THE Ogun State government has described model schools begun by the former governor Ibikunle Amosun, yet to be completed over 10 years later, as a wasteful venture conceived to deceive the public.
Kunle Somorin, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the state governor Dapo Abiodun, made the claim in a statement released on Monday, January 1.
The statement was released response to a report by The ICIR on the abandoned projects.
Noting that the schools were abandoned by Amosun’s administration, not the present government, Somorin said the buildings were structurally flawed.
“The flag-off for the construction began with the foundation laying ceremony of Ogun State Model Secondary School, Ilaro. This was done by former Governor Amosun during an occasion to mark his first anniversary as governor. Unfortunately, that same school that was the starting point like other projects has remained ground-breaking but uncommissioned.
“The Olu of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle said so, and that so-called pioneer model school has also been declared ‘structurally defective’ by a Committee headed by a former President Nigerian Society of Engineers, Adekunle Mokunolu, that reviewed projects done between 2009 and 2019 in Ogun State,” he noted.
Stating that the buildings were intended to be white elephant projects from the start, the CPS said the funds used for the construction should have been channelled towards renovating other dilapidated schools in the state.
The ICIR reported that the model schools in Ogun State, a N27 billion project, have remained incomplete and become dilapidated, over ten years after they were commenced.
The structures, said to have cost more than N1 billion naira each, have become hiding places for criminals, while existing schools lack basic amenities.
The ICIR reached out to the state’s Commissioner of Education Abayomi Arigbagbu who said the buildings were not completed by the previous government, and had outstanding debts which the present administration could not clear.
Somorin reiterated this in his statement on Monday, adding that some local governments did not benefit from the project.
“Up till today, only the Akin Ogunpola College remains the only one of the proposed model schools used for academic activities. After the summer camp, the school admitted pupils for the 2017 and 2018 academic sessions.
“But in 2019, due to dwindling enrolment and the fact that it was a fee-paying secondary school that charged higher than even most private schools in the State, the government had to shut down the school that negates our free education policy.
“To say the least, the model schools project was conceived with the intention for cheap political populism. It was conceived in deceit and hatched with the intention to swindle the public.,” he said.
Although most of the schools are already dilapidated and overgrown by weed, Somorin said the buildings would not be left to waste. He noted that they will be used for other purposes.