The Ogun State Government on Monday says Governor Dapo Abiodun should not be held responsibility for the neglect and abandonment of the 27 Model Schools built by his predecessor; Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
The said model schools were left to rot away.
Reacting to a report by a national daily, Kunle Somorin, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun, in a statement on Monday, said that the claims in the report that the schools were neglected by the incumbent governor were not only untrue but misleading.
According to Somorin, the idea of Model Schools by the administration of former Governor Amosun, were not only ill conceived, but designed to be white elephant projects from the beginning, noting that it was actually abandoned by the Ibikunle Amosun’s Administration and it would be uncharitable to blame Gov. Abiodun for the abandonment.
The statement reads: “Recall that in 2012, the Ogun State government under Ibikunle Amosun announced the commencement of 26 model schools to be built across 20 LGAs for the sum of N27billion. The flag-off for the construction began with the foundation laying ceremony of Ogun State Model Secondary School, Ilaro. This was done by former Governor Amosun during an occasion to mark his first anniversary as governor.
“Unfortunately, that same school that was the starting point like other projects has remained a groundbreaking but un-commissioned. The Olu of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle said so and that so-called pioneer model school has also been declared “structurally defective” by a Committee headed by a former President Nigerian Society of Engineers, Adekunle Mokunolu, that reviewed projects done between 2009 and 2019 in Ogun State.
“Each of the schools cost tax-payers between N1.05bn and N2bn respectively. That humongous money used to construct these white elephant model schools should have been used to renovate dilapidated schools across the state, which were foisted on us when we came in. It is wasteful on the part of the last government to say they wanted to embark on construction of model schools when such money could be easily spent on other things.
“Amosun’s administration claimed that the concept was meant to provide 26 model schools in each of the State Constituencies and that the school projects would be completed by 2013. But two out the 15 projects were sited in one local government area, while there are no projects in about six local government areas, contrary to the original plan.
“Odeda, Ijebu North East, Imeko Afon, Egbado North and Odogbolu LGs didn’t benefit from the project. What happened to the remaining 11 for which funds were fully disbursed?”
Somorin, in the statement, pointed out that, like the Model Schools, several capital projects were already abandoned by Amosun’s administration all over the state before it left office.
“The buildings were not ready. They were never completed. There are still outstanding debts on it, so we cannot start doing that without trying to make sure we do something about the existing schools. Up till today, only the Akin Ogunpola College remains the only one of the proposed model schools used for academic activities. After the summer camp, the school admitted pupils for the 2017 and 2018 academic sessions. But in 2019, due to dwindling enrolment and the fact that it was a fee-paying secondary school that charged higher than even most private schools in the State, government had to shut down the school that negates our free education policy. To say the least, the model schools’ project was conceived with an intention for cheap political populism. It was conceived in deceit and hatched with the intention to swindle the public. The Amosun government lacked the kind of vision we have and was only playing to the gallery” the statement added.
“In consonance with his purpose-driven leadership, the Dapo Abiodun-led Administration promised not to abandon any project on which the resources of the state had been expended. Instead, he is creatively utilizing them for the benefit of the citizenry. For instance, the governor converted the White Elephant projects and tweaked them to become relevant. For example, the Tech Hub on Kobape Road on the outskirts of Abeokuta was one of the supposed Model Schools that was moribund for 8 years. Ditto for the one in Ikenne that into a 128-bed Isolation and Treatment Centre for COVID-19.
“For the umpteenth time, let us reiterate that no project will be allowed to waste. We will only creatively put all of them into purpose-driven ventures. The structure at Ogijo, Sagamu, had already been fully deployed as a state-owned secondary school with a boarding facility.
“The Mokuolu-led Contract/Project Review Committee set up on July 29, 2019, submitted its report in September 2020, and hinted that more than N218.380bn would be needed to complete projects within the period under review.
“The committee concluded that the clear abandonment of multiple projects across the state by Senator Amosun was as a result of poor procurement and project administration, adding there were inconsistencies on payment as some contractors were claiming to be owed”, the statement noted.
Somorin said rather than vilifying Governor Abiodun for not continuing with the model schools, which were abandoned by the same administration that started them, he should be commended for turning some of the model schools into useful edifices.
“Many of them will be used for the intended purpose, while some may be converted to something a lot more helpful in the circumstance that we have found ourselves. But, as far as the infrastructural revolution in the educational sector is a concern, priority is more to resuscitate the existing buildings that are falling down”, Somorin further noted.
He added that: “The governor has no illusion as to the position of education and the enormous challenges in the sector. As an Omo Teacher, he knows education is the best legacy that can be given to the leaders of tomorrow. At his inauguration as Governor, he had declared a state of emergency on the sector with a firm pledge of ensuring that the pride we used to have in education will be completely restored. So far, he has been walking his talks by increasing budgetary allocation to 20% this year, and he has continued to do that on yearly basis and will continue to do so till the United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) benchmark is achieved.
“Gov. Abiodun is implementing the Universal Basic Education Act to the letter. He has shown with the reactivation of MAPOLY and the former Tai Solarin College of Education (now renamed after Oba SK Adetona) that were comatose before he came to office. He is ensuring free education for all children in Primary and Junior Secondary Schools and the welfare of teachers is being given utmost priority in order to ensure that best brains are attracted and retrained in the system. His Government approved and implemented career elongation of degree holders in Public Primary Schools for teachers who had been stagnated on Grade level 14 for years; he promoted 10,000 teachers, whose elevation had been delayed since 2016, employed 1, 500 Basic School Tecahers and the Teaching Service Commission is currently engaging 5000 teachers under OgunTeach initiative. We facilitated the release of 2014-2017 UBE Matching grant to the tune of N10 billion, which translates into 952 Education Projects. These Projects have two special features including Yellow roof and terrazzo floor in our public primary and secondary schools.
“He keeps expanding the capacity of our teachers. We sponsored ANCOPSS representatives to leadership training in Dubai and Germany to enhance their performance and service delivery on the job. And also reinstated Oluwole Olusanjo Majekodunmi, the Deputy Director in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology who was sacked by the previous administration and another former Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Ogun State Chapter, Dare Ilekoya who was compulsorily retired by that same government. This special act was displayed to show the government’s resolve in addressing all sorts of injustice and during the COVID-19 pandemic, the creative genius of Gov. Abiodun showed forth with the introduction of virtual learning via the Ogundigiclass, a Digital Classroom for Primary and Secondary Schools learners on OGBC, OGTV, DSTV 260 or GoTV 100 show how involved Governor Abiodun is to Basic Education in Nigeria”, the statement concluded.