Residents of the Arepo community in Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, have demanded that the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, revitalize the education system which seemed to be rotten in the community.
Governor Abiodun, who won his second bid into office, had during his campaign for re-election pledged to improve the lots of students and the education sector in the state, a move that made stakeholders in the education sector to endorse his re-election ambition.
Meanwhile, Arepo residents who seem to have been forgotten in the schemes of developmental projects of the Dapo Abiodun Administration, apart from a road rehabilitation project, are demanding more from the governor and urging him to fulfil his campaign promise to revitalize education in their community.
Education in Shambles
The Child Rights Act Section 15(1) which states that “Every child has the right to free, compulsory and universal basic education and it shall be the duty of the government in Nigeria to provide such education,” mandates government at all levels to provide FREE and QUALITY education for all children.
The case, however, seemed to be different as children in Arepo community could not boast of accessing free and quality education.
Currently, the education sector in Arepo is in shambles as Obafemi Owolode Local Government (OOLG) Primary School, the only public primary school in the community, is in bad shape and unconducive to facilitate quality learning for pupils enrolled in the school.
Also, there is no public secondary school in the community, leaving primary school graduates to either subject themselves to sourcing secondary education in neighbouring communities or dropping out of schools, especially if they are unable to afford private schooling.
In an interview with BONews Service, the Women Leader of Arepo Community Development Committee (CDC), Ibinabo Dixon, said the dilapidated state of the primary school needs the urgent attention of the government to enable children to learn in a good learning environment.
Dixon appealed to the Governor and Hon. Soneye Damilola Kayode, Member of the Ogun State House of Assembly representing Obafemi Owode Constituency, to come to their aid and ensure the community feels the great impact of good governance.
“We had a town hall meeting with Hon. Soneye in the primary school and he saw the poor status of the school. We have requested that he assist us, for the sake of our children to develop the school, and we hope that our requests are granted,” she added.
Dixon also noted that it was recently that a group of concerned residents of Arepo donated benches and desks to the classrooms so that the pupils can sit comfortably in classes.
Similarly, Alhaja Adijatu Lamid, a parent and resident of the community, expressed displeasure with the current status of the only primary school in the community.
Alhaja Lamid, who said she is interested in enrolling her wards in school, noted that it almost seems it is better for the children to be without education.
“There was a time when we were encouraged to enrol our children in school, I did, but the children do not know anything.
“They go to school and return dirty, which means they were playing throughout. I also do not blame them because the school environment is not conducive enough to help them learn very well,” she explained.
She also mentioned that secondary school children go as far as Ibafo before they can access education, which according to her is expensive and dangerous for the children.
The elderly woman appealed to the government, to take pity on the poor, who cannot afford the luxury of private education for their children, and do the needful.
No Public Healthcare
In the same vein, the community residents are demanding that the State Government provides Healthcare facilities for the community as there is not a single primary healthcare centre in the community.
The King of Arepo, Oba Solomon Atanda Oyebi, in an interview with BONews Service explained that there have been attempts to build a hospital for the community during the previous administration, which did not materialize.
He appealed to the Governor to fulfil his campaign promises and provide health facilities in the community.
“The health centre is a major need for us in this community. Our women go to private hospitals in the community, and oftentimes not all of them can afford it,” he added.
Corroborating him, the Community Development Committee Chairman, Mr. Kazeem Ganiyu, said oftentimes, community women and indigents go as far as Magboro before they could access healthcare services.
“We want the government to pay attention to our needs and make health centres available to us. This is our right, we should not be appealing for what should be rightfully ours,” he added.
Dixon also mentioned that “Gov Dapo Abiodun during the commissioning of the Arepo road in 2022 had promised to provide a state-of-the-art health centre, and we expect that he will keep his promise.”
Community Stakeholders weigh-in
Toun Okewale-Sonaiya, the CEO of Women Radio, a radio station dedicated to promoting women and their families, which is located in Arepo, has tasked the government on the need to ensure that residents of the community enjoy the dividends of democracy, and especially the refurbishment of the Obafemi Owode LG Primary School.
In a letter written to the Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Okewale-Sonaiya explained that the only primary school in Arepo is currently in bad shape and demanded that the government should create “a healthy learning environment for the pupils of Obafemi Owode LG Primary School, Arepo.”
The Women Radio CEO mentioned that during her visit to the primary school, based on the concerns from a group of women in Arepo community, it was observed that there are “damaged roofs, broken ceilings, broken tables and chairs, lack of water supply, damaged fans and no fence, making the school porous to insecurity.”
She demanded that the Ogun State government intervenes immediately, as failure to do so would be denying children of the poor and vulnerable to quality education.
“Not all parents can afford to send their children to private schools. There are poor women, market women, and support staff in Arepo who cannot afford to send their children to private schools.
“The financial status of these women will not deter their children from accessing quality education, and it is the responsibility of the government to make this available,” Okewale-Sonaiya added.
The Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu, in an interview with BONews Service, explained that the State Government is working on improving the status of education in the state.
Arigbabu, who explained that the State Government had recently called for billing to rehabilitate and furnish about 100 schools across the state, added that “everyday, we work towards getting a good learning environment for students in Ogun state. It is a journey and we have to take it step by step.”
The Commissioner explained further that “there are 1565 primary schools and 511 secondary schools across Ogun state and we’re working on them systematically to ensure we get the right results.
“The contractors that have been engaged to work in the schools this year will commence the renovation and deployment of furniture very soon,” he added.
Arigbabu, who said it might seem like the Ogun State Government is not doing the needful, appealed to residents of the state to stay calm, report any anomaly to the government and be rest assured that appropriate things would be done.
Arigbabu who engaged Mrs Yemisi Ayebuduwa, the headteacher of OOLG Primary School, Arepo, in a conversation simultaneously during the interview with BONews, assured that prompt attention would be paid to the needs of the School, and thereafter instructed the Headteacher of the School to write a letter of request to his office.
This story has been produced with the support of the Women Radio Centre through the MacArthur Foundation.