The family of the late Reverend Timothy Adetunji Fakunle, who founded the Fakunle Comprehensive High School in Oshogbo, has asked Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State to return the school to the family. The school has been embroiled in a controversy after the state government’s recent decision to reclaim its site and turn it into a Shoprite store.
In a recent letter to the governor, signed on behalf of the family by Victor Fakunle, the family said its members had discussed the state’s new education policy and had resolved to keep the legacy of their father rather than leave it to the Governor’s idea of a commercial project.
A few months ago, it emerged that Governor Aregbesola intended to demolish the Fakunle Comprehensive High School and devote its site to an extension of the Shoprite Mall planned for Oshogbo, the Osun State Capital. Sources in the state stated that the Shoprite business belongs to Bola Tinubu, Governor Aregbesola’s political godfather and a prominent chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
However, other sources in the state allege that the Osun State Governor’s plan for the space now occupied by Fakunle School was to develop a motor-park. What is no longer in doubt is that the school has been slated for demolition.
Last February, students of the school held public protests against the planned demolition that closed the major road in Oshogbo. In solidarity with the protesters, the alumni of the Fakunle High School also voiced their opposition to the idea. In September, when the state transferred all teachers out of the Fakunle School, parents and other stakeholders thronged the premises of the school to retrieve all effects they had donated to the school. The removed items included roofing sheets, note boards, and a variety of appliances.
When schools resumed in October, the Baptist school shut its gates against new students reassigned to it from other schools following the state policy of merger of schools. The Baptist fellowship followed the closure with a protest.
In a follow-up, the Osun State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) wrote to the governor protesting the idea of merging faith-based schools. The group asserted that the merger was likely to nullify the moral and doctrinal sanctity of faith-based institutions.
Some alumni of the school, who gathered at the school premises to discuss how to save the school from demolition, were arrested.
At an education stakeholders’ meeting on September 28, 2013 at the Salvation Army Middle School in Oshogbo, the state’s Deputy Governor, Grace Titi-Laoye Tomori, claimed that the Fakunle family had approved the state’s plan to use the site of the Fakunle School for a different project.
“State officials brazenly lied to us, telling us that the family had approved what the governor was doing,” said an alumnus of the school.
The Fakunle family had not approved the state’s plan. A source said that Governor Aregbesola later tried to persuade a member of the family to back his plan. At a belated meeting with the family, the governor reportedly apologized for not making contact with them before making public his plan to demolish the school. He also claimed that the demolition was to pave the way for some “developmental project” he failed to specify. A source at the meeting disclosed that the governor’s effort to win the family’s backing was a woeful failure.
In a recent letter to the government, signed by Mr. Victor Fakunle, a pastor, the Fakunle family stated that the school was a legacy the family would not release for demolition.
Citing its prime location, the family insisted that the school was ideal for the governor’s much-hyped policy of mega-education. The family added that they were willing to take over the school, insisting that there must be no tampering with their father’s educational legacy. The family asked Mr. Aregbesola to commence the process of returning the school to the family.