USOSA UPDATES

COMMUNIQUE

UNITY SCHOOLS OLD STUDENTS ASSOCIATION (USOSA)

 

 “Promoting Unity- Pro-Unitate”

 

MEETING OF THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (NEC)

 

Held at Nanet Suites Abuja on the 21st May, 2016

 

 

  1. PREAMBLE

 

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Unity Schools Old Students Association National Executive Committee (USOSA) met in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, on Saturday, 21 May 2016. The NEC of USOSA comprises the elected executive of USOSA and the presidents and general secretaries of the alumni associations of all the Unity Schools across Nigeria. Participants came from all the States of Nigeria. In all, a total of 47 Unity Schools were in attendance at the meeting. Among the participants were:  Engr. Suleiman Hussaini Adamu (FNSE), Honorable Minister for Water Resources and national president of Federal Government College Kano Old Students Association;  Air Vice Marshal Terry Okorodudu (rtd) National President FGC Sokoto Old Students Association (‘73); Hajiya Fatiha Alikote, USOSA Trustee and  National President of Federal Government Girls College, Kazaure Old Students Association (‘78) , and Mr. Frank Nweke II, former Minister for Information (FGC Maiduguri ‘82). The meeting was presided by the President-General of USOSA, Prof. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu (FGC Okigwe ‘83).

 

NEC was particularly delighted to welcome to the meeting, representatives of Federal Government College, Buni-Yadi Old Students Association (Yobe State), which was closed down after an attack by Boko Haram on the school on 25 February 2014, in which at least 49 students were killed. NEC observed a moment of silence in honour of the slain students.

 

 

  1. DELIBERATIONS AND RESOLUTIONS

Reflecting the themes #Education4All and #USOSA4All, NEC considered various issues affecting education in Nigeria generally and the Unity Schools in particular, in line with the objectives of the recently inaugurated leadership, summarized by 3Rs – Retool USOSA, Regenerate Education and Renew National Unity. Following extensive deliberations, NEC resolved as follows:

 

  • RETOOLING OF USOSA

NEC considered and approved a multiple year programmes and communication strategy for USOSA. The strategy now defines USOSA’s mission with reference to the goal of “Education for All” (EFA) pioneered by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and now embodied in Goal 4 of the recently adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reinforced by the goals of peace, justice and stronger institutions (Goal 16). The approved strategy will focus the work of USOSA around five related objectives:

  • Advocacy for public education as a public good, guarantor of human development and driver of national productivity;
  • Investment in enlightenment as the foundation for national unity and co-existence of Nigeria;
  • Defence of education in parts of Nigeria afflicted by violence or suffering from radicalization or attacks on education;
  • Facilitation of access to skills for young school leavers as a basis for safety and security; and
  • Promotion of mutual solidarity through shared interest in the wellbeing of products of the Unity School system.

 

NEC Considered and approved a strategy for membership mobilization and national expansion with a goal to achieve full membership of all Unity Schools in USOSA before the end of 2017. For this purpose NEC approved the creation of 11 clusters of Unity Schools to help drive more effective outreach and expansion.

 

NEC endorsed the creation of Standing Committees on Finance and Audit; Advocacy; and Mobilization and outreach, and approved their Terms of Reference.

 

NEC also approved the establishment of a Constitution Review Committee (CRC) for USOSA and approved its terms of Reference. It mandated the CRC to report back to the Annual General Meeting in October 2016.

 

  1. REGENERATION OF EDUCATION

 

NEC considered reports on various issues affecting education in Nigeria, including the following:

 

  • Education, Security and the Insurgency in North-East Nigeria: NEC endorsed education and security as a priority for USOSA. In this connection, NEC approve for USOSA to give priority to safe education for students in schools across the Nigeria, especially in the North East region of the country where the violence of Boko-Haram has focused on the destruction of schools and educational infrastructure. NEC authorized the establishment of an Ad-Hoc Working Group on the North-East Education Initiative to be led by the National President of FGC Wukari, Mr Rufuntse Jauro, to work with the Executive in identifying and engaging with relevant stakeholders. It mandated the Working Group to report back regularly.

 

  • Sex Abuse in Schools: NEC registered unanimous displeasure at the manner of the conclusion of the investigation by the Federal Ministry of Education regarding the widely publicized allegations of sexual molestation in Queens College, Lagos. NEC considered that the manner in which the investigation was concluded did not adequately reflect the seriousness with which allegations of sex abuse and predatory sexual behaviour in schools should be treated. In particular, NEC considered that the excuse that the alleged victim did not come forward to testify to the investigation panel was not sufficient to warrant the conclusion that the allegations were unfounded. The deliberations revealed quite clearly testimonies confirming that sex abuse has been and remains a widespread and frequent occurrence in our schools attracting no consequences to perpetrators and sometimes resulting in the victims being punished with expulsion. NEC resolved to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Education and the relevant law enforcement agencies with a view to developing appropriate policy responses to the problem of sex abuse in schools including, developing standards and protocols for ethics and accountability for teachers; curriculum reform and adequate mechanisms for protection of complainants. NEC affirmed the commitment of USOSA to working with all providers of education and government at all levels to safeguarding of our children in schools.

 

  • Accountability in Education: NEC identified accountability for the public resources appropriated for education emerged as a major recurrent issue for public education. Many instances of arbitrary levies and diversion of appropriated resources were brought to the attention of NEC. To enable it to address the issue of corruption in (Unity) Schools and develop an effective framework for transparency and accountability education, NEC, therefore, resolved to request USOSA to become more involved in monitoring the processes of appropriation and expenditure of funds appropriated for education.

 

  • Safety in Schools: NEC observed with consternation the widespread and high number of fire incidents and related breaches of fire safety in many Unity Schools across the country. NEC requested the Secretariat and member Alumni associations to investigate the cost effectiveness of addressing the need for adequate precautionary and fire safety readiness through adequate insurance cover in all schools.

 

  • Teacher Shortage: NEC also noted with dismay, the gross underperformance of many unity schools in the recent West African Examinations Council (WAEC), examinations, especially in the core subjects of Mathematics, English Language and the Sciences. This was attributed significantly to inadequate resourcing of qualified teaching personnel. It was brought to the attention of NEC that in many cases, some teachers were on the payroll of alumni associations or PTAs. NEC concluded that this practice poses a significant risk to the quality, standard of delivery and ethical conduct of teachers. NEC decided that USOSA will engage policy makers and other stakeholders in monitoring and evaluation as well as seek partnerships in appropriate programmes of capacity-building for teachers in Unity schools.

 

  1. RENEWAL OF NATIONAL UNITY

 

  • State of The Nation: NEC affirmed that Nigeria confronts multiple threats to its unity, social cohesion, human development and inter-community co-existence and reaffirmed the commitment of USOSA to the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria. NEC approved a template for reviewing policies affecting education in Nigeria to address:
    1. The political economy and impact on education
    2. Governance & institutions in the war against corruption and ensuring accountability in the provision of education; and
    3. Conflict, violence and humanitarian situation (including insurgency, radicalization, inter-communal violence, rural banditry, electoral violence and pipeline vandalism)

 

  • Sustainable Development Goals: NEC approved for USOSA to adopt a multi-stakeholder approach in aligning its focus with sustainable development goals in the areas of Security, Climate Change, and Curriculum development to take into account technology, prevention of radicalization and values that foster national unity, moral and civil responsibility.

 

(c)       CONCLUSION:

The Executive Committee wishes to thank all Alumni Presidents and Secretaries, secretariat staff, volunteers and other stakeholders for their contributions towards the success of this meeting. In particular, NEC transmits its appreciation to the Management of NANET Suites for providing seamless hosting and logistics which ensured that the meeting was successful. On behalf of the organs of USOSA, NEC reiterates our commitment to championing the cause of education, development and national integration in Nigeria because USOSA4All is Education4All.

 

Signed

 

       Hon. Salim Ibrahim                                                                                 Katherine Pam

   SECRETARY-GENERAL                                                           PUBLICITY SECRETARY

          08033148563                                                                                          08033541254

 

 

 

 

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For details of how the USOSA Elections went down, please visit this link - Premium Times

You'll find details about the two candidates who contested passionately for the post of USOSA President General. Gives you an idea just what was at stake. Both candidates had glowing CVs but only one made it to the top.

In the end, USOSA won!

 

Prof. Chidi Odinkalu the incoming USOSA President General addressed USOSANS in his inaugural speech.

Here's what he had to say...

"USOSA FOR ALL"


USOSA has come a long way. We began on a high: to defend the patrimony of the Unity Schools as a public good. That campaign was successful. Today we are challenged to retool precisely the inspiration of that gestational moment in the life of our association and make it more relevant to the lives of our association. That is why the message of our campaign was ‪#‎USOSA4All‬ because we believe that we all have a stake in USOSA and our leadership must find ways to sustain this sense of shared stake holding.

 

I want to take a moment to lay out what this means. This transition has taken place amidst some difficulty. We can’t under-estimate the difficulties we face as an association. These are defined by three areas of serious deficit: an enthusiasm deficit, a credibility deficit and a fiscal deficit. We have less than 50% of our 104 schools under our roof and we appear to have lost the capability to hold the attentions of many members and elders from our ranks.
But this transition has also shown possibilities for how we can confront and ultimately overcome these challenges.

 

During this cycle of leadership transition, we grew the number of eligible schools by over 70% and the number of schools in our network from 39 to 46, representing an increase of 7%. We have attracted a healthy number of young new schools. We have excited attention and interest by envisioning USOSA as an entity with a mission focused around public education.

 

The risk is that all the excitement generated by these elections will die as delegates leave. I hope not. I apologise to all delegates within and beyond these halls who suffered the inconvenience of being bombarded with unsolicited messaging while this process ended. By participating in this process, however, you permit us to continue to solicit your attention and participation as we begin the process of rebuilding USOSA into the biggest network for the defence of education in Nigeria.

 

We have to be ambitious for our association and our country. The challenge is not merely to rebuild an organisation; it is to build a movement for education. Nigeria gave us expensive education so that we can. Education for all must define what we do and how we do them. 
This means we have to envision new possibilities in rebuilding USOSA. I owe you an outline of what we propose:

 

- We must grow membership. Over the next year, we will look to achieve full coverage of the 104 schools in the USOSA Network

 

- We will digitize USOSA’s operations, begin a proper membership database in co-operation with the member alumni groups and have a strategic communications capability that will generate both platform and content over the next year.

 

- USOSA has an inbuilt majority of girls’ schools. The safety of our children in the girls’ schools is essential in order to bring out the best in the learners in these schools. We will propose a special advocacy and partnership programme on safety & ethics in our girls schools with clear standards and skills support

 

- To address the state of the Unity Schools, we will propose a new and standing policy partnership with the Federal Ministry of Education with specific deliverables and content. In particular, we will seek to address monitoring of appropriations for the Unity Schools

 

- To define USOSA’s identity as the principal advocate for public education in Nigeria, we will propose to set up within three months an Independent USOSA Commission on the future of public education in Nigeria which will report to the next AGM.

 

- We will explore ideas for solidarity with parts of the country where education is under attack from violence, especially the North-East and South-South.

 

- We need to offer a deal to our young graduates to get them onto the job ladder. So we will propose a standing USOSA Schools-to-Skills programme (USOSA S2S) to be undertaken in partnership with Alumni groups and partners.

 

To achieve any of these, we will need a more nimble, capable organisation"

 

To get the full speech, please visit - USOSA PG Innaugural Speech

 

Brief history of the Unity Schools

 

The Federal Government Colleges in Sokoto, Warri and Okposi (later Enugu) were set up in 1966 by the Tafawa Balewa administration, modelled on KC and QC but with the additional mandate to foster national integration. As there were already two schools in Lagos, one school each was set up in the Northern, Eastern and Mid-Western regions. Admissions were based on three criteria: merit, equality of regions (later states) and "catchment area". Selection was based on exams that used to be administered by WAEC.

 

General Gowon expanded the concept in 1973, to ensure that there was at least one Unity School in each of the twelve states, with the establishment of Federal Government Colleges in: Ilorin (Kwara), Ikot Ekpene (South Eastern), Jos (Benue-Plateau), Kaduna (North Central), Kano (Kano), Maiduguri (North-Eastern), Odogbolu (Western) and Port Harcourt (Rivers). Okposi which had been destroyed during the civil war was relocated to Enugu (East Central State). With the already thriving Sokoto (North Western) and Warri (Midwestern), the long established Kings and Queens Colleges in Lagos completed the number reluctantly, not considering themselves to be Unity Schools per se.

 

In 1974, eleven Federal Government Girls Colleges were established in all the states except Lagos, which already had Queens College as a girls only school.

The Unity Schools bar KC (Floreat Collegium) and QC (Pass on the Torch) had the same motto (Pro Unitate). Imitation being the ultimate flattery, the uniforms were modelled on KC and QC: white shirts and trousers, green and white ties and green blazers for boys and green pinafores with white blouses and green berets for girls. The school campuses were designed along broadly the same lines by Ekwueme and Associates and the Unity Schools Directorate of the Federal Ministry of Education provided central oversight and supervision.

 

With the creation of more states, more schools were established; we added schools for science and technical subjects, gifted children and a school for boys in the FCT. Now we have 104 schools that are a faint shadow of their former selves.

 

It's a story of unity that began in political pork. People may ask, why Sokoto, Warri and Okposi. The Sardauna who came from Sokoto got one; Omimi Ejoh (Okotie-Eboh) got one (Warri); and Aja Wachukwu, the education Minister who came from Okposi got the other one. But then (Prime Minister) Balewa whose idea it was, didn't put one in Tafawa Balewa or Bauchi ( in his lifetime). Bauchi came after he had been killed.

 

I remember a fascinating discussion with Rex Akpofure of blessed memory, PKC and Director of Education, in which he told the story first-hand of the memos that were written, the scheming, fighting and horse trading over locations, choice of Principals and so forth. He also spoke of the rivalries amongst Principals - played out in competition for top spots in the O and A level result league tables, competition for capital budgets to develop better facilities than their rivals and some fairly shameless quarrels for the best teachers.

Angels they certainly were not, but mostly now dead their lives are yet speaking.

 

Pro Unitate

 

 

Why USOSA? Why Now?

 

                                                   

Below is an interesting conversation that took place on our Facebook Group Page recently:

Sotonye Apiafi:

Greetings to this great community and kudos to all the great women on here doing great things ! You are appreciated whether people like me say it or not !

He who waters will always be watered .I admire your committment to success and helping our beloved school.

Of recent , I have heard USOSA featuring recently here . I have a couple of questions though :

1. Its an association of Unity Schools , yes, BUT what have they done for unity schools ? 
2. In a bid to understand what USOSA is , I went to the existing FB page , last post July 2015. And I searched for relevant info pertaining to improving the state of Unity Schools at a more strategic level , policy directions , engaging various ministries as pertains to Education and student welfare - very scanty ! And o! I saw Arumah Oteh looking really nice .
So what is USOSA really about ? And what will be done with dues paid ?
3. Why is their website inaccessible ? http://www.usosa.org.ng/ tried on 3 different devices ? Maybe I am not an IT guru ? Can we please have a website to peruse ?
4. I know our very own Kate Pam is vying for a position ? Kate dear , need your help to educate all of us . 
What is USOSA about and what will you bring to the table ?

Kate Pam

You're indeed right about the fact that USOSA hasn't harnessed the full potential for which it was founded. 
However it is important for you to know the premise upon which the association wa
s birthed. This was at the time Unity schools were under the threat of privatisation & it was necessary for alumni associations to come together & speak with one voice. That played a significant role in preserving our schools today. 
2ndly, the problems you observed about the website & social media pages are the very reasons I'm vying for the particular position.
3rdly, we know a tree alone cannot make a forest. Our dues alone can never be sufficient to maintain the fallen standard of our school and even more so that some issues need to be tackled at the highest level from the centre. The USOSA platform provides the requisite numerical strength, experience & clout to influence policies that affect unity schools collectively as well as education in general. The schools were founded for 2 reasons: Academic excellence & national integration, you will agree with me that both are pertinent issues in our present day nigeria & USOSA is poised to champion these causes. 
Lastly, USOSA enlarges the network of opportunities to add value to our members. Especially for our young graduates & others so we can be empowered to make meaningful contribution to our alma mata. I am a proof of that. My 1st post-NYSC job was in the company of an alumnus of KC/FGC Warri. Over 60% of the staff were products of unity schools across the country. 

I hope this has provided some clarity and answers you seek. Be rest assured that should I win, the website and social media channels are top on my the to-do list and everyone will be up-to-date & we will all appreciate the value that the USOSA platform presents. 

 

Sotonye Apiafi:

My dear, well said BUT i'm yet to see the value this association has added to unity schools. How has previous dues been utilized? What benefits have schools who have been faithful in paying dues received? 
Good luck in your endeavor but I believe FLOGA will make more impact if we focus inward as Nkiru and co did via project inspire and not let USOSA distract. Remember that stitch in time that saves 9? Before politicking gets round to notice Langtang, it'll be a long thing.

 

Amaka Akudinobi:

Sotonye Apiafi Edohore, I hear you loud and clear. However membership and participation in USOSA, does not forclose our ability to continue with FLOGA projects. The way forward in making USOSA work for all, is for people like you and Kate Pam, to join their Executive Team. Remember that Participation is one step closer to Resolution, than non-partcipation. 
Stay Blessed,
Amaka Ada Akudinobi (Class of 83)

 

Sotonye Apiafi:

Tx Amaka, i'm waiting to hear what next cos what I was told about FEDCOLANG indicates we have to keep up the good work started by project inspire. Conscientious effort to ensure we build on gains. @ Kate, I'll be back @ work then, will set a reminder. Also have to create a new twitter handle for this purpose.
 

Nkiruka Pedro-Iyalla:

Sotonye, thank you so much for your expression of concern especially with the seeming distraction this USOSA Election might cause.

But if you looked at it from the angle of ... "The whole being greater than the sum of it's parts" it may give you some perspective. Like Kate said, if USOSA had not been formed to challenge Government's decision to sell off our Unity Schools under the Oby Ezekwesili regime at the Ministry of Education, FLOGA would hardly exist anymore because our Alma Mater would have fizzled out into oblivion.

Did you know that USOSA was one of the collective voices that put pressure on the Federal Government to relocate students from the Unity Schools located in areas badly hit by Boko Haram especially after the Buni Yadi massacre? The key to USOSA is in the strength of 104 schools born out of the need for National Integration.

Everywhere you look, fragmentation stares us in the face, the very fabric of our nation is being threatened by the general sense of segregation perpetuated by the ruling class. But you and I who went to Unity Schools together with more than 10million others who have passed through that Pro Unitate system from inception, are different. We see different. We think different. We know that geopolitical zones do not define us because essentially, in each of our hearts, resides a Nigerian, pure and simple.

USOSA stands for so much more than just restoring the past glory of our schools even though that is an essential part of her mandate and creed. USOSA can make a real difference in the national dialogue. Think about it, Nigeria is country blessed with Youth. Did you know that 39.8% of Nigerians are within the age bracket 15 - 45 and below that is a whopping 43.2% aged 14 years and below.Almost 80% of our population are still within the elementary to tertiary education level ( this is without discounting the millions who are not in school). My point is this, for these teeming youth, there's got to be so much more than can be done to make our voices heard. Yes, USOSA may represent Unity Schools but in a broader sense, she represents all young Nigerians everywhere. We can use our platform to make a real case for the Nigerian. A real case for our education system. What is a mere 3 Million Naira in dues compared to a potential of actually recruiting teachers and sending them to schools all over the country to improve the standard of our education system?

If you read the Project Inspire Report, you would find that 70% of the Teachers in our Alma Mater FGGC Langtang are temporary staff, hired and paid by the PTA!! Can you imagine our girls being taught by sub-qualified teachers with no real commitment to their success? What can we, as FLOGA really do about this? Not much to be frank except writing a few letters here and there and complaining without really being heard. With USOSA however, our voices will be amplified and if we choose our leaders well during this election, we can raise a crop of focused leaders that can lead the charge for change.....Ah, see now, i have become rather verbose, lol! But you get my point I hope.

FLOGA will continue to forge ahead with the little steps as we have been doing. We are more determined than ever to continue to make a difference. But, in addition to that, we need to also plug in to causes that will amplify our own cause as well. USOSA is one of them.

 

Sotonye Apiafi:

Good conversation, great points. However, in future, i'd advise us to engage b4 we expect people to follow a cause from an emotional perspective - always share the case for change. The earlier threads on USOSA did not just cut it! If we started with painting this picture - believe me, you'd have probably gotten someone here or a group of people sign of that N500k long ago. I'll hold you all accountable, Nkiru and Kate if I don't see a change. All the same, thanks for educating us and like I told someone, my organization has always taught me to ask WHY, i'm glad I did.

Good conversation, great points. However, in future, i'd advise us to engage b4 we expect people to follow a cause from an emotional perspective - always share the case for change. The earlier threads on USOSA did not just cut it! If we started with painting this picture - believe me, you'd have probably gotten someone here or a group of people sign of that N500k long ago. I'll hold you all accountable, Nkiru and Kate if I don't see a change. All the same, thanks for educating us and like I told someone, my organization has always taught me to ask WHY, i'm glad I did.

 

Nkiruka Pedro-Iyalla:

Thanks Sotonye for asking WHY and thus bringing about this engaging discussion. It shows that you care and are willing to take action. We wish more FLOGA -ites will engage and actively participate. True, if we had shared the case for change as deeply as this at the outset, we may have had more people part with their 1k in support of TFOC. We did give an overview of how this would ultimately benefit FLOGA and our Nation at large and time was not our friend. But USOSA is an ongoing topic and we hope to continually educate and help one another understand what great opportunities await us to take advantage of. In the end, we are all accountable for our action or inaction with regards to the changes we hope to see. I make a pledge to always give and do the best I possibly can. Thanks again.

Olabisi Onoviran-Osagie:

Sotonye, we as an association are yet to harness the power of USOSA. In the last government MANY ex-students of Federal government colleges were in high positions of power. Ministers, permanent secretaries, Donald Duke, Uduaghan...Even in this government there are a lot of connections a small association like ours can harness through USOSA . Connections that we can use to put FGGCL on the map. Until our members begin to walk those corridors of power we NEED USOSA. 
Maybe it's even USOSA that will get our members into those corridors.
The power of networking.
 

Fati Muritala-Ibrahim

Well said all, I have absolutely nothing to add but to enjoin all to seek and u shall find in this case - ask and u shall understand like Sotonye has rightly done. However, we must also strive to act and be the change that we seek, any change u seek starts with u