Thought Leadership

My school, my heritage, my shame…

When we started this blog…we promised ourselves that we would stick to health issues. Irrespective of our several hopes, dreams and frustrations of being Nigerian, we would stick to the one issue we feel have earned the right to share our views on…health.

Today, Ill break that rule…somewhat. I justify it thus…Education is one of the key determinants of health. Therefore today, Ill share a personal story of my education.

I have always felt that my most formative years were the 6 years I spent as a boarder in Peace House, Federal Government College, Enugu, Nigeria. I still remember the very first day my mother dropped me in schoolGod did I cry. But in the end…the school, its teachers, my classmates, my dorm mates made me and us what we are. It shaped our politics, kindled our interests, aroused our intellect, and developed our emotions. We played football, argued football, tried to impress the ladies, claimed conquests, jumped fence, hated school food, envied day students…and waited for visiting days.

From the Principal Mr Joe Adigwe, to all the teachers, the nurse in the sick bay, the warden we hated, the gatemen that would not let us out….the cooks! Those guys made us. They really did…We owe them…big time!

We knew neither race nor colour. Taofik was my class prefect…when Musa Sale sat next to me. My man Gbenga…or corner mate Mbang. My nemesis Dykes…
Our lingua was English at day….and “Pigeeon”….from “school over”…

God…did we have a great time or what?

This was the Nigeria of my dreams. We lived the dream. We were the dream…

Then it all fell apart. Silently through the Abacha years….in our sleep…Our heritage disappeared. Two years ago, erstwhile Minister of Education woke us up to the reality of what our Federal Schools had turned into. She suggested solutions. Public private partnerships, the banks should adopt schools…etc.

There was fire and brimstone! The papers went awry…

Crucify her…crucify her…the people shouted.

We would not have it…we will not loose our Federal Schools…sadly sadly…the schools were long lost.

In came Mr Aja Nwachukwu, and in the true fashion of our present Government responded to the public outcry and chose not to rock the boat. He reversed Ezekwesili’s initiatives and returned to status quo ante. The Federal Schools will remain under the management of the Federal Ministry of Education…

In July 2008 I visited my school. School had just closed for the summer holidays the week before. My set…the set of ‘89 has a vibrant egroup. Next year we plan to celebrate 20 years of entering “Federal” …20 years! How much the world has moved in 20 years. We have been discussing what to do? Party? Visit the school? Fund a project in the School? We are full of ideas….

I have kept quiet.

This is the reason…

This is my school …20 years after….

Share my tears…

The entrance…as it was…as it is….

empty words…

my class windows..
…and from the rear
my source of drinking water, old on the floor, new standing proud
S.U.Beee….for 10.45
hold your breath…
No need for NEPA

new IT center from the outside
from the insideFor the days students….
the corridors….
Air conditioning 🙂
light….:) 🙂
Our black board
in “storage”
Our dorm
JSS block…
in all its beauty…
assembly hall…
…and from the outside
the new CHURCH! YEAH…something new!

…are you thinking what I am thinking?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

By Chikwe Ihekweazu

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

10 replies on “My school, my heritage, my shame…”

I didn’t go to FGC Enugu… FGGC Owerri was my home for 6 short years but these picture make me scared to take that trip down memory lane! It’s like the place that time forgot… And these are our so called “Unity” schools? It’s no wonder those that can afford it are now opting for private education!

I was almost in tears as i scrolled down…the pictures speak for themselves.I attended a breakfast meeting at my alma mater, King’s College Lagos,last easter and it was a similar situation.The Education Minister was in attendance.The truth is the government don’t just care. Just like the health sector they would rather send their children abroad to study,hence could’nt give a damn as to how others are educated. They send their kids to the best schools in foreign lands but they do not realise that these same schools present the same opportunities to every single citizen of that country.
We pray for the failed state that is Nigeria.

The failures of our Government can not be overemphasized.We have turned to God for divine intervention[salvation].It leaves one to wonder,a situation where initiatives for good governance are being truncated by clueless officials appointed based on cronnies and favouratism.All sectors have been hit with industrial actions,non performance and mismanagement and it doesnt bother our leaders.if something is not done urgently,then doom awaits us.the principal and management of FGC Enugu should also share in the blame,the school is unkept and deteriorating rapidly,i belive they could have done more with the little they get rather than sit back.i visited my alma mater,FGC Okigwe,i am impressed with what i saw

I have mixed feelings of nostalgia and shame as I look at these pictures especially since this is not some example…this was my school.
I am however immediately reminded of the bigger picture. This is the state of infrastructure in Nigeria. It was only a matter of time before my beloved school followed suit but enough of the tears. This is a wake up call. Charity begins at home.

Shame indeed. however….. I remember very well the uproar that resulted from attempting to bring in private hands to run unity schools. An uproar that came mostly from within ‘our’ ranks (the ordinary citizen). It is maybe neccessary that pictures such as these be disseminated more widely than possibly, this blog can achieve… this would do well to achieve more honest and comprehensive discourse. It is perhaps time for us to accept that Nigeria is in this dark and desolate place where change will have to happen from the bottom up.. the guys are at the top are either not listening or are protecting their own interest. It will now have to be a ‘people oriented’ change.. we really have no choice.

I hope we all channel these feelings to commit ourselves to contributing something/ effort/ funds to rebuilding our home. Its clear the Govt have failed us. Lets not fail our memories and children’s legacy by not doing anything. Go back! and contribute!


This like many is a catch 22. Private hands may well strip the schools of what is left of them, besides, how will the schools be handed over, to the highest bidders? And yes, government is doing a poor job.

Such a situation has been described by a former Israeli premier as a reality you manage, and live with.

The decay of the unity schools is a reflection of the larger society, and as shown in the picture documentary, only religion, the opium of the oppressed, continues to grow.

To sell these schools will not solve the problem of proper funding and maintenance, only a responsible government will.

The experiment of handing over schools to old boys associations as seen in many an old schools does not recommend we go down same slippery path.

In summary, until we fix the original problem, our government, other efforts may as well be likened to the dog that tried to put out fire with its fart (apologies Achebe)

The Government must do more to enhance education in our country and not just try to hand everything over to the private sector, if they hand over everything to the private sector, how then would the poor survive, how exactly is the poor child ever going to be educated.
The government must take it rightful place and responsibility in our society.

$100Bn was allocated to State governments during the OBJ years made news a few days ago but prior to that, I was already chasing the reconstruction of education in Nigeria. But to see shameless begging for funds from old boys revealed our country is full of dumb geniuses. We are still chasing shadows while the world competition heats up. The Beijing Olympics was not just about sports, it was education, alas, we are yet to leave the starting line or rather “My school, my heritage, their shame…”

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