The Abia State governor, Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, had an interactive session with secondary school students in Abia State at the Michael Okpara Auditorium in Umuahia.
Signs that the gathering, which the students consider a rarity in Nigeria as a whole, was taken very seriously by the governor as an indication of his unwavering commitment to Abia students became clear when he arrived the venue with his deputy, Rt Hon Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, the commissioner for education, Prof Ikechi Mgbeoji, his information counterpart, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, the special adviser to the governor on teenage affairs, Mrs Chinaemenma Umeseaka and other high ranking government officials.
True to their ranking as the best students in WASCE for three years consecutively under Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, the students did not only show their brilliance but also their courage when, even in the words of the governor, “they asked very tough questions”. Nevertheless, the governor who appeared very much at home with the students he described as “my children”, answered all the questions asked him.
One of the highlights of the session was that the questions asked by the students were not screened as the students drilled their governor in a no-holds-barred manner.
Although the students thanked the governor for the deliberate policies in the state’s education sector that has seen to the radical turn around in performance of the students in WASCE, other exams and national academic competitions, they nonetheless requested him not to rest on his oars but continue to see to it that new teachers are recruited especially for science subjects, their teachers remain motivated and facilities in secondary schools of the state improved upon.
They also told the governor that some of their schools are under the threat of hoodlums who seek to attack students and make away with their belongings.
Responding, Dr Ikpeazu thanked the students for reciprocating government gesture and investment in them by leading in WASCE for the three years he has been governor. He promised that he has taken note of their demands and that a majority of them are already being attended to while machinery would be set in motion to address their other needs as he is committed to ensuring that they have all they need to continue to excel. “We are not ready to lower the bar”, he said.
While also assuring them that mobile laboratories are being procured to cover as many schools as possible for their science practicals, he informed the students that the state government has already employed ninety new science teachers to fill the shortfall experienced in that area. He assured them that as a way of further motivating their teachers, all their entitlements would be settled promptly. He enjoined the teachers to also focus on their job and not be involved in practices that are inimical to their reputation as mentors to the younger ones or be involved in anything that would distract them from performing their jobs dedicatedly.
Further responding to the students, Dr Ikpeazu reminded them that model schools are being built in the state to improve the ambience and the general learning conditions of Abia students.
Some of the students who spoke with newsmen after the interactive session said they never expected that in their life time, they would come so close to their governor, spend three full hours with him, have the privilege to ask him questions as they did on the day and even shake hands with him.
They commended the governor for his humility which they had been hearing about but now experienced firsthand, saying that the day was quite historic for them. “We have been highly motivated. And we have also come to know that one can be humble in life and also become great”, one of them quipped.