The Bayelsa State Commissioner for Education, Gentle Emelah has explained 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.
According to him, a yet to be ascertained number of pupils were drowned in the flood that wreaked havoc in the oil and gas rich state.
“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 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.”
He said the decision is in order to safeguard the lives of the precious 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 read: “The government hereby regrets 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 recognise that it was “a price we must pay as a people for our collective good.”
He sought 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, Emelah has stated that the people of Okordia/Zarama/Biseni play a critical role in the development of the 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 institution that trained a lot of Nigerians from the 1950s till the late 1980s.
“It is therefore unfortunate that not much has been done to revamp the TTC which has gone moribund,” he added.
The leader of the delegation, Mr. Freeman Ovuru said the aim of the visit was to felicitate with the commissioner as one of their kinsmen, adding that the visit was meant to strengthen working relationship with Emelah who is the political leader of the constituency.
He lauded Emelah’s leadership qualities while he was representing the constituency at the state House of Assembly, adding that the commissioner achieved so much including the building of Corpers’ Lodge and water projects.
Ovuru used the occasion to draw the state government’s attention to the area which is a major contributor to the state’s economy. He said the famous Zarama Market needs a facelift and called for 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.