As the Catholic Church in Nigeria receives six primary schools from Cross River State, Governor Ben Ayade has harped on the need to maintain standard in education.
Governor Ayade, who was recently inducted as a Knight of Saint John in the Catholic Church, said that the concern of the Nigerian Government was for children in primary schools to receive quality education.
Ayade told the Archbishop of Calabar Ecclesiastical Diocese, Dr. Joseph Ekuwem in Calabar, the capital of the southern Nigerian State that the decision to return the schools to the church was in view of achievements recorded.
He said the government is left with no choice other than to return the schools to their original owners. I have no doubts that the church would bring standards to bear on running the schools.
In spite of our concern, the government has no hesitation to give up the six schools. We appreciate the way and manner you have conducted yourself. It is also important that we look at the performance of the schools we are handing over and see whether they have done well, the Governor stressed.
The Governor described the advocacy for the return of all mission schools to the various churches as laudable and directed the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education to kick start the process.
He stated, we want to thank you for speaking very strongly even for other churches, the Presbyterian and the Methodist churches and even urging the government to endeavor to give mission schools back to the original owners.”
“I believe it is in the fear of God, the love and fellowship of mankind that you made the appeal. Let me, therefore, recommend to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education that we are open to doing as much as we have done for other churches,” Ayade averred.
He emphasized, our ultimate ambition is to support you to succeed. We are not in competition; we are in the process of building a better society for us all, as government or spiritual fathers. I believe that with this synergy, we shall ultimately provide better education for our children.”
In a remark, the Archbishop, Dr. Ekuwem expressed gratitude to the governor for the gesture, which he described as sincerely gratifying, stating that the church was committed to maintaining educational standards in the state and nation.
Ekuwem said now that you are handing back six of the schools in the three senatorial zones made up of Calabar archdiocese and Ogoja diocese, I am looking forward to a day when all the remaining schools will be returned.
He then appealed for the return of other schools to their original owners, saying we plead first for my sister churches, the same church of God beginning with Presbyterian Church and the request they have made. I also plead on behalf of those that have not asked and request the state government to give us our schools.”
We have been on board even before government took over the schools. We all remember that the missionaries first established schools even at the time when the protectorates of the northern and southern Nigeria were not amalgamated in 1914, Ekuwem insisted.
The schools returned are located across the three senatorial district in Cross River and these include Sacred Heart Primary School, Calabar; Saint Mary’s Primary School and its convent school, Calabar; and Saint Peter’s Primary School, Ekpene Tete, in Akpabuyo local government area.
Others are Saint Benedict’s Primary School, Igoli, Ogoja; Saint Joseph’s Primary School Idum, Mbube, Ogoja in the northern senatorial zone and Saint Eugene’s Primary School, Ochon, Obubra in the central district.