The Ambassador: Your Grace what is the handover of schools to the mission all about?
Archbishop: After the civil war in 1970 the government of the East Central State led by Late Ukpabi Asika made a policy with which the government took total control of the provision of Education. Thus, he confiscated all the schools and educational institutions owned by the mission and other voluntary agencies. Some sections of the original owners were compensated for their institutions but the Catholic Church considered it an unjust policy and injustice both to her and to the society and refused to take the compensation. It remained an open sore for about 40years until the reversal of two years ago. So the hand over is restitution – that is handing over schools back to their original owners.
The Ambassador: Your Grace please we would like to know what prompted this quest for the hand-over of schools to the mission?
Archbishop: Experience they say is the best teacher. The experience of take-over of schools proved to be the most unfortunate and unpopular decision any government would take. Unfortunately, the society learnt through the hard way. That singular decision by Ukpabi Asika-led government placed moral and educational growth hundred years behind. Once the decision was taken, the educational sector progressively degenerated into darkness occasioning untold hardships, immoralities and loss of sense of values. It is a fact that societies are realizing through the hard ways or refusing to realize but to their peril that you cannot train human beings created by God without God. The takeover of schools amounted to pushing away God in the public sphere especially as it pertains to the sector that sees to training of God’s children. The rot and decadence in the society urged urgent action as a remedy and hence we have the handover of schools.
The Ambassador: What are the challenges you faced in your quest for the handover of schools to the mission?
Archbishop: Many were the challenges following from beaureucratic bottlenecks, official structures and vested interests and interest groups and other logistics, but by the special grace of God who through Mr Peter Obi – led administration has righted the wrong of the past administration. To God be the glory.
The Ambassador: Your Grace, please we would like to know what the society stands to benefit from this hand- over of schools.
Archbishop: The benefits of building a society on a solid foundation are indeed enormous. Handing over back schools to mission is so desired because it will undo the injustice of decades. On the other hand, it will bring back morality, discipline, fear of God, healthy values, studiousness and duty consciousness in the educational sector. It will help clear the rot in the sector. Consequently, the society will be better for it.
The Ambassador: Since this quest has been realized, what has been the achievement of the mission so far?
Archbishop: It is good you know that we do not calculate our apostolate by achievements. Our duty is a sacred one and we are mere instruments in the hands of God. It is only incumbent on us to be willing tools for the Divine master to realize his purpose. Meanwhile, one notices that since the hand over, that the impacts are there for all to see. For instance, the level of progress of your school in both physical and human infrastructural repair has not escape the eyes of the government. It is interesting that the government has used this school as the standard. Go to all our schools and see the level of reconstruction, repair and repositioning that is going on simultaneously with meagre resources. It impresses any person who cares, to watch the situation. Schools like: C.K. C., Q. R. C are fast recovering its lost glory. There is steady progress in this first three years of the hand-over. By the time we complete the second three years, these schools will be as good as those found elsewhere in the world.
The Ambassador: Your Grace, our parents complain that this hand-over of schools to the mission that there has been some increment in the school fees. Your Grace please what can be done about this?
Archbishop: I will look into it to see that untold hardship is not met on our students. We abhor all illegal fees and dues. Education is not sold to the highest bidder. The mission of Catholic Schools is to create good human beings and good children of God for overall well being of the society but not as a money making venture. But it is one thing to say that it is not a money making venture and another to neglect important developmental or formative need because of cost. Money is necessary if our schools will be what they are intended to be. Anywhere in the world, education is paid for, not free of charge. There is no free lunch anywhere, somebody pays for it. Every parent should be proud to contribute a token in the formation and training of their children. Money is collected to keep the schools running, absence of which makes formation poor.
The Ambassador: Your Grace from our observation, we could see that you have a special interest in St. Charles College which manifests in the beauty and great academic performance of the students. May we hear why you have this special interest?
Archbishop: St. Charles is at the heart of Catholic educational efforts in this part of the globe. Our early missionaries conceived of a base where both students and teachers will be produced for the good of the society. They pursued that goal with religious dedication and zeal. Apart from that, I want an overall excellence in all facets of life in the Archdiocese and St. Charles is to cue in, in the movement of the Archdiocese. My interest also grows because you are doing well. My interest is to encourage you and see that you do not fixate but rather that you grow from strength to strength. My prayer and advise is that you use today to prepare for tomorrow which is largely unknown. May God bless you all. Amen.