Before you see a Governor lose his temper or promise that there’ll be trouble over a project, you know that as Nigerians say, water don pas garri.
This was the case with the Edo State Governor Mr Godwin Obaseki on Monday, October 24, 2022, when he promised that his administration will make trouble with the Federal Government over the abandonment of the proposed Model Smart Basic School in Abudu, Edo State.
Before he made the statement, Mr Governor had completed a tour of the new modular refinery established by Duport Midstream and partners in Orhionmwon where he witnessed the test run of the facility which will refine crude to get kerosene, diesel, gas and even electricity to be sold across Nigeria.
After seeing how investment attracted into the state can significantly improve the lives of his people, Obaseki was interested in knowing how the institution that the Korean Government had graciously funded through the Universal Basic Education Commission was faring, especially as it was supposed to have been completed in July this year. So you can imagine being brought back to reality by the eyesore he was looking at when he got to Abudu.
Of course, because it is election season, many people assumed that Obaseki was saying the words to score political points for his party, but nothing could be further from the truth and here are some of the reasons why.
First, that Monday, Obaseki was already preparing for the visit of the World Bank team who were in town to appraise the EdoBEST program which earned the State the status of being the only sub-national (State Government) included in the World Bank’s accelerator program for improving foundational learning across the world.
This visit was important because Edo State, having met the milestones for qualification for the next phase, is poised to receive more technical and financial support from the World Bank to improve learning outcomes across the 18 Local Government Areas in the state, and sustainability was going to be a key topic for discussion.
For Edo State to sustain the gains made in the Basic Education Sector, the state needs to find lasting ways to keep and improve the standard of education long after the current government leaves office and the World Bank’s assistance runs out.
In fact, when Obaseki met with the World Bank team he told them that his administration is looking at ways to keep the retraining of teachers in place in the long term. This bit, as recent results have shown, is vital to the performance of learners and critical to the quality of life they will have after school.
Already, statistics have shown that there is a 15% dropout rate for students in Edo State between Primary 6 and JSS3. With the government looking to close that gap and broaden education opportunities as it’s doing with vocational education through technical colleges, a school like the Model School in Abudu cannot become another abandoned project. At least Obaseki’s words showed that.
The school in question is supposed to provide holistic solutions to educational problems within the South-South region. Fundamentally, the school is supposed to train learners through the use and full adoption of technology in the learning process, and at the same time, equip students to learn faster and better by using technology.
Hence, the Governor’s righteous anger was met with applause from plaudits who are convinced that should the Smart School in Abudu be completed and allowed to run as planned, life can truly be better for the region and the country as a whole.
The project is just one of several FG projects planned in the region which have suffered neglect and inflicted immense losses to Nigeria. Another of such projects are the Benin-Auchi and the Benin-Sapele roads.
Politics aside, it is unfair for the government at the centre to continue to look at the region which produces most of its resources as an afterthought. By deciding to concentrate on projects that retain weak economic value to the country and neglecting roads, educational institutions, healthcare institutions and environmental issues which the people are in dire need of, the FG has shown that residents in certain portions of the country are second class and this cannot be allowed to continue.
Henry Oqua writes from Benin.