If you are a regular user of the Ijora flyover bridge, you may have consciously or otherwise noticed a perimeter fencing with two gates shielding two primary schools, a junior high school and an abandoned health centre with ugly shanties erected around the perimeter fencing. The schools are Banjo Primary School, Ebenezer Primary School and Ogbo Junior High School, all in the swampy Otumara community, Ebute Metta West, Lagos State.
Located in an unfriendly and inhabitable environment, students of these schools are exposed to various dangers, including diseases and attacks from street urchins and animals . The schools which are near Brickfield Street, Apapa have a minimum of 500 students each. The sorry state of these schools, particularly Banjo Primary School, however, demands urgent attention from relevant authorities.
Until recently, when a non-governmental organisation offered a helping hand by erecting the perimeter fencing which was estimated at about N2 million, students of these schools were unintentionally mixing freely with street urchins and domestic animals that have made the schools their abode.
Apart from that, uncleared refuse dumps and we.eds competed for space in the schools premises. Same applies to the abandoned, vandalized health centre where street urchins usually pitch their tent irrespective of government presence.
Banjo Primary School has only six teachers attending to over 500 pupils. The teachers are supported by a head teacher and an assistant head teacher to carry out academic duties. This is apart from the fact that the school is made up of only six classrooms which are in advanced state dilapidation. An resident who pleaded anonymity told Vanguard Metro, VM, that some of the pupils have been defiled due by undesirable elements that usually hang around, although none of the victims has spoken out.
To make matters worse, some parents said that during the rainy season, the premises are usually flooded. VM gathered that Senator Remi Tinubu offered to donate three classrooms through a contractor who did not complete the project. This was also the case with the four-year-old dilapidated six classrooms building which was said to have been badly constructed. VM was informed when the former head teacher called the attention of the contractor to the shoddy job, the contractor had threatened to deal with her.
As at the time of filing this report, some worried parents are appealing to all relevant authorities to come to the aid of the school as there are very strong indications that it might cave in any moment and endanger the lives of the innocent pupils. One of the parents, 50-year-old Mrs Basirat Abdukareem, said several complaints have been expressed over the matter in the past but nothing has been done so far in response. ‘’We shall not stop calling on government until our prayers are answered,” she said.
Another parent, Mr Olokunola Adisa, said he was planning to relocate to another area due to the poor condition of the school. ‘’The classroom block can collapse any moment. So, I am planning to relocate my children but this is difficult because that is the only school around here. We want the government to intervene because no one knows what these children can become tomorrow,” he said.