Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
The Osun State Government and the Alumni Association of Osogbo Grammar School (AAOGS), now Osogbo High School, are at loggerheads. This followed moves by government to appropriate some portions of the school land for commercial purposes.
Spokesperson of the alumni association, Mr. Joseph Akinlade, who was also the Senior Prefect during the 1975 set, told Daily Sun that about 35 hectares of the land have been laid out by the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning to private individuals: “On October 8, 2018, officials from the Office of the Surveyor General came to partition and layout parts of the lands for various commercial purposes.
“The government officials came again on January 21, 2019, to continue the assignment. Already, about one third of the land amounting to 56.32 hectres had been fenced for the mega-school named Osogbo Government High School. This move negated the principles of the development of the school, since the purposes for which the lands were being converted were not related to education.
“The commercialisation of the school land began during Rauf Aregbedola’s administration. Government stopped the move following the alumni association’s agitation. The move resumed when Governor Gboyega Oyetola, came on board.
“The community and the alumni association believe that government has no right, jurisdiction, power or authority to encroach on and appropriate any parts of the parcel of lands belonging to Osogbo Grammar School for other purposes other than for the use and benefit of the school and its students and in the same name of Osogbo Grammar School.
“In view of the abysmal decadence, we have resolved to develop Osogbo Grammar School into an educational tourism centre on the remaining two-third of the lands. We have plans to build a sporting centre, which the 1978 set of students began but was stalled when the balkanisation of the school land by the surveyor general began in October 2018.
“We are also planning to build an indoor games centre, vocational and technical workshops, state of the arts laboratories, international conference centre, ICT centre and a library structured and equipped for research.
«Perimeter fencing, provision of boarding facilities, building of modern classrooms as well as furnishing of staff rooms are also parts of our projects that are in the pipeline for the development of the school.” Akinlade said.
The Interim National Secretary, Mr. Dayo Adeyemi said: “The balkanisation of the school’s land must be stopped with immediate effect as the lands could be put to better educational uses in future.
“We stakeholders should be allowed to mobilise and construct a proper perimeter fence for the school’s land to curb the menace of hoodlums with respect to life and property.”
President of the association, 1978 set, D. Kayode Adeigbe, said: “The alumni has many plans for further development of the school. They include a befitting football field project already in progress but halted suddenly by agents who came in pegging everywhere around the project area.
“My set has spent a lot of hard earned contributed funds on the project. The school’s former mini stadium was destroyed earlier on for the construction of another school nearby by the state government, leaving our school without any football field.”
The Supervisor for Lands and Physical Planning, Mr. Akintunde Akinade, said government was only trying to put to other uses, the left over lands belonging to the school instead of leaving them lying fallow over the years: “Government’s decision was in tandem with the change of land use project, which could be public or commercial-oriented.
“The project was not peculiar to Osun State. Other states such as Lagos and Oyo put such left over lands to public use for the purpose of development. Are they trying to say that government does not reserve the right to use its property for whatever purpose that pleases it?
“It is not a kangaroo arrangement. The land belongs to the state government. The school also belongs to the government. So, government can decide to use the lands the way it likes inasmuch as it serves the public interest.
“People are free to acquire the lands to develop them as estates and I don’t think anything is wrong with that. It is a part of the infrastructural development that people are yearning for.”
Commissioner for Education, Omotunde Young, said government as the owner of the school has the right to convert the land to any use. He said the alumni association has no stake in the ownership and management of schools since all the schools were taken over by government.
He noted that the intention of government was to ensure the development of the school’s unused lands for the benefit of the people: “The lands have become hideout for criminals.”