By Nasiru Tanimu (U13MM2012)
In Nigeria, many educational institutions built in precolonial and post-colonial era have collapsed not because their foundations were not properly established, but as a result of poor management and maintenance.
One of such great institutions fast losing its old glories is the 95-year old Barewa College, a once famous post-primary school in Northern Nigeria located in the ancient city of Zaria in Kaduna State.
Built in 1921, Barewa College is the alma mater of several Nigerian leaders, including past heads of government like Tafawa Bello, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Muhammed and Umaru Yar’Adua as well as the current President, Muhammadu Buhari
Perhaps more importantly is the fact that the great Northern leader, Sir Ahmadu Bello was a product of Barewa College. The Sardauna of Sokoto is undoubtedly the most influential leader in the Northern region and has remained so 50 years after his death.
Apart from the aforementioned personalities, the school boasts of the likes of ex-Chief Justices Mohammed Bello and Idris Kutigi; Justice Mamman Nasir; ex-Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Coomassie; two ex-CBN governors, Ahmed Abdulkadir and Adamu Ciroma; late Dr. Bala Usman, Prof. Jibril Aminu, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Prof. Iya Abubakar and Governor Nasir el Rufai among others. These are individuals whose contributions to the development of the country are well documented.
The question is: With the array of high level personalities as alumni of the school, how come it is in its present condition? Is the influence of these old boys in the society not impacting positively on their alma mater?
When LEADERSHIP visited the school last week, one of the staff who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak said the school had not benefited much from its many highly placed alumni. He said the school was having severe power problem to the extent that it had to, on many occasions, source money from Parents Teachers Association (PTA) in order to fuel the school generator. The situation, according to him, persists with students relying on candles and torch-light to read at night in the absence of electricity.
Another equally perplexing issue facing the school is water scarcity made worse by the highly unreliable electricity supply. An SS2 student of the school who hails from Kano said water shortage and power problem had more than anything dented the image of the school. He pleaded that urgent steps be taken to ameliorate the situation and give the students a sense of pride.
This is not to say that Barewa College is the only public school going through hard times. However, going by its intimidating record of producing a high percentage of Nigeria’s past and present leaders, the school should not be allowed to decay. It is in this regard that a clarion call should be made to the alumni of the school to rally support and restore its lost glory. A conducive learning environment, according to a Lagos-based public affairs analyst, Suraj Oyewale, has been proven to be a vital factor in students’ success.
“It’s unfortunate that Barewa College is now basking in its lost glory. It’s vibrant alumni and the state government should do all they can to provide teaching materials and employ standard teachers, upgrade the hostels and provide the basic necessities needed by the students. Despite the dwindling standard of the school, it has remained an emblem of hope and education in the ancient city of Zaria and Nigeria as a whole,” an indigene of Zaria and a final year student of urban and regional planning, ABU Zaria, Yunusa Salim Ibrahim said.
The call for Barewa College Old Boys Association (BOBA) to rise to the challenge of developing their alma mater was further made by an alumnus of the school and current Sokoto State Commissioner of Police, Salisu Fagge who, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on May 11, 2016, emphasized the need for alumni members to contribute towards the development of their alma mater.
With the personalities which the school parades on its alumni list, it is expected to rank one of the best post-primary schools in the country. An intervention from the alumni of the school is necessary to help the college reclaim the academic standard set nearly a century ago.
The point should be made that the task of rebuilding Barewa College should not be borne by its alumni alone, both the state and federal governments should be key partners in this regard. The classrooms, library, hostels and the clinic are all begging for renovation and should ne tackled as a matter of urgency to shore up the school’s status. Also, the staff lack basic needs and should be taken into consideration in whatever the relevant authorities decide to do in the school.