•Ugiamwen inhabitants cry out to Gov Obaseki,demand re-opening
•Say govt surprisingly shut school after indigenes carried out renovation
By Ozioruva Aliu, UGIAMWEN
SCHOOL CHILDREN from Ugiamwen, Ugbiyokho, Ukpogo and Ago Fhana communities, Uhunmwonde Local Government Area, Edo State, have been left stranded since last year when the state government, shockingly, padlocked the only secondary school serving the four communities after concerned Ugiamwen indigenes based in the USA renovated the abandoned college.
The people of Ugiamwen community in a letter to Governor Godwin Obaseki by its counsel, S.O Agwinede, appealing for reopening of the school, indicated that they were taken aback by the action of the state government.
The letter obtained by NDV read in part: “Ugiamwen Secondary School, Ugiamwen was established in 1980 by the administration of the late Professor Ambrose Folorunsho Alli, the governor of the defunct Bendel State of Nigeria in furtherance of the laudable policy of free education executed by that administration.
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“The school was designed to serve, and indeed, it has served four communities, namely: Ugiamwen, Ugbiyokho, Ukpogo and Ago Fhana for over 30-40 years.
Abandoned by govt
“Regrettably, in the last few years, not much attention was paid to the school, which was virtually left without teachers.
“Things got so bad that only the principal of the school was left as both the teaching and non – teaching staff. There was no supporting staff whatsoever.
“Alarmed by the above development, the four communities got together and engaged some retired teachers in the communities to teach the children in the school.
“All expenses for these teachers were borne by the communities.
Bolt from the blue
“Surprisingly, the Government of Edo State came out after the above development to close down the school completely, thereby leaving the communities stranded.
“There is now no secondary school in the four communities enumerated above for the children from these communities to attend.
“The destiny of these children is under serious threat of being truncated,” the people lamented.
Govt yet to respond
The state government is yet to officially respond to the issues raised, but NDV gathered it does not want to compromise standard of learning in the state.
Late last year, it announced plans to recruit new teachers to make up for the shortfall in public secondary schools.
When NDV visited, an elder in the community, the Aiguobasimwin of Ugiamwen, Chief Andrew Eromosele, complained that teachers who were engaged had to stop when the Senior Secondary School, SSS, and the Junior Secondary School, JSS, principals were removed and there was no longer government teacher to support them before the school was closed down.
Iyase of Ugiamwen, Chief Pius Irabor Asemota, said some of the affected children want to go to neibhouring Ekpoma for study, but the road is unpassable.
Meanwhile 83-year-old retired police officer, Smart Ehigiele, bemoaned the fact that foodstuffs were rotting away in the farms because of inability of farmers to transport them to markets in other towns.
Painting a gory picture of the road situation, Gaius Osin, who is from Ekpoma said the motorway has deprived children coming to Ekpoma to attend school from coming because of the bad condition of the road.
Foodstuffs rotting away
“The people there are farmers and they cannot bring their farm produce to sell here at Ekpoma.
“They produce plantain, pineapple to sell in Kaduna, Kano, but now they cannot bring these farm produce to be taken there for 10 years now because of the bad road.
“About three weeks ago, three people fell inside the erosion pit, we had to use rope and ladder to haul them out of the pit.
“Some people have fallen inside and died before,” he stated.