Tag Archives: Festac Town

50 Yards Of Death

By Adeola Aderounmu

My beloved Festac was thrown into mourning on Tuesday night. My passion and love for Festac Town meant that I have written about the glory and the fall of Festac Town, even here in the village square. If you lived in Festac Town from inception in 1977 or thereabout and get to see the decay and rot that has become of the city, you’ll weep if you are such a human with a caring heart.

A boat mishap claimed the lives of at least 13 people on the 12th of March 2014. Six people were reported missing and 5 survived the (avoidable) catastrophe. I felt an obligation to analyse the circumstances that may have led to the accident. I will suggest the possible ways forward and my ultimate goal will be to send a letter to the chairman of the Amuwo Odofin Local Government (AOLG) with head office at 41 Road in Festac Town. That much I owe my beloved city, Festac Town Island.

Stone field at 23 Road X close by 5th avenue H1 Close

Stone field at 23 Road X close by 5th avenue H1 Close

The distance (short-cut will be more appropriate in our language) between 4th Avenue and 6th Avenue on water according to newspaper reports is about 50 yards. This should be approximately 46 meters. What has not been reported is the depth of the water but since people have drowned in it, it may be close to 6 feet. It may also be deeper. The water may be swampy. We called this water body “canal” when I was a little boy. It flows around the town. I’m almost sure I have been in or about that water body several times as a teenager without the full knowledge of water safety.

We know that there was a wooden bridge that connected the two avenues. The bridge may have been constructed through the efforts of a church situated nearby but it does not exist anymore. Some people have complained about the negligence of the local government in building a more permanent bridge to connect these two areas over water. Many people are of the opinion that it is a waste of time to use another bridge that is about 2km away when their destination is just about 50 m ahead of them.

Apparently, unless the councillors and the leadership of the AOLG debate and agree on a pedestrian or a dual-purpose bridge, there is yet no binding obligation for the local council to build a bridge or walkways. People are frustrated because these same politicians must have voted several times on how to “steal” public funds and share loots. However, residents and pressure groups can make demands for the improvement of the infrastructure in their vicinity and environs. Who is listening?

This may sound like medicine after death but those of us who thought the extended area of Festac Town were gross anomalies can also add that while people are quick to buy land and build houses in the extension areas, there has not been a corresponding development of infrastructure in the area. We must not forget that the extension area of Festac was that zone where natural reserves (wildlife and beautiful aquatic existence) were wiped away and replaced with houses.

Mainstream Festac was itself never maintained. It seemed that the Federal Government through the Federal Housing Authority found pleasure in quickly converting mainstream Festac from a paradise to a slump in one swoop. The History of the destructive “deconstruction” of Festac Town has been well established. Nigeria has a rich history of maladministration and extremely bad management. Public administration in Nigeria is mostly a source of misery.

As I was saying, on this black Tuesday in Festac Town, it took 3 hours 20 minutes before a distress call reached the National Emergency Management Agency-NEMA according to the reports in Premium Times online news. Is there any record of how long it took to reach the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA)? Reaching these agencies should not have taken more than 5 to 10 minutes especially as it appeared that the operators of the canoe services are “locals” as we call them.

They are people “hustling” and trying to make ends meet. Were they ignorant of what to do in cases of emergencies? Access to emergency services for them ought to be quicker. Was the telephone network busy for more than 3 hours? Were the roads from NEMA to the canal so bad that at first, one may think that NEMA is located in another country? 3hours and 20 minutes after! Do LASEMA / NEMA have offices in Festac Town or a place in AOLG area?

I can actually ask one thousand questions regarding this single unfortunate incident. Does Festac Town lack accidents and emergency units within its locality in the year 2014? Why is the boat carrying 24 passengers instead of 13 or 14 passengers? Was the champions’ league game so crucial that the canoe operator had to ignore safety procedures or was it the passengers who bent the rules and headed to death on a 50 yard stretch of water?

If the reports in the Premium Times are anything to go by, then it appeared that the passengers ignored the warning of a young girl who raised an alarm about a possible drowning scenario and that she would swim to safety. She did and numbered among the survivors! One survivor also narrated how he had to do away with his heavy bag of tools so he could reach the shore safely. The fact that they “pushed” the canoe to start the journey was definitely an adequate warning that all the passengers ignored!

I think all adult humans at one point or the other have experienced the sadness that come with bereavement. We can sympathise with the families of the deceased. We can cry and we can be worried about many things connected to this tragedy including the trauma of the survivors. Some young people burnt the canoe. That’s how best they could reason, in their state of anger.

What will be more important is the way forward. It’s always important to take the lessons from every situation and try to avoid repetitions of tragedies along the same line/pattern. In so many ways and with uncountable examples, one can illustrate how tragedies have repeated themselves in Nigeria with precision, and the same hypocritical reactions.

The Festac tragedy should not be allowed to repeat itself.

The little girl swam to safety. What are our attitudes towards acquiring life skills? I’m not stating with pride that I still need more swimming lessons to be sure about my survival in water. In Nigeria, many of our parents discouraged us from swimming when we were growing up. Lagos is lined by the Atlantic Ocean and there are lagoons and rivers around us. We never referred to Festac Town as Festac Town Island whereas it is in every sense.

Why was it not a compulsory part of our education to learn how to swim? I can’t remember any physical education lesson that was dedicated to swimming. The Amuwo Odofin Local Government should make haste to construct swimming pools where children and adults will be taught how to swim. It’s a life skill. The boats capsized somewhere between 2 locations that are 46 meters apart. My skill in mathematics tells me the tragedy occurred at a point less than 24 meters to land. The probability that the boat capsized at a distance 10-15 meters to land also exists. This tragedy was avoidable, even if the morning rain increased the volume of the canal and the canal is swampy in nature.

Road construction work in Festac 2014

Road construction work in Festac 2014

Nigerians need to know that there are reasons for rules and that safety procedures should never be relegated at the altar of profit or unwarranted compassions. If the canoe operator had not allowed the boat to be overloaded, or if the passengers did not beg to be squeezed on board, they would probably have travelled safely. Tuesday the 12th would have ended on a different note and the N150 motorcycle ride on bad roads would have been probably one of the cheapest costs of saving life in the history of man.

Were there life jackets on board the ill-fated canoe? It was possible that no one thought that life jackets are needed on a 50 yards “death” stretch. Non-swimmers go on this trip without any guarantee! The cost of a life jacket may also take the profits off the “locals”. Water transport business is not a joke or a trial and error endeavour. If this mode of transportation must persist along this canal, then the local government should either take over the business with state of the art ferry system or award the contract to a reliable water transport company. It is not enough to deploy council guards after the accident. It is definitely not enough to lock off an access road to the river.

Road construction work in Festac 2014

Road construction work in Festac 2014

A certified transport company would have stations on both sides of the canal. In an ideal situation there would be departure times and arrival times. When it is dark or getting late, it would be inappropriate to run the canoe because of the level of underdevelopment or bad state of infrastructure in several parts of Nigeria. It would probably have been easier to report a mishap had the operations being under licensed authorities. How well do we care about lives in Nigeria? What value do we place on our existences?

When shall we get there in Nigeria? Why were we taught that what is worth doing at all is worth doing well? This tenet and other moral guiding principles were handed to us early in life. What went wrong? How did we get to the situation where our senses of purpose and direction are malformed or dysfunctional? If the transport system over water will not be safe, then it should be totally abolished.

Road constructions, repairs and maintenance are not favours from the councils. These are parts of their obligations. The road network in Festac needs to be improved so that transportation within the estate can be safe and cheap. It’s good to hear and see some efforts in that direction.

Our bicycle tracks in Festac Town should be reinstated and new ones built. People should be encouraged to ride bicycles. This is common in all developed countries. Bicycles are the commonest means of transportation when people want to go from one place to another around their vicinity or local areas. What makes us different species in Nigeria? Isn’t it time to make such an environmental friendly mode of transportation readily available, acceptable and popular? People need to own bicycles without being subjected to ridicule and laughter.

Road construction work in Festac 2014

Road construction work in Festac 2014

When the reports about the tragedy on 50 yards of water in Festac Town went to press on Wednesday it was still impossible to reach the chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government for his comments/reactions. That is the common attitude of Nigerian politicians; they are arrogant and lack simple and common sense that governs public administration. People have died and the chief security officer of the council made no appearance and no comment. That is also a tragedy on its own.

When he does show his face, someone should remind the chairman Mr. Ayodele Adewale that these deaths on a 50 yard stretch is a big time wake up call at his domain. He can’t pretend that nothing happened. Mr. Ayodele must make haste to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the possibility of sustaining or eradicating boat services between 4th Avenue and 6th Avenue

Burning canoes or boats is not the way to forget the dead. Meanwhile if you ever forget them, they have died in vain. The residents of Festac Town owe it to their community not to allow this sad event to be swept under the carpets. Though sad, this is one of those moments in history that is opportunistic. Demands should be made for more bridges and good roads, for standard and safe ferry services. Why not for world class bicycle and pedestrian paths?

Nigerians deserve the good things of life too. Any of these proposed projects can be dedicated to the memories of the departed. May they find peace in transit.

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Comrade Oluwafisayo Ogunjimi (Pheesayor@hotmail.com) for useful information about the boat services in Festac Town and some useful ideas that went into this article.

Images by Adeola Aderounmu (Thy Glory O’Nigeria) and Comrade Oluwafisayo Ogunjimi (Watching Lagos, http://www.watchinglagos.com)

My Nigerianness Has Expired

By Adeola Aderounmu

One day in December 2006, I sat in my car for more than 4 hours at a gas station in Festac Town, Lagos. We had queued up for petrol because the commodity had been scarce for some time. That morning when I arrived at the gas station at about 6 a.m, I thought I was going to be one of the first people at the station but to my chagrin surprise it appeared that some people slept over at the gas station.

Adeola Aderounmu 2008_2

As I waited and drove at snail speed to the nozzle where all the attention was, I saw how people struggled and fought to procure a commodity that is flowing freely right underneath their feet. For the first time in my life, I cried out loud, profusely with lots of tears flowing from my eyes. I was alone. There was no chance of consolation and my emotions burst without any hindrance. I had returned 2 weeks earlier from a place where I just drive to an unmanned gas station, fill my tank and drive away in no time. MyNigerianness had expired.

One day I wrote to a friend discussing about my paternal leave in 2007. He was shocked as I explained the process to him and that the plan was to be at home with my daughter who was one at the time. In 2011 I repeated the process taking care of our second child. In this piece titled- An argument for parental Leave,http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/adeola-aderounmu/an-argument-for-parental-leave-13.html, published here in the village square and in the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper I shared the experiences and the benefits of parental leave. But I know how far Nigeria and Nigerians are from such idealism. I know that my Nigeriannesss had expired.

When I’d talked to some people at home and abroad about picking up my children from school and making them dinner, I know the type of scorn and other types of reactions that people show (or sometimes fail to show). But if you grew up with my mother of blessed memory, it was imperative that you could cook. It was our next line of training after high school to take over the kitchen tasks while waiting for admission to the University.

During our younger years, we were required to be at home when the food was made so that we can participate in the consumption. If you were away, your reasons must be genuine and understandable. Unfortunately this family value given to boys and the ability to use it at home in the presence of the female members of the family is not generalised in Nigeria. Things fell apart many years ago and some misunderstanding of cultural values tangled with ego and ignorance.

There was one man I’d met regularly in Stockholm in the early 2000s. He was always late to our meetings and there was always one reason or the other while he came late. My replies were blunt; I always told him that I didn’t believe him. His problem was that he did not know how to shed the African time syndrome. I don’t meet this man again. He had since found his way back to Ibadan.

There are other things that remind me of the African time syndrome. One day I was invited to an event that was slated to start at 5pm. By 7pm, they had not even finished preparing the venue, so I left and when I got home I was able to see one of the football games for the evening. About a week later I heard from other people at another event that the New Yam Festival event went on to start around midnight! I was glad for the call I made-to return home before the evening burnt out. My Nigerianness had expired!

Last summer (2013) I started using my bicycle more often. I biked to the train station and then join the communal transport. When I arrived at work, I would have been on the bicycle, the train and the bus. I thought it would be over by the end of summer. No, it didn’t! I went on to bike to the train station over the autumn and then winter. Around 2008, I’d found the idea of people changing the tyres of their bicycle to winter tyres ridiculous but that was just what I did in December 2013 as winter sets in. My Nigerianness is over!

If someone had shown me this vision in 2001 or even in 2005, I would have laughed. Now I know that myNigerianness had totally expired. I no longer see the egoistic statuses that we went about dissipating when I was living in Nigeria. I know I’m never going to be able to give up that Nigerian sense of fashion and beauty. But for cars, they don’t mean the same thing to me as they did in 2001.

In another essay from July 2007 I’d asked a question: Who Planned Our Lives In Nigeria? Life can be easy or easier if we judge it by the simple things that have self-fulfilling effects.  Life can be more meaningful if we don’t live above our incomes and if we stop setting standards just to meet other people’s expectations or their fantasies.

Life is more worth living if we live gracefully. My hope for Nigeria is that the time will come when the majority of the people will stop struggling just to survive but rather that they are presented with the fair opportunities to let them reach their potentials and accomplish happiness built on contentment and selflessness. That time will be freedom time, a freedom that will be fought for.

I’m feeling that my hopes mean that the possibility of reviving my Nigerianness may have been lost forever.

aderounmu@gmail.com

Lagos Facebook Murder

By Adeola Aderounmu

It’s very sad to know and read about the story of Cynthia Udoka Osokogu.
She was lured by murderers who posed as friends on her facebook list of friends.

Ezekiel Nnechuwu Olisa Eloka,23 and Echezona Nwabufor, 33 robbed and killed Cynthia in a Lagos Hotel. Pretending to be good friends and potential business associates, these wicked men raped, robbed and took the life of a woman who taught she was making good contacts for her business opportunities.

Apparently these guys are career murderers and one begins to wonder how many career murderers are posing on facebook as friends.

A lesson has been taught in the hardest and saddest way possible- don’t be friends to absolute strangers on facebook. If you do, never meet them! If you do, let it be a public or open meeting and never in hotels or private homes. Don’t go to places with strangers. They could be murderer like Ezekiel and Echezona.

There is a slight consolation in the rapid response of the police and law enforcement agencies. It is remarkable that the Nigerian Police could track phone numbers and make use of CCTV cameras leading to the arrest of the perpetrators.

The next line of hope is the prosecution and eventual sentencing of the offenders.

One can only imagine the sadness and sorrow of the families and friends of the beautiful woman that was murdered. Cynthia was a businesswoman and a graduate student resident in Abuja. She was murdered in Lagos. She did not deserve that sort of treatment. May her soul find peace.

Festac Grammar School Versus Lagos State Government

Adeola Aderounmu

I believe that the problems facing education, in terms of both infrastructure and the quality of it, should never be relegated in the ongoing rejuvenation of Lagos State. The resuscitation of Lagos state public schools should now be on top of the scale of preference of both Governor Fashola and the Commissioner for Education

Dangerously Looking school structure at Festac Grammar School

Dangerously Looking school structure at Festac Grammar School

In the first report I made about Festac Grammar School I had stated that I will continue to write about Festac Grammar School (FGS) until something is done to salvage the school. It is my alma mater and I take this cause very seriously. In a way it will serve as a point of reference for the general decay and expose the degree of negligence that schools have suffered under successive irresponsible governments in Lagos State.

The legacy of free and quality education in Western Nigeria under Late Awolowo and former governor Jakande suffered violent extinction with the advent of military rule. It is unimaginable that public education in Lagos State especially at the primary and secondary levels will remain redundant more than 10 years into civilian rule. This is more than a shame. It is a scandal.

The Festac Grammar School Alumni Projects’ Management Group-FGSAPMG was formed in 2011 and the team is now fully integrated into the main stream Alumni group. Our goals are clear. We have set out not only complain about the near-death state of our alma mater but also to seek ways to solve the problems.

Writing from a personal note I think that corruption is the root cause of the negligence. I won’t be totally wrong to state that the person or group that were supposed to implement the reconstruction of Festac Grammar School from the Jakande temporary structures to permanent school structures in the mid-80s stole the money earmarked for the project. Governor Fashola can start by looking at the records, fishing out the culprits and marching them to the prosecutors.

In addition if funds have been provided directly to the leadership of the school then we will like to know when and how much was provided. As we seek accountability from the state government, we also need her help in providing details of financial assistance to the school. If any individual among the school leadership is guilty of embezzlement, let him or her be brought to justice.

Some members of FGSAPMG recently visited the school. Babatunde Adebisi, Dare Olaosebikan, Raphael Omorogbe, Omozele Unuakhalu and Obichie Joseph Ndubuisi met with the school principal Mrs. Olowu and the VP Academics Mrs. Efetie.

Some of their findings are:

• No Library in the School

• No Electricity in the Junior School

• Electricity in the senior School has been disconnected by PHCN

• No functional Toilet for Teachers and students

• Scrappy furniture in the staff room

• Crowded classes in the Junior School (between 70-75 pupil in a class)

• Dilapidated Buildings and damaged class room floors

The alumni representatives noted with dismay the near complete absence of government assistance to the school or misappropriation of funds earmarked for it. One of the projects that the government has executed was the so-called ECO project for a Computer room with about 30 computers. The government also provided a generator set. A prototype toilet was never completed.

It is sad how Lagos State officials have become chronic liars. Representatives of the Ministry of Education in Lagos State have visited FGS on several occasions. They have been doing so even before I graduated in 1989. They could not even keep to their promises of renovating the only storey building in the school.

The task is not just to renovate the storey building. The present conditions of a school like Festac Grammar School is a disgrace to Festac Town, a disgrace to Amuwo Odofin Local Government, a disgrace to Lagos State Ministry of Education and despite all he has done a disgrace to Governor Fashola.

Nigerians should start making authentic demands from their rulers or leaders. I have stated that this is my contribution to the ongoing process whereby the alumni association is trying all possible means to sensitize the Lagos State government on the need to rebuild Festac Grammar School. Some of the most brilliant minds in Lagos and Nigeria have emerged from this school. For the sake of the children in Festac Town and its environs, an outstanding citadel like FGS must be kept running, functional and up to acceptable standards.

Government should be responsive to its obligation without being pushed or tipped. We (as representatives of FGS) don’t need to know someone in the inner chamber of the Lagos State government before we can get this job done. The notion of using people in government to fast track the execution of government work/project is an anomaly. It does work but it shouldn’t be our prime focus.

It has been stated that the Lagos State Government will not approve the renovation of its property in the school by the Alumni Group. Therefore the focus of the Alumni Group is tilted towards the execution of projects or rendering of assistances within our capabilities and the frame of the law.

In the coming days all these issues will be fine-tuned. We will continue with our deliberations and come up with a dynamic blue-print on the way forward.

Obviously it is asking too much of us if we think that we can rebuild two Lagos State public schools simultaneously. I support the opinion that the government must live up to its responsibilities and obligations.

Education is the right of every child and it must once again become a priority. The infrastructure and the equipment needed to facilitate this right must also be provided by the state.

In spite of the harsh learning conditions and the negligence of the education authority the Academic standard in FGS remains remarkable. It is still a tradition that the teaching and administrative staffs remain committed to programs that have sustained the academic excellence of the school.

In a recent baseline assessment conducted by the Ministry of education, FGS (the only poultry school in Amuwo Odofin Local Government) came 1st in Amuwo Odofin Local Government, 4th in the district and 19th in Lagos state. We used to be among the first in Lagos State.

In the meantime, for the sake of the school, The Project Management Group will definitely look into some of immediate needs of the schools which include:

Provision of furniture for teachers’ staff room
Re-establishment of the school library
Career counseling and general reward system for students
Outstanding PHCN bill of =N=40,000.00
Provision of office equipment like Photocopier, Computers and Printers
Dr. Steve Onyewuchi Eke, an alumnus of FGS called in to the last meeting from his base in Atlanta and promised to pay the PHCN bill.

We continue to look forward to the visible presence and concrete action of the state government in our alma mater. We will not relent in all the possible ways we have set upon ourselves to achieve these noble objectives.

When the deed is done, the FGS-APMG will be quick to help out the school on the lessons of maintenance culture. We will stand by our school from now on.

Acknowledgement: This version of my monthly essay on FGS contains some of the information submitted by Ralph Omorogbe on behalf of the members of the School Visitation Committee. Their names are already in the essay.

The People Who Shaped My Life

Adeola Aderounmu

The People Who Made Me

I attended Festac Grammar School from 1984 to 1989. These are the names of some of my teachers in secondary school. I intend to write another story about my primary school teachers. All these teachers and my parents made me who I am today. Thank you so much.

Mr. Famuyisan was my class teacher in class one and my father met him many times. I’m sad that I don’t remember much about him but I knew he was helpful to form my first year in high school.
Mr. Ezennadi taught me geography. It was through Mr. Ezennadi that I learnt about the Land of the Midnight Sun. I live there today.

Mr. Ezennadi promoted the use of the school badge and I thought he was a wicked man. But now I realized it was about our common identity. He wanted me to be proud of my school and to understand that it will come to shape and define my future.

I remember Mr. Olatunji my physics teacher. This man was a walking textbook. A civil engineer by qualification and a teacher by profession Mr. Olatunji inspired me in the field of science. He told me that ordinarily as an engineer he should be sitting at the top floor of a high-rise somewhere. But he was happy with the way he carried on with his job. I think he later left for the Ministry of Works. Thank you for the years you gave me.

Mrs. Kalejaiye went the extra mile to explain integrated science. She told me never to go about with my mouth open. She said I should instead open my eyes and observe things. Her words were enough for me.

Mrs. Faleti taught me Biology but she skipped many lessons. That was not a good attitude from a teacher but biology was my favourite subjects when I left class 5. Somehow her slackness became the source of my strength because I had to form my notes and study extra hard to pass my tests and exams. Thank you Mrs. Faleti! Your master’s degree in those days was not common and it was part of my inspiration.

I also remembered that it was you Mrs. Faleti that backed my nomination for the position of the laboratory prefect because you knew I’d been excellent as one of the longest serving class captains at that time. You also backed my nomination and selection as the school’s best behaved student in 1987. You knew me, and you shocked my father who thought I was a bit stubborn at home.

Mrs. Bashorun, you spoke softly. You are beautiful and elegant. You were also brilliant. In simple ways, you taught me chemistry with near perfection.

Mrs. Ayodele you made an early impact as my fine art teacher but there was another fine art teacher who taught me more practical things that I was able to put up an advert sign on my mother’s kiosk. I’m sad not to remember the name of my second art teacher.

Mr. Akomas also taught fine art but at that time I’d dropped the subjects for core sciences. Mr. Akomas, I saw you from a distance but I learnt from you all the same. You didn’t tolerate laziness and you were strict in a good way. I saw that!

Mrs. Olayomi, thank you for teaching me business studies and commerce. The best thing I remembered about you was the positive feedback you gave me in 1987 when you combined class 3E and 3F. You made me feel like a star when you said: the thing you like about me was that I was always clear when I answered your questions or give my opinion during class contributions.

To this day, people listen when I talk in meetings and gatherings and this is because you made me realized the importance of being clear and straightforward. You don’t know this but I think about that positive feedback anytime I’m heading for any meeting or interview. I have to be clear, I always tell myself. Thank you Mrs. Olayomi!

Mrs. Enwerem taught me Accounts in class 3. She made it one of my best subjects. I could write a cash book and double column books of account and other stuffs like that. And I could balance the account for all the sales trading companies. I love accounts back then.

Too bad I don’t remember the name of my economics teacher but I can still hear the echoes of demand and supply, advantages and disadvantages of international trade and money as a legal tender. In fact trade by barter made sense. My economics teacher was a woman who was fond of saying: come what, what may and ceteris paribus.

Mr. Osuoyah was my history teacher. He told me the story of Wolof-Jolof. He also told me the stories of many empires of the Old Days. I always think about the story of the bastard and legitimate states and the story of the cripple who fought and won battles.

Mr. Osuoyah frightened me with the story of people who were eating lizards and seeking permission to eat humans. I have not been able to verify if he was speaking of Lebanon or another country at war.

Mr. Osuoyah was on the list of the “wicked” teacher. He was a disciplinarian I would say and I did all I could to escape his numerous judgments and punishments. It means I don’t go late to school, I don’t come late to lessons, I don’t fly the school fence, I come to lessons prepared and I am neat and well dressed.

Mr. Nwaowoma was my vice principal. Baba goes round the school to see that everything was in order. You can tell that he was trained to be both a teacher and administrator. He was smart and articulate. In you Mr. Nwaowoma I saw true dedication and the zeal to help others succeed. You were never tired and you never gave up that all students could be taught the right things.

Mrs. Jekami taught Home Economics. I did Agricultural science but still our paths crossed. I was frequent to the teachers’ staff rooms to say: we have you now to the other teachers. You knew me and always call out Aderounmu. From you and the teachers who never taught me directly I learnt to pay attention to the things around me. It’s a rare quality for a true leader. I learnt it well. I lead well.

Alhaja Quadri taught Arabic and Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK). I don’t remember so many things about her. She was soft spoken, easy going but she can sting if you cross her path as a disobedient student

Alhaja Fasasi taught IRK as well. She was the mother of Baba D and Sound Sultan. Alhaja Fasasi was strict. I remembered one day that she flogged all the students from class 1A to 1F. It was not funny. Where did she get the energy to do that? But I respect her. I learnt she inspired many students through music about Islam.

Mrs. Talabi was my year tutor in class one. She taught fine art, I think. She was among the senior teachers and very well respected.

Mr olanrewaju was a teacher for a brief time in FGS. He was my class teacher in class 2 and he taught me mathematics. I don’t think I will remember him if I run into him in a public place. He was probably a youth corper during his time at FGS. He was young, handsome and had a good handwriting. He left an impression.

Yetunde Olabisi Alli was my class teacher in class 5. She taught government which means she didn’t get the chance to teach me any subject. But she wanted me to be class captain again in class 5 and I accepted. From that day, her work became lighter because I held on to the class register and marked who was absent or present. I reported to her regularly.

We had good contact even after 1989. I sent her a letter in 1996 during my service year at IITA Ibadan and she replied all the way from her new home in New Jersey. I wonder where you are now but I hope life is treating you kind Yetunde Alli. You have no idea how much I learnt from you: strength of character, independent mind and the determination to always forge ahead. You should know that you were called the Iron Lady back in the days.

Mr. Akinlade taught Yoruba in the senior classes when I started at FGS. He left at some point and then returned again. Was he on sabbatical? Mr. Akinlade became a principal in the 90s at one of these schools in the Lagos riverine area. Sir, I just want to say thank you for calling on me to lead the assembly prayer that fateful day in 1987. When I add that one chance to all the privileges as a class captain, it boosted my self-confidence forever. I wondered now if you had been listening to the morning bells and prayers from our flat. You lived close and we were prayer warriors!

Mr. Aregbesola taught me B.K but I dumped the subject after class 3. You were really good sir and I remembered how you paid attention to every details and how you read between the lines to make sure that I had done the correct thing. All of these have contributed to making me who I am.

Mrs. Osobu taught me Agricultural science in class 4 and 5. She built on the foundation that was laid by Mr. Dada who had taught me earlier from class 1 to 3. Mr. Dada taught me both theory and practical stuffs. I made farm diaries, worked in our famous poultry, collected and named different plants and weeds. I remember Festac Market women queuing to buy eggs from our school poultry! Gone are those days! Thank you Mrs. Osobu and Mr. Dada!

Mrs. Okolo was one of my English teachers. I spoke with Mrs. Okolo several times on the way to school and sometimes on the way back. I remember one of our conversations and I kept it in my heart to this day. She was concerned by the falling standard of education way back in the late 80s. I would like to ask her for her opinion now that public schools have suffered a near extinction in Nigeria.

Mrs. Emordi taught English language too. I remember I had to make a presentation in the classroom about any interesting news item. Mike Tyson was hot so I spoke about how he became the youngest heavyweight champion. The project was like delivering NTA news in the classroom except that it wasn’t propaganda.

Literature teacher, class 3. I can’t remember her name now. She taught us from the book EFURU. It was a wonderful story book. EFURU as I remembered was a young and extremely beautiful woman. We read EFURU in such a way that we could almost touch the beautiful woman in the story.

It’s not a good indication that I don’t remember the name of all my literature teachers. We also read WITHOUT A SILVER SPOON, THE LION AND THE JEWEL and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. We read lullabies. A heart to hate you is as far as the moon, a heart to love you is as near as he door. For me, these books went on to add to the definitions of my struggles and shaped my lives.

Mrs. S.K.Y. Faloye was my principal at FGS. I can’t remember the exact years of her reign. She was strict. I remember she started the concept of class captain keeping records of teachers’ attendance and the topic done for each day. She goes through all the records at the end of day and we-the class captains picked them up against the next day. SKY Faloye must have helped me to be a person who makes plan and keeps order with things. I have a feeling that having a time for almost everything and everyone were traits I unconsciously got from this woman.

Mr. Asagbra taught physics. He was teaching the senior students when I started in form 1. I may have encountered him as a member of the JETS club. JETS=Junior Engineers, Technicians and Scientists. There was another science teacher whom I noticed at that time. I don’t remember his name but he was quite huge and he led the JETS meeting a few times. These teachers left before I got to class 3 but they left marks as huge as they were.

Mrs. Akpata taught commercial subjects and typewriting. You will always find her in the typing pool with all the typing machines and happy students who had no idea that the machines were about to become obsolete. I don’t remember having more than one lesson of typewriting and I can’t remember if I’d used the machine for fun or during a real lesson. But just thinking about the typing pool now gives me that nostalgic feeling that I knew when I started at FGS that I was going to learn a lot before my graduation. I did.

Mrs. Ajibolade taught me Almighty formula of the quadratic equations and I can’t forget the simultaneous equations. The substitution methods among many other topics in mathematics remain useful until this day. She was my third maths teacher in secondary school. What a great mathematician! What a mentor!

Mrs. Ibigbami was my P.H.E teacher. It was hard for me to learn other sports because I was too addicted to football and table tennis. But she tried; the volleyball court was mounted on top of our second football field right in front of my classroom-1E so I was compelled to play volleyball.

FGS also had a special handball posts. I mean on the main football pitch, we played football competitions with handball goal posts because they were permanently fixed. You can imagine why I became a prolific scorer. If you trained with handball goal posts, normal football goal posts will become a bonanza.

Unfortunately I don’t remember the names of all of my teachers. However I must add that I returned to FGS in 1992 and worked there at various times until 2000. That ensured that I worked with some of these teachers listed above and other newer teachers. The experiences of those years as a student, as a voluntary teacher and later as PTA teacher remain the defining moments of my life. Not even the times I spent as a GA at CMUL can compare to those years at FGS.

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