CMS Grammar School, Bariga, Lagos, Nigeria’s oldest secondary school and cradle of western education, staged their graduation and luncheon on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, at the school hall.
The school principal, Ven. Tunde Oduwole, expressed utmost joy about the growth and development of the school in this chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly. CMS Grammar School was founded by the Reverend Thomas Babington Macaulay in 1859 and was the first principal…
Today is your school’s valedictory programme how do you feel about these?
I feel very, very excited because it’s a thing of joy to have been granted an opportunity to be one of those who contribute greatly to the growth and development of these young ones. In the last six years, it has been wonderful because God has really helped us. You come in as a young boy, at a very tender age and you’re groomed to a matured man of very sharp ideas with great and focused life.
It gives me a great joy to be part of training of these ones and delivered them back to the world in a grand style. It’s been an opportunity to have helped in grooming these ones, so it’s a thing of joy that we are making history.
Here we’re impacting the world positively. Our labour is yielding a lot of fruits. It gives me a great joy to witness this day.
How about the administrative segment as the oldest secondary institution?
This is a legendary school having been founded in 1859, and fifty five years (105) of its existence. We are proud to say that we are the cradle of western education in Nigeria. We are the first secondary school in Nigeria, we have a dossier of great men that have moved on from here. It gives us great joy to see famous scientists, engineers, technocrats, artistes, and other greats who went through this school. It’s absolutely great history of what the school stands for
Up till now, we maintain a very rich tradition of bringing a child up in a complete form, we make sure he’s sound morally, with academic excellence and good spiritual backing. For when these three are imbibed in one man, he can be focused and make a success out of life.
Can you tell us what is unique about the school?
Like I said, the school is unique in the sense that we do not only address the academic life of the child only we are also interested in the morals because no matter the academic excellence you need good morals with the kind of spiritual uplifting you get there you will be a complete being.
That is what is unique about the school not just a Christian school, we really practice Christianity. We pass it to the upcoming great men of the nation that have the fear of God, complete men that have love for others and have a sound mind that will turn the world around. That is what makes the school unique.
Can you tell us some notable old students of this great school?
Yes, I can recap few of them. We have former Nigeria’s interim president, His Excellency, Chief Ernest Shonekan, the first medical practitioner in the nation, the chairman, board of governor, Chief Justice Olayinka Faaji, Chief Fafowora, General B.B Williams (rtd.), the Accounting guru in Nigeria, Fatai Williams, the first governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Pa Folarin, the former commissioner and one of the high chiefs in Lagos, Pa Folarin Coker, Dr. Elebute, Engr. Afna, former governor of Ekiti state, Otunba Adebayo, then former commissioner in Ondo state, Mr. Oluwasuyi. We have a lot of them, they are numerous to mention.
What are challenges in running the school?
Really, there are lots of challenges, but what we rely on is that at every point of this challenge, God is there to shine our light.
The real challenge of raising these boys is not an easy task. The influence of the environment and bringing them to the level you want them to attain is really challenging. For you to be able to impact the required academic excellence in them, you need to do exploit. It’s a great task but with the support of Good and the encouragement of the management, we have been enjoying success.
What has been the contribution of the old students to the development of the school?
It has been enormous. We must say we are very grateful for their support. The school has been growing from height to height because of their support. One of them, Mr. Modupe Alakija donated a complete hostel and in many other areas. Many of them had done a lot of things at different times. Swimming project is going on, the swimming academy project too is going on financed by Papa Afolarin Coker.
Many of them have renovated facilities. We have the chairman, Mr. Abayomi Ajayi, who renovated one of the classrooms, we have great men that have worked here. We have Pa Awojobi, Engr. Busola Awojobi, who has been very supportive. We have Dr. Yombo Awojobi, who installed solar panel light in the dining hall and many like that.
Who is the best old student in terms of contributions and who is the oldest student of the school now?
I can’t really remember who the oldest is now, but I know Pa Akinyomi is about 80 to 90. Papa Folarin Coker, I don’t know maybe he’s the oldest now. He’s over 90 and Engineer Afna is over 90 too.
So, I don’t really know who exactly is the oldest. But in terms of old age, many of them have been very strong. I can’t really say this is the best old student. They strive to outshine one another but at the same time, they have been doing well to see to the progress and growth of the school we’re indeed very grateful.
Can you tell us some of the notable old students who have done tremendously and who had made an impact in the state and Nigeria at large?
Like I said, we have the former president, His Excellency, Ernest Shonekan, the doyen of accounting, Faiti Williams, Rotimi Williams, they are old boys. The first medical doctor to have a Ph.D is an old boy, the pioneer provost of College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Professor Elebute is an old boy and many who are first in their respective fields. In fact, the list is endless.
Is there anything the school urgently needs?
The basic thing we can say is needed is increase in infrastructure. We have the basic things but there is no limit to infrastructure for a school like this.
How many years have you been the principal?
I have been the principal for eight years.
Where were you before coming here as a principal?
I have served in different capacities. I served in different schools both in the ministry and in public before but this is my first sit as a principal and it has been wonderful.
What were the immediate challenges you faced when you came as a principal?
The first challenge was to be able to continue from where my predecessor stopped. The man worked assiduously in preparing the ground on which we are able to plant.
I remember boldly the contribution of G.O Onayinka who laid the foundation with hard work which we now tread. We are consolidating on his game plan because he came as the first principal since the return of schools and the state of the infrastructure was nothing to write home about.
What has been your achievement since you came as a principal?
We would need to sit down to itemize that. So many, since my tenure as the principal. The new hostel is there in five years, the result of the students has been wonderful, the construction of the chapel also happened during my tenure. The refurbishment of the laboratory also happened during my tenure, the refurbishment of the old hostel should be credited to this administration and the staff strength was increased.
Any regrets so far?
No regrets. It has been wonderful. God has been fulfilling His purpose in our lives and we are so grateful, we appreciate Him.
What were the best time you had in the school and the worst?
The best time? A time like this when you are able to churn out good students. It’s always a time of joy, time of price giving, when you are to award a price for excellence. Also, a time we have founder’s day celebration reminds us the sweat of our founding fathers, it’s a great joy.
Regrets? No, no. Every day comes with its challenge then daily, we tackle them. And God gives us grace to triumph.
Can you tell us briefly about yourself?
I am Ven. Tunde Oduwale, the principal of CMS Grammar School by his divine permission. A distinguished educationist and administrator.