Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes something new to remind you that Nigeria is one exciting and complex place where anything can happen. Or how else does one make sense of that viral video of Success Adogor, the young schoolgirl and her insouciant response to being chased out of school for owing unpaid fees?
I wanted to stay away from the entire story because Success is a minor; that’s until Stephanie Rukevwe Idolor, the young lady who filmed the schoolgirl, somehow managed to write herself into the plot.
To recap what we already know, Stephanie is the neighbour who had filmed Success, a pupil of Okotie-Eboh Primary School I, Sapele; after she was chased from school over exams levy. In the video, Success can be seen making that infamous remark, ‘them go flog tire.’
Whatever her intentions, Stephanie’s amateur video took on a life of its own after it was shared severally on social media. The result was that Mr. and Mrs. Godwin Adegor soon began to receive donations from Nigerians who were obviously touched that a young, seven-year-old risked being denied an opportunity to education because her parents could not afford to pay. Which is where, I think the good story ends, for everything that’s happened since then has been anything but.
I can understand those who rushed to make those donations. No seven-year-old, primary 3-pupil should drop out of school on account of fees; whether it be for exams or tuition. Especially if that girl is as good as they say Success is. Teachers and her parents confirm that Success is one of the best pupils in the school and that she always came first in her exams. It’s therefore, heart-warming that the young girl is back in school because of the intervention of kind-hearted Nigerians.
However, as with most things in Nigeria, a few developments around the story of Success and her video have sullied the narrative. There were suggestions that the teachers at Okotie-Eboh Primary School I were imposing unauthorised levies, and that means the young girl shouldn’t have been sent home to start with. ‘By virtue of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act, Education at the Basic Education Level is FREE. However, in Delta State that provision is also extended to Senior Secondary Level with the resultant effect being that Basic and Secondary Education (primary, junior and secondary) in Delta State is and still remains FREE,’ the Delta State Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Chiedu Ebie, was quoted as saying. Sounds great except that his explanation for the dilapidated state of the school rings hollow. Why provide free education when your pupils study in classrooms with blown-off roofs?
Anyway, the question is, how many other pupils like Success have been so denied because of the activities of teachers like those in her school? That’s one for the education authorities in Delta and other states to work on, to ensure pupils are not denied access to education because teachers are imposing unauthorised fees.
It would have been nice if someone traced the suspended Head Teacher to ask her why the school imposed unauthorised levies and what they did with it, but we’re all focused on the story of the girl who angrily bared her mind on her being denied a chance to write exams. Which is fine by the way; except that without hearing from the school authorities, we don’t have the full picture.
So, if the realisation that Success was almost denied a chance to write those exams for supposedly owing illegal levies imposed by her teachers is not enough to make you laugh; then Stephanie’s demand for part of the small fortune that came the way of the Adegor’s surely ought to. “If Success and her family have made over N5Million I deserve at least N1Million,” she was quoted as saying. Seriously?
Stephanie, an HND holder from Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State, who took the video shot of the little girl and said she did it for fun, suddenly sought to profit from it. In casting herself as a victim, she presented herself as a desperate young lady rather than the friendly neighbour she claims to be.
As yet, there’s no law against filming minors, but it’s ethically reprehensible that Stephanie did just that and is profiting from it. I’m just finalising the design of a doctoral research and part of the requirement I have to fulfill is that I must have an ethics certificate to collect data. To be issued that certificate, I must have participants sign a consent form that clearly shows that they have the power to opt out at any time during the process of data collection. I must also demonstrate how the data collected would be preserved in a way that protects all the participants.
That such standards are in place even when my interviewees are adults shows others care about the things we take for granted in Nigeria. Stephanie broke all rules of ethics in the use of that young girl’s video for some reasons. From what I have read of the incident, the young girl was unaware she was being filmed; which means she did not give consent. By her own admittance that she found the video funny and then proceeded to upload it to WhatsApp; and that she was ‘surprised’ when it surfaced on Facebook, we can also assume that the Adegors didn’t approve the use of the video either.
So, in asking for to be paid a share of the donations to the schoolgirl’s family, Stephanie sought to profit from something that might not be illegal but clearly unethical. She’s therefore not a victim but an Ogre, feeding off the poor girl’s (mis)fortune. For if you look closely at the video, you’ll see nothing complimentary at all in a girl whose insouciance suggests you could owe and refuse to pay. It might sound funny and moving enough for people to make donations, but I am sure that’s not the kind of girl the Adegor’s would want to raise. From all they’ve said, I get the impression that her parents want Success to grow up to be a responsible adult.
Which cannot be said of the church, which donated N2 million to her following her complaint that the Adegor’s had failed to compensate her. Just what the church is rewarding here is baffling. That she’s taken advantage of a young girl by filming her without consent? Or for her petulance, at demanding a cut from donations to an indigent family? She had also received N600,000 in donations, N500,000 from Delta State Deputy Speaker and N100,000 from Nigerian singer Daddy Showkey. These donations by the Deputy Speaker and Daddy Showkey pale in significance, not just becasue of the value, but also because the Church ought to be guiding this yound lady properly.
Whatever it is it has in mind, the church is sending Stephanie the wrong signal, that it’s alright to profit from making questionable videos. That’s not a good lesson, and I do hope she doesn’t see the Success story as a template to making it in life.