This Day (Lagos)

17 February 2013

Nigeria: Safety Rules - Lagos Reads Riot Act to Private Schools

Lagos State government has warned proprietors of private primary and secondary schools operating in the state against the increasing cases of accident and hazard, which have either claimed their students' lives and cost them irreparable damage.

The state government also lamented the growing rate of death among pupils and students in the state private primary and secondary schools, resulting from the compromise of safety measures.

This came as the state said it would not experience flood disasters in 2013 due to what it ascribed to different drainage infrastructure the state had been building across all the local councils as a strategy to avert and contain such disasters.

Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, gave the assurance during an inspection of critical drainage projects, which he said the state government had been constructing in almost all local government areas to protect the residents from untold sufferings. Director-General of the Lagos Safety Commission (LSC), Mrs. Dominga Odebunmi, expressed the safety concern at a safety management in schools conference held at the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) pavilion, Ikeja recently.

Odebunmi warned the proprietors and proprietresses to desist from either contravening the state safety measures, noting that any established case of compromise and contravention would face the wrath of law.

According to her, private schools must seriously consider risks associated with school management. "There is need to ensure safety in schools. All proprietors and proprietresses have responsibilities to ensure safety in schools. Safety of pupils and students is our core and first responsibility," she maintained.

Odebunmi cited the unfortunate incidents of a two-year-old Uchechukwu Nwazuo; seven-year-old Favour Eze and Philip Ademusayo, not leaving out little Jonathan of Cornerstone Bright School, who were all killed in an auto crash on their way to school in May 2001.

She also recalled the untimely death of Sunday Alimi, a teacher of Reco School, Egan who "drowned at the Atlantic Ocean during an excursion in 2010, not forgetting Lawal Buhari, Simisola Akinhanmi and many more others."

She explained that the incidents were attributed "to the nonchalant attitude of taking safety rules and measures with levity," saying "the result of which has left us with tales of woe." He noted that the incidence was no longer acceptable.

She therefore explained why it has become imperative for the state government "to take the bull by the horn, as a result expediting action towards zero tolerance on mediocrity to safety standards in the schools' management system," stressing that this was the reason the state government was organising the safety conference for private schools.

She said any private school that compromises safety measures would face stiff sanctions, which according to her, range from a fine of N100, 000 to N250, 000, though she said a special offence court could determine a higher sanction depending on the extent to which the erring private schools compromised the state safety rules.

The director-general added that the conference tagged Ensuring Safety Culture and Compliance "is a deliberate attempt geared towards further sensitising the stakeholders in the education sector, with a bias for private schools on the need to inculcate safety rules and make safety a lifestyle for pupils and students".

According to Odebunmi, the programme will take place at three different venues i.e. University of Lagos Multipurpose Hall in Lagos East Senatorial District, Lagos City Hall in Lagos Central Senatorial District and Grail Land Iju Hills at Lagos West Senatorial District between November 27 and 29.

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