As a result of the incident, the school couldn’t make it to the venue. Therein, the interest of the school’s management headed by Mr. J.O. Dare, the headmaster was shifted to the hospital and morgue where Mr. T.A. Ayo and the deceased pupils were respectively conveyed to.
“What about Amanda and Kola?” Mr. Ayo asked the headmaster as he lay in the hospital bed. Mr. Dare who was flanked by four other staff of the school couldn’t utter a word in response to the question.
“Sir,” Mr. Dare reiterated. “I said, what of Kola and Chiamanda?” “We lost them.” the assistant headmaster, Mr. Adegoke frankly disclosed.
“How?” Mr. Ayo verified. “What did you mean?” “I mean, they are dead.” Mr. Adegoke clarified never minded the repercussions. “What…?” Mr. Ayo screamed, attempted to jump out of the bed, ignoring that he was under drip. “Calm down, calm down.”
the five sympathizers chorused, as Mr. Adegoke whom was closer to him held him firmly to the bed. “Do you want to kill yourself?” Mr. Dare added. “I saw no need hiding it from you,” Mr. Adegoke chipped in. “That’s why I told you.” he said, paused.
“You have to be a man.” He concluded. “But this was not the right time to disclose such news.” The headmaster frowned, facing Mr. Adegoke. “I am sorry, sir.” Mr. Adegoke apologised.
At the venue of the event, everyone was impatiently awaiting the arrival of the prospective participants from Bojeri Grammar School till 1pm, all to no avail.
The competition was scheduled to commence at 12.00 noon. A few minutes later, the organizers of the occasion got the news of the unimagined incident.
Everyone was instantly trapped to the ground, especially the management of the event’s sponsor, one of the prominent manufacturers of beverages in Nigeria.
There was no how they could continue with the competition without the presence of the bereaved school.
It was the final round of the competition, thus only Bojeri Grammar School, Lagos State and one adversary – a private primary school from the North – were meant to slug it out towards determining the overall best.
In view of this, the event was outrightly postponed till further notice. Consequently, the bereaved families as well as Mr. Ayo were duly compensated by the manufacturing company, although the vacuum created remained a loss they would live to mourn.
One month on, the new date for the competition was fixed by the organizers; hence, the bereaved school was conscientized to renew their vigour for the race By this time, Mr. Ayo, the Mathematics tutor had totally recuperated.
The school was definitely left with no option than to gather their acts and move on. “Mr. Ayo,” the headmaster, Mr. Dare called as the former walked into his office. “Good to see you again.” That was the first day Mr. Ayo would be in school after the accident.
“Thank you, sir.” “Please, sit down.” Mr. Ayo got seated, remained calm. “So, how do you feel now?” “I am very strong now, sir.” “We really thank God for your life, but…” “I know,” Mr. Ayo interrupted. “You mean, Amanda and Kola?” “Yes,” Mr. Dare replied.
“Those kids died in active service.” he lamented, paused. “When we needed them most.” “It’s okay, sir.” Mr. Ayo consoled. “God knows why it happened that way.”
“Well,” Mr. Dare succumbed. “Who are we to query him?” Mr. Ayo nodded, though looked soured. “So, are you willing to continue with the task?” Mr. Dare inquired hesitantly. “Yes, of course.” Mr. Dare nodded in appreciation.
“Hope you are aware of the new date?” The new date indicated that the competition would take place in the next three weeks. Mr. Ayo nodded.
“Yes sir.” He added. “Alright,” quoth Mr. Dare. “So, go and get the kids ready.” “No problem, sir.” Mr. Ayo responded, calmly stood up and left for his office.
The following week, he returned to Mr. Dare’s office with the names of the two pupils expected to participate in the event. They were Tobi and Bisi; the latter was the female pupil whom was initially dropped due to genderimbalance.
The headmaster assented to the list, thus enjoined Mr. Ayo to continue with the finishing touches. Two weeks later, the rescheduled D-day came knocking.
On that fateful day being Saturday, the entire staff and pupils of Bojeri Grammar School were deeply perturbed, filled with fear of the unknown.
They embarked on the journey in a single bus contrary to the previous arrangement where they moved in two vehicles. While on their way to Akure, the capital city of Ondo State, they prayed, sang praises as well as worship songs to keep heart, body and soul together.
Finally, at 10am, they arrived at the venue. The organizers were very impressed to have their presence despite all the tribulations encountered thus far.
Owing to that singular effort, the school’s headmaster, Mr. J.O. Dare was therein recognized by the sponsor of the event as the ‘Best headmaster of the Year’. At eleven O’clock, the competition commenced as planned.
Bisi and his male colleague, Tobi were damn prepared for the show. Taking a glance at their respective countenances, one would be convinced that they could not wait to depart from the venue with the awaited feat.
Although their counterparts from the private school situated in the Northern part of the country were equally ready to grab the five million naira, Tobi and Bisi appeared to be the best going by their previous performances since the commencement of the competition six months back.
“I want to remind us once more,” the chairman of the event announced as he stood on the podium. “That the overall winner of this quiz competition would be going home with five million naira.”
The observers applauded the announcement whilst the intending participants became more motivated and jittery.
“So, I urge the participants to do their best to ensure that they emerge victorious.” Everyone smiled simultaneously. “However,” he continued.
“The second runner of the competition would be entitled to one million naira cash.” He landed. There and behold, in two hours time the competition was over, thus the panel of judges was asked to decide the winner.
Unfortunately, the workaholic Bojeri Grammar School couldn’t make it to the peak of the ladder; its counterpart was announced as the overall best.
Considering the performance of the pupils of the defeated school, the spectators of the event were disappointed in the panel’s judgement.
They were strongly of the view that the aforesaid school was robbed of their victory ‘well deserved’. The development generated a lot of mixed feelings and ripples among the participants as they depart for their various destinations.
The following two days, Mr. J.O. Dare was sensitized to write the appropriate quarters over the perceived maltreatment, and he immediately complied with the request.
Three weeks on, it was discovered that the school was truly cheated. It was learnt that the purported winner of the competition bribed the judges prior to the day of the event.
To this end, the school was shut down indefinitely by the concerned authority, and the management alongside the judges was charged to court for corruption and conspiracy.
Thereafter, Bojeri Grammar School was handsomely rewarded by the event’s sponsor with ten million naira in addition to other goodies, for a job well done in spite of the inconveniences that befell them.
Nwaozor – novelist, playwright and poet, is Chief Executive Director, Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development – Owerri