By Funmi Ajumobi & Elizabeth Uwandu
For Chief Mrs. Betty Abiola Are, the outgoing Principal of Queens College, Yaba, one of Nigeria’s pioneer schools for girls, her 60th birthday celebration was a time of reflection and total appreciation to God for giving her the grace to turn the school around for good in all ramifications after the outbreak of diarrhoea epidemic.
Assuming office last year February in the heat of the trouble that visited the school and faced with the mandate to restore order not only on the school’s administrative system but on the girls who were at that time on the loose. Grandma as she is fondly called by her students, sought the face of God and with the help of key stakeholders, restored the image of the school by raising the bar of infrastructure that included replacing the alleged contaminated water tank responsible for the epidemic with a modern borehole and water treatment plant; constructing a three-storey dormitory and new toilets; including renovation of various structures within the school.
So, it was not a little crowd that gathered on 16th August, at Yaba Baptist Church, to celebrate a woman many described as an enigma, passionate, hardworking and above all, a kind disciplinarian.
In her thanksgiving speech, Mrs Are explained that her greatest achievement was the bond she shared with her students she called her granddaughters.
Her testimony: “I was mandated to take over the reins as the 24th Principal, Queens College Yaba, effective from 24th February but circumstances beyond my control made it impossible until Monday, 27th February 2017 to the glory of Almighty God. On assumption of office, I was hit by unimaginable challenges and I turned to the Lord in prayers, he indeed answered me and the result is my success story in this great citadel of knowledge for just a period of one year and six months.
“With the love of my children and my students whom I call my grandchildren and the faith I have in my God and creator, I was able to overcome all the challenges that seemed insurmountable at the inception of my tenure. I would not have been able to succeed without the synergy with stakeholders of this college, my parent ministry- Federal Ministry of Education, the Honourable Minister of Education, the Permanent Secretary, the Federal Ministry of Education and the Directors, Parents-Teachers Association, PTA, School-Based Management Committee, SBMC; Queens College Old Girls Association, QCOGA, friends and well-wishers. I appreciate you all for your advice, commitment and love for our college. May God bless you all.”
Rev. Bayo Sola Aremu in his sermon titled: Our attitude to God, from the book of 2 Samuel 6:16, called on the celebrant to be always appreciative of God’s goodness and at the same time, continue in her selfless service to God and humanity.
Commending the virtue of the celebrant, Rev Aremu said:
”This woman has touched lives. So this occasion is a time of reflection of your past, how really do you appreciate God, bearing in mind that the most important thing in life is your relationship with God?”
On her part, the eldest child of Dr Bola Are , Mrs Omolola Fasanya described her mum as a role model and an epitome of God’s faithfulness. She described her as everyone’s mum from whom she said she has learned to give because she can give her last for anyone.