Three children abandoned in a boarding school in Abule-Iroko in the Ado-Odo Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State are longing to meet their parents who have abandoned them for eight years.
When PUNCH Metro visited Solid Model College, the children recounted their ordeal, noting that the absence of their parents was affecting their studies.
Seun Adepegba, 14,Seyi, 10 and Titilola, 13, had been severed from parental love and care since infanthood. After waiting for eight years, they seemed to have relinquished all hopes of reuniting with their parents.
It was learnt that their tale of sorrow began in 2007 when their father, Mr Segun Adepegba, who had been separated from their mother, enrolled them in the boarding school because he could not afford to take care of them.
According to the proprietor of the school, Mr Samuel Ayegbusi, Adepegba came to enroll them in his school on September 24, 2007 with a promise to always check on them.
He said, “Mr. Adepegba told me his wife had just left him and that he could not afford to take care of them, being a jobless man. The children were very little. Seyi was two, while Titilola was five.
“Mr Adepegba had pleaded with me to accept them in the boarding school. Mr Adepegba’s sister promised to bear the cost of their upkeep. They paid an initial N150, 000 for the three children for the first term.”
But according to the proprietor, Adepegba never kept his promise. He said after the first term, the school expected him to come and take his children home for holiday but he never showed up until four years later. He said the school had expended over N7m on the upkeep of the children since 2007.
The proprietor said efforts to reach the parents’ families had proved abortive, adding that calls to Adepegba’s phones were not always answered.
He said, “Whenever we called him and he realised who was talking on the phone, he would switch off his phones and for the next two weeks, the numbers would not be available. When the school contacted their father’s sisters, we were told that they had travelled out of the country.
“When we called one of them, we were told that they had sent money to Mr Adepegba to defray the children’s school fees and upkeep. But Mr. Adepegba has never come here to make any payment since the initial deposit he made in 2007.”
According to the proprietor, taking care of the children had further become cumbersome for him as one of them, Titilayo, had started misbehaving. He recounted how Titilayo ran away from the hostel twice without informing the school authority on the excuse that she was going to look for her father.
Ever since she was found, the proprietor said the school had had to keep her in a room, under tight surveillance, because she had vowed to run away to find her father.
He said, “The school is not even bothered by the cost of their upkeep. But anytime the school closed for holiday and parents come around to take their children home, Titilayo would fall into a sober mood and twice, she had run away from the hostel without informing anyone. It was a resident who stopped her and brought her back to the school.
Some of the teachers, who spoke with PUNCH Metro during the visit, said the absence of the children’s parents was seriously affecting their studies. They said the appearance of their parents would boost their academic performance.
While recounting their days with their father, the children said he celebrated birthdays with them. They said they had never met their mother.
Titilayo said, “We do not know who our mother is. We grew up in Yaba, Lagos and all we remember is that there was a woman that washed our clothes and took care of us until we came here. We knew she was not our mother.”
Seyi, the youngest of the trio, however, was an exception as she kept a cheerful look during the visit. Seyi, who told our correspondent her dream was to become a medical doctor said, “Although I have a faint memory of my father, I will like to see him. If he comes today, I will ask him why he left us for so long.”
Seun added, “I don’t care how long he has left us. I just want to see him. I really need to see him.” When PUNCH Metro called Adepegba on Thursday, his phones were switched off.