By Demola Akinyemi
In the last five years or so,twice,Engineer Sunday Adebayo Babalola, a native of Omu-Aran in Irepodun local government area of Kwara, had vigorously contested to govern the state and twice he lost.
But as the saying goes that no knowledge is lost, the memories and experience he garnered from his active involvement in politics have re shaped his vision to come home and roost,and the starting point, according to him, is tackling the challenges facing the education of his people at his Omu-Aran people from where it would go round the state.
In view of this, Babalola instituted an annual scholarship scheme to empower indigent secondary school students.
Indeed,putting smile on the faces of people inside the expansive Omu-Aran town hall, venue of the ceremony , was enough satisfaction as the benefiting students with parents and guardians gathered to savour the joy of the moment and heaped prayers on Babalola. The scholarship covered students in tertiary and secondary schools from the town.
The beneficiaries include students of ECWA Girls High School, Ogbo Grammar School, GSS Omu-Aran, Omu-Aran High School, Ofe-Aran Commercial College and Aperan Comprehensive College, all in Omu-Aran.
The breakdown of the beneficiaries are as follows: 32 from tertiary institutions, 14 from senior secondary school and 55 from junior secondary school,
Beneficiaries from tertiary institutions will take N40,000 each, SS3 N24,000 each while JSS will take N60,000 each
Speaking at the presentation of the scholarship award, Babalola said: “The award of scholarship to students of secondary and tertiary institutions is a fulfilment of my dream to contribute my quota to the educational and upliftment of students of my locality.
“The falling standard of education in the country causes my heart to bleed and gone are the days when students took interest in academic competitions.
“Many of them are today engrossed with internet and video pornography to the detriment of their educational growth. Many of the students and graduates are merely half baked and cannot compete favourable in the labour market as they are unfit either for employment , lacking requisite skills and knowledge for self employment and self reliance.
“A visit to many schools, even tertiary institutions, will present a pitiable sight. In Kwara, many of the schools have not only become dilapidated but also have been death traps with leaking roofs, damaged doors and windows and corroded floors.
“Pupils in the primary and secondary school learn on bare floor while there are no well equipped laboratories for science and even for arts subjects. Many of the students and pupils attend schools hungry as their parents, because of economic downturn, cannot feed them adequately. Some of them even come to school with torn and worn-out uniform while some still do not have sandals, books, lockers and chairs. How then can they learn well and pass excellently in their examinations in this pitiable condition?”
He explained that government has abandoned its core responsibility of ensuring quality and accessible education under the guise of dwindling revenue while governors, lawmakers and other political office holders earn their jumbo salaries.
Babalola, who promised to make the scholarship an annual event, called on wealthy Nigerians to invest more in education to bring socio-economic development to the society.
In his message at the occasion, Olomu of Omu-Aran, Oba Charles Oladele Ibitoye, lauded the efforts of Babalola towards educational advancement.
He commended Babalola for rising to meet the needs of his community.
The National Treasurer of Omu-Aran Development Association(ODA), Alhaji Funso Salawu, also at the occasion, said, “What we are witnessing today is a great thing because any nation that fails to address the education development of its people is on its way to extinction”.