Abandoned N27bn Ogun schools sites turn criminals’ dens | Dailytrust

Abandoned N27bn Ogun schools sites turn criminals’ dens

Decaying Model School building, Idiroko

In 2012, then governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, floated a multi-billion naira Model Schools Project to fill the infrastructure deficit in the state’s education sector. Ironically, the project has been abandoned eight years down the line, widening the deficit bottleneck it sought out to tackle. This report investigates the circumstances that led to the failure of what is now described as “white elephant projects” by stakeholders.

“This is a hideout for rogues, thieves, and all forms of criminal activities,” an old woman living in a two-storey building, adjoining the derelict Model School building at Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, Ogun State, told this reporter.

For her and other residents, the woman who does not want her name in print said, they have always lived in fear of attacks by the rogues occupying the abandoned structure.

She sat in the sitting room and pointed to the veranda. “I cannot sit there (referring to the veranda) because when they see you sitting there, they will think you are monitoring them and they might, at the end of the day, come back to attack you.”

The uncompleted structure sited at Idi-Aba is a stone throw from the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta. Amid thick bushes and thorny grasses, the multimillion-naira structure stands greenish, in its ruin. With blown off roofs and windows, the derelict structure serves as a place residents drop waste and a site for open defecation.

Abandoned Model School Building, Idi – Aba, Abeokuta.
Photo: Peter Moses

On Monday, May 21, 2012, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, as governor, performed the foundation laying for the construction of 26 ‘state-of-the-art’ Model Schools at the Ogun State Model Secondary School, Ilaro. The foundation laying marked his first anniversary as the governor. He said the Model School projects was part of his commitment to restoring the glory of education in the state through the provision of affordable and qualitative education.

“Every child in Ogun will have the opportunity to get the best of education and compete with their friends anywhere,” Amosun said.

And his Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Barrister Segun Odubela, took it from where his boss stopped. “The model school would

world standard,” he said. It was equally said that “the school will have hostels, football fields, etc and will enhance the economic activities of the host community.”

Investigations by this reporter revealed that the project was conceived with a view to having each of the Model Schools sited in each of the 26 State House of Assembly constituencies spread across the 20 LGs in the state.

Odubela, as reported in May 2012 edition of a state-owned monthly publication, Ogun Update, puts the cost of each of proposed Model School project at N1.05bn, comprising construction, the supply of equipment and furniture.

“Each school comes to a total of N1.05bn. The 26 schools would be a total of N27.3bn,” he was quoted as saying.

Amosun himself on May 27, 2019, less than two days to the expiration of his tenure, told newsmen at Isheri that each of project costs between N750m and N820m. He added that with the furniture and other equipment, each of the projects costs at N1.2bn.

Infrastructure deficit in education sector

Amosun hinted that when he came on board in 2011, he inherited a state with a huge infrastructure deficit. This, he pointed out, was compounded by the call to return missionary schools to the owners.

“When we came in (in 2011), we realised that there was this huge deficit of infrastructure, classrooms, equipment and teaching. Our missionaries, who contributed immensely to the education sector in Ogun State, somehow, wanted their schools back.

“We realised that the decision of ‘giving back the schools’ to the missionaries is depriving us of about 21,000 of our young one’s access to education. We believe it is not right. We will have an army of people tomorrow that would come to hunt us if they are not given the opportunity to be educated,” Amosun said, explaining the rationale behind floating of 26 Model Schools in the state.

Investigation reveals that the state has 1,440 public primary schools, 471 public secondary schools and 7 public technical colleges. Besides, the state tops the ladder as a state hosting the highest number of approved universities in Nigeria with at least, 13 universities located in different parts of the state. Yet, huge infrastructure deficit abounds.

Only 15 of the schools projects are traceable

As at the expiration of Amosun’s tenure on May 29, 2019, the Model School sited at Akinale, near Abeokuta, in Ewekoro Local Government, was the only completed, furnished and functional school. In 2016, the first summer class took place at the school named after late Akin Ogunpola, an educationist and first civilian Education Commissioner in the state.

Findings showed that while some were completed but not furnished, others only had structures but not roofed.

Of the 26 Model Schools project, only 15 were traceable. They are Model School at Ikenne, named after HID Awolowo; Prof. T.O. Ogunlesi Model School Ogijo, Sagamu LG; Femi & Dotun Oyewole Model School, Kobape, Abeokuta South LG; Prof. Sanya Onabamiro Model School, Ago Iwoye, Ijebu North; Akin Ogunpola Model School, Akinale, Ewekoro LG; S.A. Opaleye Model, Ado-Odo/Ota LG.

Others are Model School Itele Ijebu, Ijebu Ife, Ijebu East LG; Model School Ijebu Ode, Epe Road, Ijebu-Ode LG; Model School Owode Egba, Obafemi/Owode LG; Model School Ifo, Ifo LG; Model School Idi Aba, Abeokuta LG; Model School Onijangangan, Abeokuta North LG; Model School Isara Remo, Remo North LG; Model School Ilaro, Egbado South LG and Model School Idiroko, Ipokia LG.

Our investigation also revealed that 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.

However, this reporter could not lay hands on documents to verify whether or not funds were allocated and released for the construction of the remaining 11 schools.

The present government turned down enquiries for details of contract sum and list of contractors handling the projects. Works and Infrastructure Commissioner, Engr Ade Akinsanya, told our correspondent that “Model School project is now domiciled with the Ministry of Housing.” And When the Commissioner for Housing, Jagunmolu Omoniyi was contacted, he responded to some other issues raised but said he was not authorized to speak on the details of the contract. “Only the Secretary to the State Government can speak on that,” he said.

The chairman of Ogun Waterside Local Government , Femi Onanuga, said there is no Model School Project in the local government area.

“The model school is not in Ogun Waterside LGA and it was deliberate. Amosun did not put a single infrastructure for eight years in Ogun Waterside Local Government.

“We did not have any and it is so pathetic, it is purely a sign of marginalization of Ogun Waterside Local Government and two things accounted for it, weak representation and Governor Amosun’s detest for Ogun Waterside Local Government,” Femi Onanuga, the Chairman of Ogun Waterside LG, told this reporter.

Describing the project as “white elephant”, Onanuga said the previous administration ought to have renovated the dilapidated schools.

It was also gathered that Odeda, Ijebu North East, Imeko Afon, Egbado North and Odogbolu didn’t benefit from the project.

Home for robbers, rapists and rogues

During a series of visits to sites of the projects across the three senatorial districts of the state, it was observed that the abandoned structures have turned to hideouts for criminals and rogues. Apart from the structures being overgrown by bushes where reptiles and other animals operate freely, a number of facilities  already fixed have been plundered, leaving the structures to rot away.

One of the projects sited at Idi-Aba, a stone throw from the Federal Medical Centre Abeokuta, is now home to rapists and robbers, residents told this reporter.

Amid thick bushes and thorny grasses, the multimillion-naira structure stands in ruins. With blown off roofs and windows, the dilapidated structure now serves as a refuse dump for residents. There’s a Divisional Police Station in the street next to where the structure is cited, but this does not deter criminals from using the abandoned structure.

Abandoned Model School Building, Idi – Aba, Abeokuta that has turned to den of rapists and armed robbers

The Chairman of Oke-Ola Ilupeju Community Development Association, Victor Adeoye, told this reporter that a lady was raped in the building two years ago.

Adeoye said the association had written series of letters to the government on the security threat posed by the derelict structure to the community, but there was no response.

“The project is a security threat to the community because hoodlums use that place to smoke Indian hemp, rape and commit all sorts of social vices. I have made efforts to block the entrance, but they broke it

“All our efforts to protect the place are jeopardized by them, but I am still contemplating getting another security guard for that place. The community is not cooperating with me because they feel it is a state government project so why am I using community money to monitor the place?” he said.

The lawmaker representing Abeokuta South I at the State House of Assembly, Yusuf Adejojo, also confirmed that the multi-million naira project has been turned into criminals’ haven.

“I have been there to inspect the place twice, especially six months ago, when we had this incident that occurred. And it has been brought to the notice of the government.

“I have tabled the matter before the House and the Ministry has been directed to that regard. I think they are working on it already,” Adejojo said.

Collapsing structure at Idiroko site

During a visit to the proposed Model School located along the Owode-Idiroko road in Ipokia Local Government Area, this reporter observed that the structure was already collapsing due to years of neglect and non-completion.

Apart from the dilapidated state of the half-completed building, this reporter also observed that bush and rogues have taken over the building. Although, when this reporter visited, nobody was sighted in the building, there were used condoms, gin and liquor wrappings, among others, at various sections of the building.

A portion of Model School site, Idiroko Photo: Peter Moses

A tour around the three-storey building revealed that some sections have been roofed, and others left open. This reporter also found an abandoned concrete mixer in one of the rooms in the building.

A mechanic identified as Tajudeen, said the abandoned building has become a hideout for criminals to perpetrate their evil acts. Tajudeen claimed that some miscreants always smoke and sleep with ladies in the building.

He said, “This place used to be a tipper garage, but since the building was abandoned, it has become a place for some criminals to perform their evil acts. And you know since everywhere is bushy, nobody dare goes there to challenge them.”

Abandoned, unused materials, waste away at Ilaro

Located on the outskirts of Ilaro, along the Owode-Ilaro Road, the building from outside passes for a completed structure awaiting finishing touches, but when this reporter entered the building, he discovered so many half-done and badly done construction work within the building.

Although the building has been roofed, many rooms were in shambles without ceiling as many years of abandonment have taken its toll on the structure.

Many building materials including ceiling materials, burglary, tiles, among others, littered the building.

Unused building materials waste away at Model School site, Ilaro
Photo: Peter Moses

There are two security guards stationed at the building to protect some of the building materials such as cement, tiles, burglary kept in some of the rooms within the building.

The larger part of the compound has allegedly been taken over by a construction company identified as Rajicom Construction as the equipment used by the company littered the compound.

It was gathered that some contract workers with the construction company have turned the building to an abode of some sorts. Clothes were hanged on some of the windows, indicating that the building was housing some people.

Speaking with one of the workers identified as Rasaq, he told this reporter that it’s been over two years since the government stopped work in the building. Rasaq explained that the security guards were hired when the government discovered that people were plundering construction materials kept in some rooms.

Isara-Remo school building in shambles

A similar scenario played out at Isara Remo building of the proposed Model School, located along Isara-Ago-Iwoye Road. What happens within the building, in a thick bush and far away from the town, can only be imagined. For the fear of insecurity, this reporter observed the dilapidated state of the structure from some metres away and took pictures.

At a Model School building in Ago Iwoye, named after Sanya Onabamiro – a biologist and statesman, the project was completed and furnished but neglected. The three-storey building and two adjoining structures, meant to serve as hostels, were painted blue and white. But the paint on the wall is gradually peeling off, while some equipment has been plundered.

A middle-aged security man at the gate resisted attempts by this reporter to gain access into the building.

Over-grown weeds is a common feature of the abandoned schools like this one in Isara-Remo

Over-grown weeds is a common feature of the abandoned schools like this one in Isara-Remo

Abiodun converts structures to COVID-19 isolation centre, tech hub

In October last year, Governor Dapo Abiodun disclosed his plan to demolish the Model School structure at Ilaro for being “structurally defective.”

The governor insisted that his administration’s decision to demolish the school was not to witch-hunt the former governor but to prevent looming disaster. The structure is yet to be demolished.

But the governor had converted two of the school structures into an information and communication technology centre, named Tech Hub, at Kobape, while that of Ikenne was converted to a COVID 19 Isolation Centre and warehouse for palliatives.

One of Model School Buildings now converted to TechHub by the Governor Dapo Abiodun

Poor procurement and project administration

On July 29, 2019, Governor Abiodun set up a Contract/Project Review Committee headed by Adekunle Mokuolu to review contracts and projects awarded between 2009 and 2019. The scope of projects review covers two years of former Governor Gbenga Daniel’s administration and eight years of Amosun’s reign.

The Mokuolu-led panel submitted its report in September 2020, and hinted that “more than N218.380bn would be needed to complete projects

within the period.”

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.

We won’t use buildings for original purpose – govt

The Special Adviser (Public Communication) to the Governor, Remmy Hazzan, told this reporter that the government would not abandon the project, but it may not be used for the original purposes it was meant to serve.

He disclosed that the structure at Ogijo, Sagamu, had already been fully deployed as a state-owned secondary school with boarding facility.

“So, some 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,” Hazzan said.

He said there were inconsistencies on payment as some contractors were claiming to be owed.

“What they have helped us to do is to ascertain the scope of work and the variations that were ordered along the line, how much has been paid and even do their own best judgment kind of valuation as professionals to say yes, this may have been what the contractor is claiming, but in our judgment, this is what we think he should get if he still intends to continue with this job.

“So, those were essentially what the committee is into and of course the model college, apart from those projects the last administration awarded, were sufficiently captured by the project review committee,” he said.

Security operatives to monitor abandoned structures

Hazzan went ahead to say that “Any uncompleted or completed but uninhabited project provides accommodation for criminal elements. The information you are given us is quite valid, we know this kind of information has come to us before.

“In each of those locations you mentioned, there are divisional police offices that covered those areas. We only need to step up our games to ensure that the police authorities cover those areas and make sure that miscreants are not allowed to turn the place to criminal hideout than already done. So, that is just a part of the daily security scope that a government should be responsible for.”

Why model schools didn’t take off – Amosun

The Media Aide to former Governor Amosun, Bola Adeyemi, declined comment when contacted by this reporter. “I can’t speak for him. Nobody wants to say anything on that for now,” he said.

But Amosun, during his last-minute commissioning of MITROS Gardens at Isheri along Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, told newsmen on May 27, 2019, that the projects have been “completed.”

However, he accused some ‘powerful forces’ of being behind the inability of the schools to take off. Those forces, he claimed were against payment for enrollment in the school.

“They said why should people pay to enrol their children in public schools. Posterity will judge all of us,” he had said.

Widening infrastructure deficit

Investigations reveal that there is still infrastructure deficit in the education sector, whereas the multi-billion naira Model School Projects, with its finances largely shrouded in secrecy, have been abandoned to waste away.

Dilapidated school structures, broken furniture and lack of spaces, among others, are some of the challenges public schools are grappling with in the state. A tour around some parts of the state revealed that in some public secondary schools in the state, students still learn in unconducive environment despite the huge budget for the education sector in the state.

While many educationists applauded the government for allocating an appreciable percentage of the yearly budget to education, they also gave it knocks for “poor implementation” which in their views has left education in bad shape.

Our correspondent visited three state government-owned secondary schools were learning activities were going on in poor conditions, posing risks to the lives of students and teachers.

Iyesi High School Otta in Ado-Odo Ota Local Government; Pakoto High school in Ifo Local Government and Itori Comprehensive High School Agun in Ewekoro Local Government were some of the schools visited by this reporter.

In October last year, a part of Sawonjo High School in Yewa North Local Government Area of the state reportedly collapsed, worsening the dilapidated condition of classrooms the students have managed for about twelve years.

Expert wants completion, use of model schools

Speaking with Daily Trust on Sunday, a former Vice-Chancellor of Tai Solarin University of Education Ijagun, Prof Kayode Oyesiku, submitted that investment in secondary school education and welfare of teachers have reduced in the last eight years. The recent effort by the current government is however commendable.

“Ogun State government has not been investing in secondary school education. In most schools, you see them almost without chairs and tables. The roofs of most classrooms have collapsed. The level of truancy is becoming extremely high because there are no spaces for the students to sit. Some of them hang on the windows, some without classrooms to have their lessons. That scenario is not very good to absorb whatever is needed for secondary school education.

“Surprisingly, the state some time ago went ahead to build over 20 so-called Model Schools. None of them was functional for eight solid years and each of them was estimated to be almost N1.5bn. N2bn given to secondary schools in each local government will turn it around remarkably. So, the previous administration never thought it seriously fixing education right from the primary to the secondary,” the former VC said.

An Associate Professor of Education Management, Hammed Adeyanju, said it would be in the best interest of the public for the incumbent government to complete the project and make good use of it, to tackle the infrastructure deficit in the state’s education sector.

He, however, bashed Amosun for embarking on “white elephant” projects.

Adeyanju, said “Go to our primary and secondary schools, they are nothing to write home about, yet there are structures and equipment lying fallow. Amosun embarked on the projects he was unable to complete. They are white elephant projects. Look at the overhead bridges, Model Schools and what have you. The incumbent government can only complete the project and make use of it if it tallies with its priority.

“The present governor has his own plans. If that is going to jeopardize his plan, he may abandon it. The advice to the present government, because government is a continuum, is to try their best to complete the projects and make use of them.”

This report was supported by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre).