Two private school groups on Thursday clashed during their visit to the Federal Ministry of Education headquarters in Abuja.
The National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) and its rival Association of Private Schools Owners of Nigeria (APSON) were meant to meet with the minister, Adamu Adamu in his office when this happened.
Tension began to gather momentum at the Ministry of Education conference room, on Thursday, when members of the two rival Associations were told by the Ministry officials that the courtesy visits would not be held separately since in the eye of the Ministry the two are but one Association.
Trouble started when the opportunity was given for the representatives of the Associations to introduce themselves and proceed to state the reasons for their visit.
While NAPPS was led by its President, Mr Yomi Otubela, APSON was also led by its President, Mr Godly Opukeme.
Otubela after introducing himself and self-introduction by his members, described APSON as a breakaway faction from NAPPS, saying the current National President of APSON who sat next to him at the meeting, was the immediate past Public Relations Officer of NAPPS and had also served in the past as an Auditor of NAPPS.
But Opukeme, in his response, said APSON was incorporated by the Federal Government of Nigeria Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in March 1995, making it the foremost registered body of Private School Owners in Nigeria.
He said the attempt to merge the two Association after a series of memorandum of understanding, could not work because of an identity problem, saying it was obvious that the two bodies could not work under one umbrella.
Sensing that the altercation between the two leaders of the Associations could degenerate into fracas, when the Minister in an attempt to resolve the differences, asked them to state why the two bodies could not be united as one body, Adamu brought the meeting into the abrupt end.
He then asked the leaders to select members of the respective Association to meet with him in a closed-door meeting his office.
Minister insisted that it would be much more profitable for the two Associations to work under one platform, noting that the private sector has a critical role to play in the quest for quality education delivery in the country.
He also said the demands of the two bodies, which were earlier presented in their separate remarks would be looked into.
National President of NAPPS, Otubela, announced the determination of the Association to remove about 10.5 million out-of-school children from the streets in the country in the next three years.
In his words, “While applauding your efforts to increase access to school in the face of a worrisome situation where the rate of out-of-school in the country is as high as 10.5 million, we rose from NEC meeting with a strong decision to partner your office in proffering solution.
“Therefore, it is the unanimous decision of the national executive of NAPPS that each of about 40,000 proprietors in NAPPS shall oblige to award scholarships to a target 10 indigent children per year for a consecutive three years.”
He commended the Federal Government for the recent approval of a special salary scale and new retirement age for teachers during the commemoration of the 2020 World Teachers’ Day.
President of APSON, Opukeme, on the other hand, appealed to the Federal Government to address the challenge of multiple taxations, he noted has paced heavy burden on the school owners.
He added that the recent disengagement of N-Power beneficiaries by the Federal Government “as it concerns a quantum of ad-hoc teachers who were assigned to drive innovation for teaching and learning process in basic schools is a major crisis that should bother every Nigerian.”