- January 8, 2018
- Posted by: Gilbert Odior
- Category: History and Culture of Ogbona
HISTORY OF OGBONA COMMUNITY SECONDARY SCHOOL, OGBONNA BY ALFRED IDODE AND JOHN ANAWEOKHAI
Ogbona Community Secondary School was one of the projects solely conceived, funded and established by Ogbona Imhakhena Federated Union. The school started out as Ogbona Community Secondary School but later the word community was dropped from its name. The school is now referred to as OGBONA SECONDARY SCHOOL, OGBONNA
4TH OGBONA IMHAKHENA FEDERATED UNION CONFERENCE 1978
At the 4th conference held at the Imhakhena Primary School, Ogbona March 25th-26th 1978, serious discussions were held on the government requirements for establishing a secondary school: – Name, Site, Number of classroom blocks and many other preliminary arrangements that would quicken government approval for secondary school.
After a thorough discussion on the issue, the conference unanimously agreed that since money would be needed to achieve any stage of the project, it should be wise to think of how and where to get the funds first. Decisions arrived at were: –
- Imposition of a grammar school levy on all Ogbona sons/daughters home and abroad.
- OIFU Lagos branch was mandated to work out a tabulated, convenient and meaningful levy to get started on the project.
- That defaulters would be denied access to performing, Okhei, marriage and burial ceremonies at Ogbona.
- Set up a committee at Ogbona to sanction defaulters etc.
5TH OGBONA IMHAKHENA FEDERATED UNION CONFERENCE 1979
November 11, 1979 another conference was held at Ogbona Imhakhena primary school to ratify the proposed Grammar School levy for Home and abroad.
- GRAMMAR SCHOOL LEVY FOR ABROAD
Was already circulated by Lagos to branches and individuals since 28th April 1978 (see enclosures)
- GRAMMAR SCHOOL LEVY – HOME
Was fixed as follows
Every taxable adult and from the age group of Ifaorumhe (Obotsemeghie Age group) down to the youngest, should pay
Men – Nl5
Women – N10 (From same age group) since the home people were to be involved in direct labour of the project.
- GRAMMAR SCHOOL FUND BOARD OF TRUSTEES
A three-man board of Trustees was then approved and appointed to operate and manage the grammar school fund.
Chairman – Chief V.A Omadimhe, Treasurer-Mr. P.A Obeakemhe and Secretary – Mr. P.S. Eleta
- Resolutions to enable board of trustees operate an account with the Barclays Bank, Auchi, (now Union Bank) were to be drawn up by OIFU, Lagos.
- OIFU, Auchi reported that the SCHOOL PROJECT RECEIPTS had been printed and ready for distribution to branches nationwide.
REPORT ON THE PROPOSED GRAMMAR SCHOOL
Chief (Hon) M.C.K Orbih reported that the site of the proposed Grammar School had been surveyed, inspected and declared okay by the health officials while mounting pressure for an early approval.
Chief V.A. Omadimhe demanded to know what happened to the second suggested site on Ogbona – Fugar Road (Abughievhaegbe). Ogbona-Fugar Road suggested site was disapproved by Health Officials.
LAUNCHING AND FUND RAISING 1980: –
- OIFU LAGOS was mandated to fix a suitable day for launching/fund raising for 1980.
- A successful launching and fund raising was organized at Ogbona under the chairmanship of Chief (Hon.) M. C. K Orbih.
Some of the Highlights of the fund-raising events 1980: –
His Excellency Demas Akpore, Deputy Governor of Bendel State promised Govt. support and cooperation with community
- Chief M.C.K Orbih N1,000
- Chief (Alhaji) Inu Umoru N2,500
- Chief K.O Abiola N 5,000 – A chieftain of NPN (Highest Individual Donor)
- Admiral Mike Okhai Akhigbe’s friends N19,500 – Represented by Mrs. (DR.) J. Akhigbe (Highest group donation).
- Major Francis Atsegwasi N500
- Chief Tom Otsu N500
- A. B .C Momodu N500
- John Idode N100
- Gregory Enegwea N100
- Bernard Orbih. 100 bags of cement and 20 bundles of zinc – Quantify in monetary term at the time N450
Chief J.A. Odalumhe supervised and superintended everything and every work done in the school. His contributions cannot be quantified in monetary terms.
Many other donors /contributors who made their contributions in cash and in kind to the successful completion of the great Ogbona Community Grammar School.
God bless and reward you all richly in the Name of Jesus. Amen.
By: Alfred Enetomhe Idode
THE FOUNDING OF OGBONA SECONDARY SCHOOL
Until 1979 all Ogbona sons and daughters must attend post primary school outside of Ogbona, all efforts to get a secondary school for the community proved abortive but as fate would have it, Chief T. A. Osigbemhe became the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education. With Ogbona man close to the seat of power, it became easier to create a synergy and channel all the concerns through him to the appropriate authority for quick and positive response.
Naturally, the onerous task of drafting a strongly worded letter, pleading Ogbona case fell within the purview of Ogbona community in Benin which was chaired by Chief Vital Anaweokhai, and they rose to the occasion and indeed wrote a petition to the ministry of education and within the shortest possible time, there was a response with the request for a 200 hectares of land that included plan for future development .Very quickly, Chief M.C.K Orbih and Chief Odalumhe leveraged their good standing in the community to talk the land owners into giving out an expanse of land that almost doubled the size of the official requirement.
Eventually, the land was secured, and work commenced in earnest with a six-class room and staff room structures.
True to type, Ogbona people never saw it as a government project, but an opportunity to contribute individually and collectively to the development of their community. Every adult, both male and female were levied a certain amount each. The money was levied through the age grade structure thus making it almost impossible to beat payment. All bricklayers and carpenters donated their skills pro bono daily. Each age group was tasked with the responsibility of providing menial labour, including women. It was a project that signposted the limitless height that is attainable with a clear and well- defined singleness of purpose.
All the various family and Imhakhena unions in all the major cities across Nigeria were also levied to support the project
In May 1980, the project was officially launched with Chief Inu Umoru as the Chief launcher and Chief Gregory Kassim Enegwea as the master of ceremony and sizable amount of money was realized.
The School was inaugurated on 10th October,1980 with Adolphus Anaweokhai as the first registered student. Mr. Christopher Aikeremiokhai was the pioneer principal with Mr. Aleobua as the Vice Principal.
Mr. Dokpesi, Mr. Douglas and Mr. Akpabio were Corp members (NYSC)
Mr. Lucky Aikhuenaruerue Ainabor, Miss Stella Imoagene and Miss Matilda Bello were young school certificate teachers. Moses Aigbepue AKA Amosco, was the first Head boy. Helen Ezunya was the first Head girl.
Among the non-teaching staff were: Mr. John Eagle Ikeku (driver), Mr. Ikhane, (bursar/clerk), Mr. Godwin Apuede Aliu (office assistant), Mr. Aiya Okhakumhe (security). Gardeners: Mr. Awo Ogah, Mr. Ainabor (Aikhue’s father), Mr. Ekhaipo Esuana. Night guard: Mr. Utu Lekeland Imoagene.
PTA Chairman. Chief Odalumhe.
Among other pioneer students: Adolphus Anopobo Akinyemi, Adamu Emmanuel, Augustine Ayobo, Azagbor Dominic, Ainabor Daniel, Stella Anamhomhe, Pius Oshionebo, Marcelina Imoagene, Johnson Imoagene Alabi, Benjamin Ako, Peter Ogidi, Ladi Aruna, Jackson Idugbe, Joseph Imoagene, Joseph Ayeni, Mustapha Azenobo Okhuemhor, James Okhuemhor.
Chief Odalumhe was the man on ground who personally saw to it that everything worked out well. He worked with his heart to ensure the project was completed in time and commissioned. As the PTA chairman from 1980 to 1988, he resumed and closed with students daily. Chief Odalumhe provided leadership, with his strong personality organized men, materials and money all in ensuring timely accomplishment of the task of having superb structures in the school.
Ogbona village has a total resident population of about 15,162 as of 2011. Ogbona has 3 public primary schools with about 1,124 pupils and 6 private primary schools, one public secondary school and one private secondary school. The Ogbona Secondary School as at 2017 had a total enrollment of about 672 students made up of 358 Boys and 304 girls.
Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, as part of their community work decided to construct a Storey-building with the following components:
- 15 classrooms; 3 Science labs; an ICT Centre; a Reading Room; Principal and Vice Principal’s offices; Staff Common room; and 20 toilets
- Furnishing and Equipment (450 student desks/Teachers tables/chairs, Lab equipment, 60 Computers/ accessories)
- Generator House, Generator, Power Supply and water borehole
EMERGENCE OF OGBONA ELITES FORUM
In 2016 Ogbona Elites Forum was formed and its second major task in the community was to intervene in the Ogbona Secondary School lack of teaching staff. Below are some of their contributions to the school
- Hired thirteen temporary teachers for various subjects in the secondary school whose monthly wage bill is about N 207,000.00.
- In February 2017, we organized a Three-day workshop on the use of phonics, the latest technology in reading for teachers from the three primary schools in Ogbona to get the pupils well-grounded in reading.
- Purchased New Concept English and Mathematics, Computer books for JSS and SS Classes for the sum of N500,000 through donations from our members and families
- Organized the first Career day talks and seminars on cultism and restiveness, human capital development, entrepreneurship and counselling. (The essence of this program was to meet and overcome the challenges posed to our community by student’s poor academic performance, truancy, indiscipline, poor school management and cultism.)
- In July, organized a two-day seminar for 37 teachers from the three primary schools in Ogbona. (The first day was on Re-Inventing the Ideal Teacher and Teaching Methodologies, while the 2nd day was on Re-Inventing the Ideal Teacher: Class Room Management & Control.
- Enroll 5 indigent students for WAEC and NECO in Ogbona Secondary School
- Two scholarships schemes namely The Chief and Mrs. M.C.K Orbih Financial Grant-In-Aid” for Ogbona Indigenes at The Nigerian Law School and IKHATUEKEWOR ASAPOKHAI SCHOLARSHIP were instituted through our scholarship scheme. These scholarships and some grants are mostly targeted at Ogbona Secondary school. We expect the first set of awards to be made in 2018
- Fr. Dominic Azagbor 80-85
- Emmanuel Adamu 80-85
- Festus Aweneri Akande 80-85
- David Imhonopi 81-86
- Taye Odio Anavhe 82-87
- John Anaweokhai 82-87
Rev Fr. Dominic Azagbor, OP 80-85
As a student at the Secondary School, Dominic Azagbor, born to Mr. Gabriel (Azagbor) Ikhiagwa and Mrs. Mamuna Anna Gabriel Ikhiagwa, was very active in many groups. Among other posts he held was being a Senior Prefect in 1984. With others, he distinguished himself academically. As a mark of his excellent performance, he consistently took and maintained 1st position, over-all, from start to finish. In fact, while still a student, other students looked up to him as a role model. He got nick-named Addo Akufo, because, although a student, he sometimes taught Government. Without sounding immodest, Dominic was viewed by both staff and students of Ogbona Community Secondary Students as a STUDENT- PRINCIPAL. He commanded such similar respect that was due to both the principal and staff of the school. He was truly an epitome of what true leadership entails. He was an example, par excellence, of what it meant to be a scholar. In his leadership roles, he acted unpretentiously and unobtrusively, but efficiently. Not only was he an academic paragon, he was and still is, a perfect example of moral purity and decorum.
After his secondary education, he felt called to the priesthood and so joined the Dominican Order, also known as the Order of Preachers. He was at the Dominican Community in Ibadan until his ordination, after which he worked in Nigeria as the Chaplain at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife between 2002 and 2005 and in Ghana. As a trail-blazer, he became the first individual from Ogbona to be Ordained as a Roman Catholic Priest on the 8th day of April 2000 at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos. He is currently in the United States on a foreign mission where he has served, variously, as a Hospital Chaplain, Chaplain of Nursing Homes, Independent, Assisted living facilities and in a Parish. He is the first Ogbona to have worked beyond the shores of Africa as a foreign missionary. Bravo! He took the gospel to Oyibo people! What a feat!
In his words, “We will always remain grateful to the first Principal of the School, Mr. C. O. Aikeremiokhai and other staff who sacrificially laid, for us all, solid foundations upon which we mounted to attain our various noble positions, today”. He expresses an avowed desire to work relentlessly to always give back, that which is positive and fruitful, to the school and the entire Ogbona Community that made him and others who and what they are today.
This is what he has to say:
How I ended up at Ogbona Community Secondary School in 1980 surprised some of my friends but it was providential. While in Kwara State, I did a few common entrance examinations and interviews, and I gained admission to several Secondary schools: Iwo Comprehensive High School, Offa Grammar School, Ijara-Ishin High School, among others. Home is home, we always say. Thanks to the then free education of the late Prof. Ambrose Alli, I returned home and I had the privilege of being one of the first graduating students of Ogbona Community Secondary School in 1985.
Taking a retrospective look at the school then, we didn’t really appreciate the discipline instilled in us by the school authority at that time. Experiences after graduation made me to see the value of that type of somewhat extreme discipline. What is worth doing is worth doing well. I later realized that laying a solid foundation in any aspect of life is always painful, but the benefits out-weigh the pain and suffering. This is where my experience begins with our indefatigable first Principal, Mr. C.O. Aikeremiokhai. He was discipline personified. The iron Principal, as he was known, and the Staff prepared us to be innovators and leaders to face the market challenges of the society. Among the surrounding communities, the school was famous for its discipline thanks to the no-nonsense Principal.
First and foremost, kudos should be given to him for encouraging us to know the history of our villages. Among others, the first assignment Mr. Aikeremiokhai gave to all of us was to go research and write the history of Ogbona. My father took me to one of the oldest persons in town, Chief Ikhanoba, who narrated how Avhianwu clan (Iraokhor, Imhakhena, Arua and Inone) migrated from Benin area (I hope I can still recall the details).
What characterized Aikeremiokhai’s administration was this toughness and discipline. First on the list was punctuality. He made sure that everyone, students and staff alike were punctual in everything they did. I remember vividly that at 7.30am, all students and staff were already in school. God save you, if you came late! The “Morning Piece of Work” began. Classes followed afterwards. Although the Prefects and Teachers were present, the Principal would never fail to go around monitoring how things were going.
Once in school, no vernacular was allowed, evening “Prep Class” was not optional for students and silence was the norm. Both the academic and non-academic staff were hardworking.
Part of the discipline was the academic excellence that Aikeremiokhai promoted. He would always tell us that our school could not be called “Grammar School” yet except we are proficient in English language and well-grounded in academics. He would always encourage us to look up to some of the popular schools in the State as models. Sometimes he would challenge us with questions that will make one go for a research. As part of his final challenge, he told us that our mock exam questions will be brought from another school, still to prove to us of the need to be well prepared for the final examinations. He kept to his promise; questions from one of the Federal Government Colleges were brought. That exam was an eye-opener. This motivated us to work harder, and that explained while a respectable number of us had excellent results at the WASC Exam. We will always remain grateful to Mr. Greg Enegwea at the NYSC who made sure we had some of the best youth corpers.
This story will be incomplete without a mention of the rigorous manual labour, the school farm and other extracurricular activities we were all involved in.
I owe the Principal and the staff a debt of gratitude for their courage, dedication and selflessness. How can I forget to acknowledge the fact that Mr. Aikeremiokhai and some of the teachers were present at my Thanksgiving Mass at Ogbona in the year 2000? I will never forget you!
In conclusion, it was disheartening to hear stories of woes of our Alma Mater, especially as it pertains to the moral decadence. I must admit my failure to visit the school since our graduation, at least, to express our support. Thank you, Ogbona Elites, for coming to the rescue. May God reward all of you”.
Dr. Festus Aweneri Akande, (Director Press & Information) 80-85
Dr. Akande Festus, was born on 12 April 1969 in Ibillo, Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State. He attended St. Peter’s Primary School, Ibillo and Ogbona Secondary School in Edo State as well as Federal School of Arts & Science, Suleja, Niger State respectively. He is a graduate of Mass Communication and has BSc (Hons) in Marketing from Enugu State University of Science & Technology. He equally holds Chartered Professional Certificate & Diploma in Public Relations, PGD in Business Administration, MBA Marketing, MSc Public Relations and PhD Degree in Marketing (Specializing in Public Relations) from University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
He had worked in various print media such as Abuja News Day Newspapers, (the first print media in the FCT), Nigerian Tide Newspapers, (Rivers State Publishing Corporation), and TELL Magazine. He was Head of Special Project Department of FAME Magazine in Lagos.
Dr. Akande Festus is an accomplished Speech Writer, Public Speaker and Author of robust international repute, having to his credit the following books: In-Road into Public Relations, Contemporary Media Relations Management, Effective Speech Writing and Public Speaking among others.
He joined the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2006 as Assistant Director and Head of Press and Information unit, he rose to the rank of Director in January 2015.
He is a member of different professional bodies including Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Association of Nigerian Authors and National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria. He was the pioneer Secretary-General of Graduate Public Relations Alumni Association of University of Nigeria. He was also honoured with the Fellowship of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Institute of Corporate Administration, got the “Outstanding Achievement in Poetry Crystal Award Trophy,” awarded by International Society of Poets, USA and “Commemorative Award Medallion (in Honour of Poetic Dedication and Achievements),” awarded by International Society of Poets, USA in 2006. His hobbies are researching, writing, singing and dancing. He is happily married with children.
Lawrence Igonor 81-85
My name is Lawrence Igonor, from Ivhiorevho quarters of Ogbona. I happened to be one of the pioneer graduate students from Ogbona Community Secondary School in 1985 by providence in two phases.
The first phase of it is that I had already gained admission into Hussey College in Warri, as I was leaving with one of my uncles then, late Pa Francis Ikhanoba. However, just before resumption, another of my immediate uncle; Joseph Oshiogwe Igonor came to pick me from Warri and brought me to Ogbona and facilitated my admission into OgboComSec (as it was popularly called then) in 1981.
The second phase of providence that made me a pioneer graduate student is that I was a beneficiary of the double promotion package from the Principal; Mr. Christopher Oye Aikeremiokhai having come 1st in both 1st & 2nd term in class 1b. I therefore had to write the 3rd term exam with the class 2 students (pioneer students) from which I came 10th, though a distant position I wasn’t used to, but I passed and further got promotion to class 3. I studied much harder thereafter but found it difficult breaking into the top 3 positions, no thanks to the likes of Dominic Azagbor, Joseph Ayeni, Agnes Eruakhor and a few others to make me comfortable with 4th to 6th positions till we graduated in 1985.
Johnson Omadimhe (a co-beneficiary of the double promotion) and I were about the youngest and definitely the smallest in the senior class then. This made us so vulnerable then that we even suffer some harassments from our own classmates. I can recall Dominic Azagbor hitting us on the head on several occasions for noise making in the class, really funny I would say now. However, our intellectual prowess always stood us tall and higher amongst the bigger boys and girls in the class then.
I was an active member of the Drama Group, Quiz and Debating Society. With the able coordination of Mr. Bernard Ikhane, we were able tour several neighbouring schools for drama and cultural presentations. We also came tops in several inter school quiz competitions.
Further on the impact of Mr. Ikhane on us then, I could recall his coming to the class with some traditional beads one day and we were all wondering what beads has got to do with English Language he was supposed to teach us. Lo and behold, when he was done teaching the topic; PHRASES AND CLAUSES with the aid of those beads, it was obvious that we couldn’t have had better instructional material to simplifying such a complex topic to our understanding. Also through his fluid handling of Literature in English, we were able to come abreast with the Shakespearian language in Julius Caesar, Romeo & Juliet etc.
I certainly cannot but also make reference to the personality of our principal then, Mr. C. O. Aikeremiokhai, a no nonsense disciplinarian. I would want to summarise his various disciplinary acts on us then as aimed towards achieving two goals. One was to ensure that students from this so-called local school were able to express themselves very well in English language. Hence his regular calling of students on the assembly ground to address fellow students. The assembly ground was also a place to treat acts of misdemeanor, where you will be made to give a brief of what happened before other students as well as putting it into writing thereafter. This made several students to be mindful of their activities both in and out of the school environment. It was like a case of…..If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.
The second reason I would deduce was to mould us into a round finished product, academically, morally and otherwise, to be able to fit into the larger society after secondary school. Aike or Oye (as discretely called) does not spare anytime to talk morals and discipline into us daily on the assembly grounds. Most times he would wrap up his counselling sessions with some Latin parlances meaning; “a word is enough for the wise” and “bad apples spoil good ones”.
My attending Ogbona Community Secondary School was really a turning point in my life, being that it was the school that got me to know Ogbona as my home town. Thereby getting to know my kinsmen, understood the culture and traditions of my people to a large extent, as well as enhance my fluency in the Avhianwu language.
In pursuant of my academic career after secondary school, I got admission into Delta State University, Abraka to study English and Literary Studies and obtained combined honours of Bachelor of Arts & Education (BA-ed) in 1996. I also got a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the same school in 2001.
I joined the Daar Group Organization in June, 2004 as a Programmes Officer with Africa Independent Television (AIT). I have since risen through the ranks to becoming the Head of Programmes, AIT Network. While on the job, I have attended several trainings/workshops and obtained Certificates/Diplomas both at home and abroad amongst which are; Diploma in Public Broadcasting from USTTI in Washington DC, United States and Certificate in Digital Broadcasting from K-LINK in Seoul, South Korea.
I am happily married to my Angel & soul mate; Dorcas and we are blessed with 3 lovely children; Oghie, Onotse & Oshoriamhe.
Emmanuel Oshiokhane Adamu 80-86
I will count myself Emmanuel Oshiokhane Adamu to have gotten a rear privileged to be admitted to Ogbona community secondary school without further entrance examination because I had seated for common entrance examination for St. John’s college Fugar earlier and I suddenly find out that, the entrance to school then was not common as it called except your father is a teacher or you have someone to front for you. I quote.
But when my able people brought the high school to my domain it was glorious with free education…God bless Prof Ambrose Alli. We had a very good beginning.
The pioneer principal was also a teacher, so committed to ensure an equal standard both in academics and extra curriculum activities with older schools like Edo college Benin City, Idia College Benin City, Government College, Ughelli, Hussey college, Saint Peters College Agenebode, Saint John’s College, Fugar, Our Lady of Fatima College, Auchi as he always tell us to strive to beat their match.
The principal has a foresight and wanted us to learn three languages at a goal to have advantage over other neighbouring schools. That is English, French and Latin.
The vice principal was taking us English /literature and the Corper, Mr. Douglas was taking us French because he studied French languages while the principal was to take us Latin but because of our short sightedness we did not cooperate, we frustrated the foreign languages as we often make jest of the subjects. (it regrettably)
Our school was noted to be leading in sports especially in football, just in three years of inauguration.
Vernacular speaking, indecent dressing, truancy was prohibited.
Evening prep was taken as normal school hour.
When I heard of the moral decades of the citadel few years back my heart bleed but thank God for the new vision and mission of Ogbona Elites that has come to rescue and remedy the situation as It today.
May God continue to enlarge your coast especially the exco of Ogbona Elites for the sacrifices.
I conceived an ideal about three years ago which I share with like mind on having a platform for old student’s association of the school, we were computing the names before the advent of Ogbona indigene and other Ogbona forums and all we ever thought of has be taken care of with extreme maturity. praise God.
It regrettably noted that I have not be visiting my alma Mata as I ought to, but it is a burden I have equally shared with my brother John Anaweokhai,
I pray the almighty God will equate my thoughts and my hands to contribute my quota when necessary. I sincerely pledge my support to do my best according to my ability and to take this good will message to my compatriots.
PROFESSOR DAVID IMHONOPI 81-86
MY EXPERIENCE AT THE OGBONA COMMUNITY SECONDARY SCHOOL (SECOND SET)
I was born to the family of Mr. James Imhonopi and Madam Mary Imhonopi at Ivhiorevho Quarters, Ogbona. We were nine children of my father but unfortunately, we lost him at a tender age to the Grim Reaper. It was a big blow to our family as that tragedy almost truncated our educational pursuits but for God and my dearest late mother. Thus, I went through primary school as a ritual not having any direction because no one was there to guide me. There was no hope for secondary school either even though I was adjudged to have been very brilliant during my primary school days. However, when news broke that government was going to establish Ogbona Community Secondary School (OCSS), that gave us a resurgence of hope. I sat for the general entrance exam for OCSS with other aspiring candidates and came fourth, beaten by a few marks by those ahead of me. Eventually, successful candidates at the exams were admitted. Mr. Sunday Azagbor, now Rev. Fr. Dominic Azagbor, OP, who belonged to the first set, was a shining role model for many of us. He is from my Quarters and his family house is just opposite ours. He particularly mentored me while in OCSS as he taught me some topics in the English language. His life of discipline, enchanting intelligence and hard work inspired me. We had so many things in common. For instance, his academic excellence was a motivation. I also maintained first position in class all through my secondary school days at the OCSS, before leaving for Ojo High School, Ibadan, Oyo State, where I sat for my WAEC and emerged the overall best student in 1989. However, my brilliance in OCSS was mainly spurred by two factors: the tradition of openly calling out results on the Assembly Ground at the end of every term. I also had an uncle in Ibadan, Mr. Joseph Imhonopi, who when he visited home always would ask us to present our results to him. Whoever carried first was rewarded with N20 in addition to the normal gifts he was used to giving to us. Those were mighty motivations for me.
Our Principal, Mr. C. O. Aikeremiokhai, supported by other members of staff, laid a very solid moral understructure which helped in maintaining sanity, quietude, discipline and moral uprightness in OCSS. He created an enabling academic ambience which underpinned and flourished academic excellence. Mr. Aikeremiokhai was very disciplined himself and asserted this disciplinary and martial behavior within the school environment. He also brought in a lot of innovations into the school at the time such as: PREP where silence was enforced, “Morning Piece of Work”, Banning of Vernacular languages, Introduction of High Secondary School Educational Standards known with topflight public schools at the time, Introduction of Farming to students and Compulsory Farming for each class, Discipline among Teachers, and many others. He was a stickler for time management and punished late coming to classes or school events. Severe punishment was also meted out to erring students who broke any of the laws in school and in fact, those caught fighting were asked to uproot palm trees as their punishment to deter them from such unruly behaviours. In summary, the standard of education during my set was very high, disciplinary and our teachers were very good, dedicated and committed to our success in class.
MY EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
I participated in some extracurricular activities in OCSS. I was a member of the school football team where we won so many matches and medals. I was a gifted footballer and a wonderful striker. My nickname was “I see the man” but shortened to “Asi” by my friends. However, I need to share some happenings to the school football team during my time that I can remember. There was a particular match that we had in our Principal’s town that I was not selected for because I was relatively younger compared to many of my teammates. Unfortunately, having beaten the other side silly, my teammates were assaulted by the opposing team and their supporters. The same thing almost happened in another football match we had in Afowa near Jettu in which I was featured. The match was watched by one of my uncles Mr. Benji Igbadumhe. Having beaten the host team by a lone goal scored by Michael Ikhaghu, the people attempted to also assault us but for the quick intervention of my uncle. Apart from football, I was also a member of the Debating Society and at a point, represented our school in a Writing competition. Being in OCSS was fun. In Form 2, I was one of the students they selected for excursion to the Principal’s hometown, Usomorika. We climbed hills and visited Ojerami Dam, near Ososo town. It was such an eye-opening experience for many of us. The principal even took us to his personal house. Let me also mention that while we all were mandated to do “Morning Piece of Work”, I never did it because I was a Class Captain from Form 1 until I became a School Prefect. I was only taking down the names of my colleagues and supervising their work. I did not lift a finger. I was one of the smallest in class in terms of size. Because I was to take down the names of those speaking vernacular, my bigger and older colleagues threatened from time to time to beat me up if I penned down their names. I did not write down their names o!
WHY I DID NOT EVENTUALLY END UP A MEDICAL DOCTOR
Academically, because of my good performance in Biology, Chemistry and Physics (which were introduced to us in Form Three), I was appointed the First Laboratory Prefect in Class Four. I remember that my Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Bello, encouraged me a lot because according to her she saw the traces of a budding scientist in me. She was so proud of my performance in the stated science subjects that I remember she showed my scripts on Chemistry to my colleagues in other classes. In that same Form three, one fellow came from Lagos to join us (Mr. Akabeli). He asked my colleagues, “Who leads this class?” They pointed at my direction. He now said, “How can this small boy be leading the class? I will beat this one now easily!” And he was tormenting all of us with big, big English. However, after I led the three terms that year, he gave up the chase. I used to also have very good and up-to-date note books, some of which I lost to some classmates who stole them during exams. They were always difficult moments for me when my notebooks were stolen but my kind class teachers always came to my rescue by allowing me to re-copy from their own lesson notes. Let me mention that because of this performance in Form 3, particularly in those science subjects, my Uncle, Mr. Joseph Imhonopi, took me to Ekperi, a nearby town to Ogbona, where he introduced me to the Principal of a school, having assured him that I was too brilliant not to venture into the sciences. He said I was a medical science material. I was to stay with the principal and my tuition was to be funded by my Uncle. Nonetheless, I waited in vain for him to return as promised to provide the funds when I learnt that he was retired and could no longer support my studies. It was a big blow to my young mind but I braced up and returned to OCSS to continue with my education. However, Eleta Lucky and Dickson Ikhane, my colleagues left OCSS to attend other secondary schools that offered science subjects.
There were quite funny moments in OCSS that happened to me and my colleagues. I will share a few of these here.
- I remember that whenever our Principal was in the premises and wanted to get our attention, he would just clap his hands and before you know it, students will be tumbling over one another to get to him. He had such a commanding presence that put the scare in every student of OCSS at that time and caused stampede each time he wanted to see us.
- In form 1, our History teacher, Mr. Oghiator, came to class and asked us to pronounce the words: Choir and Synagogue. All of us with no one exception pronounced “Choir” as “Choor” and “Synagogue” as “Sinagogwe”. He rained some strokes of the cain on each one of us before telling us the right form of pronunciation.
- I also remember our Labour Prefect in my set, Mr. Ugboadaga, who was fond of using jaw-breaking highfalutin English words. And he was a merciless Labour Prefect. Students feared him terribly. He used a phrase that up until today still makes me laugh whenever I remember it. He said on one occasion, “Life is gadaga”. We all thought the “gadaga” was a very big English word and were envious of him until many years later. A jolly good fellow he was but he is late now.
- Another funny episode was after we read Romeo and Juliet novel in in class three or so. Imagine, every boy began to look for a girlfriend except me!
Generally, a retrospection of my days in OCSS throws up very exciting, cheery, teary and competitive moments which have contributed to what I am today. The school mates in my set that I can recall include Williams Onumabor (late; Senior Prefect for our set), Justina Akhamiemona (Head Girl for our set), Patrick Alliu, Adolphus Enamhegbai, Benjamin Ogah, Benson Abu, Fidelis Otseke, Jimoh Osilamah, Sunday Anabor, Philip Ikhaghu, Michael Ikhaghu, James Agbagia, Solomon Ozo, Apollonius Kakhu, Cyprian Idode, Gabriel Unuevho, Sarah Okhimamhe Mary Ayomotor, Lilian Idoghamhe (late), James Okhamerah, Mary Eghieye, among others. I thank God for our inspirational, disciplined and prudish Principal, Mr. C. O. Aikeremiokhai and the amazing teachers such as Mr. Okhakumhe, Mr. Itsado, Mr. Alebo, Mrs. Bello, Mr. Oghiadomhe, Mr. Oghiator, and Miss Virginia (a corps member at the time), among other amazing instructors we had at that period and other dedicated members of staff who all worked very hard to give brilliant definitions to our lives and careers.
The completion of my WAEC in Ibadan was influenced by an epiphany I had with the Lord Jesus. That encounter which made me a child of God, also restored hope and birth new appetite for success and a bright future for me. That revivified my desire to go back to school, leading to the completion of my WAEC, an exam that I emerged as the overall best student in Ojo High School in Ibadan in 1989. From there, I gained admission into the Lagos State University to study Sociology where I emerged the best student and later earned a Master’s degree from the University of Ibadan, where I came up tops in my class. I crowned it with a PhD in Industrial Sociology and Development at the University of Ibadan. Today, by the grace of God, I am a Professor of Sociology in Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State. As part of my personal vocation, I commit some of my time to youth mentorship and training, being a Teenage and Youth Pastor with the Living Faith Church Worldwide. In December 2017, I was in Ogbona for the holidays and I was privileged to speak at the programme organized by Ogbona Christian Youth Association. I will continue to use my platforms and resources to advance this cause as God gives me the grace. Finally, I believe very much that with God all things are possible. I also believe that vision, with diligence and a possibility mentality under God can deliver the future anyone desires.
Taye Odio Anavhe 82-87
OGBONA COMMUNITY SECONDARY SCHOOL; THE DAYS OF YORE.
Aikeremiokhai held sway at the helm of affairs when I arrived the scene in September of 1982.
At the end of that my very first day at the school, all the students were gathered on the assembly ground for dismissal, and Aikeremiokhai had called on us, the freshers in Form I, on our very first day in secondary school, for anyone among us, a volunteer, to come up the rostrum and give the impression he or she has had of the school on that very first day. This was on the assembly ground, before the gathering of students and staffs. So, it was a herculean demand that required a mighty resolve of courage for twelve-year old’s’ to address.
All eyes were on Form I rows of line. We were dead mute, pinned to the ground by fright. An eternity elapsed and none of us had the courage to walk up that rostrum. Then suddenly, prompted by a will that I can do it, my legs began to propel me towards the elevation.
I started with “Good morning pupils,” and I was immediately interrupted by Aikeremiokhai.
He said pupils referred to primary school students, that I am in secondary school now.
“So, the appropriate word to use is ‘student,”’ he corrected me.
For someone who was already inundated with stage fright, that interruption knocked the wind out of the little courage I had summoned. And to compound issues, I was not quite aware of what ‘impression’ meant. But I think I managed a few words about the experiences I had gathered here and there on that day, before I became frigid with fright, because everything became dead silent and I realized that all eyes and ears were zoomed in on me; I was the reason for the utter silence. It seemed the whole world was examining me. My lips began to tremble, and at a point, though the words were in my head, I simply couldn’t proceed.
I think Aikeremiokhai understood my plight, because he commended my effort, and made the assemblage clap for me before I disembarked the platform.
The news quickly spread throughout the village that Vero’s son is a very brilliant boy. I became some sort of a celebrity. Quite ironic, I must say, because this was a lad who was too apprehensive to speak, and now he’s a superstar. In any case, I relished the fame.
Aikeremiokhai was an administrator per excellence as well as discipline, personified.
The mellow mannered, eloquent Aleobua deputized for him while the likes of Sado, Okhakumhe, etc., formed the core of his senior staff.
The likes of Oghiadomhe, Idalu, Igbafe, Momoh, Abu, etc., were teachers whose permanence on the school compound, pervaded the life of the entire school. They were perennially present.
There were other teachers who were neither permanent nor temporal in terms of their assignment designation. How they came to be, I don’t know. I simply recall that, neither being juggernauts nor minions in the scheme of things, their indispensability was never in doubt. They were young fellas who would stay awhile with us, teach us during those times they were with us, mysteriously vacate the scene, only to reappear again and resume teaching as though they had never left us. It was an off and on cyclical culture in terms of their availability, and we (the students) became accustomed to it. Ikhane, and a host of others, whose names (though their faces and nicknames are stamped in the space before me as I write) my memory has unfortunately failed me in remembering, were significant members of this lot.
And of course, annually, we had student teachers; not to mention the array of corps members. The latter were the largesse we enjoyed for having the influence of Greg Enegwea in government—a privilege we came to take as a birthright. And in appreciation of Enegwea, on an annual basis, he suffused our secondary school’s space in those glorious days of yesteryears with brilliant corps members.
There were also those part time teachers, brilliant young secondary school leavers, who were contracted directly by the school to teach us, and who were paid from the dues we (the students) were levied. One Sylvester from Iraokhor, a mathematics prodigy, stands at the heart of this group in my fading memory.
And there were prefects, students who wielded significant authority. Azagbor, Ayeni, Ezunya, etc., they assisted the school authority in enforcing discipline.
Discipline could have been Aikeremiokhai’s first name and it would have still fitted him perfectly. That disciplinarian made us toil daily at the ‘Morning Piece of Work’—chores of mowing the fields, constructing the bamboo fence, leveling the terrain, uprooting stubborn grass, etc. You had better not be late in showing up for these chores; walking on your knees along a good stretch of some 50 yards or more, will teach you never to do that again. And woe will betide you should you skip a day of school in order to elude these chores. The portion or portions of work you had evaded, and the one you were supposed to work on the actual day you eventually show up at school, will be waiting for you. No escape!
We also tended plots of farm lands. Therein were planted cassava, yam, groundnut, and corn. These were the school’s and teachers’ farms.
For somebody who has never held a hoe or a cutlass before, I abhorred these chores. Not only were they drudgery, the blisters they sprout in one’s palms and the hardening effect those blisters eventually wrought on the palms, simply made one loathe the scheme. But because I also dreaded the crackle of the lash and the burning pain it sears on the flesh, compliance was only the way out.
By and by, some lessons did sink: our hard work bequeathed the school compound some aesthetic appeal, which Aikeremiokhai spoke proudly of when comparing our school yard to that of neighboring schools. And he infested us with that pride. And proceeds gotten from sold farm produce fended for vital school purchases. There was even a day the entire student population was fed with yam porridge—harvest from the farms.
Those Monday morning inspection ritual on the assembly ground taught one to maintain a neat visage: ironed uniforms, polished shoes, clipped fingernails, combed hair, etc. A dirty slap to deflate a puffed-out cheek because of some untidy uniform, or the crackle of a cane over the backside of one’s fingers because of some long fingernails or painted ones, were some of the measures with which Aikeremiokhai enforced discipline.
Dragging the feet along the corridor, or tarrying on the way to the assembly ground, just a short while after the bell had tolled, were grievous offences in the days revisited today.
Our evening ‘Prep Class’, as it was called then, was as important as the day class. Attendance was compulsory. On Mondays and Wednesdays, we studied from 4-5pm and tended the fields from 5-6pm. While on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, we studied first, and then end up with sporting activities from 5-6pm.
For the sake of sporting competitions, we had four houses. Mine was Arua House. We relished every moment of those inter house sporting encounters.
A sport enthusiast, our principal encouraged our sporting talents with the provisions of sporting equipment, training opportunities, as well as coaches. Badminton, table tennis, volley ball, shot put, javelin, football, track and fields, were some of the sporting activities we participated in. We all relished the experience. That school in that village was a formidable force in sporting competitions in then Etsako Local Government Area of those days.
Aikeremiokhai ensured the delivery of quality education to all his students because he held is staff accountable for their duties. Staff meetings were prompt and regular, and the expectations from staff members in terms of their duties and obligations were always made lucid to them by Aikeremiokhai. Our teachers took their jobs seriously and we, the students, didn’t play with our studies. For instance, study time during evening prep was study time; no monkeying around.
Aikeremiokhai was an advocate of quality education. His primary way of motivating us, the students, to improve on our performance in exams was to call out our names in the order of our performance after each term’s exams, lining us atop the rostrum on the assembly ground in that order, eulogizing the best, while vilifying those at the bottom of the class.
Speaking in retrospect, research as shown that his approach doesn’t rank at all in the best practices for motivating students. But I personally relished the experience and looked forward to it every term. So, I was motivated by it.
And yes, he was an advocate of double promotion. If you were outstanding in your performance in the first and second term exams, Aikeremiokhai will promote you to the next class upon resumption of the third term. I was awarded this privilege, but my mother counselled me to decline the offer, which I did. In retrospect, it was a wise decision.
Aikeremiokhai also encouraged intellectual engagements. Quiz and debates were constants in his regime. Drama and play production became a fad. He was a believer in things of culture and ensured we had a formidable cultural troupe that treated us to tantalizing performances from time to time. A fancy that I still miss even till this day.
In the days of Aikeremiokhai, it was a taboo for a parent to come into the school compound and hound a teacher or prefect because that parent’s ward was subjected to disciplinary action at school in the hands of that teacher or prefect.
Cheating during exams meant 24 strokes of the cane on the assembly ground. And the manner with which Aikeremiokhai would deliver the judgement: “Twenty-Four,” almost in a whisper, always chilled the spine of that assembly ground with dread.
Caught falsifying report cards meant instant expulsion in Aikeremiokhai’s book of laws. And may God have mercy on you if your name gets to him as one of those indulging in Agie in that infamous season of vulgarity. The gait of the tree you will be made to uproot, or the endless expansiveness of the land you will be made to clear, will make you wish that a death sentence would have been a much more lenient alternative.
Odalumhe was also a constant factor in the progress of things in that school. Chairman of the Board of Governors, he saw to it that every project was executed as desired. How he did it, I cannot tell, but there were days he literarily fed the entire school population from his pocket. He saw to the enforcement of discipline and he was a staunch supporter of Aikeremiokhai in everything deemed beneficial to the students.
Was it communal strife, internal wrangles, political squirmishes, or sheer intrigues, I was too young to know then. But whatever it was, Aikeremiokhai fell to the forces of opposition way mightier than him at the completion of my Form III in 1985. His exit marked the gradual decline of qualitative education and discipline in our beloved school, and we, the students, and the school as an entity, became worse off by it.
Oburuta, Aikeremiokhai’s successor, was past his prime when he arrived our school. An ardent Adventist, introspective in nature, and near retirement, he seemed much more preoccupied with the ultimate fate of his soul than the future of the younglings he was meant to help mold. His morning and afternoon sermons on the assembly ground dwelt more on molding the character of man and less on the import of doing well in academics.
Also, upon the exit of Aikeremiokhai entered a new norm: teachers ‘helping’ students during exams. I was in Form IV when a group of teachers asked me and some other students to pass written answers to some of our seniors (their girlfriends) who were writing their WAEC at the time.
When decay starts creeping into one’s society and one does not see it as what it is, decay, but accepts it as a novel normal, something that is meant to help, one becomes guilty, as the rest of that society, of helping to shape the destruction of values in that society. We were all guilty of this crime. In essence, what these teachers got going on, was exams malpractice! Who would have dared such when Aikeremiokhai held sway?
Oburuta caught me red handed in the process of slipping these written answers through the window to those seniors writing their WAEC. Upon this, I instantly became burdened with fright. I felt that that was the end of me, judging by what Aikeremiokhai would have done if he were the one that caught me. But on the assembly ground the next day, there was not a singular mention of the incident.
Thusly, gradually and steadily, standard became to deteriorate in the school system.
When Oburuta eventually retired, Uwemi came in as the principal.
Uwemi’s penchant for garrulity was far more superior to his leadership skills. On the assembly ground and in the classroom, even during one on one encounters, he would talk about everything without saying anything. Whenever he raised a matter of import, he would digress into other irrelevancies in the course of that discussion, that at the end of the day, the original issue that warranted the discussion in the first place, will be left hanging, unaddressed.
“Ichi, that’s what you are now smoking; ayon, that’s what you are now drinking; my girls, those are who you are now sleeping with…” was an Uwemi classic when it comes to making a disciplinary case against any erring student. And so ever often, these allegations were baseless. And since these assertions were not even close to veracity, our new principal began to lose respect even before his own students. I leave you to imagine what would have become of discipline and the pursuant of qualitative education, phenomena that were already eroding in the culture of the school.
Uwemi had the queer tendency of showing up in school as early as 6am or thereabout, and start teaching the then Form V students English Language, purporting he was preparing them for WAEC. I was in Form V then, but I never attended these lessons. But by the time I show up at school later on in the day at about 7:30ish or so, and then walk along the corridor, gazing through the windows at the classroom where Uwemi held sway teaching his English lesson, the entire blackboard would have been profusely replete with his writings. For someone who was apprehensive of WAEC (because of its almightiness), or who wasn’t prepared for WAEC, or who wasn’t confident in his or her ability to do well in English language in WAEC, seeing Uwemi’s blackboard filled with so much writings, would have spurred that person into a panic mode.
I was never bothered by this Uwemi phenomenon, because the discipline and studying attitude Aikeremiokhai had instilled in us earlier on, had helped me in creating a studying timetable for myself. Something I stuck to very religiously.
Honestly speaking, even now in retrospect, as it might have been then, I can’t but think that those who attended those Uwemi’s wee hour morning lessons, would have always left his presence more confused than being felt that they have learnt something, or that they had gained something.
When our WAEC result were released later on that year, it was quite evident that our comic principal’s strategy wasn’t effective, judging by the number of students who passed English Language with a credit pass. I think it was only four of us!
Barely two years after the exit of Aikeremiokhai, cultural activities, the cultural troupe itself, drama, debate, sporting competitions, etc., became experiences that then seemed alien to us (the students), experiences we then only carried in our memory, as if they never happened.
With the guidance of some corps members who also doubled as my friends, as the President of the Literary and Debating Society and the Drama group (a responsibility that would fall on me because I was now in Form V, and because I have been active in these societies throughout the years), I started writing plays (comedies in the main) and exporting them to neighboring schools, while charging a token from the audience. This was how these two groups were kept alive. I will eventually gather that after my passing out from the school, whatever was left of these groups, went extinct.
JOHN ODIOR ANAWEOKHAI 82-87
MY FORMATIVE YEARS IN OGBONA SECONDARY
The sun struggled intermittently to cast its rays against the humid weather of September much as the telling effect of the season was visible from the bushy green fields and the wet surroundings. Though beaming with ecstasy in the atmospheric cool breeze of the morning with that infectious conviviality of teens, our forlorn look of naivety, though concealed with the faith of a saint, was nonetheless palpable, and of course with that medium slice douse of timidity and the rustic mannerism of the countryside.
We had no clue of what lay ahead of us, other than the excitement of being admitted into secondary school. We never took any entrance examination and as such, never did anything extra ordinary to be admitted, unlike our distant predecessors, before our secondary school was founded. We were mixed with our counterparts from Iraokhor who had no secondary school then. Justin Ogidi, Victor Ozagha, Henry Okhakhu, Dick Enamino, Emmanuel Itsueli, and Henrietta Ugbodaga were among the intakes from Iraokhor.
If there was any apprehension we mutely shared that day, it was the phenomenon of the principal, Mr. Christopher Aikeremiokhai. A man with a larger than life image and who had myths weaved around his personality. We had been inundated with countless stories of his “wickedness” especially, his no nonsense attitude to truancy and insubordination. On that very day, circa, the second Monday of September 1982, we had our hearts in our hands as we waited anxiously to cross path with the much-orchestrated disciplinarian.
The Assembly was short with no beating of band, very unlike our primary school. We had been properly schooled to come to school with sharp cutlass each to tidy up the school environment and in all honesty, the whole school was covered with grasses. It was a wide expanse of field, divided into two by a broad and long path. Save for the corrugated iron zinc security post, manned by Mr. Ayia Okhakumhe, there was no fence of any kind as security measure to curtain student’s excesses. After the morning assembly, we were lined up from the beginning of the football pitch to the main road, to do the clearing and within a short period of time, we were done. We had expected a bit of commendation and appreciation from our principal but to our utter disappointment, he asked us to turn and face our back to do justice to the other field. We had no option than to comply but without the initial excitement and enthusiasm.
Generally, the first week of resumption was for cleaning and clearly of the school compound.
The following week, we were divided into classes and I found myself in class 1E. One Godwin Ogun from Idah, who lived with his sister in Iraokhor was our class captain, probably because of his maturity. Our class captain had a big problem on his hands which defiled his reasoning and I was more bewildered and confused when he eventually confided in me. Namely, at the beginning of every term, as the class captain, he would be told to compile the names of all the students for the class register. He would leverage his position to write his name before everybody else but whenever the class register was finally produced, my name with others’, always came before his. If only we had been exposed to the concept of alphabetical order.
We shared a six-classroom block with class 2A. Our immediate seniors, who never spared any opportunity to drum into us that we were junior. At the least provocation, one would hear 365 DAYS IS NOT A JOKE.
Among our teachers were two advanced teachers on their national youth service Corp program, Mr. Tsado and Mr. S. S Iledo. Both of who were from Jattu and were retained after their program. Mr. Iledo retired or got transferred barely a year after but Mr. Tsado remained with us throughout as economics and History teacher. Mr. Aleobua from Jattu was the Vice Principal and also doubled as our Literature in English teacher. His son, Lionel was a thorn in our flesh as our immediate senior.
There were teachers like Mr. John, Mr. Oghiadomhe, Mr. Oghiator, Mr. Abu, Miss Oni, Mr. Cyril Okhakumhe who later became vice principal, Mr. Idalu, Ms Tsedi, Mr. Evhuoma and many others.
Mr. Ikhane was on industrial training when he taught English Language in 1985.There was shortage of teachers in those days. Most times, the school would rely on the services of auxiliary teachers to fill in the gap, of course on the students-parents expense. Among them were: Mr. Ambrose Okozi, Mr. Sylvanus Aleonoghena from Fugar, and Mr. Sylvester from Iraokhor who taught us Mathematics.
Youth Corp Members were also of tremendous help including medical Doctors from UBTH comprehensive Health Centre. I remember Doctors Dabere and Isah Yusuf with deep sense of nostalgia.
Austin Ayobo was our senior prefect when we started but Rev. Father Sunday Azagbor was later appointed. Other prefects were Jackson Idugbe, Stella Anamomhe, Peter Ogidi, Joseph Ayeni, Monica Ogar, Williams Onumabor succeeded Sunday Azagbor. The first head girl was Helen Ezunya, though we never met her and Moses Aigbepue as the head boy, being the third set.
Agnes Eruakhor held sway as head girl when we were admitted before Monica Ogar was appointed, unfortunately, she died in November, 1985 soon after her graduation at her prime. At the initial stage, from all indications, selection of prefects was carried out mainly from the prism of age and maturity traits exhibition though academic prowess later took her pride of place as the basis for selection.
Among my classmates were Richard Ayeni, Timothy Oshiotse, Jude Esue, Albert Aigba, Patience Idode, Rosemary Eduku, Johnson Aleghe Odior, Felix Itsuokor, Anthony Itsuokor, Thomas Itsuokor, Maria Isimhape, Benetu Victoria, Alexander Asekomhe, Peter Boji Ilega. Gabriel Osigbemhe, Abigail Orbih, Titi Okozi, Dorothy Oputeh, Odior Anavhe, Peter Okhipo, Thomas Emitse Apekhena. Felix Benson Atsegwasi, Otaru Omiawa, Anastacia Osigbemhe, Beatrice Oboarekpe, Augustina Omadimhe, Augustina Olere Eshiesumua, Roseline Eshiesumua, Augustina Osigbemhe, Augustina Apokhumhe, Johnson Ateghie, Victor Omomoh, Solomon Alade Igbadumhe, Daniel Alade Obhozeghie, Maria Apuede.
The free education policy of Prof. Ambrose Ali seemed to have spurred a lot of students into scholastic consciousness, which no doubt, accounted for the high number of students that enrolled in our school. Everything took a disheartening dimension as soon as Gen. Buhari struck on 31st December, 1983. His abolition of the hitherto free education policy of UPN and the subsequent introduction of school fees was the final seal on the academic aspiration of many a student. Initially, the school’s fees were N30 but later jerked up to N50 per student. This amount, no doubt was too high for subsistent farmers to pay every term, especially those with two or three wards in school. Painfully, some parents who couldn’t cope were forced to withdraw their children from school. We were over 200 students when we started but only 88 of us wrote WAEC in 1987.
Ogbona secondary helped in no small measure in inculcating the value of hard work in us. Woe unto any of us who came late to school. Before 8am, Mr. Aikeremiokhai would be at the school gate to deal with late comers. Once you were in school, you did not need to be told what to do. You took your cutlass and headed straight to where to do your morning piece of work. Every student had his own portion of the field delineated for him. One needed a cast iron alibi to explain endlessly why his portion of the field was left to over grow.
Mr. Aikeremiokhai hated noise making with a passion. You could never hear his footsteps from behind. You would only see him peeping from the back of the window. In fact, Mr. Aikeremiokhai was in charge. He mastered the use of sign language to the recognition and admiration of every student. Students could read his disposition on any issue in a jiffy from his countenance and gesticulations. Whenever he clapped his two hands with a straight face, one did not need the services of a soothsayer to know it was going to be a cold day of hell on earth for any miscreant. He was both feared and revered. He had this uncommon inter personal relationship skills with which he endeared himself to the hearts of parents. Parents were very comfortable with him as he did everything humanly possible to ensure stubborn students were made to straighten up. He seemed to have the backing of the then PTA chairman, Chief Odalumhe on every issue who was his dependable ally in laying a very solid foundation for the school.
Unfortunately, soon after the first set passed out, Mr. Aikeremiokhai started having issues with the community, probably on issues that bothered on moral sanctity, especially his amorous relationship, and if my memory is serving me right, he ended up marrying one of the students soon after her WAEC examination.
Mr. Oburuta from Sapele succeeded Mr. Aikeremiokhai. He was an antithesis of Mr. Aikeremiokhai, a symbolic representative of all that Mr. Aikeremiokhai stood against. It was a moment of incessant altercation and confrontation. He had an open brawl with one of the teachers, Mr. Momoh. It was the worst moment in the history of the school. Fortunately, he did not last long as he was soon replaced with Mr. Christopher Uwemi. Though Mr. Uwemi tried to restore sanity, it is doubtful if he ever had a firm grip on the school like Mr. Aikeremiokhai.
One memorable thing about my studentship time in Ogbona secondary remains the evening school, otherwise known as prep. After the morning session, we would all come back to school by 4pm to do personal reading. Tuesdays and Thursday were reserved for sporting activities. Our school had pedigree for football. There were a handful of talented footballers who would have given the likes of Sunday Oliseh and Jay Jay Okocha a good run for their money given the right environment and facilities. As we dominated that aspect of sport up to Akoko Edo and environs. James Okhuemhor, Benjamin Ako, John Azido Iyobe, late Paulinus Emuekpere Akaika, Austin Ayobo, Henry Etokhana, Sylvanus Apolice Amhanesi, Adolphus Anaweokhai, late Thomas Obie Eghieye, Lawrence Kadiri Isede, Michael Ikhaghu, Paulinus Ebode, late Mustapha Okhuemhor, Moses Aigbepue, Goal keeper, others were a force to reckon.
There was a thriving cultural group that always entertained. Felicia Akhamiemhona and Maria Isimhape easily come to mind.
Fridays after the long break was the designated time for farming activities. We had demonstration gardens where practical teachings were carried out. Peter Ogidi was in charge on this very day as the labour prefect. I believe, I am not in any form being economical with the truth here to submit that most students feared Peter Ogidi more than any other prefect. He was huge and stalking with reddish eyes balls. The complementary harmony between his dark muscular face and the red eyes was too terror inspiring to be taken for granted by any student, and he never hesitated to wield the big stick whenever the occasion demanded.
All in all, Ogbona Secondary School remains my reference point, the fulcrum against which hinges my intellectual curiosity. It pains me to hear stories of cultism and truancy among the students. I feel pained that the monstrous problem of lack of teachers has remained untamed. Nonetheless, I am more than glad to see Ogbona Elites Forum, in her little way, coming to the rescue.
WELCOME TO OGBONA SECONDARY SCHOOL PHOTO
STUDENTS ATTENDING THE OEF LECTURE ON CULTISM AND AT THE ASSEMBLY GROUND IN 2017
Peter Boji Ilega,Victor Momoh, John Anaweokhai and Solomon Alade Igbadumhe. Behind us are Victor Ozagha and two other Iraokhor boys
Benson Atsegwasi, Magdalene Otoaye, Monica Anaweokhai, John Anaweokhai, Late Florence Edogamhe, Iraokhor girl, Late Emuedumhe Ikielu, George Asapokhai and Alimatu Osilama. The picture was taken during the Sendoff Party, July, 1987