*Pupils Drown in the Flood
*Reptiles Now Common in Some Schools
The Commissioner for Education in Bayelsa State, Hon. Gentle Emelah has given reasons why the state government ordered the closure of schools in the state.
Emelah had in a public statement announced what he called “emergency closure of schools” in the state with effect from October 19, 2020.
But in an exclusive chat with Maritime Bits, Emelah who is an educationist and erstwhile member of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly said a yet to be ascertain number of pupils were drowned in the flood that wreaked havoc in the oil and gas rich state.
His words: “There is no doubt that this flood has wreaked a lot of havoc in Bayelsa State. It has affected so many things. Animals, especially reptiles are not left out. The natural habitats of these reptiles have been negatively affected. They are therefore looking for where to hide and it is natural for them to get into houses and buildings in the school premises. Many teachers and pupils lives have been endangered in the process.
“We cannot continue to endanger the lives of our people in the name of education. Our people need to be alive before they can be educated. We do not want to lose more lives. It is a painful decision because it is not long we resumed academic activities in the schools because of the Covid 19 pandemic. All schools in the state were all closed as a result of the pandemic but we have to do it to safeguard the lives of the pupils and their teachers in addition to other non-academic staff”.
According to him, this decision is in order to safeguard the lives of our precious pupils and students all through the flood season as such all schools should strictly adhere to it. The public should note that the closure of schools will not affect the students taking the ongoing Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) exercise taking place in the state.
The earlier statement by the ministry titled “Emergency Closure of Schools in the State” and signed by Emelah said: “The government hereby regret every inconvenience that might come with this new development. We also use this medium to sympathize with all flood victims across the state. We are assuring them that as a people and as a government, we share in their pain and we will continue to do our best to give them our support.
“It is sad that the closure is coming barely a month after we returned from the Covid-19 pandemic break and now we are faced with another natural disaster which has forced us to close down our schools again”.
The Commissioner expressed dismay at what he called “highly regrettable and unfortunate” development just as he enjoined all stakeholders to recognize that it was “a price we must pay as a people for our collective good”.
He sought for the understanding of the people on the government’s decision to close the schools in what he described as a “trying time” in the state.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Education, Hon. Gentle Emelah has stated that the people of Okordia/Zarama/Biseni plays a critical role in the development of Bayelsa State.
He stated this when a delegation of Okordia Zarama Biseni Development Front paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Yenagoa recently.
He extolled the place of the area in the development of the state, pointing out that it hosted the defunct Teachers Training College (TTC) which was a foremost teachers training institution that trained a lot of Nigerians from the 1950s till the late 1980s.
“It is therefore unfortunate that not much have been done to revamp the TTC which has gone moribund”, he added.
The leader of the delegation, Mr. Freeman Ovuru had earlier said the aim of the visit was to felicitate with the commissioner as one of their kinsmen.
Ovuru also said the visit was meant to strengthen working relationship with Emelah who is the political leader of the constituency.
He extolled Emelah’s leadership qualities while he was representing the constituency at the state House of Assembly.
According to him, the commissioner achieved so much including the building of Corpers’ Lodge and water projects.
Ovuru used the occasion draw the state government’s attention to the area which is a major contributor to the state’s economy.
According to him, the famous Zarama Market needs a facelift, the establishment of another teachers training institution at the site of the defunct TTC. The site is free from the present flood rocking the state.