Nigerian State Pledges to Hand Schools Back to Catholic Church after Multiple Decades

St. Thomas Aquinas College Akure . Credit: Courtesy Photo

The governor of Nigeria’s Ondo State has promised to reinstate the ownership of schools initially belonging to Catholic missionaries within his jurisdiction after close to five decades of confiscation.

Speaking at the reception of the newly inaugurated executive members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) of Ondo State chapter that is under the leadership of Fr. Ansel Ologunwa, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu reportedly said that only the Catholic Church has shown interest and requested that the schools be given back. 

“We have promised that we will return schools to missionaries and we are keeping to our promise. It is only the Catholic Church that has shown interest (in the schools),” Governor Akeredolu has been quoted as saying in reference to the 46-year confiscation. 

According to the Monday, March 14 report by the Nigeria Catholic Network, St Thomas Aquinas College, St. Louis Girls Grammar School, Akure and two primary schools, were seized by the military administration of the then David Ikpeme in September 1976.

In the report, Governor Akeredolu says that those who are not ready to repossess their schools should refrain from discouraging those who are willing to do so. He says, “A group of people are opposed to it. Our position is that, if you are not interested in taking ownership of your school, don’t discourage others.” 


The Nigerian Governor adds, “(The) Catholic Church has requested two secondary schools and two primary schools and I have approved it. They are sorting it out now and there is no problem. Aquinas College, St Louis, and two primary schools. Those are the ones which we have approved. We are not running away from it.”

Media reports indicate that Governor Akeredolu announced his readiness to give back both the primary and secondary schools to original owners last year but insisted that he will only do so on the condition that the schools pledge to indiscriminately admit those willing to join.

The January 2021 announcement, which has now been implemented was a response to the persistent call by Catholic missionaries to be given back the ownership of the institutions of learning. The call was directed to Governor Akeredolu’s administration after the previous administration failed to reinstate the schools.

Governor Akeredolu responded to the pleas of the missionaries when they reached his office saying, “Once the hurdles listed by the government are cleared by the mission owners, we shall gladly hand them (the schools) over to them (the original owners).”

After the Governor expressed readiness to return the schools last year, the National President of the Aquinas College Akure Old Boys Association (ACAOBA), retired Justice Adesuyi Olateru-Olagbegi, lauded the Governor saying that it was “the best birthday gift” anyone could have given to their old school.

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Meanwhile, the Governor’s intention to give back the schools attracted opposition from the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) in Ondo State, who expressed fear that the move would set back the State’s education sector.

“We foresee a situation where the state government will stop paying the salaries of teachers when they know that they are not directly in charge of the schools,” ASUSS leadership said.

The leadership of the teachers’ union went on to pose, “If the government stops the payment of salaries, it means the missions will start sourcing for money internally and charging exorbitant fees to meet its financial obligations, and what becomes the fate of the poor children?”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.