written by Mr David N Erhabor. A public affairs analyst based in Benin City.
Education, in all its ramifications and levels, is the fulcrum on which the socio political and economic advancement of a people revolves. In realisation of this fact, governments, organisations and individuals all over the world place utmost premium on its development and running, even though sometimes, the end results are barely discernable and operative, due to corruptive and corrupt practices, one of which we will examine subsequently.
Designed as a vital transformational tool for the socio-economic empowerment of the citizens of any country, education has the basic and foundational responsibility to train, produce and supply the personnel required to power and sustain the economic growth and life of a people.
Education is primed to power the overall objective of nurturing a steady supply of qualified and quality cadre of manpower to drive development in all sectors. Education as stated earlier, is the cornerstone of sustainable development – indeed, the strength or weakness of any nation lies in its abundant reservoir of human capital endowment, cutting across all professional areas or lack of it.
It has been established, beyond every reasonable doubt, that any society that is under-developed are those which do not invest or see education as a top priority. And they are legion.
Ikpomaza Grammar School Awuyemi-Okpella.
Ikpomaza Grammar School was founded on Friday, January 16, 1970 in the best ideals as a missionary secondary school, to serve its immediate environment and a wide pool of qualified youth who annually scrambled to be admitted as students of the great school.
The college’s land area was clearly and definitely delineated accordingly to extant statutes and laws operative in 1970 and in line with the size and extent indicated in the then Midwestern State’s Ministry of Lands and Survey archives, as applicable to Ikpomaza Grammar School which was formerly known as Anglican Grammar School Okpella.
When the school started operating on January 16, 1970, some few months before His Royal Majesty, Alhaji A.Y.E. Dirisu, was coronated and installed as the Okuokpellagbe of Okpella. There was high hopes that the new institution will excel and it did, until some negative elements stunted its growth. During his 49-year-old peaceful reign as the paramount ruler of the Cement City till when he transited in February 2019 to the great beyond, it is on record that in its 50 years of existence, there has not been any known case of any individual, organisation or even the community, encroaching, unlawfully acquiring, or sub-letting of the legal land held by the college and of any infrastructure or tools belonging to Ikpomaza Grammar School formerly known as Anglican Grammar School, Awuyemi-Okpella.
It is gratifying to note that a crowd of former students are occupying prime positions in many professional sectors of the Nigerian economy and socio political groups such as Mr. John Momoh, the urbane and polished broadcaster extra-ordinaire and Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Channels Television, Lagos and Earl Osaro Onaiwu, a big player in the media, protocol advertising and political management of the country. Others too numerous to mention, are flying Ikpomaza Grammar School’s ensign, proudly, all over Nigeria and the world at large.
Before Earl Osaro Onaiwu raised the alarm that a “sizeable portion of Ikpomaza Grammar School’s land has been illegimately grabbed by Prince Kassim Afegbua, an indigene of Okpella who served as first-term Special Adviser; Chief Press Secretary and second term Commissioner for Information and Orientation in Oshiomhole’s two term tenure”. Osaro Onaiwu, further said that, “the Old Students discovered the anomaly while trying to find ways to upgrade the facilities in their alma mater. He said the enchroachment has greatly and overtly inhibited and discouraged Ikpomaza Grammar School Old Students Association’s plan and trajectory of aid built around partnering the Obaseki Administration in the provision of infrastructure facilities in their dear school.
Consequently, Earl Onaiwu, who spoke for the Old Students Association, called on the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki to intervene in the matter by instituting a high-powered commission of enquiry that will investigate and set the records straight and apply the necessary sanctions and if found culpable, Kassim Afegbua should be divested of the illegal ownership of the “colonised” portion of Ikpomaza Grammar School’s land.
By this singular act of taking over, albeit forcefully, of a large portion of Ikpomaza Grammar School, Okpella’s land, that has been earmarked for future development of learning, extra-mural studies and recreational facilities, Kassim Afegbua has taken his wooden seat in the pantheon of those who abhor education. A sort of Boko Haram.
Kassim Afegbua is said to have played his insatiable act of foreceful land acquisition and other despicable and anti-community acts through exhibition, display of intimidation and a crass resort to maximum violent coercion to beat any recalcitrant objector into line.
Conventional wisdom indicates that the Ikpomaza Grammar School “colonised” land is not the first nor the last in the Local Champon’s craze for forceful acquisition of land or landed property, within and outside Okpella, for his own reparation.
The questions also remain that: If Kassim Afegbua so loved his people, why did he encroach and colonise Ikpomaza Grammar School land for his personal and parochial use? Why has he not used his wide and octopussian “connection, and network” to further the interest of his Okpella people?
It has become expedient to clearly determine the State Government’s movable and immovable properties (lands, buildings, industries equity shares, plant and equipment etc) that were either disposed off to or gifted out, to certain persons or organisations and ascertain whether due process was followed in their disposal, whether located overseas or in Nigeria.
Many Kassims are still on the prowl! He indeed learnt from his boss, Adams Oshiomhole. Ask the people of Elele community!