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Inside Capital School, Malali, where El-Rufai enrols son

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Master el-Rufai (left)and mates

Capital School Malali in Kaduna has never witnessed so much media hype until recently, when the state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai enrolled his seven year-old son, Abubakar Sadeeq in the public school.

In an effort to revamp public schools in the state, Governor El-Rufai had in 2017 promised to lead by example, by putting his son in a public school once he clocked seven.

El-Rufai’s action has, however, sparked a lot of reactions, as some people described it as an attempt to score cheap political points ahead of 2023 presidential elections. There were also speculations that the governor sent his son to an elitist school, which he spent N195m to renovate.

Others, who described the governor’s move as a publicity stunt, were also doubted whether his son would stay long in the school, and if at all he continued his study there, it will be under watertight security, considering the level of insecurity in the state.

Even as his action was commended by some, prominent among the governor’s critics is the former Kaduna central senator, Comrade Shehu Sani.

Investigation by The Guardian showed that the Kaduna Capital School Malali, has been a somewhat elite public school over the years.

Our reporter, who put the school under scrutiny to monitor emerging developments since the governor brought his son there, observed that children of the high class, as well as the middle class and poor people who attend the school were all seen to enjoy equal treatment by their teachers, and the governor’s son is not treated differently.

On different occasions, The Guardian arrived early at the school premises to see whether vehicles in a convoy would escort Abubakar Sadeeq to school since his enrollment, but none has been sighted for now.

A check was also conducted to confirm security upgrade, such as whether checkpoints and security cameras have been mounted in strategic areas within and outside the school premises, but there was no such obvious thing, as Capital School remains as open as before. Similarly, no additional security men have been posted at the school’s entrance.

Interestingly, the students appear disciplined, as they are usually well dressed, with shirts buttoned up and tucked into their shorts and neat socks before entering the school premises.

Checks on Abubakar Sadeeq’s classroom showed that he is well behaved and friendly towards his classmates.

His class teacher, Hadiza Bukur, who said she has been in the school for four years, described Abubakar Sadeeq as an “intelligent, smart and inquisitive pupil.”

She said: “He is very calm and respectful. He is friendly with everyone.”

When asked how she felt, having the state governor’s son in her class, Mrs. Bukur said she was “not excited, as I do my best for all the students.”

Is Abubakar Sadeeq being accorded any special treatment? She replied in the negative, saying, “I treat him the same way I treat others. There is no special treatment here for anyone.”

The Head teacher of the primary section, Ahmad Bature, said: “When the governor brought his son to commence studies here, he went through the normal process. First, he was subjected to test, which he passed. They paid all the dues like other students and after completing registration, we directed the boy to his class.

“The governor and his wife, who accompanied their son, wanted to go with him to his classroom, but we prevented them, as it is against the school policy. And they obeyed. The boy is well behaved. He plays normally with other children and has friends.”

Ibrahim Yunusa, the school’s principal, said the school was initially a primary school, established in 1957 by Sir Ahmadu Bello to cater for children of ministers. It was a boarding school, also attended by children of Europeans. But as time went by, it was expanded to accommodate secondary school.

“So, when His Excellency, Governor el-Rufai said the common man’s children should also benefit from the quality education being offered here, the doors were thrown open for all and sundry that can afford to pay the relatively cheap fees,” he said. “We have over 3,000 students in the school.”

Is there anything that differentiates the school from other public schools?

He said: “There is only one difference. In other public schools, education is free from primary one to Junior Secondary School (JSS3). But in this school, primary school pupils pay N5, 050 once in the term, while secondary school students pay N7, 050.

“And then, this school has a management board, just like Sardauna Memorial College and Queen Amina College. So, emergency decisions can be taken without requiring the ministry’s inputs.”

Asked what the school’s enrollment process is like, he said: “What we do is to advertise for admission during the long holiday. From the first week of August to September, people come to buy the admission form for N500. Then we set exams and admit qualified children.”

On Governor el-Rufai enrolling his son in the school, the principal said, “we are very happy that he was able to fulfill his campaign promise.

“When he came to the school to monitor contracts awarded, he promised that when his child attained seven years, he would enrol him in Capital school or LEA Ungwan Sarki. I actually thought it was a joke, but surprisingly it happened.”

So, were there changes made on account of Abubakar Sadeeq’s presence in the school?

“No, nothing has changed,” he replied. “Here, we have laid-down policies, and we don’t bend any rule, just because a governor’s son is here. We have over 3, 000 students and we cannot change rules because of one pupil. Since the boy was brought, nothing has changed.”

On the alleged N195m spent on renovation of the school, the principal said: “The school was built in 1957, and at a time, it went comatose. So, it was in dire need of comprehensive renovation. We are happy that Governor el-Rufai came as the Messiah. If you had come to this school last year, you wouldn’t have been able to sit for five minutes, due to the level of dilapidation.

“Moreover, the renovation is not limited to this school. There is renovation going on in all schools across the state.”


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