On Monday, January 11, 2022, residents of Maiduguri, Borno state capital, woke to a day of horrible news when a fire outbreak from an unknown source burnt down one of the multimillion naira mega schools.
The 2-story-built state of the earth public school that was started in 2020 and completed last year, cost the state about N400 million.
Due to the imperial nature of the mega school – a signature of Governor Zulum’s numerous accomplishments – it took a presidential tape cutting, by the Nigerian leader, Muhammadu Buhari,- to inaugurate the enormous infrastructure cited along the Maiduguri-Gamboru road.
Interestingly, but on a sad note, the new school caught fire on the first day it was officially opened to the newly admitted children to begin classes.
When the news of the fire outbreak filtered into the township of Maiduguri, many were left spellbound by the unpleasantness of the information. The first thing of concern that comes to mind concerning the fire was the quantum of public resources invested in erecting the school. Each mega school in Borno costs at least N400 million to build.
Principal of the school, Saidu Umaru, said 19 classrooms and three laboratories were completely burnt by the fire on Monday morning, being the first day of the school resumption.
The fire started around 7:30 in the morning shortly after the assembly, but we cannot say where the fire came from,” the principal said.
But Governor Zulum, like many other discerning minds, did not believe that a school that has not been connected to any source of electricity could just spark into flames on its own on day one. Whether it is believed or not the circumstances surrounding the burning of the mega school has established a prima facia possibility of deliberate sabotage.
“This school was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari barely six months ago; the government has spent a huge amount of money in building it, but unfortunately, it has been completely razed down”, Governor Zulum lamentef with deep bitterness.
“Preliminary investigations show that there is some level of sabotage because I see no reason why a school like this which has not been connected to the national grid, no PHCN, no generator, no nothing, you just see fire at the last floor of the building.”
“There are 59 classrooms in this school, there are two thousand five hundred students who were admitted into the school and yesterday (Monday) was the first day we opened the school since the president commissioned it.
He still suspects human involvement as the cause of the flame that consume the school. But the enigma is who?
Governor Zulum did not believe in any possible accident as the cause of the fire because no single factor that could accidentally cause an inferno logically fits into the narrative.
If one is to analyse the fire incident critically, certain questions need to be answered; and that includes probing why should a school be up in flames hours after the pupils resumed classes for the first time?
Why did a school that has no source of electricity yet start to burn from the topmost floor in the early hours of the day?
Why was it that it is only the school that is situated along the path that leads to the Governor’s village, Mafa that got burnt and not any other one?
To the first question, one could be tempted to further wonder loudly that could it be that the school got burnt in the morning of the first resumption day because that was when the assumed arsonist could gain access to the school?
To the second question, one could also speculate that the fire started from the topmost floor because the suspected arsonist(s) may have probably needed a location that would be off the prying eyes of the people to set the school on fire.
To the third question, one could also assume that the school was targeted for arson because it cited along the route that is most frequently used by the governor and his attention could easily be drawn to it.
It these three hypothesis can be subjected to in-depth logics, then the possibility of getting a suspect and the issue of motive can also be established.
Now, one could be asking wildly about who could want a brand new school burnt and to what end was the ulterior motive? Is it driven by anger or by revenge or ill-intended selfish interest?
During the reigns of Governor Kashim Shettima, several public schools were mysteriously burnt. There were insinuations that some of the newly built schools or the ones renovated after they were destroyed by Boko Haram were set on fire again by some selfish and evil-minded politicians or contractors who knew fresh contracts would be awarded to them. At that time it was, certainly, not all schools that got burnt that was the handiwork of Boko Haram. Yes. That is now history though.
However, in this fresh case, Governor Zulum had ruled out Boko Haram’s involvement, rather he is appointing at some kind of sabotage by some yet to be identified persons.
Though this writer is not a trained investigator or forensic expert, but yours sincerely believes that to get to the root of a conundrum sutuations like this there is an absolute need to distrust the obvious.
Going forward, government should as much as possible try to invest in ICT gadgets like CCT cameras on multimillion naira projects like this. Had there been some installed secret cameras, who knows, the saboteurs(s) who wickedly set the N400 million Mega schools on fire might easily be picked by one of the cameras.
But for now, the million naira question is – Who is sabotaging Governor Zulum’s works?