By Emmanuel Edukugho
Government College, Ughelli, (GCU), one of the foremost secondary schools in the country got a boost for its Vision 2015 project with a donation of N50 million by Sir Joseph Arumemi – Johnson at the annual luncheon organised by Government College Ughelli old Boys Association (GCUOBA), held Sunday in Lagos.
Launching the GCU Vision 2015 attended by several prominent, successful and accomplished old students who had made indelible marks in the society – in academia, business and government, he said that there is need for an educational institution like Government College Ughelli to have a vision.
Arumemi revealed how he cherished the school which had produced great intellectuals, seasoned academics, highly rated professionals in all areas of specialisations, administrators and captains of industry.
â€œThe first Nigerian Pilot, Captain Hayes was from Government College Ughelli. I benefited from GCUOBA when Engineer Joseph Akpieyi gave me a chance to execute a project after seeing my CV and felt I can do it.
He gave us opportunity. Nigeria has competent people who can build a refinery according to the Ambassador of Venezuela. I cherish GCUOBA. A new aircraft in our fleet will be called GCU (Government College, Ughelli).
â€œThe GCU Vision 2015 is to be the centre of educational excellence of first choice in Nigeria committed to providing total education of exceptional quality to all pupils to achieve the highest standards in learning and character as the light house of excellence in other secondary schools in Nigeria while being comparable to the best international schools.â€
Other donors were Admiral Festus Porbeni (Rtd), Deacon Gamaliel Onosode, Engineer Godwin Omene, Chief Godwin Adokpaye, Mr. Spencer Onosode, Mr and Mrs Wisdom Dafinone, Sunny Ashaolu, Engineer Afolabi (Rev) and Engineer Funsho Kupolokun.
Others were representatives of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Dr. Jackson Obaseki, St. Maria Goretti Old Girls Association, Chief Greg Ero, Dr. John, Dr. Obiora and several volunteer launchers.
Dr. Taiwo Idemudia, president, GCUOBA, paid tribute to the members who have contributed to the development of the school in the form of rehabilitating and refurbishing dilapidated buildings, facilities and the launching of the GCU Vision 2015.
Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, secretary to the Delta State Government who represented Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, said that he is very impressed with what the old students are doing to re-position the College.
â€œIâ€™m very impressed. Government College Ughelli was and continues to be one of the foremost secondary schools in Nigeria, with strong relationship with Federal Government College, Warri and Edo College, BeninÂ City.
Education is still far more than having buildings.â€
He pointed to decay, confusion in policy direction, but that the education system still has some good ambassadors who have put pressure on government.
â€œHence Government College Ughelli has one principal not two principals holding forth. There are still a lot to be done. Need to change the mindsets of parents, teachers, etc. They are not committed even with good infrastructures. We need parents to be committed because education is not about money alone.
Try to build a new school that will impact on our children.â€
On the GCU Vision 2015, Okowa said:
â€œI am proud of you all – especially as regards to the Vision of the school as a centre of education excellence. I am sure that by 2015, it would be centre of excellence, school of first choice in Nigeria, God will continue to guide all of us.
There are about 356 secondary schools in Delta, and if you consider that they have Junior and Senior segments, then there are over 700 secondary schools alone in Delta.â€
He advised GCUOBA to pay visits to the old school and looked forward to when the old students will host the annual luncheon in the school compound.
â€œThis will leave indelible mark in the students and will impact on them positively. What you are doing is assistance to government. Resources are limited, so this partnership will continue. We will do our best so that Government College, Ughelli becomes the school of first choice.
Our budget will support the college the more.â€
Principal of the school, Mr. Erhijefe Nelson, speaking at the occasion, recalled that GCU was split into two (Junior and Senior Schools) on the 9th of September, 1996.
â€œFor 13 years, the school had two parallel administrations with two principals, each independent of the other. The split came as a result of the Universal Basic Education programme of the Federal Government. With the split, it was glaring that things had fallen apart in terms of discipline and the tone of the school generally. Indiscipline got to its highest peak in 1996 and 1997. Students population rose to over 2,000 and due to lack of organisation, parents began to withdraw their children.â€
He told the distinguished gathering that of all the stakeholders of this great school, the old boys showed the greatest concern.
â€œThey swore that things must be put aright, pressure after pressure, their efforts paid off and on the 13th of August 2009, the two schools were reintegrated into one.
Here I must commend the benevolency of our listening Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan.â€
According to the principal, at the close of the 11th week of this term, the studentsâ€™ population stood at 779 out of which 311 are day students. With the 40 available classrooms, the students can be accommodated at an average of 35 in a class.
At present, there are 63 teaching staff in the various subjects taught in the school.
With this number, the teacher – students ratio is one teacher to 13 students.
He paid glowing tribute to GCUOBA, saying that, in the past five to six years, the association has spent over N100 million in the infrastructural development of the school, to the extent that it is now the attraction of everybody in the state.
â€œSeminars, workshops, meetings, public examinations, interviews, government ceremonies, sports, etc are now held in the school. Without the slightest exaggeration GCUOBA stands out as the greatest and most active in Delta State and indeed the country at large.â€
Highlight of the event was the GCUOBA merit awards given to Engineer Godwin Omene, first Nigerian Deputy MD, Shell, and pioneer MD of Niger Delta Development Commmission.
The other awardee was Felix Akpe who was admitted into the school in 1956 as a UAC scholar and passed out in 1961, holds MBA, Harvard, 1970 and retired from UBA in 1992.
The second category of Award was the prize for leadership and development which went to Chief Joseph Jemine Akpieyi, Deacon Gamaliel Oforitsenere Onosode got the highest honour for Distinguished Service to GCUOBA.
Among those present were Mr. Sam Amuka, Publisher of Vanguard, himself an old student, G.T.S. Adokpaye, who succeeded Onosode as President General GCUOBA Worldwide, Prof. Amoda, Prof. Akinyaju, Admiral Festus Porbeni (Rtd), and several other distinguished old students.