Prince (Gen.) Olu Bajowa (rtd), the Jagunmolu of Ikale Land and Ojagbulegun of Ayeka kingdom has donated a block of library, borehole and a generator set to his alma mater, Manuwa Memorial Grammar School (MMGS), Iju-Odo, Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State.
Bajowa, a former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, was personally on ground on Saturday, the 22nd February at the inauguration of the projects during the school’s 66th anniversary and the 2020 edition of the school’s old students’ reunion.
The anniversary, which was organised by the old students’ association of the school, was attended by many dignitaries among whom were the Executive Governor of Ondo state, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who was represented by Princess Oladunni Odu, Chairperson Ondo state SUBEB; Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior, was ably represented, The Abodi of Ikale Land, Oba George Babatunde Faduyile, His Lordship, Revd. Oluseyi Pirisola and many more.
Bajowa, the Jagunmolu of Ikale land who was one of the first set of students of the school, was a guest speaker and he delivered a keynote address titled: “Manuwa Memorial Grammar School Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”
He said he was elated to be chosen as a special guest and the keynote speaker on the occasion, thanking God for the unique honour and also appreciated President of the Old Students’ Association, Mr Teniola Faromoju, and the Chairman Reunion Committee Mr. Goke Agbakosi, for a job well done.
“A day like this 66th anniversary of our beloved MMGS affords us yet another opportunity to embark on the journey down memory lane.
“For me in particular, today’s 66th anniversary is a quick reminder that I am one of the privileged few who have been a part of the success story of this great institution, through the period of its 66 years of existence.
“For this, I give glory to the Almighty God, not only on my behalf, but on behalf of all the 22 pioneer students, who were part of the history on February 22nd 1954, when the doors of the school were first flung open to receive students.
“Indeed, to God Almighty is the glory! I urge us all to please note, that apart from coming together to wine and dine on a yearly basis, the underlining philosophy behind this gathering, is to afford us the opportunity to appreciate how far we have progressed over the years and also to project how much ground is still available to cover.
“Please let that sink in, even in the midst of celebrations.
“The topic before me today is MMGS YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW! I shall try within the few minutes given to me to say few things I know of MMGS in retrospect, now and the future,” he said.
According to him, he was particularly excited about the anniversary topic because it encapsulates the entire space of time from a philosophical perspective.
“And it is in that light, that I wish to draw some ideas from Khalil Gibran, a Lebanese American Philosopher, Artist, Poet and Writer, who lived from 1883 to 1931.
“He said: ‘Yesterday is but a dream; tomorrow is only a vision, but today well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.’
“If we apply this philosophy to the topic, MMGS Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; we will realise, that today holds the key to our perception of yesterday and tomorrow.
“Simply put, we all know the yesterday and today of MMGS and we can project and predict the tomorrow that we desire by learning from the experiences of those much older AIONIAN schools, especially those that have clocked a century and above.
“This will help us to design a greater tomorrow, because, according to Arkad, ‘learning is of two kinds, the one kind is the things we learned and know and the other being the training that taught us how to find out what we did not know.’
“However, for record purposes, it is apt to go down memory lane in order to drive home the necessity to work for a better tomorrow,” he stated.
The keynote speaker recalled that MMGS was named after an Anglican priest from Itebu Manuwa, who worked to consolidate the gains of Christianity in Ikale and Ilaje between 1916 to1931.
He stressed that MMGS ,therefore, was a product of missionary work that was established on 22nd February, 1954.
“Rev’d Philemon Harrison Wilson, a Cambridge Scholar from Sierra Leone and a former lecturer at the famous Oxford University in the United Kingdom, was the first Principal from 1954 to 1958.
“After P.H Wilson, was our own Chief Elijah Olagundoye Agagu from 1958 to 1972, both of blessed memory!
“To these founding fathers of our great Alma mater, I cannot but pay glowing tributes. They did their best to bring out the best in us and we remain eternally grateful.
“May their souls rest in perfect peace in the bosom of the Lord (Amen)!
“MMGS took off on the only building used by the Central School having the Central School Iju-Odo relocated to Ebenezer Primary School Ilutitun present day site.
“The monument of historical value and records has recently been demolished to give new face to the school.
“MMGS was the first Secondary School in Okitipupa Division of now: Okitipupa, Ilaje, Irele and Ese-Odo Local Government Areas of Ondo State.
“At the inception in 1954, MMGS was a single sex (Boys only) School with an initial intake of 22 which later rose to 34 students, until 1969 when the school became co-educational with the admission of the first set of 22 girls. (Will any of the pioneer boys of 1954 and girls of 1968, here present, please rise for recognition)!
“As a member of the first set of 1954/1958, we could not sit for our West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) in MMGS, only because the school could not meet the WASCE two graduates’ teacher requirements, resulting from the sudden death of our Principal Rev’d Canon P.H Wilson.
“Hence in 1959, 13 finalist pioneer students were distributed to neighboring AIONIAN brotherhood schools for their WASCE.
“I, Olu Bajowa and seven others were taken to Gboluji Anglican Grammar School, Ile-Oluji, whilst Oluwole Robert and four others were taken to Oyemekun Grammar School, Akure.
“I hasten to mention that out of the 13 pioneer students of MMGS who sat for WASCE in 1959, I was selected based on merit and sponsored by MMGS to proceed to Saint Andrews College, Oyo and return to the school as a teacher and probably to become the vice principal or principal of MMGS, in later years.
“Pa Agagu, the then Principal of MMGS gave me £20, to proceed to Lagos and equip myself for teaching career,” Bajowa said.
He said ,he however, changed his mind when he got to Lagos and took the military as a profession, instead of being a teacher
“Consequently, I refunded through “Postal Order” the advance £20 cash payment, to Pa Agagu, the Principal of MMGS.
‘ Further details could be accessed in my third book “Soldier by Choice”, to be published to commemorate my 80th Birthday, in December 2020.
“Common features of MMGS yesterday were: Self Discipline, Determination, Sound Academic, High Moral and Spiritual Standard, Respect for Law, Order and Authority, whilst the curriculum was patterned like British schools.
“Dress code was strictly formal by obeying school rules and regulations, whilst English language was the language of communication.
“It was almost difficult to differentiate who was a teacher and who was a student, as many of the pioneers, were matured students, always singing “UPWARD STILL AND ONWARD”!
“Though it took time before we could clearly understand the spoken English of our principal, for his tone and pronunciation being a Sierra Leonean, our English language was influenced by the Latin they taught us.
“The school though started as day school but all of us ended in the boarding house as it was compulsory for every final year student then in AIONIAN Brotherhood School to move to the boarding house when you are in the final year.
“There were no tarred roads even no direct vehicle to get to Okitipupa as you would drop at Ikoya and cross Akeun River with Canoe then, take another taxi to Okitipupa.
“Our beds were of wooden in nature and infested with bed bugs. Vono bed was a luxury!
“Our teachers were dedicated, hardworking, dynamic and very strict disciplinarians combined with students’ high moral standard, high degree of discipline and sound academic.
“In those days, students were disciplined for offences committed in the school and outside, after school hours and no parent would frown at it, but rather would praise the teacher.
” The first few years of our stay in MMGS were more of adventure than reality, but we were all determined to make a success of the adventure.
“At inception, MMGS joined the AIONIAN group of schools that was formed in 1920 by some Anglican schools as a brotherhood to hold common entrance examinations, sports and games aimed at nurturing and developing the brotherhood of students in acceptable desirable societal behaviors, that would prepare a child to become a functional member of the society and who will be useful to himself and the society.
” I can say that to the glory of God, my humble self, as a former Prefect of Rebuja House, School Football Striker (Nicknamed Premier!) and President of MMGS Old Student Association, is one of the proud products of these AIONIAN values.
“TODAY, I am short of words to compare MMGS and other AIONIAN schools to what MMGS used to be inspite of the foundation laid yesterday, the infrastructures available, the contributions of the Old Student to the enhancement of standard, the contributions of the communities, the Parents Teachers Association, Governments and Non Governmental Agencies.
“The academic records of yesterday saw MMGS coming “FIRST” position in WAEC in Nigeria and West Africa.
“We had several old students coming out with 6 aggregates in WAEC i.e A1 in all their subjects.
“Presently, an X-ray of WAEC and NECO results over years have not been able to have these old historical records of 6 aggregates by students of MMGS.
“It is therefore worrisome, that the educational and moral standard of our students had fallen below expectation.
“Also today, cultism, gangsterism and moral decadence have become the norm in most Nigerian secondary schools, colleges and predominantly in universities.
“Sadly, the AIONIAN brotherhood schools of which MMGS is a member are not exempted!!,” Bajowa stated.
He tasked parents, guardians, teachers, churches, mosques, community leaders and governments to be committed to their responsibilities, saying that was the only panacea to present societal ills.
“All hands must be on deck if we truly desire a greater tomorrow for this great association and our great school MMGS.
“For some of us who have been part of the success story of our school right from the very beginning, 66 years may seem a long time and indeed, it is.
“The period of 66 years is a long time in the life of any human being, but in the life of an institution like MMGS, it is a very short period, because what lies ahead, is far greater than what is behind us,” he said.
The retired general enjoined major stakeholders to reintroduce boarding system for more commitment and injection of more teachers.
“Personally, one of my expectations for the future is that the boarding house school system be re-introduced and made very compulsory for all final year students as of yesteryears, so as to enhance more commitment and dedication by the students.
“More teachers should be employed so that teachers students ratio does not exceed 1:12 or at worst 1:15.
“Teachers should also be adequately remunerated, since the saying that “teachers reward is Heaven” is no more relevant in this modern age and time,” he advised.
He, therefore,urged all parents and guardians, to join hands with the school to provide all the minimum needs for the students, so as to encourage the school, to achieve greater heights of academic excellence.
“Let me thank very sincerely the president and all alumni of MMGS for the continued feat achieved in the recent time under Mr Faromoju in creating a conducive environment for learning in the school.
” Notably are: the two gigantic school administrative blocks, the renovation of a block of classrooms by 74/79 Set, the provisions of modern computers and gadgets by 73/78 Set, the singular gigantic project of complete renovation of the junior block by Mr Faromoju, the extension of water to all corners of the school from the borehole which Prince Dr Gen Olu Bajowa provided for the school in 2001, the renovation of water closet toilets by 68/72 Set and the provision of the modern books for the library by the old students.
“Let me join you today, as I hand over the renovated Gen Olu Bajowa Library.
“Consequent upon the request of one of our own, Barr Ademusire Emmanuel, I have now face lifted the library and provided a generator for the facility, so as to improve the studying environment of the students and enhance a conducive atmosphere of teachers-students teaching and learning relationship, to the glory of Almighty God,” he stated.
He promised to embark on the modernisation of the library very soon,assuring that this doors were always open to partner with all and sundry to develop MMGS for greater exploits.
The inaugauration of projects was performed by the Abodi of Ikale land, HRM, Oba Faduyile and the Bishop of the Diocese on the coast, Revd, O.O Pirisola.