By ABDULWAHAB ABDULAH
SOCIO – Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP), a civil society group has asked the Lagos State government to make public its spendings on public primary and secondary education the past five years.
Executive director of the group, Mr Tokunbo Mumuni to the state governor, the body gave the governor a 14-day ultimatum in line with the Freedom of Information Act, (FOI Act) to provide up-to-date information on the spending relating to public primary and secondary education in the state.
According to them, the alleged delay in improvement of infrastructure development in some public schools within the state is worrisome, hence, their petition.
It therefore cautioned that it will “take appropriate legal actions” to compel the government if it fails to comply “within 14 days of the receipt or publication of this letter.”
In the Freedom of Information, FoIA, petition dated November, 30,2013, it requested that the government should provide information on the spending for the past five years on furniture in public secondary schools in the state, including Ewutuntun Grammar School in Mafoluku area of Oshodi; Ikeja Grammar School; Iloro Grammar School in Agege; and Fagba Junior Grammar School, Iju Road.
Also, it asked the government to spell out its spendings of the World Bank loan of $90 million to improve education in the 639 public secondary schools in the state.
In addition, it wanted the authority to provide details of projects carried out to improve infrastructure and facilities across public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State.
The group said: “SERAP is seriously concerned about decay in infrastructure in public primary and secondary schools across the State including Ewutuntun Grammar School in Mafoluku area of Oshodi; Ikeja Grammar School; Iloro Grammar School in Agege; and Fagba Junior Grammar School, Iju Road.”
Besides, it also called on the state governor to “rescind the suspension of anyone including principals of schools, for blowing the whistle or allowing journalists to cover the decayed infrastructures and facilities across public primary and secondary schools in Lagos.
“Many pupils in these and other schools continue to sit on the bare floor in some classes while lessons are going on. The classrooms are overcrowded with several broken chairs and desks. Pupils are also reportedly forced to work to repair broken chairs and desks, something which would amount to forced labour,” it added.
SERAP noted, “education at the basic level is one of the most important targets of the Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs). We believe that without transparency and accountability on the spending of education funds, the goal will remain unrealized for millions of Nigerian children.
“SERAP is bringing this request pursuant to the enacted Freedom of Information Act, which is directly applicable to your state. The Act among others aims to make public records and information more freely available, and makes provisions for public access to public records and information. The Act grants the right to access or request information, which is in the custody of any public official, agency or institution,” the group also said.