Nigeria: Multi-Billion Naira Gombe School in Deplorable Condition, Needs Attention

Hassan Central Primary School, Gombe, was among the first schools to be established in the then Gombe Division of Bauchi Province. The school provided basic primary school education for people in the defunct Gombe Division and other surrounding towns and villages.

The school trained several high-profile sons and daughters of the state, who went on to excel in various areas of specialization. Among the prominent old boys of the school are the current governor of the state, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya and his predecessor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, just to mention a few.

However, the fortunes of the school started to decline in the early 1990s and continued up to the early 2000s. The school’s infrastructure has deteriorated, and is struggling with over-crowded classrooms and a dearth of teaching aids, among others.

Daily Trust gathered that, at a time, there were over 3,634 pupils in the school, with over 100 per class. Most of the pupils sit on the bare floor, and the school has to run two sessions–morning and afternoon.

To tackle the situation, in 2013, the administration of then Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo awarded a multi-billion contract for the remodelling of the school.

The classrooms in the school were demolished to pave way for new and modern classes, and about 100 new classes were constructed, enough to accommodate at least 50 pupils each.

However, it took the administration more than six years before the project could be ‘partially’ completed and commissioned by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, two days to the end of Dankwambo’s tenure on May 27, 2019.

A visit to the school by Daily Trust recently, showed that most of the buildings have developed one defect or another, that are endangering the lives of the pupils and teachers.

It was observed that one of the storey buildings; containing six classrooms had been abandoned due to a huge crack that had almost divided the building into two separate parts.

The building, located at the left side, from the main gate of the school, has a crack running from the staircase, almost splitting the building.

A teacher in the school, who sought anonymity, said the school authorities noticed the cracks sometime in 2020; over two years ago.

He said after several complaints to the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) without any measures taken, and “to avoid the building collapsing on our pupils, the school authorities decided to close the classes in February 2021, just before resumption for the second term – the 2020/2021 session.”

The teacher added that when the school was remodeled, it was supposed to be a 50 pupils per class structure, “but with this development we now have at least 100 or more pupils per class.”

He noted that despite closing the classes, there were still risks in allowing the building to continue deteriorating, stressing that the cracks were expanding daily.

“The first is the risk that it poses to the lives of everyone within the area, and quite possibly even those commuting on the nearby Biu road. The second is the issue of additional pressure on the other classrooms which were overpopulated even before that incident and thirdly, is the psychological effect it has on the pupils and teachers alike,” he added.

Our correspondent reports that three other storey buildings of six classrooms each, have started developing cracks, which could worsen if action is not taken to remedy the situation immediately.

When contacted, the Permanent Member III at the SUBEB, Alhaji Sani Sabo, said the board was aware of the situation of the school and had already taken measures to contain the problem.

“That particular storey building project was awarded by the last administration in March 2013 at a contract sum of N388.4 million. It was completed and handed over to the government at the twilight of Dankwambo’s administration,” he stated.

He confirmed that the school authorities had reported to SUBEB that a whole one-story block was totally out of use, as over half of the building had developed huge cracks that could result in its collapse.

He said they have “visited the school and observed the building and made our recommendations to Governor Yahaya for immediate action to prevent any calamity.

“After we undertook a study tour, we recorded at least six other classrooms in six different schools within the Gombe LGA also having problems. The total sum of these projects was over N246.3 million, but they were either marked for demolition or rehabilitation.

“Therefore, the money to be spent to construct new classrooms to address the dearth of infrastructure in our schools will now be used to renovate classes that were poorly executed,” the permanent member lamented.

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