The recent distribution of COVID-19 palliatives to teachers in Lagos State continue to generate conversations among primary and secondary school teachers as many of them rejected the food items they were given.
On Wednesday, November 18, 2020, Pulse reported that many teachers in Ojo Local Government Area of the state received a sachet of noodles and a sachet of biscuit as palliatives.
While the Chairman of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in the area, Tajudeen Oladipupo denied the report, saying no teacher was given such negligible food items, more teachers in primary and secondary schools in the state have confirmed that they received palliatives that tend to reduce their status.
The NUT chairman had argued that the teachers’ claims were not true because none of them reported to him.
He said, “When I got the palliatives from our state office, I moved them straight to the office of the Chairman, Association of Nigerian Primary School Teachers, who also doubles as the Chairman of headteachers in Ojo Local Government, and I handed them over to him and took some snapshots with him and the Deputy Chairman, and nobody has reported anything to me, if they have reported to you and have not reached out to me, I don’t think I have anything to say about it”.
Some teachers, who spoke to Pulse on condition of anonymity due to fear of intimidation said the distribution of the palliatives started shortly after schools resumed following the #EndSARS crisis in the state.
Recall that during the crisis, hoodlums and looters invaded a warehouse at the Masamasa area of the state to steal COVID-19 palliatives kept in the building.
Some of the food items looted from the building included rice, noodles and garri.
However, in a chat with Pulse, many teachers disclosed that apart from noodles and biscuits, some of them were also given two cups of rice, one sachet of spaghetti and/or a tin of garri depending on the numbers of teachers in a school.
A secondary school teacher in District V said, three cartons of noodles were sent to the school for 34 teachers with an instruction that two cartons be given to the principal and vice-principal, while others would share one carton among themselves.
At a secondary school in Ajeromi Ifelodun, each teacher was given four sachets of noodles, a cup of rice, (milk tin), N100 Dangote sugar, and a tin of garri (tomato paste tin, aka de rica).
A teacher in Ojo Local Government said each teacher in her school went home with four sachets of noodles and two cups of rice.
Describing the palliatives as an eyesore, another teacher in the area said some of the food items like pasta sent to the school had gone so bad that their packages had torn and broken.
Another senior secondary school teacher at Amuwo Odofin area of the state disclosed that each teacher at his school was able to get four sachets of noodles because the school principal and vice-principal rejected the palliatives.
“We could not share the sugar they gave us because it was too little to be shared. They also gave us two 5kg bags of rice for about 20 teachers in the school.”
The teacher added that some schools around Ajeromi Ifelodun didn't even bother to share the palliatives because it won’t go round even if they decide to give one sachet of noodles to each teacher.
While many teachers complained about the food items, a teacher at one of the many schools at Complex in Apapa said they didn’t receive any palliatives.
Another primary school teacher, who got four sachets of noodles at Ibeju-Lekki area of the state said some teachers received expired food items.
The teacher said “I got three sachets of Indomie noodles and one other noodle, while some colleagues in other schools got just one sachet of noodles without biscuits. Some got biscuits, garri and other items that have expired due to the delay in the distribution. It is a big slap and a disgrace on us. We did not even expect anything from them, we didn’t ask, they shouldn’t have given us anything. What are we supposed to do with the food they give us?, But we collected it to have a piece of evidence.”
A secondary school teacher at Alimosho Local Government also disclosed that she was given four sachets of noodles and a pasta. Teachers at a Junior High School in Ikoyi also got the same food items.
Speaking to Pulse in a telephone conversation on Saturday, November 21, 2020, Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, said she has nothing to say about the palliatives because she was not responsible for the distribution of the food items.
She said, “I was not the one who gave out the palliatives. I am sure it came from one of our ministries. I really cannot comment at this time, because I don’t know who you spoke with, and I don’t know the details of it.
“Remember that Lagos State Government paid 100 percent salaries throughout, not 50 per cent. We paid full salaries on the 25th of every month, from February till the end of COVID-19 lockdown”.
Reacting to teachers’ argument that the food items shouldn't have been shared because they did not ask for it, Adefisayo wondered why Lagos teachers found faults in the palliatives, saying the food items were unexpected gifts.
“I have said I am not going to make any comment, since they didn’t request, you never look a gift horse in the mouth. You say thank you when somebody gives you an unexpected gift. I am sorry, I am not going to comment because I don’t know who gave them one sachet of noodle and a sachet of cabin biscuit. I have nothing to do with it, so I have no comment.”
On Tuesday, Pulse reached out to the Chairman of the Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board, (LASUBEB) Mr. Wahab Alawiye-King for his comment on the distribution of palliatives in the state, but the LASUBEB boss ignored the calls and the message sent to him on Whatsapp.