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Review & Outlook: Depopulation Of Osun Mega Schools,  Reason For Conjecture Of Building Defects

  BY WALE BOLORUNDURO ACCORDING to Warren Bennis, “If I had to reduce the responsibilities of a good follower to a single rule, it would be to speak truth to power”, especially, when the power this time around is very hostile to them. Honestly, when you look at how the followers of former governor of…”
December 17, 2021 6:21 am



ACCORDING to Warren Bennis, “If I had to reduce the responsibilities of a good follower to a single rule, it would be to speak truth to power”, especially, when the power this time around is very hostile to them. Honestly, when you look at how the followers of former governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, have risen to defend him on the issue of mega schools, you will be convinced that he is indeed blessed with cult-like followers.

It is no longer a news item that the current government of Osun is depopulating the mega schools meant for secondary school students, which political pundits have linked to a deliberate attempt to efface Aregbesola’s legacy. The legacy, which is portrayed by the imposing monuments, the high school buildings surnamed Osun Mega Schools located in the highly populated and urbanised towns. When the news first broke, the tension generated, the resistances and the mild drama put up by the Osun people, portend what can happen if the government should dare the people and go ahead with its initial clandestine plan. 

Twice within one month, the current administration of Mr Gboyega Oyetola (the former Chief of Staff of Aregbesola for eight years) was compelled to respond via press releases that it would zero-in on only four schools, explaining that not all the schools were going to undergo integrity test, which has turned out to be an undercover, cynical and fault-finding mission. The press releases were made after the government had been bursted and exposed for inviting and shopping around for any jejune professional body that was willing to give credibility to its preconceived bellicose disposition of passing vote of no confidence on the engineering structures of the four mega schools, so as to justify the depopulation of high schools and the abandonment for eventual demolition. Apart from trumping up structural defects, safety concerns and blah-blah-blah, what else could be the government explanation for its initial depopulation of the high schools in the three major towns, which have high population of people and students? One mega school per senatorial district with one more additional high school in Osogbo were selected surreptitiously to make the target of four schools and to create so much political racket across the state. This was after abandoning the maintenance of the school buildings for about three years and after depopulating all the high schools, simultaneously and stealthily for two years. How else can someone be politically incorrect, not to see the smoking gun?

Dead Giveaway

Definitely, the crying over spilled milk is because of the failed attempt by the fifth columnist in the past administration of Aregbesola to subvert the progress and to stall those high schools at construction stage. Their ambivalent roles were prominent and noted during the second term of Aregbesola, when the contractors being paid with proceeds of already funded Sukuk bonds, suddenly deserted the construction sites. Aregbesola asked me and the independent consultant to find out the reason for the stoppage. We found out that none of them was being owed by government as posited by the fifth-columnist and when we held project meetings with individual contractors; to the chagrin of everybody present, one of them was bold enough to say, “someone high up in government ” advised them to leave their construction sites because other stakeholders could attack them. This was a dead giveaway. The statutory revenues from the federation accounts had fallen and the Governor had just dissolved the political boards. There are some red flags you respond to, while there are others, you just submit to God because in Yoruba adage; “kini ikan to ma hun pa Okunrin bi pata idi e” meaning “nothing kills a man much more than his pant”. Aregbesola had to assure the contractors and later provided additional security to enable them complete their works. The rest is history. 

Infrastructural intervention

The intervention in the education sector by Aregbesola was borne out of a necessity and a clarion call to restore the lost dignity of the Yoruba race in which our school environments were the most serene, most attractive and most conducive for learning. It was a deliberate renaissance of Western Nigeria’s education, which gave the region a competitive edge in public and private sector, then. The intervention, which was based on the planning data and forecasts provided by the Ministry of Education and validated by external professionals, was to impact the Elementary, Middle and High schools; their buildings, securities, teaching aids, teachers to students ratio and facilities in succession. At the end of the eight years of Aregbesola, there were 11 High Schools containing 876 brand new classrooms for senior secondary students. Other interventions under Aregbesola include the following:

(i) 28 numbers of New Story Buildings of Middle Schools consisting of 764 classrooms were constructed

(ii) 21 numbers of New Quadrangle Buildings of Elementary Schools consisting of 531 classrooms were constructed.

(iii) 143 blocks of 10/8/6/5/4/2 classroom buildings consisting of 1,550 classrooms in all were newly constructed mainly for rural settlements.

(iv) 215 old dilapidated school buildings were refurbished or rehabilitated to produce 1,213 classrooms across the state.

The addition of the numbers of classrooms in item (i) to (iv) above is 4,058 new classrooms and when added to the new classrooms of high schools, Osun has about 5,000 brand new classrooms, constructed, reconstructed and recovered in eight years with furniture and teaching aids. This was achieved with employment of 3,230 teachers on merit in 2013 into Public Elementary and Middle Schools by pulling together, the financial resources from state of Osun treasury, bond issuance, capital receipts from federal government and the National Assembly representatives (in the first term).

The Smoking Gun

The education project was predicated on a succession plan that would take care of the administration/maintenance of the new schools, the proper staffing and possible involvement of private sector participants in the area of accommodation and transportation of students with improvement in the quality of education. The seed capital was provided to acquire Omoluabi buses to test run the transport system for future expansion and modification required.

Honestly, it could be daunting and mentally tasking on any successive government to administer and to optimise the humongous educational resources bequeathed to the state, however, a focus and sincere administrator can still pull it through. But it is not a job for a vindictive, do-little mind that lacks governance ideology and whose job is to look for smoking gun, where there is none. Also, it would not be by bandying around pictures of the classrooms with fallen ceilings, plastering cracks or opened distribution boxes of electrical cables, occasioned by negligence of maintenance of such buildings.

Moreover, if it is true that only four of the mega schools require attention, with a subtotal capacity that is less than five percent of the total classrooms provided by Aregbesola, then, all the noises on the integrity tests of the buildings to support the intentional depopulation of the high schools were needless distractions and inconsequential. One would have expected that the normal treatment, expected from the current administration, which would have passed a “Brain Test” (a new lexicon in Osun politics) is the silent and quick correction of maintenance challenge, if there is any, on the targeted four schools. The fixing of the probable problems on the buildings should have been done before the public could get to hear it. This would be the minimum responsibility expected from any government that came into power with the mantra of continuity and whose primary constitutional function is the welfare and the security of the people, which includes that of the children of the state of Osun.

Moral Burden

Obviously, the last two consecutive school sessions in Osun have witnessed the depopulation of the mega schools, with students being reallocated to the previous old dilapidated schools, that have not been renovated by Governor Oyetola. This shabby treatment of the future leaders as well as the depopulation of middle schools under the false pretense that there is need for students to obtain Primary School Leaving Certificate, when the Basic Certificate of Education Certificate (BECE) has replaced the former in the approved National Education Policy of Nigeria. Definitely, the current state government of Osun has moral burden, which cannot be wished away, no matter how much it tries and with the following lingering questions: 

  1. Is the minor maintenance challenge on the school buildings not a failure of the system, which the current governor, still superintends over and uses for his own public buildings? There is need for Governor Oyetola to tell the world what he has done to make the system and the processes better. 
  2. How did the system fail with the gamut of due processes in place then, before payments were made, in which the current governor was the gate keeper as Chief of Staff and as the authority, processing payment requests to the then governor for approval, transmitting same to the user agencies and confirming final payments to the banks in the second term of Aregbesola? 
  3. Which part of the inherited system or the workings of government has failed? Considering the fact that Ministry of Education (client to the contractors) would not process payment requests until Ministry of Works (supervising agency/government consultant) visits the sites and jointly process payment certificates. In addition, the government of Aregbesola appointed an Independent Design and Structural Engineer to provide additional supports, while the Board of Trustees of Osun Sukuk Plc also appointed its own external consultant for the greenfield high school buildings. So, what else did they expect from the government of Aregbesola that it didn’t do?
  4. Why did the current government of Oyetola abdicate the maintenance of the high school buildings for the past three years?

Until the above questions are answered, the current government of Osun will continue to be haunted by these posers.


Nobody is trying to trivialise the maintenance challenge of the high school buildings now, the fact is that it is a self-inflicted injury, occasioned by gross abuse of public trust, when the maintenance of the high school buildings was abandoned, after the current government came into office. Also, why would maintenance not become a necessity now, after the four to five years of usage of those buildings. Crying hoax and pretending as if there are engineering or structural issues with the mega schools will not help the current government or shape the opinion of the people about the mementos those buildings represent.

Osun people are getting used to the perfidy, associated with the current government of Osun and so linking the depopulation of high schools to conjecture of impossible structural defects of the buildings is not unexpected. Also, reeling out figures on the remuneration of the facilities managers employed by Aregbesola and sacking them will not “chip any skin” off the back of the people. Because we know the current governor is entitled to his style of governance, no matter how seemingly dissembling it is and we know, it is his prerogative to sack and employ anybody, he dislikes and likes respectively. Governor Oyetola is however, respectively compelled to ensure the safety and security of the people and public property by maintaining those school buildings under his duty of care. For the latter, we shall continue to hold his feet close to the burner, under the duty of good citizenship. One thing we are very sure is, if the high school buildings did not fail under construction and have not failed under usage for the past five (5) years, surely, they will not fail now or in future. Period.

Wale Bolorunduro, PhD, a former Commissioner of Finance, Economic Planning and Budget, State of Osun, writes from 6B, Lase Ogunleye Street, off Fadahunsi Avenue, Ilesa, State of Osun.


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