Mr Olatunde Sulola, Tutor General, Oyo State Post Primary School Teaching Service Commission Zone Office, Ogbomoso, recounts his attempts to rectify teachers’ actions of insubordination, such as truancy and abandoning duties, which eventually attracted the fury of the state Park Managers, who attacked his office. In this interview with FEMI OGUNLANA of ogbomosoinsightonline, Sulola discusses his nefarious findings in the schools under his supervision
We’d like to hear your thoughts on the Tuesday attack on your office by the state Motor Park Managers, who demanded your removal as Tutor General in charge of the Ogbomosho zonal office.
Well, I was not there that very Tuesday. I was on my way to Ibadan for an official assignment. We didn’t suspect anything like that would happen throughout the Monday before.
Were you in the office on Monday preceding the attack?
Yes, I was in the office on Monday till 5.30pm and as of that Monday, we didn’t foresee anything like that. We didn’t have any issues with any of the principals, vice principals, teaching and non-teaching staff, nor did we suspect anything.
Surprisingly, on that Tuesday, when I was away, I heard that some group of people came to that place and I began to wonder what could have caused that.
We don’t have anything in common. They (State Park Managers) are not part of us and we are not part of them. For us to be attacked by outsiders, there must be more to it underground which we would investigate but I want it to be after Sallah.
Is it a case of being extremely hostile or harsh on people or witch-hunting?
Unless we have empirical facts from the aggrieved people that I have fought or have been hostile to. Let them come up with their facts and reasons for verification and investigation to be carried out. Let the law take its course.
However, to the glory of God, I have not treaded that path. That job is not new to me and there is nothing that is new except making sure people stay at their duty posts and do the needful.
Won’t the unfortunate incident intimidate and slow you down?
Bearing in mind that I have a mandate to do what I am doing, I won’t. I am working under delegated authorities; our policies are there; we have guidelines. I will continue to do what I am sent here to do and I assure you that it is not in our character to victimise anybody for whatever reasons.
If you follow my antecedents from where I came from I don’t think you will ever hear of that. When I was posted out, my people were not happy, they resisted it and didn’t want me to come but you know the government must have its way.
I leave Oyo every day by 6.30am, running to Ogbomosho, facing the trailers, and travelling on the risky road. We have been working passionately. I have been to some of the rural places in almost all the five local governments to ensure we do what is right.
However, most of what we have been seeing on the ground is not too good for us, even at that, we are not forceful about it. We have been telling them that that is not how to do the work.
So, what could have caused the attack targeted at you?
I only want to improve on the existing standard; put a lasting legacy on the ground and help improve the situation so that we and our children will be happy in the future. If I was not well taught, I wouldn’t be where I am today. To the glory of God, I have few years left in service, a year and two months, what legacy are we leaving behind?
When you go to schools and you see teachers not on duty; meeting five, six teachers out of 19 by 8am, 9am; lesson notes not written; diaries not filled; teachers not in school; some not in school in the last one year or even one and a half years yet they are receiving salaries and they want it to continue like that, that is my fear.
We heard you met the local government chairman implicated in the entire incident that day in the office of TESCOM chairman in Ibadan, who had gone there to file a complaint and demanded your replacement. Sir, how true is this?
It is very true. I asked him on that very day, I want you to give me the list of names. Ogbomosho has about 2,700 teachers. If I can only have about five or six of them, maybe, then what you are saying will be plausible.
For example, I was in Ori-Oke Community High School, which has twelve non-teaching staff, when so many other schools are not having a single one. The principal there has three typists, when most of the schools around do not have a single one.
Even at the TESCOM office, we have a single typist but she (the principal) has three typists and two messengers when most of the schools have no messengers at all. Her school has two lab attendants and four clerical officers. How will a school with 600 or 700 students be having 12 non-teaching staff?
How many non-teaching staff do we have in the whole of Ogbomosho?
So, when I got there, I said this is very strange, I won’t allow more than a single typist to remain here, the others during the holiday will go to other places. My dear brother, is that witch-hunting?
Two messengers in the school do nothing. One is always doing his Okada business (commercial motorcyclist). He is always on the street yet he receives a salary. I told him if you are a messenger, what are you ‘messenger-ing’ here? What are you doing here? Come to the TESCOM office! Is that witch-hunting?
Distributing teachers – teaching and non-teaching on a fairly equal basis, based on the students’ enrollment figure, is one of our major duties.
Another example, Obada in Odo-Oba, the school has 1,214 students, 14 teachers, five vice-principals and one principal making 20 but Ori-Oke has45 teachers with 600 students.
Again, Ogbomosho Girls High School has 27 corps members, a school that is not supposed to have more than five. Now, 17 of them work with the secondary school and 10 were illegally posted to primary schools, yet TESCOM is the one paying their money. Is TESCOM (Secondary) and SUBEB (Basic/Primary) the same thing? Why will I not report such a case? Why will I not try and stop such things so that the needful could be done?
I have not even withdrawn the corps members. I said we will wait till during the holiday time, so that by the time we resume we would have done the needful. So, if people don’t want to work at all but they want to be receiving a salary and they feel it should continue like that, no problem, I am not from Ogbomosho. I am from Oyo.
There is a particular person in Ahoyaya or so, we went to the school and demanded his lesson note which he said was at home. We asked him to go and bring the lesson note. When he brought it, it was last written in May, last year. He was begging me and I said go and update the one for this term and make sure you continue to write the lesson note.
I was in a place – Iro Community Grammar School, there was a lady there and she had not been in school since one and a half years, and she was receiving salary, no file in the school, no file in the office. I repeat, no file in the office, no file in the school.
There is a particular man in Ajaawa Grammar School or so, Obalade or something, he has been receiving salary but has not been going to school, nothing to show for that, no letter of appointment of a political post nor has he been given study leave with pay yet he is receiving salary.
How do you now ensure punctuality? How do we ensure others go to school and do the needful? Corps members in Ajaawa barely go to school, at least around 30 of them or so. When they do, it is around past 9, 10am thereabout, indecently dressed in crazy jeans and slippers, with bogus inscriptions, different write-ups, the ladies (corps members) dress with their bodies exposed, this is strange to me.
So, I couldn’t just stomach it than to start correcting them, and if that is why they are now saying that I am somewhat being too harsh on them, I would find it strange likewise because when I came in newly, I engaged the principals and vice-principals, I think I told them what I wanted to do and the mode of operations for our schools. When we come back and they do not do as expected, we will frown at it.
It has not been more than that, but if anybody has complaints about a particular thing I have done that is against the ethics of the profession, let them come up with their evidence.
There is no time that I go out that supervisors do not follow me and sometimes we do record what we do. I have the video clips of most of my engagements with people and if you want them, I won’t bother giving them to you.
- Source: ogbomosoinsightonline