Am Just A Rave – Aregbesola
SPEECH BY OGBENI RAUF AREGBESOLA AT THE HOMECOMING RECEPTION ORGANISED FOR HIM BY THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF OLD STUDENTS, AKOKO ANGLICAN GRAMMAR SCHOOL, ARIGIDI AKOKO, ONDO STATE, ON SATURDAY JUNE 24, 2023
It gives me great pleasure to be at this very distinguished and joyous gathering. I must therefore thank exceedingly the leadership of the National Association of Old Students, Akoko Anglican Grammar School, Arigidi Akoko, for the Welcome Home Reception being organised for me.
This is about the third of such receptions being organised for me after I completed my assignment as Nigeria’s Minister of Interior. I had barely left office when my friends and political associates in Osun ambushed me with a reception in Ilesa and Osogbo.
The share size of the people who trooped out to receive and welcome us was overwhelming and I will be eternally grateful to them for their effusive outpouring of love.
I had barely gone over that when the South West Muslim community dragged me to Oyo and in no small measure treated me to an unforgettable reception. Here I am today being treated to another welcome party by the Old Students of my alma mater.
Going down memory lane, I could recollect that the end of my stewardship in Lagos as Commissioner was without funfair. I was in the throes of the litigation for the recovery of my mandate in the 2007 Governorship Election in Osun.
That effort was all consuming and it almost lasted a whole term before victory came our way in November 2010. We served a record two-term in Osun and handed over to a successor from our party.
I remember being treated to a reception after I completed my assignment as governor, before I was tapped once again to be Minister of Interior.
I thank God for enabling me to serve with distinction, honour and integrity as Minister and returning home to these receptions and tumultuous celebrations.
The outpouring of love by the people, friends and associates fills me with the deepest emotions and never ceased to draw tears from eyes.
Today, I am happy and fulfilled. It is by the grace of God and a great privilege to have been in a position of leadership three times and to have left indelible footprints on my paths and be celebrated in this manner.
This particular reception by the Old Students of my school is very touching. Though the school is not within a cosmopolis and could even be termed rural, but it is a legend of sort.
When I became a student, it was already a world beater. We were challenged by three former students whose exploits in external examinations were boldly displayed on boards throughout the school.
Miss Catherine Adepate Adebisi (Now Mrs Ajayi) recorded the best result in the first School Certificate result written by the school in 1967. She made a distinction with Aggregate 09. She is now a Chartered Accountant and former Director General, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.
The second was Mr. David Adeoye. He recorded the best result in Mathematics in West Africa in the 1968 School Certificate Examination. He is now a distinguished Architect and Pastor.
The third was Miss Margaret Ologun who recorded the best result in Health Science in West Africa in the 1968 School Certificate Examination. These feats were possible then because of the quality of education in Western Region at the time.
The conspicuous display of the names of these students in our school then was an inspiration to us and to me in particular. The school has since then produced stars that will fill a galactic world.
These stars include but not limited to:
Engr. Dr. Bernard Olumuyiwa Aliu CFR, former head of the International Civil Aviation Organization (I.C.A.O), Montreal, Canada.
The Akure International Airport has just been named after him by the Federal Government. It is now officially called; Dr Bernard Olumiyiwa Aliyu International Airport, Akure.
Chief Akin Adaramola, former Head of Service, Ondo State.
Prof. (Mrs.) Laolat Adesanya, a renowned educationist.
Prof. (Mrs.) Lara Olusi, of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
Mr. Adewole Saba, a Computer Scientist and former bank executive
Mrs. Moji Ajayi, a retired Permanent Secretary in Ondo State.
Mrs. Funmilayo Oni, a retired Permanent Secretary in Ondo State.
Mr. Olusade Adesola, the current Federal Permanent Secretary of the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria.
Prof. Abidemi Oyinlade, a Professor at the University of Nebraska, U.S.A.
Late Mr. Samuel Babafemi Bello, former Executive Director, African Petroleum.
Chief Abraham. Adebiyi, retired Permanent Secretary, Ondo State.
Alhaji Yekini Olanipekun, former Commissioner in Ondo State.
Mr. Richard Olaitan Ayeni, former Commissioner for Special Duties, Info State.
Engr. Charles Agunloye, former Technical Manager, I.T.T. (Alcatel).
Brig Gen.(rtd) Olubunmi Akintola, of the NIgerian Army.
Late. Dr. Feyi Momoh, a renowned medical practitioner in Oyo State.
Mr. Hezekiah Olusegun Adekunle, an Educationist and former President of the All NIgerian Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), Ondo State.
Mr. Foluso Aminu, former Chief of Staff to the governor of Ondo State.
Prof. Duro Joseph Oyedele, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
Prof. Richard Oladele Abiola, Federal University of Technology, Akure; among other distinguished alumni.
I am just a rave, but these and many more distinguished ex-students are the stars who deserve even greater celebrations and it will be unfair if I don’t mention them and their place in the school’s universe.
What of our faculties; Pa Olugboja pioneer Principal and Chief H T Adelegan, the Principal during my time, who introduced us to international politics with his daily briefing on the 1971 Arab/Israeli war. Fantastic teachers and administrative staff.
Worthy of mention is the fact that a couple of ex-students have had the privilege of being Principal of the school.
I must also mention however, that the schools across Western Region at the time taught and instilled ethics, social etiquette, morals and leadership and produced these great people.
This is a testament to a remarkable public education policy and programme of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his people oriented political platform.
When I became governor in Osun, I sought to replicate this idea. Our administration built 11 state of the art 3,000 capacity model secondary schools, in addition to rehabilitating and upgrading the existing ones. Each school has 72 classrooms which can each comfortably accommodate 49 students and six rooms for study groups. It is equipped with six laboratories, 36 toilets separated equally for boys and girls, two libraries for science and arts each, facility manager’s office, a bookshop and a sick bay.
We introduced Opon Imo the tablet of Knowledge; a digital education tool, ethics and discipline in public schools and even established a state-wide agency on public school discipline. We introduced calisthenics and school feeding and health programme.
The first one we put into use was Wole Soyinka Government High School in Ejigbo, in 2015. By the time we left in 2018, 11 were fully operational,.With each school graduating 1,000 students every year and a combined output of 11,000, we should have not less than 44,000 world beaters now, if the programme had been sustained.
These schools were designed to produce world beaters and the fruits were already coming out. A student from our school topped the Senior Secondary School Examination while another topped JAMB examination shortly after we left.
But our successor regrettably couldn’t continue with the tempo.
Nevertheless, our commitment then was from the understanding that there is no alternative to a sound public foundation education.
All governments must therefore know that no matter how attractive private schools may be, they will never be able to displace government funded public foundation education schools, if we really want to provide education to all the children and stimulate development from bottom up. It is a dream we must never give up on.
I will remain appreciative of all my friends and associates that have followed me unflinchingly in my career in politics and public administration in Lagos, Osun and across the country.
I thank most sincerely the leadership and members of this association and all who made today’s event such a roaring success. I owe you a debt of gratitude.
I thank all my friends, political associates and supporters who have come here to honour me from far and near.
I thank you all for your kind attention.