Old students of Federal Government College, Warri, recently gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the school. Adibe Emenyonu reports that the ceremony also featured awards to former students who have excelled in their chosen careers

Federal Government College, Warri, was one of the unity schools established between 1960 and 1966. The college was actually established on the 17th of February, 1966. Some of the core objectives for the establishment of the school by the federal government were to promote national cohesion and unity, foster love across inter-ethnic nationalities, project peace and harmony and build up future leaders with a detribalised mind-set.

The college is located in Ogunu area of Warri presently in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State, a predominantly riverine community with large expanse of mangrove forest.

The school has over the years produced exceptionally brilliant personalities in addition to maintaining an enviable academic records both within Nigeria, particularly, and West Africa in general for which it garnered many awards and recognition

This citadel of knowledge has helped mould the lives of so many innocent youths into honourable men and women as well as helped build some of the nation’s towering giants in the realm of leadership, hope, entrepreneurship and greatness.

Among these are the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode; former Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan; Engr. Joseph Makoju, Special Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Power; Prof. Julius Okojie, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission; renowned pilot and business mogul, Capt. Hosa Okunbor; current President, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Augustine Aleghe (SAN), Herbert Wigwe, MD/CEO, Access Bank; former Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru and many other prominent and distinguished old students too numerous to mention.

It is some of the names mentioned above and others who are affiliated with the school that converged for the golden jubilee of the school in the oil city of Warri on February 29 to appraise, celebrate, give thanks and most importantly seek to revamp and solidify the institution that produced so many amazing individuals upon which other generations of leaders would be produced for the betterment and benefit of the society.

Speaking at the occasion, the current president of the Federal Government College Warri Old Students Association (FEGOCOWOSA). Chief Chyna Iwuanyanwu summed the reputation of the unity school when he said the school has produced two governors, the deputy governor of Kaduna State, Barnabas Bala and various personalities in politics, business world, military, religion, law, entertainment and other fields.

He however lamented the rot in the school which cut across other federal government colleges in the country that used to be a symbol of unity and urged the federal government to revive the school infrastructurally and otherwise to meet its unity status.

According to him, “it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between products of FGC Warri and those of other schools, unlike in the past. The truth is, we are losing our pride of place as one of the distinguished secondary schools in Nigeria.”

Against this backdrop, Iwuanyanwu noted that the unity school system needs to be refocused, adding that as stakeholders in the system, they have a lot to lose if things do not improve.

His word: “As individuals and as an association, we need to join forces with other similar associations to create a unity schools’ system that can and will produce Nigerians, like us, who can compete in a world where knowledge and the application of it, is the major instrument of global competitiveness.

“We need to engage the government to explore options for a system that better manages these unity schools. One day, children will once again travel from across the country to study at FGC Warri and elsewhere, if there is a serious effort to reposition them and rekindle the high standard of education that they were known for”.

He therefore noted that the association of old boys and girls must do their best to fund infrastructural development projects in the schools. For this, he said as old students, they have the motivation and the influence to make the needed change because “if we fail to make the initiative, posterity will remember us as people who had the opportunity to shape the future, but decided not to”.

The FEGOCOSA, Warri also poured encomiums on their principals both past and present when in its tribute said the college has been fortunate to have been led by some great principals like J. A. Miners (1966) and A. W. E Winlaw (1966 – 1968) as pioneer principals. P. H. Davis, OBE; OON (1968 – 1981) fondly called Papa, who happened to be the longest serving principal and to whom most of the glory days is attributed. M. C. Ebo (1985 – 1989) both of blessed memory and of course, Mrs. E. M. Osemene (2006 – 2011), the first female principal of the school and old student of the school as well as others who were also remarkable.

Also worthy of mention for their contributions to the emerging generation of leaders are all the teachers, past and present of the school who were such inspiring fountains of learning that they will forever live on in the minds of their students.
“In the last 50 years, this citadel of learning has consisted of principals and teachers who have groomed boys and girls for greatness. We salute and appreciate their efforts and leadership.

Without them, the characters of these great personalities and leaders would not have been cut and chiseled into fitness; and without them, knowledge would not have been impacted and imbibed so readily. They impacted in these students and young minds drawn from different states of the federation, different cultures and values, the investment of their knowledge, uniqueness and diverse personalities”, the tribute noted.

Highlight of the ceremony was the award of honours to over 30 old students who have excelled in their various field of endevour. Among those honoured was Edo-born air pilot and business mogul, Captain Hosa Okunbo who bagged “Worthy Ambassador of Unity Award” from the school.

Reacting to his award, Capt. Okunbor noted that despite all his successes in life, the level of corruption in the country is being perpetrated by people of his generation, adding that it was on this note that he backed the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“This is my foundation, Federal Government College, Warri is where it all started. This is where we got our values from. Unfortunately for us, we have lost all those values that made us what we are today. Our generation, between 55 and 60 years, I can tell you that we have failed the nation. Those of us that were so privileged to go to school like this, which the state has given much to in our upbringing, unfortunately, those of us that chose to serve this country, we could not give anything back to the country. It is very sad.

“And that is why we are happy somebody like President Buhari decided to come back to serve Nigeria. President Buhari is like a man who started business at the age of 21 and when he got to 45, his children told him, father rest, we can make this business work and at 73, he is being called back to repair the business he left at 45, of course he will be an angry man to see a rotten business that was doing well when he left it.

“That is exactly the situation Buhari is today. He is an angry man and we should allow him to be angry because he has the right to be angry because of the rot that he has met. It is very unfortunate that this country can be going through what she is going through right now. I will tell you that Buhari is not responsible for what the country is going through right now, it is what has happened over the years.

“This is that failure I told you that our generation that took the decision to serve, could not be found worthy to serve this country. They were busy acquiring things they never needed with the peoples wealth. If you notice, I have supported politicians for the past sixteen years, I have never been tempted to run for an office because I know it is not my calling.

“I love money, I love business and I work hard for it. I sweat for every dime I earn, so I wouldn’t be tempted to go and serve and steal. If you want to serve, you serve and if it is business, you do business. You can serve and at the same time take our business from us. That is the corruption we are talking about. People that were supposed to serve started using their own companies without doing the business and those of us with the structures to do the business were never considered.

“Some of us were even owned several months after doing the job while those who never did the jobs were paid 100 per cent of the jobs that was never done. It is sad that those that choose to serve became disappointments. I call it a failed generation and that is why we can have a man who retired as a young adult is back today using horse whip on us at 60 because we failed to serve this country well.”

As an awardee, Okunbor did not visit Warri alone. He was accompanied by a retinue of personalities. Among them are Benin Palace chiefs who came to represent the Crown Prince of Benin Kingdom, Eheneden Erediauwa led by the Uso of Benin Kingdom, Chief Nosakhare Omoregie Egharevba who in his observation, said “It is marvellous. He has been a man destined for greatness, these are signs of higher things to come. We are proud of him, he is a friend of the royal palace of Benin, the Crown Prince sent two of his able chiefs as his personal representatives and that is why we are here. He is a proud son of Benin Kingdom and we are happy he is our son.”

Also on his part, a former member of the House of Representatives, Rasaq Belo-Osagie said “You can see very distinguished Nigerians today, again if you see the quality of persons who came with Captain and of course a large delegation of members of the fourth estate of the realm, tells you that he enjoys enormous good will across. If it is Captain Hosa people remove the imaginary boundaries of partisanship. I am very excited, I am very happy to be part of this event. Definitely first among equals from what I have seen here today, one of the leading lights from this institution.

He has discharged and acquitted himself creditably. Somebody who went through Federal Government College, Warri, a unity school, very prestigious in quality. We have seen a number of them here today. I want to congratulate him, we are very happy that one of our first eleven was also called to take this prestigious award from this unity school.”