BY KOLAWOLE ALIU
David Sawey is a 12 year-old boy who has resulted into farming due to his parent’s inability to fund his enrolment to school.
His father who left Cotonou, Benin Republic for greener pastures, settled in Ifelodun community in Ogun State and tried to fend for his family by planting vegetable, tomatoes and yams.
David who is the eldest of the 3 children, is determined to go back to school. He noted that his favourite subject was Mathematics and Basic Science but his parents were unable to fund his education.
The lockdown occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic hampered all educational institutions in Nigeria. During that time, every family in Nigeria was indoors.
David’s father, Towodey Sewey was busy in the farm, tending to his produce for his livelihood and feeding of his family depended on it. Since the lockdown, the promising child had been joining his father in the farm supporting him in the clearing, making of ridges as well as planting of tomatoes.
While waiting for a fruitful harvest of their farm produce for three to six months, Towodey made a living out of clearing the bushes of other people’s farm. This was not enough and It was somewhat difficult fending for David and his siblings.
After the lockdown was lifted and schools gradually opened, there was no means to send David back to school for his father struggled to raise the little fund for his son. The meager fund available was just for the feeding of the family.
Towodey who expressed his frustrations, said his farming work had not been able to help him to support his family. “Having come from a family of farmers and learnt the trade, I was expecting it to be more rewarding in Nigeria when I relocated from Cotonou to Ogun State. Before the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, my child, David was in school and I tried to support him through school. Things got worse during the lockdown and my family tried to manage what we have.
“My farming business took a downward turn after few months during the lockdown. I planted vegetables, chilli pepper, atarodo (scotch bonnet) and yams but did not get enough yields. Before the pandemic I clear bushes of other farms for five thousand naira per plot but now the farm work is not forth coming like before and I am not able to make enough money to send my son to school. He had started following me to the farm during the lockdown and now that school has resumed, it is difficult raising my son’s school fees. I want him to go school to become somebody in life,” says Towedey Sawey.
Many peasants and low income people were affected during the lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the palliatives announced by the federal and state governments, many low income people like Towedey’s did not receive.
Aside David’s father, his friend, Mr Taweed Sewenu, who’s also a farmer complained of the hardship experienced in the course of farming as they didn’t make much income again.
The young lad, David, is determined to go back to school despite his increasing love for farming.
“I miss my classmates and teachers. I want people to help my father so that I can go back to school,” he pleaded.
* This report was facilitated by the Wole Soyinka centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) under its free to share project.