By EMMANUEL UNA
CALABAR - A politician, awarded contract by the Cross River State Government in 2011 to construct a two-storey building of 12- classrooms at Pinn Margaret Secondary School, Calabar, has disappeared into thin air after purportedly collecting N80 million.
Niger Delta Voice gathered that the politician did the block work for the building, put some wood on the roof quite alright, but he simply vamoosed since three years without completing the project, forcing the students to heartbreakingly study in makeshift structures attached to the school’s crumbling fence.
Meanwhile, the school has turned a deathtrap as the walls are collapsing. “Some days back, one of the students even after several warnings by the principal for the students not to lean on the fence, relaxed on the fence and it gave way, the boy plunged head on to the other side, it was only the grace of God that he was not crushed by the blocks,” a teacher said. His words, “The student sustained serve injuries and was rushed to the Mount Zion Medical Centre, half a kilometre away from the school for treatment.”
The 12-classroom block contract, a source at the Ministry of Education confided in Niger Delta Voice, “was awarded to one the politicians at the beginning of the second term administration of the state governor, Senator Liyel Imoke in 2011, but the much the contractor could do with the N80 million naira handed him by the Ministry was to erect the block work and place some wood on the roof and then go away.”
Wood rot away
Wood meant to hold the roofing sheets have all rotten with some falling into the building following the persistent battering of the structure by rain.
Students roam about
The failure to complete the building has left over 2,000 students of the school without classrooms and laboratories and each time there is threat of rainfall, the teachers quickly send them home to avoid any ugly incident from occurring while they are taking shelter under the uncompleted building. Principal of the school refused to respond to our questions for fear of possible sanctions from the Ministry of Education when contacted. Staff, who prefer anonymity, said several emissaries had been set to the Commissioner for Education about the state of the school, but nothing concrete has been done.
It’s unfortunate – Commissioner
Commissioner for Education, Professor Offiong Offiong, was boisterous about the “high” standard of education in the state, saying that the abandonment of a 12 –classroom block at the Pinn Margaret Secondary School “is one of those unfortunate situations where a contract is awarded to someone with the believe that he will be committed to the job only for him to stop work half way”.He stated that since the inception of Senator Imoke’s administration in 2007, “The educational sector which was tottering at the precipice of near total collapse following prolonged periods of utter neglect and abandonment has been revived through consistent innovation and remodeling”.
The Pinn Margareth saga reflects the state of schools in Cross River state where many of them, particularly those in the urban centres, have over bloated population with as many as 70 students occupying a classroom meant for 30. Seven students share a desk meant for three while in the rural areas, some schools are without desks with majority of the population sitting on the bare floor to receive lecture. End.