By Evelyn Usman
Few months ago, Nigerians woke up to receive with shock and disbelief, news of the decrepit level of decay at the Police College, Ikeja, Lagos coupled with its deplorable state. The college located on Oba Akinjobi way, close to Arch Bishop V inning Cathedral never gave any passer-by the slightest inkling of its real state, until it was revealed by a television station in January, 2013.
The documentary by the television station captured the odious condition under which men and women were trained as policemen. This revelation was so shocking for a reputable institution that graduates policemen every year to degenerate into such deplorable state.
From the startling revelations, it was observed that the toilets, bathrooms, dormitories were so bad that the trainees resorted to urinating at the back of the buildings, thereby emitting acrid stench which is dangerous to their health. This resulted in the insurgence of mosquitoes which gain entrance unhindered into the dormitories through the damaged windows and doors.
In addition to this sorry state, was the college’s once Olympic-size swimming pool which became a breeding point for toads and other reptiles. The list of the deplorable state is endless, with the trainees forced to adapt to the condition without any choice.
But the good news today, is that the college is currently wearing a new look, as a result of its renovation which was at the directive of President Goodluck Jonathan. The president who paid an unscheduled visit to ascertain the level of the unspeakable rot in the college as reported, was shocked to his wits and immediately issued a four-month ultimatum to the Nigerian Army Corps Engineers, to carry out total renovation of the dilapidated buildings and infrastructures in the College.
During an inspection of the college last Friday by the Special Adviser to the President on Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Professor Sylvester Monye and the Inspector-General of Police, MD Abubakar, the Commander, Army Corps Engineer, Major General Funso Owonibi disclosed that the renovation work was 95% completed, revealing that work would be completed and handed over to the Police, in two weeks.
Explaining further he said, “ We got a marching order to move in here to rehabilitate the affected buildings, 35 in all, and we mobilized immediately. Specifically from 8th of February, we started mobilization and after that, we started demolition and the end result is what you are seeing today.
As at the time we came, the buildings were in a very terrible state. Channels Television revealed the state to the whole world. But today you can see the level of transformation. We were given four months duration. We still have about one month to go. But in two weeks time, when we shall be handing over to the Police, we will still have two weeks left to the ultimatum. The job is more than 95 % completed. The final work has been completed but all that is left is the second round of coating and the additional work we are doing is what will keep us till that two weeks. For instance, we are doing land scalping.”
He, however, clarified that only one building was pulled down while renovation work was carried on others. Areas renovated, according to him, included the toilets, bathrooms, residential units, cafeteria, dormitories amongst others. The hostels, according to him, were fitted with fans, louvres changed to slid windows and roofs replaced.
“ There was a building that has structural defect and a new one was built. Furniture items like beds and wardrobes were built for trainees. We fixed 2000 beds. But we exceeded the initial specification where we felt it was appropriate. We sank five boreholes and rehabilitated three, “ Owonibi said.
Expressing satisfaction at the job he described as’ well done’, Special Adviser to the President on Performance,Monitoring and Evaluation, Professor Sylvester Monye, explained that the purpose of his visit was to inspect the level of work done so far. “ The President visited here on 13 of January,when it was in a terrible state and he committed to fixing it. What is interesting is not just that he has fixed it but the speed with which he has fixed it. What we have done is to explore our internal resources using the expertise of the Nigerian Army Corps Engineers and they have demonstrated their capacity without any doubt. So, we are very excited about that.
“I feel good because if you go right inside the hall, you will see the pictures before and the pictures after. And if you are a Nigerian, you can’t but feel good. Something very fundamental has happened, as this is the first time in over 30years that this place is getting a face lift. This shows that the president’s transformation agenda is working,”Prof Monye stated.
Lamenting the poor maintenance culture of Nigerians, he however assured that funds would be made available annually for the maintenance of the college, with a view to preventing it from returning to its former state. Although he admitted that the college might not be like those obtained in the western world he expressed optimism that with the current measure taken by the president, it would reach the standard.
“ We have opportunity to kit it to the standard you are thinking of. But the question now, is, is it habitable? Is it in a condition that you as a Nigerian will be comfortable with? The answer is yes”.
Corroborating his view, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, expressed appreciation to the president for his support, saying, “ we appreciate the President for the prompt action and attention given to the Police College and also thank the Nigerian Army Corps engineers for this work, speed and show of profes-sionalism. This is a demonstration of the level of concern and patriotism the president has for the Nigeria Police Force.”