Opinion written by Omoniyi Yakubu Adebisi
It is a well-known fact that education is the backbone of development of any nation or community. Primary and secondary education is the main foundation of human development, which directly determines community and or national development.
In actual fact, this is one of the reasons developed nations invest heavily in public primary and secondary education despite being largely capitalist economies.
For example, the State of Georgia in the United States of America is committing a whopping amount of nine billion and eight hundred million dollars ($9.8 billion) of her 2019 budget to public education of her children from kindergarten to grade 12 levels (equivalent of elementary to Senior Secondary School 3 levels in the State of Osun and other parts of Nigeria). That is about 40% of the total 2019 budget of that state, which belongs to one of the most capitalist countries in the world - https://gbpi.org/2018/overview-georgias-2019-fiscal-year-budget/ .
The Province of Alberta in Canada also committed $8.4 billion (eight billion and four hundred million dollars) in 2019 to public education of her children at both primary and secondary levels ( https://www.alberta.ca/budget-highlights.aspx ). The population of the Province of Alberta is about the same as that of State of Osun.
It is not a mere coincidence that these states/nations are investing so heavily in their public primary and secondary education while they lead global economic and technological ratings. The secret is that they know that the development of their nations would be impossible without vibrantly educated manpower.
In the 1970s, federal government set up a panel to audit the utilization of funding from the government to various schools, private and missionaries, across the country.
Dr. Fagbulu, as a key player in the then educational system, wrote extensively about the findings and recommendations of the aforementioned panel as a prelude to the emergence of the currently existing public education system in Nigeria. One article on this summarized his positions on public schools as public properties - http://osun.gov.ng/2013/10/21/opinion-the-ownership-of-schools-in-nigeria-2/
In the recent years however, reports of encroachments on properties and parcels of land belonging to various public schools in Osogbo have been making the rounds. We all know the importance of land to development and expansion of schools. We also know that these public schools will require expansion as community population growth increases.
Once the parcels of land of these public schools that are reserved for education activities and or for future expansion are completely taken over by various groups and or individuals for non-public education related matters, the underprivileged people of Osogbo are the ones that will suffer the inherent serious consequences. In addition, the loss of such valuable public properties will seriously affect the development of Osogbo as a community.
One of such recent encroachments allegedly perpetrated by the Catholic and some members of the Alagbaa family on properties of the Saint Charles High School, Osogbo requires urgent attentions. Reliable sources have it that about ten acres of land has been carved out of the land of this great public school.
In addition, many buildings that originally belonged to this public school have been allegedly carved out as well. Please note that St. Charles has been serving the educational needs of significant percentage of the residents and citizens of Osogbo since it became a public school around 1975.
It has produced numerous renowned professors, successful surgeons, legendary lawyers, seasoned journalists, and many other professionals out of citizens of Osogbo. We need more of these key elements of national development. We cannot afford to lose this important public school now.
His Royal Majesty, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun Larooye II, the Ataoja of Osogbo and the National President of the OPU, Ambassador Siyanbola were alerted about these developments.
The government of the State of Osun under the able leadership of His Excellency, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, the State of Osun Ministry of Education, all members of the State of Osun House of Assembly and all local government administrations serving Osogbo constituency are equally being advised about these ugly developments that demand their urgent attentions.
Osogbo Charleans in Diaspora, a group of the old students of St. Charles resident in the United States of America and in Canada, under the leadership of Dr Lateef Adebayo Opawoye held a meeting on these developments in the United States of America on January 29, 2019.
Eyewitnesses, including a biological son and a surrogate son of Oba Adenle, gave accounts of how the former Ataoja of Osogbo, Late Oba Samuel Adeleye Adenle I (1944–1976) possessed the land in question from the then Alagbaa family and then bequeathed the same to the then Catholic Diocese of Osogbo for sole purpose of establishing a school without collecting any money or consideration.
They also revealed that the pioneering principal of the St Charles, Mr. Russell MacFarlane, confirmed that the land in question was donated for sole purpose of establishing school, which was St Charles.
In addition to this, a member of this group confirmed that he facilitated the fencing of part of the land of this school while he was a director in the State Ministry of Education and that the whole land of the St Charles would have been completely fenced if not for the fact that the money made available by the Petroleum Trust Fund then was not enough.
Members of this same group confirmed that the land in question had always been used for purposes of educating students of the St Charles since its inception and that there was never a time that any part of the land was claimed to be set aside for any other purpose other than for educating the students of the St Charles.
The following resolutions were then passed:
That all citizens of Osogbo should be mobilized to defend the properties of our public education system across our great city.
That the Catholic Dioceses of Osogbo, the Alagbaa Family and all other relevant stakeholders should be engaged and be implored to see reasons why properties of public schools must remain for sole purposes of public education of our future leaders in Osogbo.
That all citizens and lovers of Osogbo in and outside Osogbo across all walks of life should support all required legitimate efforts to ensure that any encroached public schools’ properties are reverted back for the public educational purposes immediately.
That all parcels of land belonging to public schools in Osogbo should be surveyed, if such has not been done yet, and that copies of such survey plans should be kept in various strategic locations and formats that will be easily accessible to the public.
That all citizens of Osogbo including, but not limited to, members of the Osogbo Progressive Union worldwide, Osogbo Professionals’ Initiative, Osogbo Affairs Forum, Osogbo Development Action Group, all movers and shakers of Osogbo, all elders and stakeholders, are implored to join hands together in defending all properties of public schools in Osogbo.
We implore all citizens and lovers of Osogbo to support efforts to defend the very existence of our public education system from the ongoing gradual systematic annihilation.
The development of Osogbo community in particular, and that of the State of Osun and Nigeria in general, heavily relies on survival of public education system that is of high quality. This is the least legacy we owe our future leaders. Osogbo a gbe wa o. Ase.
Omoniyi Yakubu Adebisi is a medical Doctor and he hails from Osogbo