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Investigation… Aregbesola and the scam called Opon-Imo (2)

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Opon-Imo

In this second part of the serial, Ripples Nigeria presents the concluding part of the findings from an investigative trip to Osun State to ascertain the fate of the Opon-Imo (Tablet of knowledge) introduced by the Rauf Aregbesola administration, as part of efforts to improve education in the state, but which has turned out to be a sham.

 

The brains behind the scam

Further investigation by Ripples Nigeria showed that Kabiru Aregbesola, the state governor’s first son, may be the brain behind the Opon-Imo project.

“But you cannot see Kabiru, who you’ll see is Bamgbo Bashorun. He is Kabiru’s best friend and a son to Aregbesola’s best friend, Chief Bashorun, whose first name I can’t remember at the moment,” a source alleged.

Bashorun, the project director of Opon-Imo, who is also seen as its Chief Executive Officer, our source alleged, was only a figure head, insisting that Aregbesola and his son Kabiru control Opon-Imo. “They are the ones in charge of it,” the source maintained.

Mr Ajao supporting this claim stated, “At one of the presentations, it took the intervention of a very high ranking chieftain of APC for us to know that the son of our governor was the one in charge of the contract of Opon-Imo. He revealed that Kabiru Aregbesola was the man in charge after he asked him to stand up.”

Reactions

For PDP, the major opposition party in the state, its reaction was not unexpected. Speaking through its secretary, it noted that,  “Opon-Imo is a very sorry story to tell. It’s unfortunate. We will not be speaking majorly as an opposition party. We are first and foremost citizens of Osun State before we were listed into whichever political divide that we find ourselves. So, we have a duty, first and foremost, to our state before we can now begin to talk of primordial sentiments of party division here and there.

“That the government of the state came out to say that the tablet will contain the entire curriculum required for our children to excel in their educational pursuit, especially in the secondary schools, was cheery news regardless of whichever party you find yourself. But most unfortunately, it turned out to be a huge fraud.

“A huge fraud in that if you catalogue the whole thing, first and foremost the thing was launched in faraway America, catting away stupendous sums, very scarce state resources. It was launched in Ilesha and so much money was spent. This same Opon-Imo was launched in Osogbo and so much money was involved. So much media hype, so much expectations and so much hullaballoo of this so called Opon-Imo, only for it to come out to be a big disappointment, to our psyche, to our children and to the educational pursuit of Osun State in general.

“If you go deep into this, because we have done our own studies and investigations on the issue of Opon-Imo, there is quite a great deal of misinformation, inadequacies that cannot allow adequate education for our children.”

A parent in Osogbo said, “Opon-Imo to me is a jamboree.”

Read also: Exclusive… The plot to cut down Tinubu’s power in South West

Another parent also from Osogbo told Ripples Nigeria that the project was nothing but a mere scam and sham.

One teacher who refused to be mentioned, or his school named, described it as “wastage of resources”. He continued, “As it is now we are not waiting for anyone again, both the students and the teachers see it as wastage. Since the tablets cannot be distributed to all SS1-3 students it is wastage,” he said.

When Ripples Nigeria contacted the APC publicity secretary, Mr Kunle Oyatomi, to respond on the issues, he referred our reporter to the governor’s spokesman, Mr Okanlawon.

After several attempts, our reporter was able to reach Okanlawon on his GSM number: 08030482098. First, he requested that a Correspondent in the state working with a Lagos-based newspaper, who was helping our Reporter to facilitate a meeting with him, should call him to ascertain the authenticity of our reporter.

After two different Correspondents working in the state spoke with him and vouched for our reporter, he asked our Reporter to reach him on phone for a meeting by 5pm. At 5pm when our Reporter tried reaching him, his number was unavailable.

Continued efforts to reach him the next day went through around 4:21pm at which point, he again promised to get back to our reporter in about an hour and 30 minutes. Two hours later our Reporter tried again to reach him but failed.

Our Correspondent thereafter sent him a text message which read thus: “18/10/2016, 7:42:33 AM: Ebere Ndukwu: Good day, Mr Semiu  Okanlawan. After several failed attempts to reach you to react on several  allegations levelled against  your principal on the Opon-Imo project and other issues while I was in Osogbo, I’ve returned to Lagos.

“More attempts to reach you on phone have been abortive, hence this long text. We are still interested in your side of the story before going to the press anytime soon”.

He replied about 24 hours later, and stated that he really wanted to meet and answer questions from our Reporter during the visit to Osun, but unfortunately could not. He, however, asked to know what the allegations were, which our Correspondent highlighted in another text message to him thus:

  1. There’re allegations that less than 40,000 Opon-Imo tablets were distributed. What is the actual number distributed by government?
  2. That there is no factory where it’s produced in Osun as promised by government.
  3. That it has only been given to SS3 students, and not all of them got it
  4. That no school or student at present has Opon-Imo.
  5. That the last time it was distributed was only in one school in Ede.
  6. That Kabiru, the Gov’s son, is the brain behind it.
  7. That it cost the state N8.6billion.
  8. That it’s out-dated.

Mr Okanlawon called back later in the day, and in a 21minute-15-seconds conversation, neither confirmed nor denied the allegations, arguing that most of the issues raised have been responded to by government and that such reactions are in the public domain. He promised that he may only respond to the number of Opon-Imo in circulation.

He particularly dwelt on the issue of the governor’s son being the brain behind Opon-Imo and the gadget costing N8.6billion, insisting that Osun government has clarified those issues long ago, advising our Reporter to go seek them out.

Asked if he could provide links where such rebuttals or government clarification on the amount invested in Opon-Imo could be found, he questioned our research abilities and at some point cut the phone conversation.

He never clarified, nor provided the information on the aspects he said he would, as at the time of going to press.

Ripples Nigeria, true to maintaining highest standard of professionalism, is following up on the Opon-Imo project and welcomes additional information from all stakeholders.

By Ebere Ndukwu …

 

RipplesNigeria …without borders, without fears

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0 Comments

  1. OneOsunBoi

    October 21, 2016 at 6:46 am

    I appreciate your effort in hearing the side of the government but you can be rest assured there is nothing to hide. I know for sure the governor’s son has nothing to do with the project.

    In a clear competitive bidding process, a winner emerge, who the winner is, is immaterial at the moment, all that matters was they had/have the capacity to deliver.

    Also, the Opon-Imo is NOT outdated, again I say, it is NOT outdated. It contains approved syllabus and content, 10 years past questions forf WAEC, NECO and UMTE. Next week, distribution to all ss3 students will start again for the new session. There are photos, videos and signature evidence from the students to back this up.

    Moreover, the recent successes in Education can largely be attributed to Opon-Imo. The state has a 46% pass rate in the WAEC examination. It’s the best it has been in the past 10 years. We refused to be deceived with comparism to other states, we are comparing ourselves to where we are coming from. Before Aregbesola took over governance in 2010, Osun’s education was in shambles with the state recording a 6% pass rate in 2007. So you see, Opon-Imo plus other policies and projects has held us so far.

    And for the umpteenth time, understand that Opon-Imo, is an indigenous Computer Programmed Instruction (CPI) with locally produced content designed for the Nigerian secondary education system is preloaded with lesson notes on seventeen (17) subjects offered by students in the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) and NECO SSCE.

    It wasn’t launched in America as claimed by the PDP.
    Opon-Imo is also preloaded with seven extra-curricular subjects such as Sexuality Education, Civic Education, Yoruba History, Ifa Traditional Religion, Computer Education and Entrepreneurship Education, and Twelve Thousand Yoruba Proverbs.

    Also preloaded inside the Opon-Imo tablet is over 40,000 past examination questions spanning a period of ten years, for (private) practice, 63 e-textbooks covering 17 subjects’ areas that students do register for in external examinations and 51 audio tutorials installed as study aid.

    • Tope Solomon

      October 21, 2016 at 8:04 am

      You sound like you know so well about this Opon-Imo project. My hunch tells me you are the ‘winner’ that emerged from the competitive bidding process. But that’s truly ‘immaterial’ at the moment.

      You haven’t mentioned anything on the allegation that no school or student at present has the Opon-Imo tablet. What good is having 40,000 tablets with so much academic materials as you have mentioned and is not in use by those they are meant for?

      Having a loaded tablet is not the issue, but how much it has improved Education in the state is the concern. A good businessman would normally look out for Returns of Investment.

      • OneOsunBoi

        January 30, 2017 at 4:32 pm

        Google is your friend.

        You may not know what to type, so google, ‘Opon Imo Distribution’ or ‘Improvement in Osun WASSCE’.

        Don’t mention.

  2. DObservation

    October 21, 2016 at 7:22 am

    The writer of this piece must display more professionalism in putting out an unbiased piece. Information may be hard to find but it can’t be abandoned in the guise of “he didnt reply me”. The onus is on the writer to find proof to back up pieces like these. There has been so much propaganda against the performing governor of Osun, that reports trying to implicate him do not attract any importance anymore. So if you want to be taken seriously, you do not conduct a piece on Aregbesola’s administration and display PDP’s opinion as public reaction, its not done. Opon Imo is a very credible idea that will have a lasting effect on the education and exposure of the students in Osun, and for as long as Osun can afford it, it will be continued. That is what we should ask for. Policies are never abandoned or declared failed because of temporary challenges, that will be a very flawed thinking.

    • Emmanuel Alayegbami

      October 21, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      you are right . Opon-imo is such a laudable policy that deserves an award for Aregbesola.

  3. Roland Uchendu Pele

    October 21, 2016 at 7:53 am

    How could there be a factory where such gadgets are produced in Osun state! Were expatriates involved in the deal, or we now have tech engineers resident in Osun state? And if it is confirmed that no school or student at the moment has Opon-Imo, then it means the N8.6bn used to finance the project has vanished into thin air.

  4. david craig

    October 21, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Aregbesola enriching his family at the expense of the people of osun and their educational sector. i am not surprised by this findings as it is known that gov. aregbesola is a scam, who has come to ruin osun state.

  5. yanju omotodun

    October 21, 2016 at 8:39 am

    let’s assumed Gov. Aregbesola said they will be producing the gadgets in Osun state, are Osun people so daft that they won’t knew that, that was just a mere talk? is Osun now China ? EFCC should investigate this Opon-imo policy and if the governor is guilty of diverting the money to his associates or his pocket, then the law should take it due course.

  6. Animashaun Ayodeji

    October 21, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Billions of Naira went down into the project without having anything to show for it. Federal Government should take up this matter against the state. Aregbesola needs to give account of how he came about the opon-imo and how far he’s gone with the project

  7. Margret Dickson

    October 21, 2016 at 9:08 am

    This opon-imo must be the reason behind lack of money in the state, the state government invested so much in it and forgot to take care of the people. Salaries are not being paid completely, there’s hardship in the state, just because the state government was stupid to have invested without foresight.

  8. JOHNSON PETER

    October 21, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    most people who commented on this Opon-imo project are people who know nothing about Osun state, yet they are watering their mouth to utter rubbish. Who ever says the Opon-imo project is a scam, such a person is a scammer who just feel like scamming the Governor.

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