By Otunba Jide Adebayo
Ancient city Omu-Aran, the headquarter of Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State was agog with galaxial activities from Nov. 8 – 12, 2017 when Government Secondary School, Omu-Aran Old Boys Association (OGSSOBA) rolled out the drums for the Golden Jubilee anniversary of their Alma Mater.
The five-day event served as a re-union platform for many products of the school who, probably, had not met since they graduated from the college decades ago.
The ‘’old boys”, with different belly shapes and sizes, adorned the white-on-brown school uniform at the grand finale.
Top among them was the world-acclaimed Bishop David Olaniyi Oyedepo, the founder of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) and Chancellor of Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State and Landmark University, Omu-Aran.
The old boys radiantly distinguished themselves from the current students with their red ties, black belts and black shoes.
Their roll call also included the first Head Boy of the school, Engr. Abdulkadir Abdulgafar; Chairman of PANAT Group and MACADAMS Baking Systems, Prince Toyese Oyinlola; former Commander of the Nigerian Army Ordnance Corps and ECOMOG (UN) Sector Commander, Maj-Gen. Yemi Abidoye (Rtd); former Director of Nigerian Naval Medical Services, retired Rear Admiral Bayo Afolayan and a retired Permanent Secretary in the Kwara State civil service, Prince Ayo Fagbemi.
Others included retired Group Capt. Femi Oyinloye; former Kwara State Commissioner for Information, Youth, Sports and Culture, Otunba Jide Adebayo; former banking executive and Chairman MUCENTY Hotels, Alhaji Bisi Salami; Managing Director, Harmony Securities, Alhaji Adeola Balogun; Nasiru Ibrahim and Jubril Haruna, both serving permanent secretaries in the Kwara State service.
Also on parade were Alhaji Idris Musa, a director in the Federal Ministry of Environment; the Chief Whip, Kwara State House of Assembly, Alhaji Umar Mohammed Gunu; Alhaji Isa Adeboye, Alhaji Babatunde Olojoku, Engr. Muibi Yusuf, Engr. Bisi Gbadamosi of Landmark University and Engr. Ibrahim Yusuf, Chairman, Fadesh Integrated Engineering Services Ltd.
The celebrations kicked off with a courtesy call on the Olomu of Omu-Aran, Oba Oladele Ibitoye, Adogbajale bi Ileke II and a road show around the town by the Old Boys, many of who expressed surprise at the phenomenal changes in the development of the town.
Before holding its annual general meeting the following day, the Old Boys went on a facility tour of Landmark University and its farms. The university, which is reputed for agricultural sciences, has a commercial poultry and many other agro-allied ventures.
There was also the anniversary lecture at the commemorative speech and prize-giving day. It was delivered by prominent Ibadan legal luminary, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN).
In his lecture, titled “Functional education: An imperative for a rapid socio-economic development in Nigeria”, Prince Fagbemi urged the federal government to transform the education sector through bigger budgetary allocations to education.
If the federal government could not meet the 26% annual budget allocation prescribed by the United Nation, he said, it must not go too far below it.
The SAN identified corruption as the greatest impediment to our national development, adding that corruption was not only about gratification and treasury looting but also about our weird value system.
Prince Fagbemi stressed the need for greater emphasis on vocational education to arrest the menace of mass unemployment and endemic crime wave.
In his own remarks at the lecture, Bishop Oyedepo said that quality education was a prerequisite to socio-economic development of any nation.
“Where there is education, there goes civilization,” the renowned cleric said, noting that China became, arguably, the world number one economic power today through massive investment in the education of its citizens in European and American universities in the last few decades.
Oyedepo lamented the decay of infrastructure in most public schools, including universities in Nigeria and the unjustifiable budgetary allocations to nebulous projects and electioneering campaigns.
He warned that the future of the nation would be in jeopardy if proper attention was not paid to the quality education of the youths whom, he described, as the leaders of tomorrow.
On the economy, the chancellor urged Nigerians to look more critically inwards to tap all available opportunities, especially in the agricultural sector.
“We need to be more creative and innovative in our business plans and investments if we must break the shackles of poverty around us as a people,” he declared.
One of the highlights of the celebrations was the commissioning of the N300 million renovation projects executed by the Old Boys association.
They included comprehensive renovation of all classrooms, laboratories, staff rooms, administrative blocks, building of new toilets, tarring of one kilometer access road into the school assembly ground and its perimeter fencing.
A few years ago, the Old Boys had donated a 2000-seat Hall of Fame to the school.
“We give God all the glory for giving us the spirit to give back to the school which had impacted so much on our lives,” Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, a chartered accountant and President of OGSSOBA, said at the occasion.
Adeniyi, who is also an oil magnate and chairman of Safetrip Transport Company, lauded the sacrifices of his colleagues to give the school a befitting face-lift.
“It could have been a shame to be celebrating this Golden Jubilee in a completely run-down environment,” he said.
Commissioning the projects, the Special Adviser to the State Governor on Agriculture, Mr. Anu Ibiwoye, said that the achievements of the Old Boys was unprecedented not only in Kwara State but in the whole Nigeria.
“No where have I seen this type of massive project executed by any old boys association in Nigeria,” he said, unequivocally.
Ibiwoye, who represented the state Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, urged other old boys associations to take a cue from OGSSOBA by looking at the needs of their schools and intervening meaningfully.
Earlier in an address of welcome, the school principal, also an old boy, Mr. Segun Abifarin, commended the massive upgrading of the school facilities by the old boys which, he added, included former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke and immediate past Nigerian Ambassador to Lebanon, Amb. Oluwole Idowu.
He noted the transformation which the school had witnessed through the old boys and assured that it would propel its students and staff to higher academic performance.
Chronicling the achievements of the school, the principal said that its students won the one million Naira Star Prize of the state’s Tax Club Quiz competition sponsored by the State Internal Revenue Services on Dec. 1, 2016.
In the field of sports, Abifarin, who is also the National Vice-Chairman of the Association of Nigerian College Principals (ANCOPSS), said the school won the maiden State Governor Soccer Cup while it remained the team to beat in relay race in the last decade.
Among dignitaries at the grand finale were members of the Olomu-in-Council led by Petu Atayero, Chief Festus Awoniyi and the fourth principal of the school, Mr. Folorunsho Aguda.
The ceremony also witnessed presentation of merit awards to the state Governor Ahmed and the first Military Governor of the state, retired Brig.-Gen. David Bamigboye, who was represented by his younger brother and former military administrator of Bauchi and Osun states, Col. Theophilus Bamigboye (Rtd).
Other awardees were Bishop David Oyedepo and front-line industrialist in the state and Chairman, KAM Industries Ltd, Engr. Kamarudeen Yusuf, who launched the OGSSOBA Anniversary Magazine with one million Naira.
There were also cultural displays by many cultural troupes to add to colour to the ceremony.