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Exposed: The Decay State Of Aregbesola’s Legacies In Osun

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Aregbesola

The longstanding mutual hostility that exists between the Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, and his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, has again been reenacted following the deteriorating conditions of some of the 10 mega schools built by the latter’s administration in the state.

As part of his administration’s efforts to give education a new face, Aregbesola introduced new policies and built new schools, including 11 mega schools, which reportedly cost over N16.5billion across the three senatorial districts in the state.

Aside from building of the mega schools, other policies introduced by the Aregbesola-led government included enforcement of a single uniform for students in public primary and secondary schools, reclassification, renaming and merger of schools among others. In addition, a total of 147 elementary schools and 49 middle schools were built by the former administration.

Checks by The Point revealed that each of the 11 mega schools has 72 classrooms with capacity for 3,000 pupils (one of the schools is still under construction).

Three of the schools – Ataoja Grammar School, Fakunle Unity School and Osogbo Grammar School – are in Osogbo, the state capital.

Others are Ilesa Grammar School, Ilesa; Wole Soyinka Government High School, Ejigbo; Akinorun Grammar School, Ikirun; High School, Ila; Adventist Grammar School, Ede; Oduduwa Secondary School, Ile-Ife; Ayedaade Grammar School, Ikire; and Iwo High School (which is still under construction).

Five years after the mega schools were inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari, some of them are already in ruins. The easily noticeable defects are cracks, falling windows and blown-off roofs, among other damages.

Visits by our correspondent to some of the schools showed that many of them were poorly maintained and underutilised. It was gathered that while the mega schools, which cost about N1.5billion each, could accommodate 3,000 students, most of them had barely 1,000 pupils, leaving vacant space for about 2,000 students.

The school in Ejigbo has just about 500 pupils with other sections lying fallow.

A source, who pleaded not to be named, said, “The mega schools, which are two-storey buildings, are now underutilised. One of them, Fakunle Unity Secondary School, has over 2,000 pupils while others have below that number. Majority of the remaining nine schools have about 900 pupils attending.”

The Point gathered that the current administration in the state sacked the facility managers that were employed by Aregbesola. Also, most of the school buses purchased by the Aregbesola-led administration were left to rot away within the premises of the Ministry of Education at the state secretariat.

It was gathered that many of the school buses, branded ‘Omoluabi Scholar Bus,’ had developed mechanical faults, had been abandoned and were overgrown with weeds.

Many residents of the state expressed worries over the sorry state of the mega schools and the poor maintenance culture of the state government.

In the opinions of some of the residents, the contractors that handled the construction of the mega schools might have done shoddy jobs.

“THE COMMISSIONER OF WORKS DURING AREGBESOLA’S ADMINISTRATION, KAZEEM SALAMI, ALLEGED THAT THERE WAS NO BASIS FOR THE EXERCISE, ADDING THAT THE MEGA SCHOOLS WERE SUBJECTED TO INTEGRITY TESTS TO UNDERMINE THE INTEGRITY OF AREGBESOLA AND TO WITCH HUNT HIM

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Recall that one of the mega schools in Ejigbo, Ejigbo Local Government Area of the state, collapsed in July, 2014, leaving two people critically injured.

Reacting to the incidents at the time, the Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy to then Governor Aregbesola, Semiu Okanlawon, had said that the residents heard a loud bang when the main hall of the newly completed ultramodern school caved in.

Okanlawon had said that the administration of his boss would investigate reasons the hall collapsed.

“However, it must be stated here that all necessary quality assurance tests were carried out to ensure structural durability and integrity of the project, just as in all other projects under this administration,” Okanlawon had said.

In the end, the government failed to make public the factors that accounted for the collapse of the building.

When Governor Oyetola came on board, his administration reversed some of the policies of his predecessor in the education sector.

To the surprise of many of the residents, Oyetola reversed the 4-5-3-4 system by the Aregbesola administration to 6-3-3-4 educational system.

He reversed the single uniform system and reverted to the old names of the schools. He also decentralised the school structure by separating the merged schools that, hitherto, operated as girls’ and boys’ schools.

The decisions deepened the alleged feud between Aregbesola and Oyetola with their loyalists drawing the battle line. Most times, the fights were prosecuted on social media. Aregbesola’s loyalists sometimes claimed that Oyetola was trying to witch hunt him with the aim of erasing the legacies of their idol.

The Commissioner for Education in Osun State, Folorunsho Bamisayemi, once lamented that rather than embarking on the construction of the mega schools, the former government could have renovated the old schools in the state and employed more teachers.

“I would renovate schools in Osun and put in more teachers if I had access to the money used in building the mega schools,” he said.

Bamisayemi, who was a member of the House of Assembly during Aregbesola’s tenure, said only Aregbesola could explain what informed the idea of the mega schools.

Meanwhile, the recent decision by the Oyetola-led administration to conduct structural integrity tests on the mega schools has triggered the acrimony between the two political gladiators in the state.

Loyalists of Aregbesola argued that Oyetola’s government was embarking on the integrity test to spite Aregbesola.

Following a check by a team of professional and regulatory bodies on the mega schools, an indication was given that an integrity test would be conducted on four of the inspected mega schools.

It was gathered that the team, made up of the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria, Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria, Nigerian Institute of Architect, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers and Nigeria Institute of Building, had been mandated by the state government to carry out the assignment.

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The four schools marked for inspection are Ayedaade Grammar School, Ikire; Fakunle High School, Osogbo; Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife and Akinorun Grammar School, Ikirun.

A statement issued by the Commissioner of Works and Transport in the state, Remi Omowaiye, read that a non-destructive test had been carried out on the four schools and the result necessitated further structural integrity tests.

The team, led by Sakariyau Ademola, said that the result of the test was being awaited and that it would be forwarded to the state government for appropriate action as soon as the assignment was completed.

In his reaction, the Commissioner of Works during Aregbesola’s administration, Kazeem Salami, alleged that there was no basis for the exercise, adding that the mega schools were subjected to integrity tests to undermine the integrity of Aregbesola and to witch hunt him.

He accused the Oyetola administration of neglecting the schools after sacking the facility managers that were engaged by his predecessor.

He said, “When there is failure in building, there could be reasons for it such as bad design and error in construction because contractors want to make huge profits. The money Osun State Government used in building the mega schools was Sukuk money that was borrowed on bond. Aregbesola, as an experienced engineer, would not give projects to unqualified contractors. All this (investigation of the schools) is giving the dog a bad name in order to hang it. I don’t know why it (integrity test) should start now. Must the integrity test be on the mega schools?

“If you (Oyetola) want to start an integrity test and not that you want to witch hunt, why not start with other high rise buildings? There is nothing wrong with doing integrity tests but carrying those involved in the building along and not going to their backs. You (Oyetola) have been there for three years and now you want to carry out an integrity test? It’s pure politics. In engineering or any construction, the day you finish building, maintenance starts.

Facility managers were maintaining the projects before they were sacked.”

Salami warned Oyetola against demolition of the mega schools, stressing that the people would stone him if he dared to do it.

“TO MANAGE THOSE SCHOOLS, WE HAD A FOREIGNER, FROM SCOTLAND, WHO WAS COLLECTING $7,500 MONTHLY. HE IS ALSO ENTITLED TO A FOUR-BEDROOM APARTMENT, AND HE HAS THE OPPORTUNITY OF BRINGING HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN; ALL EXPENSES PAID BY THE STATE GOVERNMENT. THAT’S THE FIRST LAYER. THE SECOND LAYER, THEY CALLED THEM SUPERVISORS, FOUR OF THEM COLLECT N2.5 MILLION ON A MONTHLY BASIS

‘FACILITY MANAGERS RIPPING STATE OFF’

Ismail Omipidan, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Oyetola, denied claims that the government was investigating the mega schools to erase the legacies of Aregbesola and witchhunt him.

According to him, there is no plan to demolish the structures. He noted that Oyetola’s government disengaged the school facility managers because they were ‘ripping-off the state.’

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Omipidan disclosed that the previous administration expended a huge amount of money on the maintenance of the schools, adding that the state could no longer afford to pay the facility managers in consideration of its lean purse.

Explaining the rationale behind the probe of the mega schools, Omipidan said, “There has been nothing we have done to show or suggest that we have been trying to witch hunt anybody or that we are trying to erase the legacy of anybody. Anything we have done so far is informed by the interest of members of the public.

“You will recall that in 2014, one of the schools in Ejigbo collapsed and in 2018, the current Interior Minister assigned a consultant, Engr (Mrs) Olajide, to take a holistic look at the project. When the consultant submitted her report, she raised issues concerning some of the structures. She also raised issues concerning some of the materials that were used for the construction.

“When the report came in, it was brought to the state executive and Mr. Governor (Oyetola) felt that there was a need for experts to take another look at it so as to advise us (government) appropriately on what to do and that was what led us to asking the Commissioner of Works to get in touch with experts from various fields. That was what led to the composition of that committee. By the time this committee submitted its report, they realised that about four of the mega schools needed further investigation.”

On why the state government terminated the appointment of the facility managers, he said, “We realised that it was like a rip-off. What do I mean? To manage those schools, we had a foreigner, from Scotland, who was collecting $7,500 monthly. He is also entitled to a four-bedroom apartment, and he has the opportunity of bringing his wife and children; all expenses paid by the state government. That’s the first layer. The second layer, they called them supervisors, four of them collect N2.5 million on a monthly basis.

“We now have the third layer referred to as the facility manager, who did not have the prerequisite qualifications to be addressed as one. These ones collect N750,000 on a monthly basis. And we realised that they used our principals and school children to do the maintenance.

“We felt that we couldn’t continue to overburden the meagre resources of the state and that was why we terminated the contract. We terminated the contract over a year ago. Go and look at the schools in terms of maintenance; we are not missing them. We needed to save that money to ensure that what needed to be done was done.”

Salami, however, said that Aregbesola did not engage any consultant to assess the schools. “It’s a lie. Aregbesola did not engage any consultant to assess the mega schools,” he said.

Business

HAVING A FIRSTBANK SALARY ACCOUNT CAN EASE YOUR MONEY PROBLEMS, FIND OUT HOW…

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First Bank

“There is always a lot to spend money on, and sometimes the bills can’t wait for the salary to be paid” Tope complained when his wife informed him that they had run out of cooking gas and had to refill.

 

He had just moved to a new location with his family and the bills seemed to be coming at such speed that he could hardly keep up.

 

Barely three weeks in the new apartment, the electricity bill had arrived. The new apartment was bigger than the last and their two double-seater cushions left too much space vacant in the seating room. They needed to get a couple more furniture to fill the space. His wife had not stopped reminding him of the car he promised to get, in order to ease mobility for the family.

 

Everyone has been a Tope at some point in time, and that is why everyone needs a financial partner like FirstBank, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services brand. FirstBank offers a variety of loan products that can help you ease off pressure as you work towards meeting pressing and urgent needs, as well as medium term goals.

FirstAdvance is a digital product tailored for Salary Account holders, who have an urgent cash need and would want to access salary advance from the bank. If you have held a salary account with FirstBank for up to two months, you can access 50% of your monthly net salary and as much as half a million naira (N500,000).

 

A physical visit to the bank branch is not required as you can access it via the FirstMobile (FirstBank’s Mobile banking app) and USSD channels. To access the service via USSD, dial *894*11# from the phone number linked with your FirstBank account. This has proved to be the solution for many people while emergencies arise before pay day. There is no point in waiting for month end before you can take on those pressing financial obligations.

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FirstCredit is another digital product designed to cater for the non-salaried individuals. All that is required is for your account to have been active and transacting in FirstBank for six months or more to access FirstCredit. It provides customers with quick and easy access to loans to fund urgent transactions. You do not need a smart phone or a physical visit to the bank to get this done as well. This credit facility can be accessed using a mobile phone and the USSD banking code, *894*11#. You can access as much as N300,000 to be repaid within 30 days.

 

No physical documentation or collateral is required, neither do you need a physical visit to the bank to access both loans. Imagine the confidence that comes with sorting out your bills within minutes and without having to wait till month end.

 

Salary accounts should do more than receiving your monthly pay from your employer. It should be instrumental in making your day-to-day living easier, and this is what having your salary account with FirstBank can achieve for you. You can get a Personal Loan Against Salary (PLAS) if you have a a longer-term project at hand or investments to make. It may be paying school fees for your kids, acquiring assets or renovating your properties, paying rent, taking professional examinations.

 

Customer who qualify can access Up to N50 million based on their net monthly income and rates are competitive, while offering long term and flexible repayments up to 48 months tenor.

 

Despite all these benefits and ease in access to loans, it literarily costs nothing to open a FirstBank Salary Account. Zero opening balance, Zero minimum daily operating balance, Zero account maintenance charge, plus you even get your first debit card issued for free.
Truly, it is always “YOU FIRST” from FirstBank.

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UBA Group Dominates the 2021 Banker Awards, Wins ‘African Bank of the Year’

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UBA

Breaks the Banker Magazine Record as it wins Best Bank in Nigeria and 12 of Its Subsidiaries Africa’s global bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc yet again, reaffirms its leadership position across Africa, as the bank has been globally recognised as the African Bank of the year 2021 by the Banker Magazine, a leading global finance news publication published by the Financial Times of London.

 

UBA’s solid financial performance, its excellent service delivery to customers and its continuous role of facilitating rapid economic growth across the African continent were some of the reasons that led to the bank being named best bank in 12 of its African subsidiaries and in Nigeria. UBA Nigeria Plc, UBA Benin, UBA Burkina Faso, UBA Cameroon, UBA Chad, UBA Congo Brazzaville, UBA Cote D’Ivoire, UBA Gabon, UBA Guinea, UBA Liberia, UBA Senegal, UBA Sierra Leone and UBA Zambia all came out top as the best banks in their respective countries.

 

This will not be a first for UBA. In 2020, six of its subsidiaries in Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Chad, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Zambia were winners of the Best Bank award. This year, the UBA Group is breaking a record with its exceptional wins as African Bank of the Year and Bank of the year in 13 countries. The total 14 awards makes it the first time ever in the history of the almost 100 years of The banker, that any banking group will be clinching as many as 14 wins in a single year.

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At the Virtual award ceremony which was held on December 1st 2021, the Middle East and Africa Editor for The Banker, John Everington, explained at the event that a rigorous and highly analytical process is made annually to reach the decision for each Bank of the Year award and the institution’s reputation for independence, authority and integrity is thoroughly applied to each submission.

 

“While several African banks impressed the judges this year, there was no doubt as to the worthiest recipient of the Bank of the Year for Africa – UBA Group – a clear winner across a wide range of criteria. UBA has performed impressively across its footprint with a strong financial performance across most of its markets,” Everington said.

 

UBA’s Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Kennedy Uzoka, who expressed delight over the recognition from The Banker stated “Like I always say, at UBA, we must be doing something right. Winning 14 total awards in13 subsidiaries and the Bank of the Year on the African continent is a big achievement.’

 

Continuing, Uzoka said, “The recognitions come as a reassurance that we are on track in consolidating our leadership position in Africa, as we continue to create superior value for all our stakeholders. We have our millions of customers across the globe and our many thousands of staff to thank for this. They are the very reason why we keep winning’

 

Since1926, the Bank of the Year awards has been celebrating the best of global banking and is regarded as the industry standard for banking excellence. The 2021 edition highlights those institutions that have outshone their peers in terms of performance, strategic initiatives and response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The Banker Magazine is a publication of the Financial Times – a leading global finance news publication which has been in existence since 1888. The Banker magazine is the definitive reference in international banking for high level decision makers.

 

United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty-five million customers, across over 1,000 business offices and customer touch points, in 20 African countries.

 

With presence in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail; commercial and corporate banking; innovative cross-border payments and remittances; trade finance and ancillary banking services

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Crisis Rocks Ghana Parliament As Members Clash Over 2022 budget

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Ghana

The 2022 budget of Ghana suffered another set back as the House could not reach concerts on its passage.

 

The Minister of Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori Atta had presented the budget for the House to deliberate upon and possibly approve it for passage to the president to work with. But the House is in disagreement.

 

The Majority members had earlier hoped in easy passage but, they were shocked to witness a tie in the House. The ruling Party, New Patriotic Party ( NPP) has 137 members in the House, same to the main opposition party, The New Democratic Congress(NDC)

 

The Speaker who could have added one to the ruling NPP lacks the constitutional right, as the Constitution denies him voting right as the presiding officer.

 

The case will then be taken to the Supreme Court for intervention. The issue has been a major challenge threatening the smooth democracy in the country. The decision to go to Supreme Court is expected to be taken before or by Friday sitting.

 

By Moses Owopade,

Accra, Ghana.

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