A former President of the St. Gregory’s College Old Boys Association (SGCOBA), Dr. John Abebe, has highlighted academic, moral, spiritual and sporting formation and polishing as the qualities imbued in past and current students of the college.
Abebe, who was President of the association between 2012 and 2018, was speaking at the 139 years anniversary of the college, noted that the impartation of those qualities under wonderful tutors, led by the visionary and committed Catholic missionaries who were the principals over the years, stood Gregorians out of the crowd and made students regard obstacles as mere challenges that would eventually help to bring out the best in them.
According to him, “on my return from my postgraduate studies abroad, in 1979, I attended a meeting of the Old Boys association and I was one of the youngest at that gathering. It was at that meeting that I resolved to make my modest contributions towards the development of my alma mater.”
Dr Abebe, a member of the 1964 set of the school, had during his stewardship as president of the old boys association galvanized other old boys, the college authorities and the Catholic Archdiocese to bring about the massive improvement to facilities and infrastructure that occurred in the college during his tenure. The rehabilitation of the College Chapel, Football Field, and Cricket pitch, as well as the erection of a Grotto and the Monsignor Pedro Martins Laboratory Complex, were some of the many projects carried out at Saint Gregory’s College, during the Abebe-led leadership of the association.
He is also a former President of the Nigerian Cricket Association and a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award of the International Cricket Council for 2006/2007and remains the only African so highly honoured. The 2017 distinguished alumni awardee of the University of Lagos, is highly sought-after by alumni of other colleges for his views and acumen in running Old Boys Associations (OBAs).
Established on March 12, 1882, at Igbosere, Lagos, as St. Gregory’s Grammar School, it was later relocated to Obalende, South-West area of Ikoyi, also in Lagos, on January 27, 1928, and renamed St. Gregory’s College Lagos.
According to Dr. Abebe, there were talks to move the school’s founder’s day from the current January 27 to March 12, which was the day St. Gregory’s was actually founded.
At Obalende, the college was sited on a sprawling land with the luxury of space to engage in the multiplicity of academic, spiritual, physical and sporting activities that would lead to the education and transformation of man into a civilized being.
A preponderance of observers were unequivocal that as an academic institution, St. Gregory’s College had excelled greatly in its primary responsibilities. Over the years, the college has recorded splendid performances in school certificate examinations, one of which was the 2015 Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSSCE) when the college, recorded between 97 and 100 per cent credits and distinctions in about 18 subjects including English Language, Mathematics, Physics, Economics, Biology, Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK), Government, History, Literature, Chemistry, and Further Mathematics.
The college repeated its splendid performance in the 2016 SSSCE by recording between 98 and 100 per cent credits and distinctions in about 10 subjects.
The school has no doubt, made invaluable contributions to the different sectors of human endeavours within and outside the country, and not a few reckoned that sports was one of the areas where the college had shown more than a million stars. The college has produced students who have not only excelled in school sports competitions but also in national and international sports contests.
For instance, in athletics, St. Gregory’s College had produced the likes of Rafiu Oluwa, P.V. Sho-Silva, Ibisi, I. Ekpeti. Oluwa, Charles Njoku, Benji Ohaeri, Asenuga, Lawson, Funsho Williams, Bode Rhodes-Vivour, King Pau, while the Akerele Brothers, Delu Karunwi, Alex Quist, Eddie Hughes, and Tete Silva were all distinguished cricketers.
The college, record revealed, was one of the educational institutions that blazed the trail with the playing of hockey in Nigeria in 1928, and no account of the growth and development of football in Nigeria may be considered worthy of acceptance without reflections on the prodigious contributions of Saint Gregory’s College. Some of the prodigious football talents from the stable of the college were; George Amu, Patrick Ekeji, Akpala, Lati Gomez, and Geraldo Ibe, among others. St. Gregory’s also had the likes of Joe Ugochukwu and Hilary Cardoso in tennis.
Also noteworthy were the exploits of St. Gregory’s College students in music and the arts. The college produced the likes of Geraldo Pino, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Bob Agim, The Ofeges, David Dale, Vector and General Pipe.