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WHERE PUPILS STUDY ON BARE FLOOR

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Oke-Ogba is a suburban community in Akure, Ondo State Capital. The community accounts for not less than 500,000 residents in Akure South Local Government area of the state. Today, in terms of facilities, the community, according to its residents, is the most neglected of all the settlements in Ondo State. The people complain of lack of good roads and lack of pipes let alone pipe borne water. They, residents, drink water from their private wells and control erosion with sandbags. Our correspondent MATHEW STALOREH reports that the only thing they benefited from government is a plank-hatched primary school…

The road is already badly damaged, washed away by gully erosion and partially impassable by vehicles and risky for motorcycles to travel through. But it leads to a parcel of land that was supposed to be used to build a three-bedroom flat but has now been donated to the government to be used for school structure.

The supposed school structure located in Iyange, Oke-Ogba Community Primary School in Akure, Ondo State capital, is thatched with planks on its legs, already falling off. It is a school without basic infrastructure that should be associated with a 21st Century primary school. It is out of tune with UNESCO standard for primary school.

The plank-patched school, which is the only public school serving the community with over 500, 000 inhabitants, has no standard teaching materials. The wooden chalkboard has already outlived its usefulness; pupils sit on bare ground without provision for adequate and suitable chairs and tables for them.

The environment looks unkempt and insecure for the pupils and teachers of the school.

 

Community’s Anger over Neglect

To the residents of the community, it is a story of disappointment, pity, regret and neglect, which speaks to lack of government presence in the area for many years.

This alleged total neglect infuriated the youths, elders and other residents of Oke-Ogba. They decided to take to the streets of Akure last week. They blocked every major and minor roads leading to the community within the state capital to condemn the failure of the state government to provide schools both primary and secondary, basic health centre, good road, water and electricity among other basic infrastructural facilities.

A visit to the community, especially the Community Primary School, Iyange, Akure, confirmed the claims of the residents.

The Headmistress of the school, Mrs.AseperiAdenike, said: “The condition of the school is very bad.

“One needs to see the pupils in the classrooms. They (the classrooms) are not furnished and the pupils have to sit on bare floor. The pupils and the teachers suffer from dust. What we do to lessen the effect of the dust is to go to a nearby stream to fetch water that we (the teachers) use to wet the ground everyday.

“Unlike some schools where there are state of the art facilities, there are not enough chairs and desks for them to study comfortably in their classes. Government officials from the Ministry of Education had visited the school three times this session but we have not heard from them ever since they came visiting”.

 

Adenike: Government Can’t Be Blamed

“Government says it wants to build a school for us but that there is no land. Government cannot be blamed but the community that should have made a land area available for government to build school. I am sure if the community makes land available, government will build school. The land where we are operating now was donated by the Chairman of the Landlords Association.”

 

Developments Here is Through Self-help, Says Ajewole

Speaking on the ordeal of the community, Pastor OlusolaAjewole (a landlord in the community) said: “I have been living in this community for the past 18 years. I can boldly say that if there is any development in the community, it is through community self-help project.

“We want our condition here in this community to be known to the state government. This community has over 500, 000 inhabitants but it is without the presence of local, state and federal governments since 1991.

“Our priority includes provision of motorable road network, good school structure for our children, water and transformers for electricity, which are lacking. We, the landlord, contribute a minimum of N1, 000 each every January to grade our roads”.

Describing the level of infrastructural decadence, the residents said there was hardly electricity supply for more than two hours daily and residents depend on overused generators as alternative sources of power at great cost to themselves, especially considering the high cost of fuelling and attendant danger of using the generators.

According to Ajewole, it’s only when officials of the PHCN (Benin Electricity Distribution Company) want to distribute bill or call for payment that they would restore light for two or three days intermittently.

“And after those days, we will not have supply of electricity until another month. Mind you, the light that they supply for those two days will be equal to candle light. The light cannot charge our handsets let alone power our television sets.

“No single borehole has been constructed by government in the community except for individual ones, yet tax collectors from local and state governments will come to disturb us on a regular basis. The most annoying thing is that during election time, government will know that we are in existence and after election we do no longer exist.”

 

Protesting Youth

Surveyor Afolabi Joshua, one of the protesting residents, who spoke on the dilapidated state of the roads in the community, noted that the state Commissioner for Works, Engr. GboyeAdegbenro, informed the people of the state on state television, on about four occasions, that the roads linking the community had been awarded for construction barely two years ago.

Wondering why work is yet to begin on the roads, he said: “Ilara-Okeodu road and Iyange-Okeogba roads had been approved and awarded for construction by the state government, according to Commissioner for Works.

“Two years after, not a single tractor moved to either of the road. It is as if the money has been diverted to another thing. We do not have school. The only public primary school in the community is as good as a hut typical of a village school. It was built with planks and pupils sit on the ground.

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