Anambra State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh, who called one of the applicants for the ongoing teachers’ recruitment in the state “an idiot,” among other derogatory names, has apologized.
Her apology followed the reactions that trailed the outburst of the commissioner.
According to a report, the Commissioner had in a viral audio conversation on social media said, “Madam, you are an idiot. You mean the computers are doing what?
“I received a report by 12 noon that you people refused to stand in line. You refused to be identified. You mobbed and you were all trying to get into the hall at the same time. You refused to be disciplined up till this moment and you have the effrontery, you this stupid woman, you have the effrontery to call me on the phone to talk rubbish.
“Will you get out of my phone, you filthy thing! You really want to be a teacher? How will you tell your students to conform to instructions when you cannot stand line in line and move into the hall?
“You came for a test that will make you a teacher and you are behaving like a hooligan. Please, I have no pity for you and I have nothing to say to you.
Anambra State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh
“I received a report that they have already examined 1,400 out of the 2,000 plus we get there. So, your result is already made. Go home and find a place where people like you are supposed to be. You are not supposed to be found in the corridors of education. You are all hooligans! Thank you very much. I hope you understand me.”
Following the conversation, many people have lambasted the commissioner on social media. Some people have argued that she has an inherently aggressive nature that is not fit for a public office holder, while others made excuses for her outburst, saying it could be a result of pressure.
However, speaking with SaharaReporters on the phone, Prof. Chuma-Udeh admitted to the content of the controversial phone conversation, saying she lost control of her emotions when the caller (an unidentified applicant) called her and started hurling insults at the state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo and her – the commissioner.
She said the caller was among the teachers engaged by the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) under the immediate administration of former Governor Willie Obiano.
The PTA teachers had protested over their sacking by Governor Soludo and called on the governor to reconsider their reinstatements.
But the governor, while reacting to their protest, had said that “No qualified teacher in the state’s school system has been relieved of his/her appointment.”
He had said, “The affected PTA teachers who were ‘converted’ to the school system in the last days of the last administration in irregular, hazy circumstances.”
“They were only asked to regularise their employment with the government by taking part in the online teachers’ recruitment test,” he had added.
But the Education Commissioner alleged that the PTA teachers vowed to disrupt the recruitment process. She further alleged that they were responsible for the cyber-attack that disrupted the first Computer Based Test (CBT) in the state.
The commissioner, who apologised for her choice of words during the phone conversation with the applicant, said her reaction was a result of the pressure being mounted on her by the applicants.
“The heat of the teachers’ recruitment exercise is high, trying to get things right and in the middle of it all, somehow tension may rise and one or two incidences may crack you up in a terrible way.
“I believe I was in the heat of the recruitment exercise and tension was up everywhere,” she said.
According to her, the state government has had a running battle with the PTA teachers as “they stood their ground that the recruitment exercise would never hold and in fact, it was a fierce battle, as in, like you and someone betting that this particular thing cannot happen.”
“They became a force and vowed that there must be no recruitment without the Governor accepting them as full-time teachers,” she said.
The commissioner alleged that “The first online test we had, I learnt that they were the ones that were cyber-attacking it and they were so happy saying they wanted to know how the exam would be successful. This second one, I learnt that they divided themselves and agreed that whichever centre they found themselves, they would cause confusion so that the exam would be deemed inconclusive, but we battled against it all.
“They are the ones pushing all these things, insisting that they would spoil things.”
She said it was one of the PTA teachers that called her on the phone but while she tried to calm her down, she (teacher) started raining insults on her and the governor, during which, “I flared up.”
“I know it was wrong for me to descend to her level. In fact, I am sorry for the statement I made. It shouldn’t come from me but the thing remains that somebody who is looking for a teaching job and is insulting the governor and the commissioner, how can the person get the job?
“So, I was tensed up and hearing this woman insulting the governor and everybody, I couldn’t take it. In fact, I apologise. That is all I can say.”