By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
Government Secondary School, Dekina, Kogi State, which used to be one of the best inÂ Nigeria, is presently a shadow of itself due to the deterioration of its infrastructural facilities occasioned by neglect by successive governments.
Luckily, the alumni of the school under the aegis of Dekina Old Boys Association (DOBA) have stepped in to return their alma mater to its former glory. The Chairman of Katchey Company Limited, Alhaji Abdulrazaq Isa Kutepa, who finished from the school 32 years ago, is the arrowhead of these redemption efforts. Through his company, Kutepa renovated, built and equipped the Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Agricultural Science laboratories of the school with a whooping sum of N150 million.
Explaining how he got the motivation to execute the multi-million naira project, Kutepa said: â€œAbout eight months ago, I personally visited the school, along with other old boys for the first time sinceÂ I left about 32 years ago and I was indeed moved to tears by the level of deterioration of the infrastructures in the school.â€
He further said that the Old Boys Association also motivated him to do the job, adding that he then decided to engage his organisation to design a model and comprehensive laboratory complex, with equipment that would meet the needs of students.
Kutepa, who spoke during the commissioning of the laboratory buildings and 78th anniversary ceremony of the school which took place recently, expressed happiness â€œthat this goal has been fully achieved and the project delivered for commissioning within eight months.â€
The Katchey Chairman lamented the decline in the standard of education in the country which, according to him, had affected our national values, resourcefulness, creativity, discipline and leadership, adding that there is the need for all stakeholders to join hands in fighting the problems confronting the education sector so as to guarantee a decent future for the children.
According to him, â€œWe have come to a point where the education given to our youths today has little or no redeeming value. Given this reality, it is obviously very difficult for us to build a dependable economic, social and political future for our country.â€
Kutepa affirmed the need for the country to develop a more resilient institutional framework to build the minds of the youths and prepare them for the challenges of citizenship and leadership in the future. â€œMy vision is that our children should be educated under an environment that is far more advanced than the one under which we have studied. We must crave to make better citizens than ourselves and we can do this for the greater majority of our people through our public schools,â€ the Chairman stressed.
The National President, DOBA, Dr. Hassan Usman expressed the old boys,Â readiness to partner with government to renovate the schoolâ€™s fence, resource complex fitted with latest ICT materials, functional research library and business centre, dormitories, among others, through its Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy, adding that it would bring back the glory of the school rated the best in Northern Nigeria.
He said the association had set up a body to develop a 10-year road map for the school, and appealed to the state government to return the school to boarding, as most of its old buildings were lying fallow.
Usman stressed the need for government to review its admission policy and designate it as special unity school through the introduction of exchange programmes, where senior science students could be admitted from other schools, as well as other states to benefit from the laboratory facilities.
The President also emphasized need to establish an effectiveÂ School-Based Management Committee (SBMC), similar to governing boards in tertiary institutions for judicious use of funds, placement of due process in all financial transactions, as well as commitment, among others.
He thanked Kutepa for his gesture, saying, â€œWe are here today to receive a unique gift from one of our own, Alhaji Abdulrazaq Isa Kutepa, his wife and their company. They have built and equipped an ultra modern laboratory complex for the school. May God Almighty reward them.â€
The Minister of Information and Communication, Prof. Dora Akunyili said the commissioning of the complex would change the history of private sector contributions to societal development in the field of Science and Technology education in the country, adding that the organisation had also become a trailblazer in re-branding the education sector, with particular emphasis on Science and Technology education.
While commending the old boys association for providing an enabling environment for Katchey Company Limited to build, equip and donate the complex in honour of its chairman, she stressed the need for other alumni to emulate DOBA in coming to the aid of their alma mater. â€œAs usual, Katchey has demonstrated what it means to re-brand Nigeria from the perspective of Science and Technology education.
The Abdulrazaq Isa complex is a showpiece of what a modern day secondary school science laboratory should be and I am happy to be identified with this history-making ceremony,â€ Akunyili stressed. The Minister advised the students to take advantage of the laboratories, saying, â€œValue attracts value, to whom much is given, much is expected. The school authority should also imbibe a maintenance culture, because if you maintain it, it will serve students for decades to come.â€
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Shaidu Oga Onalo, who was represented by the Director General of National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Dr. Said Abba Mohammed said since Science and Technology was the engine room of a country, there is need for Nigeria to remain competitive globally so as to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
While congratulating the old boys association for producing one that impacts on his alma mater, he said, â€œIt is obvious that our ability as a nation to remain competitive globally is to develop science and technology effectively. This nation can only create wealth over poverty if such issues are taken seriously.â€
Governor Ibrahim Idris of Kogi State, who commissioned the complex, commended the leadership of the association and called on other sectors to do the same, saying that government alone cannot do it.
Idris, who said the laboratory complex would go along way in guaranteeing quality education in the state, promised to turn the school into boarding.
The event witnessed the launching of the compendium of students of the school since its inception.
Sen. Tunde Ogbeha congratulated the old boys for the launch and said the fund would be used for the development of the school.