I have never met Guy Garguilo, but I hope to do so soon. He is the Italian who, for 16 years, was the principal of a school in Ondo State before moving on with life.
Thirty years after, according to reports, he paid a visit to his old school, of which he had had fond memories.
What he saw during the visit was a nightmare. He could not believe his eyes. The once sparkling environment had become more of a refuse dump, classrooms had become dilapidated, the library had fallen into disuse, sports facilities, particularly the swimming pool, had collapsed. In fact, the school had become a carcass.
His 76-year-old heart could not contain the pain. He broke down in tears and wept bitterly. “How could his baby, Ajuwa Grammar School, Okeagbe-Akoko, Ondo State have suffered so much?” he asked no one in particular.
Like a bereaved father, Garguilo chastised himself for abandoning the school that, under him, used to rival the late Tai Solarin’s Mayflower, Ikenne, in not only academic brilliance but also devotion to hard work and productivity.
On his return, the school that used to have its own tractors for farming, and paraded a bricklayers’ club, carpentry club and the likes had become a relic.
He then took a decision that is most impossible in these parts: He sold off his father’s house in Italy brought the N50 million proceeds to Nigeria and gave it to the school. Of the sum, he gave N30 million to the old students association to run an agricultural company, and the N20 million balance for the construction of a school guest house named Pleiadi, after his father’s house that was sold.
Garguilo has no television set in his house and drives a jalopy! Pray, what is the meaning of selflessness if not this?
An Italian weeping over the state of a Nigerian school? He then sold off his father’s house and gave the proceeds for the restoration of the school! Lord have mercy! Where are the old students of that school, who had the best of education there and must be in top positions today? Have they ever had cause to look back at the institution that shaped their lives and must have played a big role in whatever they may have become today? When will the African reduce his love for self and give to others?
It is not in doubt that Nigerian public schools will not be in their current poor states if old students look back and give back, or if everybody in the neighbourhood helps one way or the other. A desktop here, a fan there and a bag of cement with free labour will go a long way in restoring most schools and other public institutions to life.
I recall attending a Sunday service at Pastor Tunde Bakare’s Latter Rain Assembly, Lagos, sometime this year. It fell on a day the church was marking the birthday of the spiritual leader. A lady, who I was later told was the church administrator, took the microphone and told the cleric that the brethren had a surprise package for him, including the invitation of his favorite gospel musician.
Pastor Bakare took it all in but showed no sign of serious appreciation. As he was about taking the microphone from her, she announced that the church had also bought 10 computers, I think, and a power generating set for his old primary school in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
It had been long since I saw a prominent man jump that much for joy. Exclaiming: “whao! Great! Whao!” he snatched the microphone from the administrator and prayed for the congregation on-end. He asked the church if they noticed that he had been happy but not impressed with the earlier announcements of what the church had done for him. He said that he would have been most sad if, in his absence, the church had happened not to have imbibed the message he had always passed down to them, that it is greater in giving back to the society and the ones one does not hope to take a direct benefit from than to oneself or friends.
I later learnt that he has since rebuilt parts of the school, tarred the road that leads there and given the church’s gift items to the school.
Nigeria parades a long list of people with obscene wealth, who ride the poshest of cars on the worst roads. They lament daily that the government had failed to fix the roads, all roads, even the private streets that lead to their homes. The average citizen does not fare better, accusing the government of not doing its duty, and the wealthy for not helping out, forgetting that little drops of water make a might ocean.
I am not a member of Pastor Bakare’s church and, I repeat, I have never met Garguilo although I hope to do so soon. But, could anyone reading this piece and having access to those who compile the lists of national honours please pen down the names of these two gifts of God to humanity, to serve as role models for Nigerians and, perhaps, the black race?
The purported dismissal of former EFCC chairman Nuhu Ribadu would have been a great joke but for the fact that it leaves a sour taste. The plot against him has so far been a badly written script, and the acting much, much worse. It can only be described as giving a Lalude role to a Baba Sala. It simply won’t work.
Why the undue haste in dismissing a man over the grounds for which he is still in court, and to which he is entitled, going by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? If it had been just any other arm of government, the action could have been understandable. But for the Police, the arm that is charged with upholding the law, in a government that makes the rule of law its mantra?
It is very laughable that in purporting to dismiss Ribadu, the Police cited the Police Service Rules 2006. Have the officers and men of the force never read Section 1 (1) and (3) of the constitution, the grundnorm?
If they haven’t, I will most graciously reproduce it here.
s.1 (1) reads: “This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on the authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
s.1 3) says: “ If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”
Need I say more?
- First published in the Nigerian Compass circa 24th December 2008