How Niger State Lawmakers Are Under-developing Education Despite Multimillion-naira Intervention Projects (Part III)
In this final part of this tracking project, Oyetunde Tobi visited Edati Local Government Area to check the status of a 2017 project that was to be carried out by Honourable Ahmed Abu of Lavun, Edati, Mokwa Federal Constituency in Niger State
A visit was done to ascertain the status of a 2017 project nominated by Honourable Ahmed Abu, who represented Lavun, Edati, Mokwa Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives of the 8th National Assembly.
The 2017 project titled “Renovation of schools – Dikko Primary School, Bologi Primary School, Etsu Tasha Primary School, Kagba Primary School At Edati L.G.A In Lavun, Edati, Mokwa Federal Constituency, Niger State” has a budgetary allocation of N8m.
Upon tracking the four schools renovated by the lawmaker, it was discovered that only Dikko Primary School was renovated.
Other schools listed for renovation by the lawmaker are left untouched in dilapidated conditions, forcing students to learn in unkempt and poor environments.
With no touch of modern education, some of the students in Bologi, Etsu Tasha and Kagba primary schools are condemned to sit on the floor to learn in classrooms that are often flooded during the rainy season due to leaky roofs.
It was gathered that the poor state of these schools had contributed to children dropping out and taking to farming.
The only building standing in Bologi Primary School is the general staff room, which was renovated by Joshua Effiong, a corps member of the 2016/2017 batch.
At Kagba Primary School, one of the buildings left and fit for learning was renovated by the Bida Emirate Education Forum in 2003.
Kagba is a school of two blocks of two classrooms, which is supposed to accommodate over 250 pupils in the community.
The poor state of these schools further contributes to the dwindling quality of primary education in Niger State.
Lamenting the poor condition of the school, Mustapha Jubril, District Head of Bologi, said the community had been left out of the development process in the state.
He said political representatives at the local, state and federal level have abandoned the schools with efforts taken to ensure government intervention have all been ignored.
“Since the inception of the school in 1982, I haven’t seen any government touch. There has not been any renovation or new building constructed by the government.
“The buildings standing here now are mostly done by the parents’ forum or private individuals.
“In 2017, a corps member renovated a block as his project when he was leaving and that has been the only project done in this school for over five years,” he lamented.
When informed of the budgetary allocation to renovate Bologi Primary School, he said, “Nothing has been seen or heard from any past representative or present representative concerning the renovation of the school.
“We all try hard to ensure our children go to school and we are the ones that constructed the building they learn in.
“Government should please come to our aid to construct blocks of classrooms for our children so they can learn and have access to education like others,” he added.
Headmaster of Kagba Primary School also berated the state of the school, saying it had “crippled” the quality of education in the school.
He said, “This school has been in this bad shape for years and nothing has been done.
“This has affected us and crippled the educational system within the community as pupils tend to go for farming instead of learning due to the poor learning condition.”
Abubakir Shehu, a former pupil of Etsu Tasha Primary School, said the school shared the same fate with other schools listed for renovation by Honourable Abu.
He recalled that as a pupil, community leaders made attempts to renovate some classrooms but were unable to do so due to financial constraint.
“The village and community head have been trying to build a block of classrooms but because our primary job is farming, we can’t afford enough money to build classrooms.
“We want the Niger State Government to pay attention to our school and education here,” Shehu said.
Upper Niger River Basin Development Authority Handled This Project – Honourable Abu
Commenting on the findings of the project, Honourable Abu said the zonal intervention projects nominated by him in 2017 were handled by the Upper Niger River Basin Development Authority, Niger State.
He noted that the MDA assign the project to a contractor and also oversee the release of funds for projects nominated by him.
He also claimed that he does not interfere with zonal intervention projects as he leaves them accessible and open for monitoring by his constituents.
He said: “Upper Niger River Basin handle my project and I did that for a purpose, so that anybody in my state or federal constituency can go and monitor this job whether funds are released, who the contractors are and everything.
“Anybody can go to Upper Niger River Basin to ask about the projects. The MDA handles my project and will be able to answer questions about projects I proposed at the National Assembly.
“Upper Niger should come out to say whether funds were released for the projects and they should name the contractor that handled it.
Residents of Niger State have urged the government and lawmakers representing them at the National Assembly to see to the improvement of quality education in the state.
Some of the residents expressed confidence that the state would witness development if there was improvement in the quality of education in the state.
The residents also condemned lawmakers, who had failed in carrying out projects they received funds for while also berating government’s inaction to improve education in the state as many government-owned schools were in bad conditions.
They urged the government to swiftly move to improve the standard of education in the state through refurbishing and providing more educational materials for pupils.
“Our President and governor should help us. Education is the way to guarantee the future of our children and many of them are at the farm right now because the schools are in bad conditions.
“Schools are bad, teachers don’t go to school, all of these are not helping our children.
“We are appealing to the government, they should go after these people and force them to return the money or do the projects,” Alhaji Bama Mohammed said.
Another resident, Ibrahim Sani, also called for government’s intervention, saying, “Our government has to pay more attention to what the people need.
“We need the government to build blocks of classrooms for us in the villages and local communities. This will keep our children from the danger of going miles before getting to school.
“The government should also pay teachers and bring more teachers to the schools we have here.”
This report was done with the support of the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resources Centre)