Demolished Fakunle School Turns to Comfort zone for Indian Hemp Smokers, Dumping Site
By Our Reporters
It all started like a rumour in 2013 when Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun state was alleged of planning to demolish one of the best and oldest secondary school, Fakunle Comprehensive High School, Osogbo, Osun state capital, as part of his ongoing reform and restructuring programme. The Aregbesola’s education reform became clearer and reactive after the announcement of merger of public schools in the state, thus forcing students to move from one school to another. The merger of the public schools was not only controversial but attracted serious criticism from members of the opposition parties, Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state and alumni of the various merged schools. The merger of the schools was accompanied with renaming and reclassification of the schools.
While the merging was going on, students of Fakunle Comprehensive High School left their school, having been merged with another school. Like a smoke of fire, rumour filtered across the state that Fakunle School would be demolished for another unknown developmental project. The rumour glinted reactions and protest from students and individuals that had donated structures and other things. Some of the individuals besieged the school to remove their properties they had donated to the library, laboratory and other departments.
Established by Reverend Ade Fakunle in 1957, Fakunle High school had produced eminent personalities, among which are: the Sub Group Director, South-West, of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mr Jide Bewaji, an Associate Professor of Otorhinolaryngology, College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Dr (Mrs) Yemisi B. Amusa, Alhaji among others.
Fakunle is the oldest secondary school after Osogbo Grammar School that was established in 1950 in the state capital. It has in it over 20 buildings, mosque and other structures.
Stakeholders in the education sector, especially the Alumni Association of Fakunle High School did not take the rumour of Aregbesola’s planned demolition for granted, knowing convincingly that the Governor doesn’t disclose his plan but only starts like rumour since the inception of his administration.
After fruitless consultations and appeals, the Alumni, parents and other stakeholders took to the street, insisting that the Governor should rescind his decision to demolish the school. However, Fakunle was demolished in broad day light. The demolition left in the heart of many people an un-healing wound; some have even developed hatred for the Aregbesola’s administration because of the demolition. After the demolition, residents of the Fakunle areas storm the school to cart materials like plants, roofing sheets, steel and others that were useful for their purposes. This led to the arrest of many people by policemen who were either genuinely protecting the properties or making the arrest to extort the common people.
The Fakunle Alumni Association in a statement issued and titled: “Lack of Respect for Public Education and Human Dignity by the Nigerian Government; The Nigerian Government; The Roots of Terrorism, Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s Draconian Rule on Fakunle Comprehensive High School”, the Alumni association observed that the step to demolish the school would bring untold hardship to the people, especially, students of the school.
After the demolition of the school, it was rumoured that Shoprite would be built on the land. But no construction has taken place on the lane three years after demolition of the school. Some government officials informed CityMirrorNews that the demolished Fakunle would be replaced by beautification project which would take off in God knows time. The land is lying fallow and seeking for attention of the government. Currently, Fakunle has overgrown with weeds and it has turned to comfort zone to Indian hemp smokers. Some of the transporters do smoke Indian hemp in the bushy demolished Fakunle, while other residents of the area and passersby visit the land to defecate. ‘Once upon a time glorious’ Fakunle has been desecrated! Lovers of soccer sport have taken a portion of the Fakunle for football field. The Fakunle land receives more than 50 football players and lovers every blessed day. The government’s plan for the land remained unknown.
The President of the Fakunle Alumni Association, Alhaji Azeez Ibraheem, in an interview with CityMirrorNews said: “Fakunle started as a proprietorship school and was taken over in 1976 by the military government then. We learnt the school would be given way to certain project which was not known to anybody. One of the children of baba Fakunle, the former proprietor of the school, was invited by the government and he was told that the school would be demolished. According to him, he told the government that if it could not continue to maintain the school, it should hand it over to the Fakunle children. But since the government is the right owner of the school, there is nothing Fakunle children could do.
“Fakunle students protested the planned demolition of the school. The deputy governor told the aggrieved students that the school would not be demolished, just to calm the students down as an elderly person.
“The FCHS old student association swung into action on the matter. We sent emissary to the state government and questioned why the school should be demolished. The state government did not give vivid answer to the posers threw at it. We were not sure the school would be demolished or not. The governor Aregbesola I know is a very determined man. If the Governors says he is going to do something, no matter the challenges, he would do it. I was praying not to be around when the school would be demolished. But unfortunately for me, when the demolition of my FCHS kicked off, I was at Ola-Iya. I felt bad seriously about the demolition.
“We requested for replacement of the school from the state government, at least to immortalize baba Fakunle. After some time, Aregbesola announced that Fakunle would be replaced by a modern school under construction. He called the school Fakunle Unity High School at stadium. We were so happy to hear that and we started monitoring the under construction school.
“Baba Fakunle was not an Osogbo indigene; he was an Ijesa man from Okesa. All his investments were in Osogbo. The school happened to be the only investment immortalizing baba Fakunle. This same school is the one the government demolished. Our anguish was that baba Fakunle legacies could collapse like that! Baba Fakunle did a lot in Osogbo. The first event centre or hall was built by baba, it was called Fakunle hall which was being used by Osogbo residents. Baba promoted culture. He had printing press but it is no more.
“We move to Fakunle in 1973, we were the first set to use the school new site, which is the popular Fakunle. The school had been in existence before that, though. The government took over the school three or four years after relocation to the new site. For somebody to have invested so much in education, how much would be given to him that will commiserate his investment and legacy? Even if the government paid him triple of the amount of his investment in the school, it would still not match the legacy. We felt so bad on the school demolition.
“If baba was to be alive today, I know he would hate himself. Aregbesola is an Ijesaman, Baba Fakunle was an Ijesaman, and history will not be fare to Aregbesola if baba’s name perishes. Fakunle is a pride to us. I, like many others, went to the school because of the structures and environment. Fakunle structures had no replica. Discipline also accompanied the structure.
“I was told the government was planning to build Shoprite on the land, but the railway corporation has a larger per cent of the land which is frustrating the government’s plan. Whatever the case may be, we are not happy seeing that demolished school lying fallow. Governor Aregbesola should please see to how the place would be developed for another project. We are in support of any project that will add value to the Fakunle land. We implore the governor to also see to the timely completion of the Fakunle Unity High school.”
The neglect of the Fakunle land has called for concern from stakeholders in the state. The stakeholders said it is insensitive for the government to demolish Fakunle school when it was not ready to develop the land three years after.
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