A Lagos-based lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, has made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Akwa Ibom State Government for records of renovation contracts and other capital expenditure in public primary and secondary schools in the state.
Mr Effiong, who is from Akwa Ibom, said in his letter to the Commissioner for Education, Victor Inoka, that the requested records must be from May 29, 2007, to June 1, 2018.
The letter was submitted on June 21 at the commissioner’s office, Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat, Uyo.
Mr Effiong is requesting the commissioner to furnish him with names and locations of schools that have benefited from the capital projects of the state government, as well as the project cost and the particulars of the contractors.
He is also requesting for the number of public primary and secondary schools in the state, the population of pupils and students, and the number of teachers recruited and employed by the state government from 2007 to 2018.
“Take notice that if you fail, refuse or neglect to furnish me with the information and records as requested above within 7 (seven) days of receiving this application, I shall commence legal proceedings at the high court against you to compel you to comply,” the lawyer said in the letter.
He added, “Take further notice that wrongful denial of access to public records is a criminal offence under Section 7 (5) of the FOI Act which may render you liable to criminal prosecution.”
PREMIUM TIMES has been running investigative series on how several years of neglect, poor planning, and official corruption have led to the collapse of classrooms and other infrastructure in public primary and secondary schools in the state.
The Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel, blamed the poor situation in the schools on inadequate resources and the “surge” in enrollments in public schools.
“You know we are running free and compulsory education, even pupils and students from neighbouring states come in here (to Akwa Ibom to learn),” the governor said on June 2 during a press conference to mark the third anniversary of his administration.
The governor mentioned West Itam Secondary School, in Itu, and the Uyo High School, in Uyo, as examples of two secondary schools with student population of over 4,000 and 5,000 respectively in the state because of high enrollment.
“You can imagine even if I provide 1,000 seats today, the surge in population and the way they handle it, tomorrow if you go there, you might see 100 students not being able to get seats, and you’ll go and write ‘oh, Akwa Ibom, this is where we are.’.
“Even the oil money you are reporting, you don’t report that I don’t even get 20 per cent of what I should be getting.
“While our oil prices are going up, our revenue is coming down. And this is where you should shout to the whole world, but nobody is shouting,” the governor said.
Mr Emmanuel said his desire to do more for the state was being frustrated by lack of adequate resources.