The Minister of State for Education, Chief Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, has put paid to speculations that federal schools are about to be reopened after the Coronavirus landfall in Nigeria and forced public places to be shut down.
The Minister who was briefing at yesterday’s President Task Force meeting said that the wellbeing of the children would always come first.
“Until we can guarantee the safety of children from #Covid19, our schools cannot resume. We will provide guidelines for the safe re-opening of schools” says Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.
8 June schools reopening rumour: “Until we can guarantee the safety of children from #Covid19, our schools cannot resume. We will provide guidelines for the safe re-opening of schools” says Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.
Do you know a medical graduate who needs residency training at a reputable medical training facility in Nigeria?
The University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Ituku/Ozalla, Enugu State, has invited applications from qualified medical graduates who wish to take up residency training in the hospital in 14 specialist areas – ranging from medicine to dentistry.
Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Obinna Onodugo, however said the training is for graduates who have completed the national youth service corps (NYSC) programme and are able to scale through a rigorous selection process to be installed by the hospital management.
The Enugu State Commissioner for Environment, Chief Chijioke Edeoga, has disclosed that the Enugu student who is the BPE national essay champion, Chidiogor Jane Onoh, has been gifted N250,000 and a laptop by the State Government, “to encourage her and other students of Enugu State to strive to excel wherever they are.”
“We are trying to convey the information that there is reward for excellence, and there is reward for hard work,” he said.
The Environment Commissioner briefed newsmen with his Science and Technology counterpart, Sir Obi Kama, after a meeting of the State Executive Council.
Kama, in turn, added that government equally recognized and rewarded an unnamed Enugu student who emerged winner in a recent Mathematics Competition in Port Harcourt (Rivers State) the same way as it did Chidiogor.The two runners up in the competition, who were equally from the state, also received as well as the two runners up in the same competition who are also from Enugu.
A public-school student of Girls Secondary School, Abakpa, Enugu, was yesterday presented with a cheque and laptop for emerging champion in a keenly competed national essay competition instituted by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to encourage reading habit among Nigerian students.
Parents of Miss Chidiogor Jane Eneh, the champion writer from Abakpa Girls, stepped up to receive a N500,000 cheque from BPE’s Director General, Mr. Alex Okoh.
In addition to promoting reading a culture among students and Nigerians in general, the BPE also hopes to use the competition to correct what Mr. Okoh describes as “uninformed perceptions on privatization by opponents of the programme.”
The win from a public-school pupil has once again ignited the debate on best quality products from among the three major categories of schools operating in Nigeria at the moment – public, faith-based, and private proprietorial schools.
The first and second runners up in the competition emerged from faith-based schools; Miss Roseline Etop Idem of Topfaith International School, Mkpatak (Akwa Ibom State) and Miss Ngozi Deborah Ekwueme of Regina Pacis Girls Secondary School, Garki, Abuja FCT, occupied the remining top spots.
The runners up received cash prizes of N350,000 and N250,000 respectively for their efforts.
BPE, the federal privatization agency, also gifted laptops to the three winners, presented books to their schools, and rewarded their teachers in cash.
The BPE boss, Mr. Okoh, disclosed at the event that 94 entries were received from across the nation from the time the competition was announced in July 2019 to its submission deadline.
The competitors wrote on the theme, “The reason for government reforms and privatization of public enterprises,” and their works, according to him, were evaluated based on content, technical argument, organizational structure, grammatical accuracy, and logical presentation.
In addition to promoting reading a culture among students and Nigerians in general, the BPE also hopes to use the competition to correct what Mr. Okoh describes as “uninformed perceptions on privatization by opponents of the programme.”
Writer and publisher, ANIEBO NWAMU, attended the rebranded conference on witchcraft at the UNN and here presents a delicious menu of the many intellectual courses served on opening day.
By ANIEBO NWAMU
Across many cultures, a witch is often a poor old widow who turns into a bird or other dangerous creature in search of innocent people to harm in the dead of night. Nobody would associate with a known witch or wizard!
When, therefore, the Prof. B.I.C Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research advertised a conference on “Witchcraft: meanings, factors and practices,” to be held at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), all hell was let loose especially on social media. Witches meet in their covens, usually after midnight, but here were ones boldly inviting people to their meeting in an academic environment! Pressure mounted on the UNN authorities to cancel the conference. The lobbyists succeeded only in making the centre change the theme to “Dimensions of human behaviours.”
From the many brickbats thrown by friends proclaiming the “blood of Jesus” over their households to “bishops” calling for the cancellation of the conference slated for November 26—27, the interest generated was global. Denials by the organisers failed to persuade those who were sure some academic witches were handing UNN and its occupants over to the devil. The director of the centre, Prof. Egodi Uchendu, wondered how an ordinary academic conference was twisted to cause confusion in the media, admitting that a major casualty of the hysteria was the withdrawal of its keynote speaker Professor David Ker.
I took the “risk” of attending the conference. And the content of this piece is the fruit of my trip.
Indeed I saw many “witches and wizards” – professors and other academic giants from almost every discipline, researchers, two or three clerics including a Catholic priest, journalists, undergraduate and postgraduate students, jobseekers and entrepreneurs – who occupied every space at the ultra-large Princess Alexandra Auditorium.
There is little doubt the English once recognised “witchcraft” – if they didn’t, the word wouldn’t be found in any dictionary. But its definition varies. Not all witches are malevolent, and no two societies conceptualise witchcraft the same way. A witch is not “amosu” in Igbo, nor is it the equivalent of a sorcerer. Even “wizardry” refers to skills: we have computer wizards and mathematics wizards. The witches mentioned in Shakespeare’s Macbeth were perhaps different from the witch consulted by biblical Saul in the Book of Kings. Or is the witch the same as the bugbear?
The problem has to do with occultism. The occultist always claims he’s a mystic but he’s not. Occultism is not a religion or a science. What is common among these variations of witchcraft is an element of magic. You know, it takes magic for a human to turn into a bird or to foretell a future event or do anything else beyond the realm of the physical.
There were unseen witches at the UNN conference. The magic behind the streaming of the event live on Facebook, enabling people across the globe to watch what we were watching at the same time, was witchcraft too. If the organisers had paid NTA or Channels TV, the audience at home would have watched the witchcraft conference in the comfort of their homes. Couldn’t a witch have inspired the invention of the internet and the worldwide web? Or the cellphone everyone at UNN had in their pocket this Tuesday? Who understands Einstein’s Theory of Relativity expressed in E = MC2? The line between witchcraft and science has become blurry — science or technology is witchcraft in practice.
So, witchcraft is not exclusively African. In ancient Europe and America, “witches’ were tortured and killed. Even a pope in the 14th century decreed death for “witches”. The Witchcraft Act enacted in Europe in the 18th century wasn’t repealed until the 19th century.
Studies showed that witchcraft existed in societies plagued by conflicts; that’s why people described it according to the conflicts they battled. In Nupe land of Nigeria, for instance, women are witches and their victims are almost always male. But among the Gwari, women and men could be witches. The Korongo of South Sudan recognize no witchcraft.
But why is witchcraft always associated with the poor? Nobody accuses a president or governor or senator of practising witchcraft. It’s often a helpless old woman. Or a childless old man who has no one to care for him.
Belief in witchcraft waned with the Industrial Revolution in Europe. One of the earliest authorities then said it’s paranoia: people thought to be witches had brain disturbances – psychological, psychiatric or neurotic diseases nobody had a cure for.
Some Nigerians of today are even more primitive than people who lived in medieval Europe. Occasionally, ignorant Nigerians have tortured and even killed “witches” intercepted by “Holy Ghost fire” as the former flew past a holy zone. Children in Cross River and Akwa Ibom states have been branded witches and their fingers cut off by uncles or foster parents. Unfortunately for the victims, Nigeria offers no job to psychologists and psychotherapists. Only churches now perform the tasks.
All archaic societies believed there was witchcraft. Not anymore, thanks to more knowledge — science and technology have been found to be more practical and verifiable. The finest anthropological studies done on witchcraft show that witchcraft itself doesn’t exist; what does exist isbelief in witchcraft. Only in Africa have people not grown above this belief up until this time. When does Africa hope to drop this belief as other parts of the world have?
I’ve been paraphrasing mainly the words of two lead speakers at the conference: Professor Damian U. Opata and Professor Peter J. Ezeh.
Ezeh, who presented the second paper, advised that the continent should “make knowledge production robust”. If it did, in 50 years’ time there would be no witchcraft in Africa. His paper: “Which Witch? What Anthropology Knows about the Adult Bugbear”.
For his part, Professor Opata never misses any opportunity to clear misconceptions about the devil and the Christian God. He alluded to the penchant of some churches to exploit the fears of their hapless followers: “Some people have killed the initiative for creative indigenous thinking because of mere belief in witchcraft…Pastors, prophets, seers in the foreign religions and charismatic priests of variegated persuasions very frequently use perceived attacks by witches and wizards to put fear in the minds and hearts of their various congregations,” he said. “Remove the devil and almost all these churches would be gone.”
Opata’s lead paper is entitled “The Wealthy Are No Witches: Towards an Epistemology and Ideology of Witchcraft”. At least 36 other papers on witchcraft are listed in the conference’s brochure. The Ijomah centre welcomes, and promises to publish, more researched papers on the subject.
Enthusiastic members of the audience asked the duo presenters questions, some testifying to the existence of witches or narrating their encounters with them. Opata and Ezeh went to their rescue with superior facts and logic.
I hereby testify that, contrary to the fears expressed in several quarters ahead of the conference, the Ijomah centre didn’t invite witches to perform at UNN. It was a mere academic exercise. Actually, I knew it’s meant to interrogate the concept of witchcraft and provoke research on the subject. There were no initiations into witchcraft, because the stakeholders were yet to gather in their coven.
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The planned 2-day international academic interrogation on witchcraft took off yesterday at the Nsukka Main Campus of the University of Nigeria with two major changes – renaming of the Conference theme and a change in venue.
Organisers quickly changed the theme of the Conference from First International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Witchcraft: Meaning, Factors and Practices, to Dimensionsof Human Behaviour, and also moved its venue from the Energy Centre to Princess Alexandria Hall.
These changes, however, did not affect the thrust of the papers presented nor alter any other aspect of the carefully packaged academic exercise.
The host of the conference, Prof. Egodi Uchendu, said in her opening speech that a major casualty of the Conference was the absence of the keynote speech to have been given by Prof. David Kerr, former Vice Chancellor of Benue State University.
Kerr withdrew from the conference at the last minute following needless controversy that trailed the choice of subject, mainly promoted by religious zealots.
Two lead papers were presented at the conference yesterday by Professors Damian Opata and Peter Eze.
Click here to enjoy an impressionistic report on the opening day of the Conference by the brilliant journalist and publisher, Aniebo Nwamu.
The vice chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof. Charles Igwe, last night ordered the BIC Ijomah Centre to drop the topic of Witchcraft from its proposed Interdisciplinary conference that was to take off this morning at the university.
A statement from Dr. Okwun Omeaku, acting PRO of the institution, said the directive to the organizers to stick to other topics during the conference is “in response to the yearnings of the public that have erroneously misconstrued the ideas behind the choice of topic.”
The statement put the decision squarely as a reaction to the actions of “religious activists and fanatics protesting ignorantly on the word witchcraft in a proposed seminar topic.”
He described the late-minute cancellation of the topic as “a true demonstration of a management with a listening ear.”
Dr. Omeaku however fired at the religious hecklers, accusing them of shallow thinking.
He wrote: “A conference on cultism is not a gathering of cultists as a conference on corruption is not a gathering of corrupt persons, in as much as a conference on terrorism is not a gathering of terrorists. Let’s not allow sentiments becloud our sense of reasoning.”
He regretted the cancellation of the topic because, according to him, the theme of discussion – interdisciplinary and international workshop on Witchcraft – had attracted keen interest from scholars and interest groups locally and internationally, many of who had booked seats to participate and contribute at the conference and workshop.
The 2-day conference tagged “First International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Witchcraft: Meaning, Factors and Practices,” was to begin today on this sole subject at the Energy Centre of the University.
The Conference host is Prof. Egodi Uchendu, director of the Prof. BIC Ijomah Centre of Policy and Research in the University, and a fine scholar with interests in diverse fields such as Islam in Igboland, gender and masculinity, and survival in conflict situations.
eMetro News had earlier reported that Christian zealots were fearful of the gathering and had promised to launch a series of prayer offensives to ward off what they see as its evil potent.
They had apparently gone beyond prayers to successfully apply pressure on the university authorities to withdraw the topic of discussion.
Many academics looked forward to the theme of this conference as it promised a full intellectual excursion where the participants will fly above the mundane concerns of religious zealots to land at a safe zone where they will interrogate issues around witchcraft, its philosophy, how it began, what literature and folklore explains, whether it is a science or an art, its gender and politics, and how it meets with religion.
Contemporary issues around witchcraft were also to be examined, such as its implication for security, social work, and aspects of development.
Social media commentators who work up early this morning to the news are expressing great disappointment with the people who caused the topic to be dropped through executive fiat in the university.
“Religion has dealt a heavy blow to our intellect, bemoaned one lecturer.
“What is the problem with this conference? I thought our Christian leaders would have used this opportunity to demystify witchcraft if at all it exists?”
The University of Nigeria, Nsukka, has tickled public curiosity
with the announcement that it will hold an international conference on
The 2-day conference in Enugu State is tagged “First International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Witchcraft: Meaning, Factors and Practices,” and will hold at the Energy Centre of the University from Tuesday 26 November 2019.
The Conference is hosted by Prof. Egodi Uchendu who is the director of the Prof. BIC Ijomah Centre of Policy and Research in the University.
Prof. Uchendu is a scholar with interests in diverse fields
such as Islam in Igboland, gender and masculinity, and survival in conflict situations.
This could be her first foray into magical arts and sciences.
Expectedly, the conference has been received with mixed
Christian zealots are fearful of the gathering and have promised
to launch a series of prayer offensives to ward off what they see as its evil
On the other hand, social activists have largely welcomed the
Conference as an opportunity to educate the populace on a phenomenon that many
in the society hold in dread.
An editor writing in Sahara Reporters, for instance, warned the participants not to complicate “an already complex issue of witchcraft in the Nigerian society,” but to “thoroughly deconstruct the myths around the practice of black magic because this is what we need in this country now…”
According to her, “it will be counterproductive for a
prominent institution like the UNN to do anything that will further deepen
Nigerians’ beliefs in witchcraft or abstract powers.
“Already, different societal ills resulting from
government’s failures at various levels are being attributed to the activities
of witches and wizards by some folks in this country. There is the need to
change this narrative.”
There are speculations that the Conference will witness a
traditionalist versed in the subject, going by the invitation card for the
summit which lists a certain Agidigbo of Abor in Delta State as a special
guest, sharing the spot with Prof. BIC Ijomah.
Other than this teaser, it promises to be a full course intellectual
excursion as the organizers plan to fly above the concerns expressed and
instead interrogate issues around witchcraft, its philosophy, how it began,
what literature and folklore explains, whether it is a science or an art, its
gender and politics, and how it meets with religion.
Contemporary issues around witchcraft will also be examined,
such as its implication for security, social work, and aspects of development.
The social media lit up with discussion on the unique
conference, holding for the first time in Nigeria, particularly because the
subject of witchcraft has not been elevated to sit as respectable discussions
in the public sphere.
Nigerians only get treated to intermittent allegations of harm
to victims of so-called practitioners and to speculations and old wife’s tales
on how witches fly about their nocturnal businesses and the inevitable broom they
use to pilot themselves while airborne.
…Enugu Post Primary Schools Board fires 10, suspends 200 and seizes salaries of 500 teachers to get them to instill discipline and better ethic
In a bid to survive the harsh economic times, some secondary
school teachers in rural Enugu public schools, some of them in connivance with
their principals, have now resorted to “arrangements” to come to school only on
only the days they are scheduled to teach. They use the rest of their time to do
other things that earn them extra income, E-Metro investigations have shown.
There are major reasons why this has become a popular
arrangement, especially among teachers posted to Enugu rural schools. In the
first place, most of those who apply to teach in Enugu public schools prefer to
be posted to township schools rather than schools in rural communities. Again,
many also prefer to stay in Enugu or Nsukka townships from where they commute
to the rural schools every day.
“For those of us who live in townships and teach in rural
areas, the cost of transportation alone takes a lion share of our salaries if we
are to go to there every day,” one of such teachers told E-Metro.
Out of sympathy for the qualified and experienced teachers among the township-dwelling teachers, principals in rural schools reach a compromise by asking them to come to school only on the days that they have been scheduled to take students on the subjects they teach. They probably take the examples of teachers in tertiary institutions, but the government is having none of it. This practice has become a major source of friction between the principals and the education supervisory boards which are demanding that the schools be run in a proper manner.
The Enugu State Government has three such supervisory boards
with responsibility for basic (primary and junior secondary), post primary (senior
secondary), and technical education. Apart from discipline of teachers and
students and payment of salaries, the regulatory Boards see their major brief
as supervision, according to Nestor Ezeme, chair of the Post Primary Schools
Management Board (PPSMB).
Ezeme spoke to members of Enugu House of Assembly Committee
on Education who visited PPSMB on Tuesday. He disclosed that when the Ugwuanyi
administration came into office, there was rot in the educational system and
the board had to intensify efforts in supervision and monitoring of teachers.
“Part of our job is supervision of schools, discipline of
teachers and students, payment of their salaries, among others. “Our main duty,
however, is supervision and we go for that three times a week. We visit schools
unannounced and take the teachers and principals by surprise.
“It has yielded results. We saw teachers that have not been
in school for two weeks.
“In some cases, the principal will agree to arrangements
whereby some teachers come on Monday, others on Tuesday and so on. But we have
changed all that now,” he explained.
Our investigation also shows that almost all public-school teachers
in the nation are unable to survive on their salaries and so must do other jobs
to make ends meet while they teach, unless their spouses have adequate income
to take care of the family. In Enugu, the good teachers, especially those who
teach math and science subjects, do home lessons for children of middle- and
high-income classes. Others engage in farming, petty trading, or use their
automobiles to carry passengers, anything that they can do to earn the extra
The Government of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has been
battling this system which leaves public school students and pupils in very
poor care of public schools’ teachers. Since 2016, the Ugwuanyi administration
has been insisting that all teacher recruitments be restricted to candidates
who are willing and prepared to go to their home communities in the rural areas
to teach. Government hopes that through this system, selected new teachers would
have reduced financial pressures on themselves since they are likely to have a
home to stay (and avoid high township rent) and, since the school is a walking
distance from their homes, they will also be saving on transportation costs. Although
it is not yet been sanctioned as a policy, teachers in rural schools help to promote
the formation and management of farmers’ cooperative societies in their
communities and some have exploited the opportunity to access loan capital and
grants to embark on rural agriculture.
“The government is hoping to halt the rural-urban drift
through the policy of posting highly qualified teachers to accelerate the pace of development in the
rural areas,” one policy maker who does not want to be named because he is a
civil servant told E-Metro. Our findings, however, show that these expectations
are not being communicated to rural teachers in a holistic and integrated
manner. Some of the teachers themselves expressed surprise that this could be a
policy of the state government.
“Nobody has told us to promote cooperatives; we only join
because the law allows public servants to go into farming; Again, this is one
way we can get money from government to engage in something that will bring us
additional income,” a teacher in Igboeze-North, who has benefitted from FADAMA
III programme said.
On its own, the education regulatory boards have carried out
their functions without appearing to pay much regard to the possibilities of
using teachers to promote other policy options that will lead to rapid
development of rural areas. This point was underscored last week Wednesday when
the Enugu State House of Assembly Committee on Education visited PPSMB. Mr. Ezeme
painted a grim picture of teacher truancy, sometimes done in collusion with
principals, which his agency has been battling to stem since the Ugwuanyi
administration came on board in 2015. According to him, PPSM has so far fired
10 teachers, suspended 200 others, and withheld the salary of 500, in
wide-ranging disciplinary efforts to halt teacher misconduct in public
Queens School Enugu now has 24-hour solar power supply to help students with their studies, courtesy of the school’s alumni association based in faraway North East USA.
The system was unveiled in the school on Thursday, 27 June 2019, at a grand event witnessed by governors of Enugu and Anambra States among a host of dignitaries and illustrious alumni.
President of Queens School Enugu North East Chapter in U.S., Mrs. Nkolika Uwaeche, disclosed that the solar power system was solely donated by a member, Dr. Titi Njemanze. The Chapter will undertake maintenance of the project for a period of 25 years, she said.
“When we are in Queens School, our dance troupe was “Egwu Touch.” We see ourselves as light; this means that wherever we found ourselves, we light up the society.
“We take this up literally because we feel that the light will enable Queens students to study hard and be the best they can be,” Uwaeche said.
A clearly elated Chairperson of Queens School Old Girls Association, Mrs. Margaret Nwagbuo, said the system has the capacity to supply power to the whole school and praised the North East USA Old Girls chapter for the feat.
She said that the system will enable the children study better and in a good secured environment.
“Work hard, use the light to study, and make a name for Queens School,” Nwagbuo admonished the students.
The solar power system was commissioned by Enugu State Governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who used the occasion to ask the school authorities to compile a list of other projects that need the attention of the State Government and forward to him.
Enugu State Government owns the Queens School, which it inherited from the former Eastern Region.
Ugwuanyi also promised to complete ongoing government projects in the school and equally donated N1.5m to the schools Egwu Touch dance troupe.
A senior adviser who represented Anambra State’s Governor, Mr. Willy Obiano, offered words of encouragement to the students while a former Secretary to Enugu State Government, Chief Onyemuche Nnamani urged the alumni chapters to consider providing tablets to enable Queens students “be on the same page with their counterparts in the private schools.”