From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has flagged off reconstruction and furnishing of 175 dilapidated basic schools across the 23 local government areas of the state.
The 175 basic schools were said to be in deplorable condition, making teaching and learning difficult.
Performing the flag-off at the State School, Rebisi, in Port Harcourt, Governor Wike said nobody would believe that the immediate past administration left schools to decay to such level.
He said when his administration took over, the former administration did not access Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), pointing out that the state government accessed the funds for the re-positioning of basic schools in the state.
According to him, after paying the counterpart fund, the state now has N5.6 billion to address the infrastructure challenges of selected basic schools.
“The entire world should see that a school like this exists in Port Harcourt. Imagine the condition of schools in the rural areas. Just imagine that the past administration claimed that they revolutionised education. All they did was to construct a few schools by the roadside.
“The funds for the reconstruction and furnishing of these schools have been set aside. Therefore, funding will not be an issue. I direct that payment should be done by milestone. The contractors should be paid based on the work they do. There should be nothing like variation.”
The governor directed that the reconstruction should be holistic to improve teaching and learning in the schools.
The reconstructed basic schools would have the following facilities new furniture, sports facilities, information and communication equipment, standby generator, boreholes, toilets, head-teacher office and table-top fridges.
Governor Wike noted that his administration has awarded contracts for the equipping of laboratories of selected secondary schools and re-stocking of libraries.
He said: “While the immediate past administration used over N4 billion to build one school, we are using slightly above N1 billion to build one school. This is a prudent administration.”
In his remarks, Chairman of state Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB), Venerable Fyneface Akah, said the reconstruction was being done through the Federal Government UBEC/UBEB 2014-2016 Intervention Projects for Rivers State.
He said: “One great benefit the day’s event holds for education and, in deed, for all of us, is that it offers a time for common reflection on the needful and yet neglected aspect of educational organisation which hitherto was a prime place.
“We appeal to community and local government leadership in the state to realise that we now live in a time when all must respond to the invitation to stand with the state government to own and ensure security of school staff and facilities provided by government for use in our various communities.”