Prince Adejuwon Adeleye Chukwuemeka David, fondly called ACAD is an educationist, community leader and chairman, National Association of Private Primary Schools, Ogijo axis, Ogun State. In this interview with BANKOLE TAIWO, Prince ACAD who is also the founder of ACAD Group of Schools gives insight into the pains and gains of running a school business most especially in a government neglected area as Ogijo. Excerpts.
How did you come about the school business?
Well, I never started as a school owner but as a farmer. I used to tell people that I started my business with just N5 which I used in buying the corn I planted on one of my father’s land. I got N300 from this venture when I sold the maize and of course re-invested it and from my subsequent farming activities which at that time also involved keeping rabbits, I got some money to start the school business in1999. It was however in response to divine instruction which I received one early morning during my quiet time. It’s like I was being divinely instructed to use the instrument of education to help fight the decadence in the society and heal the nation. Owning a school is a calling to me and the parents can testify to this. I don’t breath heavily on them, I allow them to go at their pace when it comes to paying the paltry sum we charged as school fee. I had also been there while growing up as I lost my parents very early and sorry I can’t because of that take to begging, so I engaged in many business efforts such as selling rabbits, fetching firewood and Okada riding to see myself through tertiary education. This humble background coupled with the fact that setting up the school was in response to divine nudging have great influence on how we run the school.
How will you sum up the experience?
It’s a mixed bag. It’s been very challenging and frustrating but at the same time very rewarding with a sense of fulfillment when you see what God is using you to do in moulding people to becoming the best for themselves and the nation.
Were there times you wanted to quit?
Yes, there was a time when the owner of the building we were using sent us packing. I was still in school at that time but had some people managing the school for me, so one day, I was called that the school property was now in the rain as the landlord had insisted that we moved out because he said that I wanted to take over his property which of course was outright falsehood. I really don’t know what next to do so, I concluded that I will close down the school and that when I was through with my education I will go and look for job. As God will have it, parent to one of my pupils, a woman, heard of this ugly incident and insisted that I must never close the school. She thereafter informed another man, Mr Olajuwon who vacated his three bedroom for me and it was from there we moved to our permanent site. I will eternally be grateful to these two destiny helpers because I might have abandoned the vision when the going was getting very tough. Funny enough, these two people are Muslims yet they went out of their ways to help a Christian being unceremoniously ejected by another Christian. The lessons I learnt from this bitter experience are very profound.
How true is the belief that school business is a money-spinning venture?
It’s a lie, school business is rather about impacting on life than making money. I know how much the parents are owing the school and believe me it is very huge. Yes, we sometimes asked them to withdraw their kids but when they get to the public school and see overcrowded classes, they usually run back to us for help so, we just have to help because these children remain the future of this country. As I am talking to you now, I need about N3 million to fix some things in the school yet I just spent about N1.5 million to equip the laboratory. The salaries and other overhead expenses are there, so what are we talking. Honestly, school business is about serving humanity and not about making money. The government is also not helping matters with multiple taxation.You are asked to pay the taxes for your employees, pay personal income tax, tenement rate, development levy.It is really frustrating and very killing. The government is asking you to run yet the parents are holding your legs by not paying, do they want us to commit suicide? Unfortunately there is nothing to show for all the taxes the government has been collecting from us at Ogijo here. I used to have three buses but gave them out because the roads in Ogijo in the whole of Ogun State are the worst. It’s really been pretty difficult doing business and surviving here at Ogijo.
What have you been doing to call the attention of the government to these challenges?
As the Publicity Secretary of one of the Community Development Associations in this community, we have written several letters and made several appeals but all have been to no avail. Though, we heard that Governor Amosun has awarded about three roads which I personally read in one of the national dailies about three months ago but nothing is yet happening on these roads. I am using this medium to ask the governor; where are the roads you promised us at Ogijo? We are really dying in silence.
As the Chairman of NAPPS for Ogijo, how has it been?
I am trying my best to see how we can all further lift the education industry through seminars and other wise counsel that could prove to be handy and the good Lord has been there for us too.
How do you help in the area of quality control?
Why are you always touching the sore point? This is the duty of the Ministry of Education, though we talk a lot about this in our association. The problem of unemployment has really thrown up a very big challenge for us in this area. Many truly are taking to establishing schools to survive the hardship. Recently, together with my task force we discovered a school that did not have Attendant Register and not even an exercise book to use instead and this is one of the most important statutory documents a school must have. Funny enough, many of these schools have government approval, so the government must step up its game on this.
What are the future aspirations of Accad Academy?
We shall remain committed to churning out brilliant minds who will later be fabulous assets to themselves and this nation. We are also trusting God for the most affordable private university within the next 10 years.
What is your general advice to the youths?
They should see themselves as assets and not as liability. They should look inward and see what they could do with their hands to add value to their lives
How about your growing up?
I grew up in Ogijo here. I had my primary and secondary education here too but finished up at Odogunyan Secondary School. I did Science Laboratory Technology at the polytechnic and then Federal College of Education, Technical at Akoka where I studied Agriculture Science. I later switched to the arts and studied English Language at Olabisi Onabanjo University, OOU, Ago-Iwoye. I am currently studying Law at the National Open University.