I have come to a sad realization that the voice of the majority may no longer always represent the voice of God nor truth. That many people, various media, and diverse interest groups lend voice to an issue may not necessarily make it the truth, especially in a country like Nigeria.
I have seen quite a lot of conspiracies and wickedness in my few years on earth. But among alumni, A SECTION of the Queens College Old Girls Association (QCOGA) must be the vilest, most brutal I have ever seen or even heard of. I have observed with trepidation, the increasingly horrific levels of attack against the person of the immediate past Principal, Queens College, Dr. Lami Amodu. I have read a lot of obviously padded stories and manipulative inferences aimed at directing the tide of public perception and action.
If the QCOGA means well for the school, are their methods right? Could the former principal be guilty of all accusations levelled against her? Why would the Federal Ministry of Education send such an ‘incompetent’ woman to lead one of Nigeria’s best schools? Before Queens College, what were the antecedents of Dr Amodu?
As one of the persons who investigated the sexual harassment drama in the college last year, I know a little bit about how some sections of the alumnus work. Unable to understand the story padding any longer, I have taken yet another look into the saga. Consider this write-up the first of a three-part narrative of my examination into the matter.
THE 100 MILLION NAIRA ISSUE
In 2011/2012 when Mrs Modupe Ladipo (RIP) was Principal, Queens College, the good woman was allegedly hounded by the QCOGA over a 100 million naira donation by a philanthropist. That money was for the construction of a world class kitchen and dining facility in the college. Mrs Ladipo wanted the project to be handled by qualified contractors but this section of the QCOGA would have none of it. They demanded to have sub-aspects of the project handled by them. And the good administrator in the late principal would not let it happen.
As a result, that money remained stuck in the special account. It also set off a chain of events that led Mrs Ladipo, who was said to be suffering a kidney issue at the time, to be removed from the college. She was posted to Federal Government College Ugwolawo, Kogi state. She later died.
Having done away with a woman who was not easily malleable, the association misled the new principal, Mrs Osime, into building substandard structures and equipment. By the time Dr Lami Amodu assumed duties as the PQC in August 2015, she inspected the new facilities as the alumnus was said to be pushing for an official commissioning of the project. What Dr Lami met on ground was an eyesore and she was said to be very sad about it. The new principal set up an adhoc committee to look into the issue. That committee was headed by Olaseni Osifala, the Biology teacher and former Maintenance officer who was removed because he had stood up to the group over the shoddy quality of work done.
Osifala was later roped into some funny sexual harassment allegation that further showed how far this section of the body would go, to remove any obstacle. I investigated that case. A lot of lies were woven into the narrative. I lost a lot of ‘friends’ who would rather assess a case based on the personality of those pushing the narrative, than the facts of the matter. One incident stands out for me. A certain high profile woman, one of the leaders of this section of the QCOGA, had claimed that she visited the school on the day the students protested in the school premises, and that Dr Lami Amodu embarrassed her. A lot of people called me and I noticed something; they believed it ONLY because it was this particular lady. One person even said to me, “Mike it is Mrs………………..o. How can she lie?”
I laughed. I laughed because I was there that day. The principal was not in the college. She was at the Police headquarters along with the accused Biology teacher, on the invitation of the police commissioner. She did not return until around 8pm. How could the principal be at two locations simultaneously when she was not a ghost? In any case, till date, there was nothing in the log in register at the gate that shows the presence of this very visible, easy to recognise lady. Later that day, sponsored stories emerged all over the internet claiming that students from the college had been unleashed on the streets of Lagos to protest in the rain. The narrative targeted the emotions of many. It painted a gory image of irresponsibility against the person of Dr Amodu.
The only problem was, that event never happened. The students protested. They were led by their head girl. But they never got to the gate not to talk of crossing into the streets. Why do I say so? I was there! Standing right in front of the protest. Along with other journalists. Till date, nobody has shown a video of those students “…..OUTSIDE the school premises, protesting in the rain”. They lied a lot. Why would anyone need to pad a story with lies if they wanted to tell the truth?
Well, the federal government investigated that sexual harassment story and found it to be mere fabrications by a group who were out for no good. It follows, therefore, that when such a group continues to sponsor malicious allegations and stories against the same principal, we must take more than just their word for it.
THE WATER ISSUE
Queens College has always had water issues. A very prominent parent of an old student revealed to me that nine years ago, when his daughter was a student there, they had to bring water from home because the issue was recurrent.
Even now, the recently rehabilitated industrial borehole is still NOT really safe for drinking. It is not news that the soil in Sabo/Iwaya/Onike areas has very high iron contents that affect water safety. Often, the water has red-brown particles that look like rust from a metal water tank. This is why, despite the revamped borehole, students have been advised to bring branded water from home.
Investigations show that Dr Lami Amodu facilitated the provision of a borehole project as PQC. She used her contacts, particularly Mr Ladi Lawanson, an old boy of Kings College Lagos, and got the Australian High Commission to donate the solar powered water work at no cost to the school. That borehole is NOT situated close to the sewage. It is by the hostels. Of the two functional boreholes close to the sewage, one was sunk by the same QCOGA while the other was done by another former principal, Mrs Osime. How can a group sink a borehole by the sewage and blame someone else for their lack of foresight? But I digress.
On January 22nd, 2017, during a meeting of the alumnus on the college premises, some members sneaked into the hostels area. They were allegedly seen around the boreholes by the sewage, in company of the water man, one Mr Alex Amadi. Note that nobody is permitted to be in that vicinity without the consent of the college management, and even then, it is usually under strict supervision. Why did the QCOGA members break protocol when they knew the rules? It remains a mystery for now. When the PQC heard of this breach, she is said to have called the president of the body, Francess Ajose, who later apologised for the incident. Still, no reason was given for that suspicious move.
Days later, students began to stool and vomit. Then the first death occurred on February 15. Take note that the deaths all happened days after the students were taken away from school by their parents. Many were sick but those who were treated by the school ALL recovered and returned to class.
Of those who died, one was said to have occurred at LUTH and the other at LASUTH. Initially, according to sources, when the PQC sent a delegation to commiserate with the family (Dr Amodu was in Abuja when the sad incident occurred), the parents told the delegation that their daughter died of cerebral malaria. What later changed that narrative? Why did all other students who received treatment within the school make quick recoveries? Why were the fatalities recorded many days later, away from the supervision and influence of the school?
I merely present a sequence of events as they occurred. Dr Lami Amodu was the 23rd PQC. The college itself is about 90 years old. The premises is over populated; more than four thousand people, if you consider the staff and their family members living within, as well as a student population of roughly 3,300. The student population was even a reduction from the previous session when they were three thousand, six hundred. Dr Lami had written to the Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, about the issue. The Perm Sec not only promised to help take care of the matter, but she actually ensured that the school was depopulated by reducing intake into JSS 1. All of these people, including the principal herself, drank from the same water sources.
WHO KILLED THE ORPHAN GIRL?
Her name was Sodipo Praise. A very brilliant girl. She was just 14 and she died a very avoidable death. I can write about her case for the fact that a very close friend of mine raised funds to pay for treatment of little Praise early in March. The major drug needed was MEROPENEM and it was said to cost N18,500:00 (eighteen thousand, five hundred naira) daily. This friend of mine, working through a social worker at LASUTH, gave out that sum every day for about a week. Then came trouble.
The almighty QCOGA went berserk over the matter. They demanded that my friend stop making payments and claimed that the Lagos state government had taken over the treatment of Miss Sodipe Praise. A France-based member of the alumnus harassed my friend on her Facebook wall. When I tried to defend my friend, she insulted me in very foul language, their usual style.
Take note, Dr Lami had long left Queens College when this particular case was ongoing. As such, it was the administration of the new PQC, Mrs Biola Are that was in charge. Mrs Are is an old girl of the school as well. But here is the twist; they stopped a kind Nigerian from taking care of the orphan’s medication, but they failed to treat the girl. They claimed that processing money from government took a minimum of 72 hours. Even the idiot in France who insulted us on Facebook did not donate a dime towards the treatment of that very brilliant girl. From Tuesday to the Thursday that Praise died, nobody administered the drug, MEROPENEM, to her.
In their usual ego battle, even where nobody was competing with the OGA, they let an orphaned 14yr old die. But I am shocked to read that the former PQC is being blamed for an incident that happened 34 days after she had left the college! But in a phone conversation, an uncle to the deceased, Lawrence Otun, revealed that the girl had first reported to the school clinic on the 20th of February with fever symptoms. She was placed on anti-malaria drugs until the 23rd of same month, when the school went on mid-term break. At home, she was said to have been diagnosed of liver enlargement and perforated intestines. She was referred to LASUTH where she fell into a coma.
Curiously, some sources in the school clinic claimed that the young girl was never treated for stooling and vomiting. Still, it could have been the water. It could have been coincidence. It could have been sabotage. What I don’t understand is how the present PQC is not being mentioned in this case. Why is nobody holding the QCOGA to account for the death of this precious orphan girl? Why is everybody focused on the ex-PQC as a diversionary tactic? Why did they stop us from taking care of the girl’s bills? Why did they stop a kind, Nigerian citizen from paying for the drug she desperately needed to survive? What sort of wickedness leads a group of human beings to play politics with the life of a child? To prove what point exactly? And above all, why are they lying to Nigerians?
“A member of the House of Representatives asked the QCOGA President why, as a professional doctor, she did not write a plan of action to assist the PQC, immediately she noticed the inherent danger after she said she administered oral rehydration therapy to an ailing student. Instead, she ran to social media.” ………..sources
The school had a water man. There was a chain of command. He never reported any anomaly to the authorities. The OGA did not copy the PQC in any such letter as they claimed. Where is a copy of the acknowledged letter? It is very strange how this section of the QCOGA, with a rogue group of so called CONCERNED PARENTS who operate with total disregard for the constituted PARENTS TEACHERS ASSOCIATION (PTA) of the college, resort to indiscriminate use of social media to push their vendetta against any perceived enemy. Like many things Nigerian, these people have become accustomed to this abuse and, left unrestrained, ruthlessly blackmail, attack, and smear an administrator whose record is otherwise impeccable.
One will have to ask, since the accused principal is said to be so incompetent and evil, how many of these concerned parents and QCOGA members withdrew their kids from the school in the last one year? Parents are not as gullible and stupid as this group will have Nigerians believe. When they came up with that fabricated sex scandal last year, a lot of parents spoke intimately with their kids. They knew the truth and so, did not withdraw their wards from the college. All that talk about the students, all 3,300 of them, being afraid to say the truth is hogwash. Many of these kids are from affluent homes. With the permission of the PTA, I spoke with the brightest, most independent ones among them. They were very convincing. Well……unless Dr Lami Amodu is a hypnotist who has held the entire population spellbound.
A LOOK INTO THE MINDSET OF THESE TRADUCERS
A clearer picture of the psychotic position of these accusers became very clear to me last night (Tuesday, June 27, 2017). One of the rogue ‘concerned parents’ members spoke to me. She launched into a tirade, claiming rather blasphemously, that BEFORE this year’s water issue, 6 other students had died in the college under the administration of Dr Lami Amodu! Haba! What amount of hatred will push anyone to lie about a matter they know can easily be verified by clear and available records? Records show, the only student who died had kidney complications. It was common knowledge at the time. So I asked this caller for the names and causes of death of the other 5 students she manufactured. Mute. I also asked if her daughter is still a student of the college. Affirmative. Okay. I prodded further, “Why would you still let your daughter return to a school where you allege that 9 students have died within 18 months of one evil principal’s reign?” No response.
It is puzzling how any parent can allow their kids to continue schooling in QC if it is half as demonic as they would have the rest of us believe. Does that not make them culpable for negligence as well? How can you send your beloved baby back into the same lion’s den from which you just rescued her? It does not make sense.
Another case in point occurred on my Facebook wall. I had dropped a hint that I was looking into this case. A lady who claims to be a parent dropped the following comment:
“Mike I don’t agree with you. My niece was the very first victim but the bacteria infested water revived an underlying UNTREATED illness she had so we never thought about it until other students started dying. I know that the principal is NOT ENTIRELY TO BE BLAMED but she also had her faults……”
Can we dissect this comment? If you confess that your child had a previous illness which you DID NOT TREAT, what negligence could be greater? Let me not even ask how come the child did not manifest direct symptoms of the water-borne ‘epidemic’ but only revived a previous illness. I leave you to make draw your conclusions.
Again, she admits that “…the principal is not entirely to be blamed”. But it is only the principal she and others have chosen to bring down via malicious, inciting propaganda. So who/where are the other guilty parties? This mother told me, categorically, that no truth matters to her, except the narrative that they have put out there (see her comment below)
Is it not obvious how these people operate? They would disrespect the memory of the late students by using their unfortunate passing away as a tool of blackmail and propaganda.
THE MEDIA DESPERATION
Why have they spread so many false stories about the crisis despite the fact that the matter is being handled by the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY? Why are they so desperate to influence public opinion rather than allow facts to guide the relevant handling authorities to come to a logical understanding and conclusion on the case? It is like having a case in court yet running to the media always.
Did you know that by the time of these deaths, Dr Amodu had officially been transferred from the College? Insider information revealed that her letter of redeployment from QC reads 10th of February, 2017. The first death occurred on the 15th of the same month. The second death occurred 7 days later, while the third fatality happened on the 30th of March, 2017, more than a month after she left the College. She left the school officially on the 24th of February. All of these deaths are regrettable. They all happened OUTSIDE the school premises and outside their direct control, given the circumstances.
The present PTA Chairman is a Knight. Chief Sir John Oforbike. He is not a man to be easily intimidated by any principal, yet he expressed his dismay at what he terms a deliberate attempt to “destroy an innocent woman who has been a good mother to our children”. Sources close to him also revealed that a member of the alumnus told the PTA Chairman that they will bring “bring that woman down”.
Earlier, in 2016, the Federal Ministry of Education reacted firmly to the quick-fire dissemination of false news by these disgruntled elements which is always aimed at inciting parents and members of the public against any ‘enemy’. Find attached a circular to that effect. Dated 10th October 2016 with Ref. ADF/ABJ/281/II/2 and addressed to principals of all FUCs. The circular condemned, strongly, the antics of this rogue group.
Following the indictment of the QCOGA in the case of the Biology teacher in 2016, a matter in which government investigated and released a White Paper, the education ministry felt deeply about the gross misconduct displayed by the body. It was actually a show of shame and an embarrassment to all stakeholders. The ministry took a firm decision.
A circular from the federal ministry of education refers. Dated 10th October, 2016. To all principals of FUCs. In it, the ministry places a ban on the siting of Old Students Association secretariats in the premises of the Federal Unity Colleges. It noted its worry over the unfiltered access that alumni had, and how they were interfering with day to day activities in the schools. It warned principals NOT to provide offices to the Old Students Associations or face sanctions.
To this end, Dr Lami Amodu implemented the directive from Abuja. Despite being aware that the instruction was from the ministry, this section of the body still felt slighted and threatened to deal with the principal. Their ego had been bruised. But seriously, who is a principal to disobey a circular from her employer?
A concerned parent based her grouse on the fact that, while her daughter was ill and in hospital, the PTA Chairman sent text messages to parents, urging them to disregard rumours of an epidemic. She called it an attempt to cover up. To me, it shows a gross misunderstanding of administrative reasoning. As at the time of this incident, says a PTA member who pleaded anonymity, there were no sick students in the college sick bay, nor were there any on admission at Mint hospital, a private institution where the school sends serious cases. How would anybody report that scenario as an EPIDEMIC? Is that the way it works? Even when the Minister for Health visited the school a couple of days later, he could not confirm an epidemic. He asked his team to take water samples and urged all parties to wait for the result of tests.
How does this qualify as a cover up? In any case, if there is an epidemic and the school has the capacity to handle it, why must the principal be forced to make infantile noise on social media? Are illnesses treated on Facebook and blogs? In most official quarters, information can be managed to prevent panic. This is not strange.
However, after testing was conducted, it was said that the water did contain faecal matter. That is, water from the boreholes close to the sewage. The borehole NOT sank by the then PQC. The borehole that Alex the water man did not inform about any possible challenges. Little wonder, the House of Representatives recommended that he be transferred from the college. He has since been transferred as recommended.
THE ALLEGED, SILENT, BIG PICTURE
Even I may be clutching at straws with this one. An aide to Dr Amodu alleged that the bigger picture in all of the avoidable drama is to push for the sale of Unity Colleges to individuals. It is said that a certain Electric Rufai (I don’t know him) openly said this in Kings College back in 2015. A section of the QCOGA is said to be asking that government hand over the college to them to run. This seems like a long shot.
WHAT ARE THE ROLES OF AN ALUMNUS?
Kings College Lagos has had water issues in the past. You want to know what the Old Boys did. They united and spent millions to solve the problem. They did not run off to sponsor reckless, inciting stories on social media. They did not attack the principal and they did not secretly loiter around the water source in connivance with the water man. Alex has a history of corruption, negligence, and greed. I will highlight that in the next instalment of this story.
My father was head boy of Ochaja Boys Secondary School in 1974. That glorious institution. Till date, the ‘74’ set of Ochaja Old Boys is the best illustration of camaraderie and responsible ‘alumnus-ing’ I ever came across. So strong is their bond, they are like a band of brothers. They are not all on the same level financially and status-wise but they are strengthened by their diversity. They help the school FIX issues. They do not engage in flimsy controversies. Corruption and embezzlement of funds is not their focus. This is because they love their school. That school shaped their lives and they give back to the school, what the school imparted in them.
Having successfully caused the removal of Dr Lami Amodu from Queens College, the OGA president allegedly went on air to celebrate the ‘victory’. Among other rather amusing things she said, the most curious was, “We have taken over our school. We are now in charge.”
Thereafter, she was said to have engaged in selling mattresses to returning students of the school exorbitant rates. The aim, of course, is self-aggrandizement. The issue created so much bad blood amongst members, the QCOGA secretary resigned her position. It is with such high-handedness that the body seeks to continue running the affairs of the illustrious college.
They seek an easily malleable puppet to do their selfish, corrupt bidding. They put out inciting narratives to poison the hearts of parents and stakeholders. They will put the college to the sword to achieve their agenda. What this group does is akin to forming a parallel government to undermine constituted authority (apologies to Governor Ajimobi).
HURTING THE BRAND
Nobody wants to invest on a chaotic brand. A certain Kings College old boy, Ladi Lawanson, has been very instrumental in securing interventions for QC. He utilized his connections in favour of the college when the late Mrs Ladipo was PQC. He also facilitated the solar powered Australian borehole project when Dr Amodu was principal.
I know for a fact that some other important interventions were in the pipeline before the embarrassing saga began. Sources reveal that some of the big names potentially about to help the college may withdraw due to the roughshod manner these cases have been handled.
The QC brand has taken major hits in the past few years. And it is not because of the leadership of the school, it is because of the overbearing interference by this section of the QCOGA. Funny enough, it was the late Mrs Ladipo that gave them a secretariat within the college premises, hoping that as an old girl, they would work WITH her to upgrade the school. Along came 100 million naira and they threw her under the bus!
LAMI AMODU IN BRIEF
She is married to a retired Navy Admiral who served this country diligently, with his wife by his side. She has 5 children, her only son, a product of Kings College, while her youngest daughter also schooled in Queens College. Her other siblings (half-sisters) are still in the college, living in the same hostel, drinking from the same water source.
She is an Igala Muslim from Kogi state. Under her administration, QC recorded the best result among all FUCs. She is the most senior professional Director in the Federal Ministry of Education. Unfortunately, as a civil servant, she cannot grant interviews. But her traducers can. Hopefully, at some point, she may be permitted to speak. Last year alone, Dr Amodu won about 5 awards including one for exemplary INTEGRITY in faraway Ghana.
This woman was PQC for just 18 months. But she was never allowed to settle. They kept hounding her to the detriment of the college. Still, she did achieve some landmarks which I will mention in the sequel to this piece. How well can any administrator function in an atmosphere of rancour? She has held bigger positions than the PQC job. She did excellently well in all of them. Good administrators do not suddenly become bad overnight. Good administrators do not become bad overnight.
“……..Preserve in it an unblemished name”
Queens College founding mothers
The above prayer by the founding mothers of the college has been bastardized by a group who have not cared about the negative effects of their actions. They have demystified the once respected institution just to fulfill their selfish goals. The QCOGA organised a fund raiser in October of 2015. Till date, they never declared the amount realized from that fundraiser purportedly meant to develop the college. They have questions to answer.
The undue interference with investigations by way of indiscriminate use of social media to harass people, influence opinion, and redefine what JUSTICE actually means, is a sign of desperation. It reeks of suspicion and must be discouraged immediately. The National Assembly is more than capable of handling this matter. During the hearings at the House of Representatives, the comments by the House Committee did not quite go in the direction that the petitioners wanted and this has made them even more determined to subvert justice before the Senate hearings.
The group has even been heard bragging about their links with the Senate President, Olushola Saraki, who is an Old Boy of Kings College. The narrative is that they can influence a decision in their favour. In Nigeria, a country of miracles, anything is possible and what qualifies as true justice is very subjective. I have read a number of commentaries about this issue on different media platforms. Nobody is asking the hard questions.
What steps did Dr Lami Amodu take when she became aware that students were falling sick? There is administrative protocol. Did she diligently do the needful? If she did, what else could have been done? Were sick students being denied treatment? Why did nobody die in the school? Why was the QCOGA getting information before the school authorities? Why did the OGA not work with the PQC rather than run off to social media to create panic?
Of course, if Dr Amodu is guilty of negligence, we expect the law to take its due course. It is easy to pass media and subjective judgment from a distance, especially when unfortunate deaths have occurred. But if we cast sentiments aside for a brief moment, perhaps the picture would be clearer.
One illustration, Last year, I was told that the principal was shielding the accused teacher from the press and other stakeholders. I went to Queens College, determined to break down their gate and pull the ‘paedophile’ out by his hair, if need be. To my utmost shock, the principal who did not know me, gave instructions over the phone that I be allowed unconditional access to all management staff as well as the accused teacher, Mr Osifala. The PQC herself was to later join us after her engagement outside.
I was left wondering why all the talk about her “high-handedness” came to fruition. Unless that day was just an exception and I was fortunate. I have encountered these people at their brutal best before and I must say, I admire their consistency at pushing the limits of their agenda. What the drive portends for Queens College however, I may not know. It does look gloomy.If anything, I have learned from them that the voice of the seeming majority may not always be the voice of God.
WHAT IS JUSTICE?
The line between truth and lies has become so thin, one must always use a fine comb to brush off the grey areas. Of course nobody is infallible, not even the former PQC. But it is important that the NASS be allowed to do their job.
It is also time to conduct an X-ray of the activities of various alumni, especially the Queens College Old Girls Association. Even if they claim to mean well for the once hallowed school, their methods have done more harm than good for all parties. This is not how to run a school. Every traditionally great institution enjoys a certain kind of relationship with its ex-students.
In times of victory, they rejoice together. In calamity, they bond. They become stronger. In QC, this has not been the case. Justice would be served the day the undue influence of the QCOGA is withered considerably, and constituted authority is allowed to run the college properly.
Unless the Minster of Education does not have a firm grip because of the calibre of personalities involved in this so called battle for the soul of the college.
Mike Ile writes from Abuja.
Culled from Gist park