THEOPHILUS ONOJEGHEN writes about how a video of the innocent outburst of Success Adegor, went viral, elevated the family and exposed problems in the educational system in Delta State
Finding Success Adegor’s home within the Urban Area of Sapele wasn’t difficult. Within a week, she has become one of the most famous people in the history of her community. The entrance to their one-bedroomed apartment at Brazilian-styled house, popularly known as Face-me-I-face-you, was swamped by visitors.
Urban Area is a poor neighbourhood but for the Adegor’s family, the situation is fast changing through their seven-year-old daughter, Success, who has become the toast of many Nigerians. Success’ claim to fame, a viral video in which she was venting her frustration and anger after being sent out of school over her parents’ inability to pay her examination levy, caught the attention of the state government and many Nigerians, including celebrities.
The primary three pupil of Okotie-Eboh Primary School 1, Sapele had said in the footage recorded by her neighbour, Miss Stephanie Idolor, that she preferred to be flogged to being sent out of school.
Meanwhile, from our correspondent’s interaction with other kids in the community, there are many others like Success who have either been sent out of school or do not attend school at all.
Success’ father, Godwin Adegor, is a commercial motorcyclist, popularly known as okada rider, while her mum sells recharge cards and raw eggs. They have two other children – Gift and Marvelous – who are in Junior Secondary School. Both are said to be intelligent and they showed signs of this when they read the entire Tuesday edition (March 19, 2019) of The PUNCH Newspaper our correspondent had with him. They were fascinated by the picture of their younger sister on the front page of the newspaper.
As Saturday PUNCH approached Success’ parents, proud smiles beamed from their faces. Mr Adegor said everything was happening so fast for his family as if it was all a dream. “Are Nigerians this kind?” He asked our correspondent, while still smiling. “We are short of words for what has come our way.”
Since Success’ video went viral, the Adegors have been receiving people of all social strata as visitors and some have been calling them on the phone. Popular social media celebrity, Mr Jollof, was among the early callers. Mr. Jollof immediate registered Success at a private school – Majesty Academy, Sapele – and paid for two terms starting from third term, promising to fund her education up to university level.
Success has also received scholarship for primary and secondary school education from the Sapele Local Government Area Chairman, Chief Eugene Inoaghan, along with cash gift. The family of the girl has also met with the Private Secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Mr Hilary Ibegbulem, while some Nigerian celebrities, including comedian, Ayo Makun, aka AY, have also reached out to the family, with promises to help the little girl.
“At the moment, we have two scholarships for Success – one by Sapele LGA chairman (Inoaghan) and Mr. Jollof. I feel great. I thank everyone for their support.
“Everything is happening as if I am dreaming. I don’t really believe that we have so many kind people around us. I thank God because He did this one for us. We are really happy for everything. I’m really happy with the way Nigerians supported us, most especially the Delta State governor (Ifeanyi Okowa), Sapele LGA chairman, AY and Mr Jollof. The whole world has been supporting my daughter since her video went viral,” he said.
Giving reasons why he could not pay Success’ examination levies, Adegor said, “The truth is that on that day, I didn’t have any money on me to pay the levy. It was actually exam levy, and not school fees. All public schools are collecting exam levies. It is not just Okotie-Eboh Primary School. My two other children paid before they left primary school for secondary school.
“I was not informed about the levies early enough. I had already told her teacher that Success was too small to be sent home from school. I appealed to them to always inform us about things going on rather than to send her away from the school. I had also told them that I would pay, even before the incident. One thing about Success is that whenever she is angry, she will say whatever she has on her mind. I know people will feel she’s stubborn but she isn’t stubborn. I know that God has a purpose for her,” he said.
Success was almost aborted as a foetus – Father
Continuing, Adegor said Success was born with signs of greatness in her. According to him, his wife once contemplated aborting her when she became pregnant of her and even took a poisonous substance to get rid of her.
“I knew she would be a great child. That was why I gave her the name Success. We received many favours on the day she was given birth to. Let me tell you a short story about Success. After our second child, my wife said she didn’t want to give birth to another child.
“When she was pregnant with Success, she decided to drink ‘Angle 90’ (a poisonous substance). She said she wanted to die. I convinced her that rather than kill yourself, have the baby so that you could sell it for N500,000. But she said she wouldn’t sell her baby.
“On the day Success was born, somebody that had owed me N100,000 paid the debt. Money was just coming from different areas. As we were receiving the goodwill, I told my wife that if we had terminated the pregnancy, would these favours have come to us? It was because of the goodwill that has always followed her that made me named name Success.
“She has been receiving blessings from every corner since she was born. There was a day a soldier who stopped the vehicle that was taking them (our children) to see their grandmother at Kwale, gave her the bread he had bought for his family. The soldier said he liked the way my daughter was talking. Anywhere she goes, she always receives favour. She has won a scholarship before. The scholarship was given to her by a governor’s aide,” he said.
Why I want to be a lawyer –Success
However, Success has described herself as not stubborn as the viral video has allegedly depicted her to be. She noted that she only vented her frustration and anger for being sent home while her colleagues were in class. But the seven-year-old girl added that she was not the only one driven away from school.
When Saturday PUNCH, however, asked her what she would like to become, she said she would like to become a lawyer and a pastor. “I want to be a lawyer and pastor. I want to be a pastor so that I can preach the gospel. I want to become a lawyer because I love everything about them. I love their dressing and I hope to become a judge (some day),” she said.
I recorded the video for fun – Stephanie, lady who recorded Success’ viral video
Not many have heard of the 23-year-old graduate of Public Administration from the Auchi Polytechnic, Stephanie, who made the trending viral video. When Saturday PUNCHcame in contact with her, she said it was purely for entertainment.
Stephanie said she was shocked to discover the attention little Success had received since the video went viral on social media, adding that she never foresaw the goodwill the video could bring for the Adegors.
“My mum sent me on an errand and on my way, I saw Success grumbling and angry. She was complaining bitterly that they (school) sent her away from school when they were supposed to flog her. So, I recorded the video just for entertainment and not to put it on social media to raise money for her. If you notice in the video, she was walking away from me and that was where I ended the video.
“Thereafter, I posted the video on my WhatsApp status and people started asking for the video because it is funny. I also uploaded it on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. It was from there that it went viral.
“When I posted it on my Instagram, people started commenting and one of my friends (Joy) said she was going to talk to Instablog9ja to upload it for us. I called her (the friend) again to find out if Instablog9ja would post it but she said she didn’t know. I was even praying that they should post it.
“Few hours later when I checked, Instablog9ja had posted it but my friend was credited rather than me. I told her that she should have added my name so that the two of us would share the credit for the video. Nobody did that video for me. I did it myself. I was the one who posted it on my social media platform. No one should take glory for something I created,” she said.
Stephanie, however, added that as the initiator of the video, she had not received any support from anyone. She also appealed to Nigerians to give her a job, adding that like Success, many other children in the area have no money to attend school and therefore, also deserve the sympathy and goodwill of Nigerians.
“I’m very happy but when they suspended the head teacher of the school, I felt so bad because I didn’t do it to expose her or for anything like that. According to the head teacher, I taught Success what to say and, that is a ‘big lie’. Success is very sharp and can say what happened. I even have eyewitnesses who were passing by when I made the video.
“I didn’t teach her what to say. Although I felt bad when they suspended the head teacher but it wasn’t really my fault. I didn’t do the video to get anybody sacked or suspended. I did it just for fun. On the other hand, I feel happy because this little thing has gone viral and she has been receiving a lot of assistance and funds.”
She, however, criticised Success’ mother for allegedly hiding things from her since her daughter started getting famous.
“If you call Success’ mum now, she will tell you that the Sapele LGA chairman has given me money and that people should not give me any money. She told me that the money in her account was N700,000, not knowing that the money in the account was more than N5.3m, which good-hearted Nigerians have given them.
“That is why I am angry with her. I didn’t tell her I wanted to share the money 50/50 with her. She should have told me the truth. I don’t really understand why she was hiding everything from me. She told me that she would give me N400,000 from the N700,000. I didn’t do the video because of money but since money is coming out of it, I should be carried along, rather, she started hiding everything from me.
“My parents have asked me to forget about it. I even promised to help Success speak English and dress better. The local government chairman said if they don’t want to give me money, I should forget about it but it is not supposed to be like that. They were not even sure of getting N100,000 all through the year but now that they are swimming in millions, they want to give me N400,000. I have decided to leave the money with them.
“The LG chairman has said I should summit my CV, which I have done. If I don’t get a call from the local government, I will have nothing to show for my efforts. I believe my helper will come. I am a graduate. As we speak to you now, I don’t have a dime on me. I think she’s being greedy, but my parents have advised me to leave the money issue,” she said.
Meanwhile, beyond the help the Adegors have received, the video has also exposed the infrastructural decay in public schools in the state and alleged extortion in the school system.
Illegal fee that broke the camel’s back
When the authorities of the Okotie-Eboh Primary School 1 sent home a “willing-to-learn” Success, they never thought of the backlash that would greet their actions and alleged illegal examination and other levies that pupils are required to pay.
Also, the state government has won several awards for educational development. According to residents, the video has also shown that the organisers of such awards do not do thorough investigations before giving the awards to the state.
Why Delta govt suspended Success’ head teacher – Commissioner
However, the Delta State Government said it suspended the head teacher of Success’s school – Okotie-Eboh Primary School – Mrs Vero Igbigwe, for allegedly collecting unauthorised fees including examination levy from schoolchildren.
The state Commissioner for Education, Mr Chiedu Ebie, who visited the school on Monday, emphasised that basic education (primary and secondary) in the state were free, saying that the suspended head teacher acted outside the law.
Ebie said although a thorough investigation would be launched into the matter, his ministry was aware of similar illegal fees being imposed by school heads. He added that about 10 primary and secondary school head teachers and principals had either been suspended or demoted for related offences.
School buildings too old for renovation – Parents, teachers
When our correspondent visited Okotie-Eboh Primary 1 located at the Urban Area off Ikomi Road in Sapele, one ugly thing that stood out was the tattered roofs of the school’s storey building.
A block of classrooms that was part of the school was no better. The school surroundings have clearly been assaulted by open defecation, most likely by neighbouring residents.
A resident, who simply identified himself as Akpokona, told Saturday PUNCH that one of the school buildings had been there for so many decades, as he appealed for new structures to be provided for the school instead of the renovation of the dilapidated structures.
Akpokona’s claim was also substantiated by some teachers who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity. They said the school buildings were too old to be renovated, while accusing politicians from the area of playing politics with the development of the school.
One of them said, “This is not the first time the reconstruction of the school is being awarded. The school project has been awarded several times and we understand that money has been paid. Politicians from this area are the ones playing politics with the school buildings.
“We don’t need renovation. What the school needs is a new building. These buildings are so many years old. The famous Zik Academy was the school using these buildings until they moved the school to another area. Many ‘big’ people you see that are from Sapele today came from this school. If you renovate these buildings, it means you are postponing the evil’s day.
“There was a day a section of the roof collapsed on the top floor during school hours. It was a miracle that no pupil in the class got hurt. The place has been a mess for years and it has continued to deteriorate, but government at all levels don’t care.”