REMEMBERING THE FOUNDING FATHERS OF EDUCATION IN OFFA. By Suraj Tunji Oyewale
In the 1930s, 8 men came together to think of establishing a community secondary school for their town, Offa.
4 of them were Muslims and 4 Christians.
The 4 Muslims, Alhaji Aliyu Olatinwo, Alhaji Gbadamosi Ijaiya, Alhaji Ilesanmi Giwa and Alhaji Jatto, were the richest men in the community but they were uneducated. They were successful businessmen.
The 4 Christians were not so rich but they were educated and more exposed. They were Pa Abraham Oyediran, Pa Onawola, Pa Bilewu and Pa Oyeleke.
Pa Oyediran was so educated that he was already a principal in the famous Methodist Boys High School, Lagos.
The rich Muslims brought money, while the educated Christians brought intellectual resources and planning to establish the first community secondary school in northern Nigeria in 1943.
That was how Offa Grammar School was birthed.
Before then, the very few high school educated Offa indigenes had to travel to Lagos for education. Now, they had a school at home.
OGS has gone ahead to produce some of the finest Nigerians, some of whom are even non-indigenes of Offa (Examples: current Emir of Ilorin, Justice Gambari; General Alani Akinrinade, former Chief of Army Staff; General David Jemibewon, former Governor of old Oyo state; Justice Ayo Salami, former President of Federal Court of Appeal; Mr. Dele Belgore, SAN, guber aspirant in Kwara; Alhaji Kola Belgore, former Chairman of AMCON; Late Oba Oladele Olasore, former CEO of First Bank and Finance Minister; Mr. John Dara, former presidential aspirant; etc all non-indigenes of Offa that came to school in Offa Grammar School).
The vision of these 8 great men that worked for the establishment of a secondary school in their community also benefited them personally as all of them produced children who went on to become hugely successful.
Alhaji Olatinwo produced a governor (Group Captain Latinwo, Kwara, 1984-85) from his children. He had many other sucessful children and grandchildren including the current (?) CMD of Ilorin University Teaching Hospital,Professor Olatinwo.
Alhaji Ijaiya produced several professors and engineers from his children.
Alhajis Giwa and Jatto produced several wealthy businessmen as children.
Among Pa Oyediran's children were Mr. Cecil Oyediran, first ICAN president from northern Nigeria (1973/1974) and Professor A.B.O.O Oyediran, former VC of UI.
Noteworthy that Mr. Oyediran the accountant was the first Nigerian to become a partner in an international accounting firm, Coopers in the 1970s.
Pa Onawola's son was also one of the first 120 chartered accountants in Nigeria. He became one in 1965. He was the Chief Tax Officer of the old northern region.
A third early Chartered Accountant from Offa, Prince Yunus Oyeleke, also qualified in 1965 (the 105th CA in Nigeria by registration number) and became a partner in Akintola Williams & co. He was also a former President of SEC.
Their fathers helped education in Offa and they were rewarded with successful children.
Most of them schooled in OGS. Their fathers had the resources to send them to school in Lagos or Ibadan but decided to establish a school in Offa, so the children of other poor people can also go to a community school.
That is lesson in vision and selflessness.