of schools to voluntary agencies, which was formulated in 2011. Let the government not be responsible for fuelling a crisis that can fan the embers of disunity, religious discrimination, marginalisation and denominational hatred in the state, as history will always, and surely, vindicate the just.
Rev. Obichukwu Jr wrote in from Fegge, Onitsha