Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Gov Aliyu Weeps Over Dilapidated Infrastructure in Public Schools in the State

He must have acted on a tip-off- and he acted swifty on the information provided. The information led to an unscheduled visit of Niger state governor Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu to some state owned primary Schools few months ago.

The story was almost the same in most of the public schools he visited in Chanchaga Local Government area which is within Minna, the state capital-dilapidated nature of the building and with some pupils receiving classes on bare floor.

As if he has not seen the worst, the governor and his entourage comprising most of his cabinet members were stunned at another public school in Minna the state capital where the entire building was dilapidated which could easily be described as an eye sore especially since it is within Minna, the state capital.

Governor Aliyu could not hold his emotion as he shed tears over what he saw. Part of the numerous questions he asked were as follows- where are the funds allocated to these schools going to; what explanation could be given for these rot; if these type of buildings are at my door step (Minna), then what happens to schools in the rural areas? Something must be done to arrest the situation, the governor remarked.

Few days later, the governor inaugurated an independent committee to travel to the three senatorial districts of the public schools in the state and report back directly to him for immediate action.

Unfortunately, the tour was truncated by "powers that be" for "lack of funds" to complete the project knowing fully well the implication if completed. All the same, a comprehensive report both in print, and video was passed on to the chief servant but with the suspicion that the report was blocked in transit since there was no response or comments made by the principal on the "excellent work" carried out by the body.

Till today, the story is almost the same in most of the public schools especially in the rural areas with dilapidated buildings; with roofs, almost falling down; with no windows, no fence to protect the buildings, no water for the pupils within the school compound to drink thereby exposing them to danger when crossing the busy roads in search of water and worst is that most of the classrooms visited are without benches and desks to sit and write on by the pupils.

Even within Minna the state capital, the bare floor on which the pupils are receiving lessons have already cracked and very dusty thereby forcing both the pupils and their teachers to wet the floor before the commencement of classes and at intervals daily to avoid dust during classes.

The lack of fencing of the schools has led to some of the classroom turned into public toilet by outsiders who capitalize on the porous nature of these schools to defecate in the classes with pupils forced to clear the mess every morning.

Most teachers are not even provided with the common chairs and tables for them to sit and write while classes go on.

Also conspicuously unavailable are simply teaching aids for the pupils which are lagging in most of the public schools thereby making it absolutely difficult to impact the simple knowledge to the pupils.

Because of lack of these basic infrastructure and teaching aids, most of these public schools especially in the rural areas are virtually empty with both the pupils and teachers always absent from school. What has happened in Niger is exactly what is happening in many states across the country where contracts worth billions of naira are awarded without supervision by the appropriate authorities and only for the Chief Executives to be deceived by their officers that ALL IS WELL.

With the zeal and concern shown by the Chief Servant on what he saw in some of these public schools in Minna the state capital some few months ago which led to his shedding of tears, and with the official eport turned in by the committee he inaugurated to embark on tour of other public schools in the state, one would have expected a rapid and immediate transformation of these schools for the reverse is the case.

However, the state commissioner of Education, Alhaji Danladi Abdulhammed who just took over the ministry admitted that there are dilapidated classrooms all over the state but assured that the state government has taken a bold step to reposition them.

"Definitely, we must tell ourselves the truth. The issue of education as I use to say is that we are in a period of reconstruction, realignment, rejuvenation and making the sector born again because the sector has suffered neglect for too long and we all believe that this is the basis of development and therefore, we are busy building new classrooms in the rural areas and highrise buildings in the urban centres," Abdulhameed explained.

The commissioner assured that government is also going to concentrate on perimeter fencing for security purposes and to guide against the school lands from being encroached upon.

According to him, "we know there are challenges but they are summountable but all we need is the co-operation of the general public, parents and the stake holders in the sector."

Alhaji Abdulhameed could not however state how much would be needed to put these dilapidated buildings in order but said, the affected schools have been captured in next year's (2014) budget saying,

"Education is one of the sectors that government is going to pay attention on in 2014 budget. All the old buildings that are collapsing have been captured in our budget and by next year, most of these collapsing buildings will be seen erect and functioning," the commissioner assured.

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