The building of the Community Secondary School, Itire, Mushin, is a school building project which commenced in April 2013 and contracted to EFBEE Contractors Limited.
The project which was billed to end in March 2014 was being implemented by the Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project (LMDGP), a World Bank project which closed on September 30, 2013.
However, 6 years after the proposed completion of the project, the uncompleted school building has been converted to public shelter for unknown persons, a commercial block making industry, food sellers’ kitchen and a public toilet.
The students who are supposed to be occupants of the school structure are currently occupying spaces in a nearby primary school, “Expressway Primary School”.
LACNAC’s Visit to the Abandoned School
Members of the Lagos State Citizens Network Against Corruption, LACNAC, a team under the ‘Say No Corruption’ project of the Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa, PAACA, identified the abandoned school project with the aim of embarking on advocacies and ensuring the completion of the school project, to ensure access to education for all.
The network, through its coordinator, Abiodun Bakare, decried the state of the school project, saying that a facility that was meant to provide education for young persons has turned to a home for miscreants and hoodlums.
Bakare said, “we’re here only to find out that this building has been converted to serve different purposes outside what it ought to be.”
Talking about the next line of action, Bakare said, “we won’t just complain, but our team will bring this to the attention of the Governor so that it can be included in the budget and ensure its completion.”
Impact on Education
While talking about the impact of the abandoned school project on Education, Comrade Ezenwa Nwagwu, Executive Director of the Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa, PAACA, explained that, “the Government has responsibility to its citizens to improve their welfare, education, health and infrastructure but when infrastructural projects like provision of school buildings are abandoned, it undoubtedly limits access to qualify education.
“It is expected that a forward looking government as Lagos prides itself should not let that happen”
Comrade Ezenwa noted that, “our expectation is that the government will prioritize the issue of abandoned projects , especially schools.”
Michael Ogunsola, the Lagos State Coordinator of the ‘Say No Campaign’ is worried about the abandoned school project, saying that the situation is presently biting hard on the innocent students and tutors who have been forced to manage few classrooms in the junior school, which is in another location.
Ogunsola said, “students who ought to be studying there are now forced to be in the overcrowded facility while others are already been out-of-school. Which means this is indirectly contributing to the increasing rate of out-of-school children in our communities.”
On his part, Abiodun Bakare, the Lagos State Coordinator of LACNAC said, “this abandoned project has reduced the quality of education in terms of teaching offered by the teachers to the students due to non-conducive environments as they currently occupy another space.”
Bakare who noted that the interest and energy required by by both teachers and students would drop also mentioned that “there will be reduction in the number of students assigned to the schools and teachers would also seek redeployment thereby reducing competency and the expected outcome.
Sharing practical experience, Bakare affirmed that, “the school is short of staff in the areas of subjects’ teachers.”
Role of Citizens
Comrade Ezenwa believes that if citizens had paid adequate attention to the abandoned school project since 2013, it would have been in an improved state.
He noted that, “Citizen groups, organisations and stakeholders in states ought to pay more than passing interest in budget issues, budget performance at both federal and sub national levels as it affects them.”
Ogunsola mentioned that, the LACNAC team has resolved to write all concerned interest groups which including the Lagos State Ministry of Education, Speaker of the Lagos State house of Assembly Speaker, Chairman House Committee on Education, Tutor General of Secondary schools in Oshodi amongst others.
The action he said would help to draw the attention of the relevant stakeholders, to be able to do the needful. “As citizens, we cannot just complain, but we should take actions to ensure that the development we want is achieved,” Ogunsola added.
Expectations from the Government
LACNAC Coordinator, Abiodun Bakare explained that the project has been abandoned for over 7 years because there is no proper monitoring of government project.
He recommended that, “the state government should adopt field visitation to observe and solicit from residents about priority project to be included in the budget and avoid desk approach.
“The state should request from community leaders and stakeholders in the development sector and follow up with project to see to its conclusion.”
Regarding the members of the State House of Assembly, Bakare noted that, “the lawmakers should be tasked to perform their oversight function by monitoring project and report back on the challenges.”
Most importantly, he believes that, “the government should partner with citizens’ groups like LACNAC, to track ongoing and abandoned project.”