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Opinion: Acting The Script: Step By Step Attempt To Turn Osun Mega Schools To Relics

By Adewale Bolorunduro THE eleven (11) High Schools (popularly surnamed Osun Mega Schools) are obviously, the levelers for the poor citizens of the state to have their children also trained in the beautiful modern environments, which are conducive for learning at almost zero cost to their parents. They are the wards of the state; they…”
November 12, 2021 11:01 am

By Adewale Bolorunduro

THE eleven (11) High Schools (popularly surnamed Osun Mega Schools) are obviously, the levelers for the poor citizens of the state to have their children also trained in the beautiful modern environments, which are conducive for learning at almost zero cost to their parents. They are the wards of the state; they must be catered for by the state; that is the ideology behind Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s intervention in the educational sector of Osun. The mega schools are meant for highly populated towns (mostly urban centers) with current or projected high population of senior secondary school students. It is also an opportunity to take advantage of economic scale to pull resources (human and teaching materials) to one location for effective utilisation and at a cheaper cost per student.

According to Lord Dennis, “Not even the devil knows the intent of a man”. Apparently, there is a clandestine move to depopulate the schools, to abandon the regular maintenance, to empty the mega schools, to declare them unfit for learning, to convert them to antiquities or poultry farm. It has been wrapped up with all machineries of government. The recently collapsed 21 story building in Ikoyi, Lagos is the smoking gun for their clandestine media campaign. Honestly, they are not kidding. It is real and it is coming from bellicose minds full of hatred for the historical education infrastructure that strategically dots the corridors of the nine most urbanised towns of Osun. Simply, because it was Aregbesola, who conceptualised the schools and who sought the funding via Nigerian maiden Sukuk bond to build the schools.

The mega schools are located in highly populated towns. Data and trends revealed that Osogbo, the state capital, has capacity for 15,000 Senior Secondary Schools students and therefore, required five (5) of these high schools. But for paucity of funds, only three (3) could be completed. One would have expected the successor of Aregbesola, who became Governor on the mantra of continuity to build the remaining two (2) mega schools in Osogbo and to advance and realign the educational programs for continuous improvement in the quality and cost of delivery, after restoring names. Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu started the sanitation program and waste management scheme in Lagos, it was Babatunde Fashola, who came to improve the systems and the delivery. That is what progressivism is all about. One would have expected Oyetola’s administration to improve the school bus scheme (Omoluabi Scholar buses provided by Aregbesola) and to provide the boarding houses for the mega schools. Basically, to aid daily transportation of students to the mega schools and to provide opportunities for private sector involvement in providing services at affordable rates for students, who want to live in boarding facilities. The loss of opportunities by the current Osun government would definitely hurt the state in the near future, irrespective of the motive to obliterate the records of Aregbesola or to discredit a man, who is not coming back to Osun to run for governorship race again.

While opinions differed on the Change of Names and Uniforms in the educational reform of Aregbesola, nobody was against those beautiful and functional edifices for learning. I had my beef with the change of my school’s name, which was personal, but I didn’t care a hoot about the uniform, while many alumni did. Prof Odekunle of blessed memory, an alumnus of the prestigious Ilesa Grammar School, who was present during the commissioning of the new building, eulogised the idea and the administration of Aregbesola, for giving us such a mini campus but had a reservation for the location, which was personal. I have never seen any of our alumni, who have rejected the new school building, although we have emotional attachment to our old empire building also. The old and new students believe the stakeholders (including founders and students) own the mega school building, since they own the land and this is the sense of belonging of the old students of Ilesa Grammar school and other schools, who are willing to support government in the maintenance of the Mega school buildings. 

The question beckoning for answers are: (1) after reversing the name, why depopulating the schools? (2) Why denying many of those kids from attending these prestigious schools with such huge capacities (3) what is the funding requirements submitted as maintenance cost since early 2019 and how much has Oyetola government spent on the buildings that are already more than five (5) years (which is the time frame stipulated for major maintenance of public utilities) and (4) what is the reason for the delay of funds, required for the maintenance of these mega school buildings, since 2019?

Definitely, the initial attempt of the current administration in reversing the name change is a window dressing of the sepulcher of bones. It started with the return of names, to curry the sympathy of the Alumni of the schools and the restoration of uniforms is to beam up the people of Osun and to pick their brains! Like a handshake beyond the elbow, it has gone berserk and now, it is in the open what the real motives are. It now sucks and it sucks big time (pardon my French). While the change of name has no effect on the quality of education, yanking away those students from these dignified learning environments to the old dilapidated and abandoned buildings of the old schools, without renovating those old schools is “unthinking”. It is the oppression of the poor citizens, especially the wards of the State of Osun by the establishment and it is trampling upon their fundamental rights to choose.

I entered Ilesa Grammar school in the late 70s and left in the early 80s. I can’t remember when the students population was less than 1,000, which gave many of us the opportunities to relate, to compete and to learn from other students, who came from other regions of the country, I had Prof Peter Oyelere (nicknamed Bamangar Tukur, who was “repatriated” from the North), Computer Whiz-kid Tunde Fabamigbe, Timothy Ene, Brigadier General Okolie Atanacious and others, who came from the Eastern part of Nigeria. Today, the Ilesa Grammar School Mega school building (for senior secondary school students) has a population that is less than 1,000 students despite its capacity for 3,000. This is because of the deliberate attempt to depopulate the mega schools.

I learned there has been earlier suspension of regular maintenance and repair works since November 2018 but thank God, they are mostly electro-mechanical maintenance requirements that would not affect the structural integrity of the buildings. For buildings that have been in use since 2016 and 2017 at their maximum loading capacity and that of the users, if they have not failed in five (5) years, they will not fail, period!! So the invitation by the Commissioner for Works to the professional bodies to come and do joint inspections is an exercise in futility and a mere political jamboree. Let the government of Osun go and maintain the school buildings, let them fix the roofs of some of the schools which have been damaged by rain storms and let them take responsibilities as if those buildings are their personal houses. I have seen them circulating pictures of opened distribution boxes of electrical wires. God forbids, if any student gets electrocuted by those opened electrical cables, the state government and its officials will be held responsible and liable by the courts of law in Nigeria and in the International Courts. I have heard different figures as maintenance requirements submitted on the mega schools and as usual, the figure may still change. But why would a responsible government leave out a maintenance expenditure, that may be less than an average of ten (10) million naira per mega school since 2019 just because, it wants to nail Aregbesola?

It has now come into the open public that the current handlers of Osun government have written letters to some professional bodies (both statutory and unceremonious bodies) to come for joint inspection of the mega school buildings just because the civil servants (the technocrats) in the ministry of works would not succumb to undue pressure to write damning reports on the Mega School buildings; the jejune reports, which are required by their little souls to declare the eleven (11) mega schools unfit for students. While the letter, written by the Commissioner of Works, Remi Omowaiye, continues to trend on social media, their social media rats are busy flashing pictures of plastering cracks, opened electrical distribution boxes and other ridiculous, low-thinking stuff as the structural defects of the mega school buildings. The cheapskates among them are busy posting on internet, the pictures of vandalized wall panels and boards (both wall and ceiling boards) by their rascally children as if they are aliens from another world, instead of suggesting ways of curbing bad behaviours and vandalisation among Osun students. Did Aregbesola send their children to schools to go and be destroying the school properties?

Oyetola’s administration has been forced to hurriedly release a purported statement from one Engineer Sakariya Ademola, admitting that a Non Destructive Tests (NDT) have been carried out on the four (4) of the high schools  and that further integrity tests are required. The question is why such test will be carried out without the presence of the structural engineers of the Ministry of Works (the client), the structural engineers of the contractors and the independent engineer, appointed by the state as the consultant to the project. What type of the non destructive tests was used and how do they compare to the cube tests done in – situ during the actual construction. I hope they remember that Aregbesola was the first governor to set up Material Testing Agency in Osun and an independent monitoring team, under the Bureau of Social Services (BOSS) comprising of engineers. Would they all have compromised and why were they not invited during the NDT tests of Oyetola? Does it mean that the ministry of works would have processed the progress and completion certificates without inspection or testing?  Possibly, Governor Oyetola would have used his knowledge of the internal workings of the previous government of Aregbesola as the Chief of Staff to “zero in” on this four (4) mega schools, a case of “the tail wagging the dog”. Mr Governor, we know that you know that we know. The four (4) mega schools are: (1) Ayedaade Grammar School Ikire (2) Fakunle High School, Osogbo (3) Oduduwa College, Ile ife and (4) Akinosun Grammar School, Ikirun.

I will encourage the rookie computer engineer in the Ministry of Works to continue to shoot his shots in different directions like Nostradamus, perhaps one report that would not pass the test of time, could come his way or could be procured to support the script written by a man, who is in bed with his boss. I recall with due respect, the  man, the respected Governorship Candidate-Emeritus, said during the election debate that he would change the dual carriage roads under construction in Osun to Single Carriage roads and that he would not need Mega Schools. That is the script, Chief Gboyega Oyetola’s administration, who came into power with the mantra of continuity is acting now, though with different motive, but with the congruence of goals. To turn the mega schools to poultry farms. By God Grace, it shall not stand!!

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