BY CHARLES ADINGUPU
The Igbobi College, Yaba in Lagos was a beehive of activities last weekend. At noon, many distinguished men in long flown agbada from virtually all works of life besieged the school premises.
The conviviality of old schoolmates who were only torn apart by the vicissitude of life thrilled. The banters were exciting. You did not need anyone to capture the atmosphere. It was that of old friends who had lost touch with one another for a long time. In their usual camaraderie as in the days of yore, they cheered and threw jives at one another, recalling old memories of yester years with nostalgia.
But beyond this prism, tucked the Spartan discipline they all imbibed from Igbobi College as students. This, they demonstrated by their punctuality. For them, it was not just a social gathering but a special event for the Igbobi College Old Boys’ Association tagged the 83rd Founders’ Day Anniversary, Annual Luncheon and Merit Award. Amid the prolonged exchange of pleasantries, the ICOBA’s President, Engr. T.O.M. Ipaye tried to calm the old boys who were carried away by the reunion of old folks who had lost contact for quite some time now.
In his speech, the President enjoined his fellow colleagues to endeavour to contribute meaningfully to the development of Igbobi College. Part of his speech was from the extract of the school’s recessional hymn which states that “life is great, so sing about it”. The President who led all old and present students in the affirmation of loyalty to the school implored them to always remember that they are representatives of Igbobi College and as such, should strive at all times to restrain from any word or deed that would bring discredit upon it.
Against this backdrop, he urged the old boys to be worthy ambassador of the school by playing their parts in the transmission of its laudable virtues to others not less but greater and better than it was transmitted to them.
However, the event peaked with the conferment of merit awards to old students of the institution who had distinguished themselves in their various professional callings as well as nation building. Among those so honoured were Engr. Adelana Odutola, of 68/70 set who bagged professional excellence award, Ambassador Ademola Ogunnaike of 68/70 set who was recognized for his immense service to the nation, Engr. Akin Sobande, 71/73 set got professional excellence award.
Others in the same category were Prof. Adetola Badejo of 71/73 set, Mr. Adetokunbo Aromokaran 71/73 set, Mr. Owen Omorodion 75/77 set and Dr. Ebun Bamgboye of 77/79 set. Mr. Muyiwa Adetiba of the 70/72 set who was recognised for his professional excellence in journalism gained admission into the college at the age of twelve. In his early days in school, he was reputed to be a voracious reader. This studious disposition of young Muyiwa, saw him consuming two books in a week inclusive of novels by Edgar Wallac, Peter Cheney and James Hadley Chase.
However, by the end of his school certificate year in form five, and the early weeks of A levels, Muyiwa wrote a play titled ‘When Love Dies’ which was later adopted into a school play and re-titled “A Crime of Passion.” During this period, Muyiwa was involved with the production of the school magazine, “The Eye Opener” and in 1973, he won second prize of a BBC short story competition. He also teamed up with other old Igbobians in the production of another elite magazine for secondary schools in Lagos known as “Teen and Twenty.”
Muyiwa, however, slashed his first tooth in journalism by the end of 1973 as features writer for The Punch magazine and steadily grew to become a columnist for one of the group’s magazines, “The Happy Home magazine”. Consequent upon the technical training acquired, Muyiwa rose to become an Assistant Editor and Star Writer for one of the largest newspaper groups in Nigeria. This vintage position exposed him to the vagaries of the journalism profession the world over.
By the age of 28, Muyi had reached the Zenith of his profession having been appointed Editor of Sunday Punch, and two years later, he became the pioneer Editor of Vanguard newspapers. He had the unique opportunity of being one of the few Editors who have edited Sunday/Saturday and Daily papers at the same time. As an entrepreneur, Muyi set up his own publication, Prime People in 1986, which by 1989 became the largest selling weekday magazine in Nigeria. Ovation followed his recitation.
Also, the recitation of Adewunmi Ogunsanya of 79/81 set elicited a thunderous applause. Ogunsanya who invited his contemporaries to join him at the podium is a reputed lawyer and astute businessman. He played a big role in the coming of Multichoice, the South African company that pioneered real cable television in Nigeria. He is the current chairman.
As at the last count, Adewunmi is the current chairman of over ten companies in commercial real estate development, agro and agro allied and broadcasting.But most importantly is Adewunmi’s active involvement in the rehabilitation of his Alma Mater, Igbobi College. As the Chairman of ICOBA 78/71 set, from 2012-2014, he led his classmates to mobilize resources for the execution of various projects in the school.
These include complete roofing of the Science Complex, provision of furniture and consumables for its operation, the continuous donation of books to the school library from 1989-2012, the renovation of ICT block, the provision of a borehole and improved water supply, the renovation of the school kitchen, supply and fitting of modern kitchen equipment and provision of a modern and befitting sports complex.
The highpoint of the ceremony was a post-humous award conferred on late Mr. Olufemi Segun of 74/76 set. He got a standing ovation. The late Igbobian whose award was received by his wife, Mrs. Bisi Segun and daughter was a first class graduate in Languages from the University of Ife. He was a polyglot and fluent in French, Portuguese, German with a working knowledge of Spanish, Italian, Ibo and Hausa. With his background, he got employment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was seconded to the State House during the presidency of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Femi served three heads of State.
Femi who also bagged a Masters degree was a renowned diplomat, an ace compere and an accomplished linguist got a merit award in the category of Service to Igbobi College. Responding on behalf of the other awardees, Senior Muyiwa Adetiba said the ICOBA award and that he received from the Guild of Editors remain the most two outstanding awards in his life.
He said that this gathering has brought back memories of years back as though it was only yesterday they left the school as each one of them recalled with effortless ease pranks played while in school. The veteran journalist who hailed the school management for inculcating impeccable moral virtues on them, said these vices have helped in making them a better persons in the society. Adetiba, however, recalled that though, many things have changed even with the sweet memories of years back, assured that things can still be better.