Offa town: How mutual seed births over 100 professors, professionals
Back in the early 1940s, when the seeds that later led to the founding, in 1943, of Offa Grammar School, were sown, many Offa indigenes saw the move as a novel initiative.
A people with an immense premium on education, the poor and rich at home and abroad contributed their mite and pretty pennies to see the dream come to fruition. The result was what, arguably became Offa Grammar School, the first community-owned secondary school in the Northern region of the country.
Fittingly, the school soon became a springboard for healthy competition among parents within and outside Offa, as they made it a duty to send their children and wards to the school. In no time, the school became a mill for great minds that are positively impacting the nation in various spheres of life.
Some prominent ex-students of the school include Prof. Mosobalaje O. Oyawoye, the first Professor of Geology in Africa; the late J. S. Olawoyin; the late E. Adesoye; the current Emir of Ilorin, the Belgores of Ilorin; Generals Alani Akinrinade and David Jemibewon (Rtd.) and a host of other eminent old students.
Offa metamorphosed early into a town where university graduates abound in large numbers, as parents saw it as a duty to spend their hard-earned money on educating their children and wards.
This, perhaps, explains why the town of a little over 100,000 inhabitants is today reputed to have over 100 professors who are contributing to national development in different institutions within and outside the country.
For instance, the town has produced about eight Vice-Chancellors of universities in Nigeria. They are Prof. Musibau Akanji, (VC, Alhikimah University and the Federal University of Technology, Minna); Prof. H. Oloyede (Fountain University, Osogbo and Summit University, Offa); Prof. A. B. Oyediran, (University of Ibadan); Prof. Suleiman Adeyemi (Federal University of Technology, Minna) and Prof. B. A. Raji (Fountain University Osogbo), among others.
Prominent professors from the town include, Prof. Babatunde Salako, Prof. Lola Oloyede, Prof. M. Akanni, Prof. Matanmi, Prof. Tunji Adeyokunu and Prof. Sam Niyi Ojo. Others are Prof. Raufu Dunmoye, Prof. Taibat Mojo Bakare-Odunola, Prof. Alakija Kazeem Salami, Prof. O. S. Adegboye, Prof. A. Adesiyun, and Prof. Rabi Mohammed Ashiru, the first female professor of the University of Science and Technology, Wudil, Kano State.
However, a more interesting feature in Offa is that of an extended family – the Ijaiya family — that has become a breeder for professors, with 10 produced already as at the last count. Among the scholars from the lineage are two former deputy Vice Chancellors, a chief medical director, deans and a host of other senior academic.
The 10 professors from this lineage include Prof. Gafar T. Ijaiya, a professor of Economics; Prof. (Mrs.) Sidikat Ijaiya, the first female Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin (UNILORIN); Prof. Mufutau A. Ijaiya; Prof. Waheed Olatinwo, a professor of Medicine; and Prof. Hakeem Ijaiya, a law professor at UNILORIN.
Others are Prof. Abdulmojeed T. Ijaiya of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State; Law professor, Prof. Najeem Ijaiya of Crescent University, Abeokuta; and the trio of Prof. Munir. A. Ijaiya; Prof. Bayo Lawal and Prof. Maruf. K. A. Adeboye of the University of Ilorin.
Explaining how Offa became educationally advanced, the former Chairman, Offa Descendants’ Union, Lagos State chapter, Alh. Bisiriyu Afolabi traced the development to the foresight and actions of their progenitors, who he called “the real trailblazers in the educational trajectory of Offa community.”
Afolabi said: "God ingrained in our forebears the importance of education. Hence, there was little or no resistance at all when the idea of establishing a community secondary was muttered. The rich, the poor, Christians, Muslims, traditionalists at home and in the diaspora (Offa indigenes in Ghana) all came together and contributed their pittance to establish the famous Offa Grammar School.
"In Offa today, university graduates abound in every family and compound. Parents take it as the sine qua non to spend their money to educate their children and wards in Offa. I, also, remember very well when the then Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida visited Offa. Our late Olofa of Offa, Oba Mustafa Olawore Olanipekun Ariwajoye II, did not mince words in his welcome speech when he requested for only one thing from him - a tertiary institution. And instantly, the then Head of State did not hesitate in granting the request. That was what birthed the Federal Polytechnic, Offa. For now, Offa has over 100 university professors, over 100 medical doctors, many professionals in different fields and still counting."
Afolabi added that it is not surprising that the current Olofa of Offa, Kabiyesi Oba Muftau Gbadamosi Ilufemiloye, Ajagungbade I, Esuwoye 11, who has spent 10 years on the throne and is the first university graduate to be enthroned, has brought a lot of development to the community.
"Kabiyesi Olofa of Offa has followed the footsteps of his progenitors to unite, assist, support and cooperate with his subjects in all aspects of life to bring about rapid growth and development to the community. Long may he reign in splendour, good health with wisdom, knowledge and abundant blessings,” he said.