By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
A three-day programme marking the 80th anniversary of one of the country’s leading secondary schools, Edo College Benin starts today.
Old boys of the college which has produced some of the country’s leading lights in the professions are returning to the school for a reunion that would also witness the donation of projects to the leading school. Edo College is the premier secondary school in the Edo/Delta States axis and in its heydays drew patronage from the Southeast, South-South and the Southwest.
As part of the celebrations, the newest students hostel in the all boarding school, College House is to be renamed Erediauwa House in memory of the immediate past Benin Monarch, who was himself an old boy. The renaming would be presided over by His Royal Majesty Oba Ewaure II, himself also an old boy.
Ahead of the celebrations, old boys of the institution have been contributing towards the renovation of the institution. Pastor Chris Oyakhiolome, whose walk with God took definite shape in the institution in 1979 after having been Social Prefect of Speer House has singularly renovated Akenzua House. Oyakhiolome’s effort was despite the fact that he was a Speerian all his time in Edo College. His fellow cleric, Pastor Chris Okotie, a lawyer, also graduated from the school in 1978 during which he played a key role in the school’s musical group and developed the talents that eventually got national acclaim after leaving the school.
The other houses, Speer House, Ozolua House, Eweka House, Nana House and Esigie House, are also being renovated by contributions by old boys at home and abroad.
Following arrivals today, old boys would line up and make a procession to the Assembly Ground for an assembly. There would be reminisces of the school’s daily assembly and prayer time during which the Songs Of Praise hymnal was used.
Following the assembly, there would be a turning of the sod for a new assembly hall. This would be followed by the formal handing over of the renovated dining hall to the school.
This evening old boys would return to the hostel for a reunion and mentoring session with old boys interacting with present students.
A public lecture, anniversary gala, and awards ceremony is holding tomorrow at Edo Hotel Marquee GRA, Benin City. The event would also witness the launching of the Development Fund for a new assembly hall and the ECOBA Alumni Centre.
The award session would see honours bestowed on some products of the school. Among those to be so honoured are Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Pastor Oyakhilome, Pastor Chris Okotie, eminent accountant, Senator David Dafinone, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Jos Professor Emmanuel Emovon, newspaper publisher, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena and the Iyase of Benin, Chief Sam Igbe.
Governor Okowa who was in the school between 1970 and 1976 is to chair the gala anniversary.
On Sunday morning old boys will join the current students for a thanksgiving service in the college premises. Sunday mornings were a favourite for Edo College students, being when their favourite menu, tea, bread and scrambled eggs were served. Emotions may be stirred if the returning old boys now connoisseurs of the world’s finest cuisines would have a nostalgia for the menu that drew the whole school to the dining hall in their days at Edo College.
National president of Edo College Old Boys Association, ECOBA Dr. Rueben Osahon speaking ahead of the three day anniversary yesterday was thankful to God saying it was a landmark worthy of celebration. He was especially grateful for the fact that the school is regaining its reputation with the contribution of the old boys and cooperation of the government which continues to run the school.
The events in Benin are expected to be replicated across the world by ECOBA branches in subsequent days especially in Lagos and London.
In Lagos on December 9, a public lecture is to be delivered at the Metropolitan Club by an old boy, Mr. Victor Odozi, a former deputy governor of Central Bank, under the chairmanship of Dr. A.A.A. Obiorah of Eko Hospitals, himself also an old boy.