A member of the National Youth Service Corps, Lateef Babatunde, on Friday, handed over a rehabilitated block of two classrooms to his host community in Lafia Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
The block of classrooms, a personal community development project of Mr. Babatunde, a graduate of Political Science from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, is one of just two blocks in Mararaban Akunza Primary School.
What could have been the third block collapsed two years and has since not been rehabilitated.
However, three communities in Lafia Local Government Area – Mararaban, Akunza and Gandu – depend on the school as the sole source of primary education for their children.
Before Mr. Babatunde’s intervention, the school, for six years, had only one block of classrooms with basic facilities. The other one, which Mr. Babatunde rehabilitated, used to be without roof, furniture, doors and windows, and its walls were cracked.
The corps member, who serves with Federal University, Lafia, gave the block of classrooms a re-birth with a new roof, 40 desks and chairs, iron doors and windows, and rehabilitation of the dilapidated walls.
He told PREMIUM TIMES he spent N352,000 to execute the project.
“I sent out letters to ministries and other agencies of government but only Lafia Local Government, the House of Assembly member, representing Lafia and Nasarawa state constituency, State Water Board responded,” Mr. Babatunde, nicknamed “Akure” in his days as an OAU student, said.
“I got some amount of money from the PTA of the school, the local government council, some staffs and management of Federal University like the Vice Chancellor, Bursar, Registrar, Deputy Vice Chancellor etc.
They gave me money because the University is my place of primary assignment.
Also private individuals like bankers and businessmen helped me when I was executing the project.”
Mr. Babatunde was the head of OAU Political Science 2013 class. One his classmates, Adeshina Shakeerat, told PREMIUM TIMES that he is committed “to service,”
“He is a funny character but he would not mind insults from lecturers to ensure we had good academic welfare,” another classmate, Ayoade Oladotun, said.
His former university teacher, Olugbenga Afolobi, a Senior Lecturer, said, “I know him to be a hard working student who has always had interest in community service even when he was a student. He is above average academically and God fearing.”
At the commissioning ceremony of the project on Friday, the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, represented by Phoebe Gywando, a Permanent Secretary, State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, was present as well as other officials of the state university.
“We appreciate the activities of this corper for this project,” said the SUBEB boss, adding that, “Even though he was called many names, abused and sent out of offices when he was sourcing for funds, he still persevered and did this wonderful project.”
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor said, “Mr Lateef Sikiru Babatunde is serving his fatherland, he saw a need begging for help. He found some funds and started.
“If there are 1,000 corper Lateef in Nigeria, Nigeria would have been better than this. He is not from here (Nasarawa state) but spent his whole strength and skills to start and complete the projects.”
The Deputy Governor, who spoke through his representative, regretted the inability of the state government to assist Mr. Babatunde.
“Corper Lateef don’t be angry with the people most especially government agencies that all of them virtually did not assist you. We would help others after you. We did not help because of the financial state of our country. We are very sorry,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, the Chairman of the Local Government Area said, “we appreciate him for this project and we say the Lord will solve all his problems as he has solved the problems of these three communities. We are very grateful.”
The NYSC Zonal Inspector expressed satisfaction with Mr. Babatunde’s service year, saying he has performed “excellently well” in the core components of the scheme, including orientation course, place of primary assignment and community development service.
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