A Teacher And His Soldier Student!

On my way to Abuja in January 2018, the commercial bus I was traveling inside was stopped by stern-looking soldiers who had mounted roadblocks along Lokoja/Abuja Highways.

There was an intelligence report of an imminent attack by Boko Haram on the Nation's Capital at that time. That was probably responsible for the heavy deployment of military personnel along that route. After stopping us, they asked each and every one of us to identify him or herself. As our vehicle was being searched, I noticed that a particular soldier focused his attention in my direction.

As he kept looking at me, I looked elsewhere because I knew soldiers usually negatively react at any slightest breach. After like a minute, I discovered that he was still staring at me. In my mind, I was imagining why he was looking at me alone out of all the passengers in the 18-seater bus. After discovering that he was looking at me, I decided to daringly keep eye contact with him as long as it took, knowing fully well that I had not committed any crime in my life. The next thing I heard was, "Oga, please come down." I was bewildered! "Sorry, officer, what have I done, please?" I inquired. And he responded, "follow me, please." At that point, I was a little bit frightened, and my fear heightened. Yes, frightened and heightened because I was to leave the shore of Nigeria for the ECOWAS program in another West African country the following morning. The fear of missing my flight at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport temporarily gripped me. Any delay at that point in time was dangerous. Could this be a case of mistaken identity? As this was ongoing, I made sure I kept my composure! He commanded me to follow him to the Unit Commander, who was sitting under a tree at a little distance. As we got there, he saluted his boss, and he told the Unit Commander, "Sir, this is the person I told you about," pointing at me, and I hurriedly shouted, "Who? Do I look like a Boko Haram or ISWAP fighter to you". The young soldier thereafter asked me to calm down. And he further asked, "Do you actually recognize my face"? I looked at his face critically but could not recognize him.

To cut a long story short, this soldier boy happened to be my student at Ilorin Grammar School during my teaching days. He was one of the "SCHOOL B" students while in school. "SCHOOL B" is a term used for unserious students who spend their own hours outside the class. He, alongside other School B students, usually hibernates at Oke-Langbodo during school hours. Oke-Langbodo at IGS is like an evil forest. These School B students hide there during school hours. They were even bold enough to appoint their own Headboy and other prefects inside their deadly den. These students were also a fetish. There was a case of one of them who commanded a 🐦 on his palm and strangulated its neck for intruding on the meeting under the tree. The teacher who saw that bizarre scene ran away immediately, abandoning his mission to apprehend them. This soldier boy had a friend called Abdul. There was a day they were playing Inter-Class Football Competition after their examination, and I called Abdul to help me withdraw a certain amount of money at First Bank, Sawmill. After handing over my ATM card to him, he said, " Sorry sir, I cannot go to that place because it's a territory of rival cult members. If I go to that place, I will not return to this school alive". I was shocked because I never knew he was a cult member, though he was known for being troublesome & truant. I subsequently advised him to renounce cultism and be of good conduct afterward. Before leaving, he apologized again and left.

As I have said earlier, this soldier boy is a close pal of Abdul. Sometimes, I do go to Oke-Langbodo to raid and apprehend them. There was a time I apprehended this soldier boy while others escaped. I brought him into the staff room and disciplined him very well. After the thorough flogging, it took a while before he was able to stand up. Since that day, he began to be of good conduct, always writing his note and being punctual in classes. Additionally, there was an exercise book I bought which he had to sign three (3) times a day. I did my little investigation about him to ascertain whether he had also joined a secret cult or not, and the investigation revealed he was about to join but not yet initiated. I did all I could to make sure he did not join. Posting later took me out of that school when he was writing his WAEC.

His Commander at that checkpoint was happy to know me. This soldier boy had earlier narrated to his Commander how I saved him from joining the secret cult through proper monitoring and mentoring. I guess he was close to his Commander because of his bravery. He later proceeded to the makeshift camp erected for them as shelter and handed over a sum of N5000 to me. I reluctantly refused to collect it, but he forcefully handed it over to me as a form of appreciation. I asked about his friend Abdul, and he told me that he had been killed during a cult clash with rival cult members. We exchanged contact, and I proceeded to the waiting passenger bus.

As a teacher, your job goes beyond teaching Math, English, and others. Ordinarily, a teacher should be able to assume the role of a DEPUTY OR ASSISTANT PARENT. Sometimes, parents do fail these young chaps, and it's your responsibility as a teacher to nurture them uprightly. Some of them are victims of a marital break-up by parents, while some of the victims are of peer pressure and irresponsible parenting. It's also important to understand that all students are different. Taking the time to care about the personalities and interests of each student is key to ensuring everyone is successful. It may mean you have to incorporate components that connect with each individual or be sensitive to the various struggles each student faces.

In addition to the aforementioned, students also go through issues outside of school that require adjustments within the classroom, so compassion is very important. This implies that a teacher has to play the role of a friend, mentor, and helper. The puberty stage is a stage of youthful exuberance. Students misbehaving at that stage should not be strange to you. It's your duty as a teacher to devise means to effectively tackle the anomalies.

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