ADDRESS DELIVERED BY JOURNALISTS FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS, (JODER) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ADEWALE ADEOYE AT THE OFFICIAL COMMISSIONING OF THE FARM SETTLEMENT PRIMARY SCHOOL, ODOGUNYAN, IKORODU.
The Governor of Lagos State,
The Representative of the Ford Foundation,
Officials of the Lagos State Govt.
Members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm,
May I start by restating that education is the hallmark of human development. There is no investment greater than human capital development. Education is the milestone of human development. It is an investment that prepares the society, the people and the communities for the loftiest renaissance.
Education is better than providing food or housing. With education, you will be providing the light of life for the individual and the society at large. Little wonder that the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo took education as one of the most precious pillars of his philosophy.
This must have explained the decision of the Ford Foundation to support the provision of these six classrooms, six toilets and fence for this historic school which was first built in 1978.
The story of this school is legendary. It has been producing children that have become adults and professionals in their chosen fields for the past 38 years. For one thing, we must remain ever grateful to the government of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria, (UPN) which first built this school as a community school for the downtrodden. In a strategic way, the then authorities at least were able to secure the space, giving room for the reconstruction that we have seen here today.
This school has a population of not less than 1000 pupils. Many of the pupils here are from the poorest of the poor families that could hardly live above poverty line. But the parents are commended for choosing the right part for their children and wards by asking them to enroll in this great centre of learning, inspite of the pitfalls associated with the school.
With a population of over 18 million people, Lagos has the biggest challenge of meeting the needs of a desperate population. Lagos for the past few years has become the new centre of attraction for many people across the country. The crisis in the Magreb region, in some parts of Central Africa and in Northern Nigeria and the middle belt zone continue to lead to displacement of several communities. Many of these people find Lagos as the most attractive port of call.
This has already overburdened Lagos. It will pile up more pressure, socially, on the city of Lagos. Education will be one of the most affected as parents displaced, struggle to at least keep their children in public schools in Lagos.
Before the Farm Settlement Primary school was reconstructed, over 200 pupils had to learn in a small classroom barely enough to accommodate 50 pupils. For many of the classrooms, there were no chairs and tables. The school premises were left at the mercy of grievous invaders and street urchins who had turned this school into a hideout and some sort of a red light district where various nefarious activities were recorded. At a point in time, armed gangs turned the school, in the late night hours into a hub.
We are glad that this sordid tradition at the Farm Settlement Primary School has changed. We are glad that this will not happen again. We are glad that hope has replaced despair.
I am glad to welcome you to this official commissioning of the block of six classrooms, fence and toilets at the Farm Settlement Primary School, Odogunyan, Ikorodu. This is a revolutionary intervention in the lives of the pupils here and in the lives of the community that hosts this school. All appreciation should go to the Ford Foundation. I must single out the Representative for West Africa, Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, who took special interest in this project during which tenure the classrooms and toilets were conceived and built.
We also appreciate the efforts of Mrs. Yemisi Akin Adeniyi of the Ford Foundation who has to come here almost every Saturday to ensure that standards are met. We appreciate every worker in the Ford Foundation for their commitment in spirit and in flesh for the success of this great venture. We appreciate the efforts of every worker that took part in this lofty project. I cannot conclude without thanking the Parents Teachers Association, the Head Teacher and of course we express special gratitude to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, for creating the time to attend the official commissioning of this project.
We in JODER are full of appreciation for the kindness of the FORD FOUNDATION. Once again, I thank you all for your time.