• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Dowen College, whose duty was it to save Sylvester?


We are in the race for the national routine of speculative justification of anything, everything with room to accommodate more. Most of the utterances on the death of young Sylvester Oromoni tilt towards blame-sharing to society for the incident at Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos. Poor parenting is thrown in for good measure.

Death demands sobriety, particularly in the circumstances that the young life went. Attempts to blame his parents bother on the callousness of our society, drawn from insincere comparisons of how children were raised generations ago. Are parents to be blamed when their children are killed in schools where they thought they would be safe?

The least that anyone could do is to hold specific individuals responsible for their irresponsibility that took away the boy’s life. The tendency to discuss Sylvester as irrelevant statistic is a reflection of the descent of the society to its worst forms of deductions of its humanity.

Read Also: The death of Sylvester Oromoni

Vacuous descriptions of the incident, denials, cultism, hominem, and divisiveness that is readily elevated to national ethos are at work over Sylvester’s death. Well after the youngster’s cold body was in the morgue some still want to discuss bullying in school. We could have a murder case in our hands or at least some form of homicide. No minimalisations would lower the new bars Dowen College has lifted matters of care for children.

Cultism is generously mentioned as if it is a permitted activity in schools. Efforts at excusing the Dowen College incident should be stopped if we are to make any progress in knowing what happened.

Those treating this incident as another death appear unaware of the colourations the death would have assumed if it had happened to certain parents who cannot be restrained when they lose their children. Sylvester is dead. Does that matter to some people?

How many of us would be asking the same questions about the responsibility of the dead child’s parents to him if they were the ones involved? Where did they go wrong in placing their children in a high-profile school reputed for attention it would give children based on its pedigree?

Sylvester died. He said some people had beaten him. There were evidences of the beating. He was reportedly treated at the school’s sickbay. Nobody thought that he was in enough danger to deserve better treatment.

The school’s story was that he had a broken leg. The first stories were that he was injured from a football game. Once his mates stated there was no football game that week, the story slimmed to his broken leg. The school no longer mentioned the source of the injury.

Was the school disinterested in how a child under its care broke his leg? What treatment did he get for the broken leg? We are discussing the issues as if some cattle had its leg broken. Some commentators would have been kinder and more circumspect if a cattle was involved.

It would seem that a broken limb was not thought threatening enough for the attention of the school’s higher authorities to be drawn to whatever caused it. The gaps in the timelines for caring about Sylvester create an impression of normalcy around his tortured journey to death. Or is this the perception of an outsider who is unaware of how Dowen College operates?

A human life is lost in circumstances that belie our care for each other even where someone or an organisation had been contracted to do so. We are arguing about the upbringing of the children involved. Did the school refuse to make its environment safe for children, all children in its care?

Should parents after putting their children in boarding school be responsible for what happens to them in school to details like measures that should have stopped the torture that Sylvester went through? One would almost think that the parents paid for him to be beaten to death if we follow the lines of the justifications for his death.

Dowen College had a duty of care to Sylvester Oromoni and his family. Whether the school authorities understood the depth of the care they should have provided for the young boy is a matter to be decided outside this space. How they went after that responsibility cannot be resolved here too.

What is clear is that Sylvester is dead. The chilling stories of the death add to the sadness from the loss. Parents would be at loss on how to manage relationships between their children and their schools. Nothing they do would be enough any longer.

How does it feel waving children off to school, with beliefs and convictions that they would be in safe environments, only to learn of their death at the hands of fellow students with the school telling incoherent stories?

The coroner’s duty when the hearing on Sylvester starts on Wednesday would be to help us find his killers and serve all parties justice. There would be more stories that could help us realise the dreg our society has become because some refuse to do their work even if they are paid to do it. Nothing done at this stage can bring Sylvester back to life. The finality of the mistakes made is more telling when we think of death in this manner.

A lot can be done. Our immediate task as individuals is to respect the sensibilities and sensitivities that the matter demands. The bigger task is to make our environments safer. Lives should not be snuffed out without consequences.

Who else dreads knowing that there could be similar incidents in other schools in Nigeria? May the Almighty grant Sylvester rest and the parents the fortitude to bear the pains from Sylvester’s death.


A RASH of first class grades from our universities leaves one wondering why a society with so much high-quality manpower remains in retarding motions. In what are these graduates first class? Is it academic attainment or abilities to resolve society’s challenges? We should not have the number of first class graduates we do and suffer all the deficits of an unimproved society.

THERE are needless debates about the value of a Nigerian’s life. Bandits burnt an indeterminate number of Nigerians in Sokoto. President Muhammadu Buhari won’t visit.

.Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues