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INVESTIGATION: Schools Ogun govt claimed it renovated remain decrepit ~ Prestige News



The uncompleted three blocks of classrooms at Unity High School, Ago-Ika, Abeokuta



For about three weeks, our investigative reporter toured some of the 100 public primary and secondary schools claimed to have been rehabilitated by the Ogun State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) between 2019 and 2022 and found some of them still in rundown conditions.



After seeing the list of schools the Ogun State government said it renovated, reconstructed or upgraded between 2019 and 2021, this reporter on 17 June headed for one of the schools on the list, the Local Government Primary School in Ibeku, a rural community in Yewa North Local Government Area of the state, expecting to be welcomed by its new look.


What I met in the school instead were buildings with no roofs, doors and windows, and three blocks of classrooms in a suspended stage of renovation. Among pupils cramped in one of the dilapidated classrooms was 13-year-old Monday.



A teacher, who was not willing to give his name for fear of victimisation, said the contractor had abandoned work on the classrooms without providing any explanation to the school’s management.


Contractors defaced school


The contractor had arrived at the school in October 2020. He told officials at the school that he had been sent by the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to renovate three blocks of classrooms.


Uncompleted construction of story block of six classrooms at St Saviour Anglican Primary School, Ijoko, Ado-Odo Ota
The pupils and the entire school community were very excited by the development, believing the government had finally remembered their school.


The contractor’s workers promptly set about removing the roofing sheets, doors and windows of the blocks, according to the teacher.


“After a few days, the workers didn’t show up again, and since then, they never came back to complete the job,” the teacher said.


The head teacher of the school refused to be interviewed but the chairperson of the Parents’ Teachers’ Association (PTA) of the school, Oboshu Peter, identified the absconded contractor as one Idowu Adigboluja.


“The man just went to the school on October 1st, 2020, removed the three classrooms and the computer laboratory’s roofs, plus the windows and doors marked for renovation,” Mrs Peter told the reporter.



St Saviour Anglican Primary School, Ijoko Ado-Odo Ota


“When we heard about it, we dashed there and tried to stop him from removing the roofs in particular; but he just told us to relocate the pupils to another class; that he would be fast with the project. He did same with the computer laboratory. Since then, nothing has changed.”


Students clustered in classrooms


Due to the contractor’s failure to complete his work on the three blocks of classrooms, over 100 pupils have been having their lessons in two other leaky clay bricks classrooms.


I observed pupils sitting disorderly on wooden chairs and tables as a teacher entered the classroom with books piled on his right arm to commence teaching for the day. I later realised that the pupils were not all classmates but had to be lumped together due to shortage of classrooms.


Another teacher who asked not to be named said, “Our head teacher tried several means, including sending letters to the state ministry of education and holding meetings with officials in the Yewa North office of SUBEB, in order to ensure completion of the classrooms; but all her efforts till date, remain unsuccessful.”



Peter Oboshu, the PTA Chairman of Local Government Primary School, Ibeku


“She spoke with some government officials too, but they haven’t done anything about it. At another meeting we had with SUBEB officials here in the school, they said they would summon the contractor to know why he did not complete the project, but still nothing has come out of that,” the teacher lamented.


Rains disrupt classes


According to one of the teachers, rain always drenches pupils and teachers inside their classrooms.

“Our lessons are always interrupted during rains because we cannot concentrate when rain water drops on us from the roof,” a primary-five pupil told me.


Monday, the primary 6 pupil earlier mentioned, said attention in the classrooms is always diverted by endless readjustment of the sitting arrangements by the pupils during the hot weather.



classrooms at St Saviour Anglican Primary School, Ijoko Ado-Odo Ota


He appealed to the government to complete the renovation work in their school.


SUBEB, contractor trade blame


The Ogun State government allotted N88 billion in 2019, N91 billion in 2020, N56 billion in 2021 and N56 billion in 2022 to SUBEB for infrastruactural development of basic schools in the state.


When this reporter asked SUBEB officials why the renovation works in Ibeku was stalled, they referred the reporter to the contractor.


The SUBEB project officer, Taofeeq Mabini, said the contract was awarded to a private firm, Trader Center Nigeria Limited, in 2020. “But I don’t know the names of the owners of the organisation,” Mr Mabini said.


However, independent investigation by this reporter revealed that the project was awarded to a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.


“It was the politician who handed over the project to the so-called Engineer Idowu for execution,” a source at SUBEB who also asked not to be identified said.


When contacted, Mr Idowu admitted that the project was transferred to him but refused to name who did that.


“I just bought it from that person but he is presently not in the country. I also didn’t have time to monitor the project, so, I sublet it to another contractor, Engineer Sanni Azeez,” Mr Idowu said.


Explaining while the project is stalled, Mr Idowu said he exhausted the funds he got from the original contractor; and by the time Mr Azeez took over, there was not enough left to continue the project.


“I spent the entire funds I got on purchasing the building materials needed for the renovation. I even spent more than what was paid to me. At that point, the costs of building materials had risen (beyond what was quoted in the contract). The engineer from SUBEB was aware of everything. I spent over a million naira executing the project after buying it at N800,000 from the politician,” Mr Idowu said.


One of the leaked roof classrooms used by students of LG Primary School, Ibeku
Officials at SUBEB brushed off questions seeking details of the contract, including the total cost and how much has been released to the contractor.



On 2 June, I visited St. Saviour Anglican Primary School, Ijoko in Ado-Odo Ota. SUBEB had announced that it built a one-storey block of six classrooms in the school.


However, at the school, I found that the building, sited behind the head teacher’s office, had not been completed and no worker was on site. The building plan showed three classrooms on the ground floor and three at the top. But the building was still at the decking stage and does not look like it will be a storey building. There were no building materials at the site.


A staff of the school told me that the contractor had sent workers in May to begin work on the construction of a one-storey block of six classrooms with terrazzo flooring.


“The last time they worked on the building was around May and they didn’t inform anybody when they left. But I think that happened because the money they were given got exhausted as one of them told us. We learned they were paid in instalments.”


There was no information on this project in the public procurement document of the state. At the site, there was no signboard stating the project, its contractor’s name, description, client and supervisors.


The school authorities, including the PTA Chairman, refused to comment on the abandoned project.


One of the teachers said the pupils still use their dilapidated four blocks of classrooms despite the school being situated in a vulnerable environment.


I saw pupils crowded in the old classrooms with old roofs, cracked walls, faded painting and damaged doors and windows.


“Our classrooms are congested and that makes everything difficult for both the students and the teachers,” the teacher who also refused to be identified said.


Boluwatife Adisa, whose two children are pupils of the school, said she would have sent the children to a private school where the conditions are better if she had the money.


“I have no means to send them to a private school,” she said.


Most of the teachers refused to speak with the reporter. The reaction of the head teacher, identified as Mrs Rabiu and who also refused to comment, indicated that the teachers were afraid to speak. “I don’t want trouble, please, go to SUBEB for whatever you need,” she said.


Construction of three blocks of classrooms abandoned
SUBEB also claimed to have renovated three blocks of classrooms at Unity High School, Ago-Ika, Abeokuta. But I found that the project had also long been abandoned by the contractors.


SUBEB said it awarded the contract in 2021. However, the agency refused to provide the name of the contractor and other details of the contract. A source at SUBEB also told PREMIUM TIMES that the details were not available in their records.


Officials at the school said some SUBEB officials brought a contractor to the school who returned a few days later to remove the building’s roof, doors and windows. Then, last year, they started working on the block of classrooms. “Till now, the small school project is yet to be completed,” a teacher said.


One of the classrooms used by students of St Saviour Anglican Primary School Ijoko Ado-Odo Ota


The school building has been turned into a games spot where students enjoy their leisure. Aside from the worn-out planks that join the roofing, nothing new was seen on the building. The doors and windows remained unfixed and the flooring of the classrooms still undone. Like other schools, students were cramped into the few available classrooms.


Changed roof decay


When I visited Premier Primary School, Ogun radio, Abeokuta, on 23 June, I found three blocks of classrooms SUBEB said had been renovated in a rundown condition.


I noticed students in some well-furnished classrooms in an uncompleted structure surrounded by a bush. The building’s roofing was opened at the lintel stage, it had no doors or windows, and the walls and floors were not concretely cemented. The bricks had grown weak from exposure to rain and sun. At a touch, one of the bricks fell apart.


The school authorities and teachers refused to respond when asked for their comments. The contract details earlier obtained by the reporter did not reveal much on the jobs done. Some residents of the community said the building had been under construction since 2019 but some others said it had been for far longer.


No comment from SUBEB


After my field trips, I approached the Ogun SUBEB chairman, Femi Majekodunmi, via a phone call. Mr Majekodunmi requested a letter of introduction but when he was asked for the email address to pass the letter, he said any correspondence should be via his WhatsApp account.


In response, a letter dated 20 July was sent to him by the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Abuja. But Mr Majekodunmi refused to acknowledge it or give any response. When I called him again, he said he could not respond to questions over the phone and asked the reporter to come to his office for a regular interview on 3 August


But on the appointed day, Mr Majekodunmi’s secretary said he was out on an official duty. Later, the official said he could not speak on anything that occured before he assumed office in 2021.


Also, SUBEB’s spokesperson, Seriki Abiola, insisted only the chairman can speak on the issues, effectively blocking every means of obtaining official comments from the agency on my findings.


Why projects are delayed – Commissioner


However, the state commissioner for education, Abayomi Arigbabu, said rising costs of building materials caused the delay in completing the school projects. He said his ministry and SUBEB were working to reaward the abandoned contracts for completion.


“Corruption might not necessarily be affecting the projects but rising costs of materials. But, I think SUBEB had already done something about that. Some of those contracts have actually been reviewed and reawarded. I am sure serious works have started in some places.



“And it is not that the contractors are not being paid, the complaints some of them made was that prices got inflated. At the time they did their quotations, a bag of cement sold for N2,600. Later on, cement prices went up and it became a problem to some of them to cope. I think all those complaints have been addressed because some of those contracts have actually being revoked, while some have been reawarded,” Mr Arigbabu, a professor, said.


But one of Mr Arigbabu’s predecessors, Modupe Mojuta, currently the member of the Ogun State House of Assembly representing Abeokuta North Constituency, blamed the status of the projects on the current administration. She said the administration of former Governor Ibikunle Amosun, also of the APC, started the projects and they should not have been abandoned by the succeeding administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun.



She said while she could not recall the exact amount budgeted for the projects; their administration gave SUBEB independence in its operations as a stand-alone unit that is not under the education ministry.


Abandoned school buildings were Amosun’s projects
Mr Arigbabu acknowledged that the uncompleted school buildings were projects facilitated by the administration of Mr Amosun from their 2014 to 2018 initiatives.


“This administration actually cleared the backlogs from 2014 though we just assumed office in 2019 prior to all outstanding SUBEB projects. It’s common knowledge that new state government will pay counterpart funding for those things. That’s why this administration cleared from 2014 to 2018 and we are now even working on 2019 to 2020. We will start very soon.


“And we don’t say we have completed buildings without having pictures to show that particular projects have been finished. For instance, if you go to Abeokuta Grammar School and see a building under construction, that does not mean that the exact building referred to has not been completed. You have to verify the actual one you go there to see. There are usually various projects because annually, there are always intervention initiative,” he said.


The only toilet serving both the teachers and students of Local Government Primary School, Ibeku
The only toilet serving both the teachers and students of Local Government Primary School, Ibeku


Asked about amounts spent on renovation and construction of school projects so far, the commissioner directed this reporter to the SUBEB chairman. When the reporter told him that he had earlier contacted the SUBEB chairman, the commissioner said, “Maybe you didn’t call him at a time when he will be able to talk to you.”


He continuedd: “SUBEB is usually at the forefront of ensuring that those projects are done. The ministry of education only oversees everything SUBEB, as well as what TESCOM is doing. But when it comes to project of primary and secondary schools, SUBEB is fully in the forefront. This ministry is not involved in the process SUBEB adopts in awarding the buildings to contractors.


“UBEC and SUBEB law empower them as agencies to handle the award of their contracts. Only SUBEB is under the ministry of education, but how activities are carried out in the agency, the ministry is not involved in that. However, anything that is against the law will definitely be sanctioned. And not just about education sector but wherever there is misappropriation or embezzlement of funds, such will not be condoned,” the commissioner noted.


Not all school projects are done by government
The Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in the state, Abiodun Akinola, said not all the buildings cited were abandoned by the government.


He said although he had not visited the schools in recent times, some of the abandoned buildings were either facilitated by the PTA of respective schools or old students’ association.


Planks that ought to have been used for the renovation of LG Primary School, Ibeku getting rotten because it was kept on the floor
Planks that ought to have been used for the renovation of LG Primary School, Ibeku getting rotten because it was kept on the floor
Mr Akinola said “You cannot call some uncompleted buildings, and it’s not all the projects that are being handled by government. In some schools, various ongoing projects are owned either by the PTA or their old students. It might be safe to say government have some uncompleted projects; but you have to identify which ones are for the government, the PTA or old students.”


Contrary to Mr Akinola’s claims, however, the schools visited for this report were those the state government claimed to have executed.


School gets facelift


Construction works have resumed at the Local Government Primary School, Ibeku, after the reporter’s initial engagements with both SUBEB chairman and state commissioner for education.


A parent told this reporter that the contractor suddenly turned up with some workers a few weeks ago and roofed the abandoned building.


This report is funded with the support of MacArthur Foundation and the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)






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