IMPORTANCE OF THE TOPIC
For me, as President of the OGS, my interest always is anything that can increase membership of the OGS and ensure our enthusiasm and viability. Consequently, I am hoping that by the end of this speech, maybe I would have been able to get some of you to connect to the school and realize that even though we lost our bearing during the Jakande Administration, your school still remains the oldest and, with your help, the best school in our lifetime.
RELEVANCE OF HISTORY
According to activehistory.co.uk, “history is important to society as it promotes a sense of identity, helps us to make sense of the world and provides lessons in right and wrong. An individual striped of memory finds the world a confusing place; a society with no sense of history is unaware where it has come from or where it is going.”
OLD GRAMMARIANS’ SOCIETY (OGS)
There are no ready records as to when exactly this Society, which stands for Old Students of CMS GRAMMAR SCHOOL – LAGOS, was formed. The appellation of Grammarians is to reflect that it is the first Grammar School and a custodian of the English Language in Nigeria. It must have existed informally for over a century, as latent in all Grammarians is the need to pay back for the subsidized education received from the Missionaries.
In hazarding a guess, it must have been formalized and became a major driving force during the period when Revd. Canon and later Arch. B. A. Adelaja became Principal in 1950.
As the first Old Boy to become Principal, expectations were extremely high for the school with Old Boys very much interested in its greater upliftment.
The Society exists to promote the welfare of members, engender greater fellowship but, more importantly, is driven by the desire for excellence in the School and the inculcation of the right values in the students. It is organized through Sets, Branches and Chapters and seeks to galvanize all Old Boys to use their resources – skills, knowledge, capital, connections, etc – for the advancement and in the interest of school. This is articulated by Old Boys in the Protestation of Loyalty Oath administered yearly by OGS President to all members at the Founder’s Day.
Developments have been occurring in the School because of the sustained efforts of OGS through sponsorship of the Founder’s Day, Annual Merit Award, Teachers’ Incentives (over N1million last year) and other activities (such as home visits, etc). We are always ever grateful to Old Boys that continue to respond to our appeals.
We remember Otunba T.O.S Benson, President of OGS for several years, followed by Chief G. O. K. Ajayi who instituted a number of reforms including an amended 1998 constitution, tenure for some office holders and, as lawyer to the then Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, got the promise from the then Lagos Governorship Candidate to return Mission Schools that were seized by the Jakande Administration in 1979 to their owners in 2001. Both Chief Ajayi and next President of OGS, Ambassador Dapo Fafowora played key roles in the politics and presentation to the Lagos State House of Assembly on the need to handover the School to the Anglican Mission (and others to their respective owners). They helped in stabilizing and stimulating interest of Old Boys in regenerating the School. Ambassador Fafowora initiated the now Annual Merit Award to honour Old Boys and raise money for the development of the School and honoured Venerable B. A. Adelaja (An Old Boy and longest serving Principal) by renaming the School Hall after him. Finally, he initiated the building of a Chapel for the School and the Foundation Stone was laid and construction commenced during his tenure.
Major General Tope Williams continued as President of the OGS, after Ambassador Dapo Fafowora. He had the dogged determination to finish the Chapel which needed so much to complete. At every opportunity, he mobilized Old Boys towards the completion and they, in turn responded selflessly, with Mr Toyin Akin-Johnson (the then First Vice President, OGS), raising over N8million towards the project.
The yeoman efforts resulted in a befitting Chapel – the best amongst Secondary Schools completed and named after the First Principal, Revd. Thomas Babington Macaulay. It was during General William’s regime that we had the landmark 150th Anniversary Celebration with Dr Sanya Sonuga (1952 Set) as Chairman, Planning Committee. It was an event-filled celebration with football matches with other schools, Variety Show, Carnival Procession through some streets of Lagos and visit to the Oba of Lagos, Unveiling of the Tombstone of Revd. T. Macaulay, Memorial Service for departed Grammarians, Public Lecture delivered by Prof. Babs Aliu Fafunwa (an Old Boy) at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Confirmation Service and Dedication of the Chapel.
A high point was the launching of the first Comprehensive History of the CMS Grammar School, Lagos by two journalists and edited by Amb. Dapo Fafowora. The said Publication was sponsored by the 1973/75 Set.
In addition, a Hall of FAME was conceived for exceptional Old Boys that have made giant strides nationally and internationally and, despite the large number of qualified and deserving Grammarians, only 6 , Former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice G. Sowemimo, the first Professor of Medicine in Nigeria, Emeritus Professor T. Ogunlesi, First Chartered Accountant in Nigeria, Mr Akintola Williams, Former Attorney-General, Minister, Lawyer, Queen’s Counsel, SAN, Chief Rotimi Williams, First African with DSc by examination in Engineering, Professor Awojobi, Mr Heelas Herbert Macaulay (Nationalist, Surveyor and son of the First Principal) were inducted as members. He also improved on the OGS Secretariat by introducing a clerk to handle daily operational activities / assignments.
Mr. Toyin Akin-Johnson (my goodself) took over as President in June 2009.
The pace of infrastructural development during my tenure can be said to have accelerated to unprecedented level and there is no doubt that the mobilization of Old Boys has had a major impact on the school. Old Boys, with the newly introduced Set Award Competition, now compete to improve all aspects of the School particularly the infrastructure and academics.
The strategic decision of getting Sets to focus on specific assignments every 5 years has also helped in galvanizing Old Boys. We also recently introduced the Inter Branch Set Competition which was first won by the UK Branch. I am confident that given the resources and drive of you all, you also will win this in the not distant future.
Sets are regrouping, branches being reinvigorated and new ones being established. For a very long time until recently, the impact of the Supervising Body, LASMAB was not felt in the development and running of the school as they regarded CMS as a source of cash flow (Cash Cow) for funding other / newer Anglican Schools. The Old Boys undauntedly rose to the challenge and the rate of development is short of a miracle. Projects completed include the new dormitory built by Mr and Mrs Modupe Alakija (1963 set), the refurbishment and refitting of the Science Laboratories and the on-going construction of the E-Library and new administrative block both by a group organized by Mr Alakija, consisting of Chevron oil, FamFam Oil, NNPC, etc. Others are the paving of most of the roads with interlocking stones by OGS and Class Sets, Language Laboratory by Surveyor Olu Akinola (1951 set) and the introduction of Clever Boards by the 1960 Set. Our School (especially in terms of Infrastructure and Academics) is indeed better than when we all were in school!
We also have the Chief Folarin Coker Swimming Academy project under construction and, through the will of Late J. K. Randle, the sum of N8million is being used to construct a multi-sports Court (consisting of Basketball, Volleyball and Lawn Tennis Courts) is almost completed. We have reviewed the 1998 Constitution, under the Chairmanship of Justice Sola Hunponu-Wusu (an old boy 1963 set and Chancellor, Badagry Diocese). Major reforms have been introduced such as the introduction of Electoral Body, possible recall/removal of non-performing elected officials, tenure reduction and the involvement of Patrons in dispute resolution.
We have also gotten our prayer to have an old boy as Chairman, Board of Governors of the School (in the person of Hon. Justice Yinka Faji, 1981 set). Also, giant strides are being made by OGS UK and OGS Americas!
Our major impact in the academic area has been the provision of enabling environment for the School to accelerate its academic performance. The incentive scheme to the Teachers contributed substantially to the achievement of 153 A1s in the last WAEC examination. We are mobilizing resources to pay almost N2million to the Teachers (in fulfillment of our annual Incentives to towards Academic Excellence in the School) and striving to complete the Teachers Quarters consisting of 9 flats.
We have appointed additional Trustees and Patrons for the OGS and are in the process of updating our registration with the CAC, Abuja. The Professionalization of the OGS is on, with resources provided by old boys to sustain the revamping of the Secretariat. We have introduced Life Insurance for all old boys (interested family members and staff) at very low rates and we should soon receive a cheque for N1million to pass on to the family of late Mr Funmi Erinle. We still are exploring the medical insurance scheme and at last Founder’s Day (155TH Anniversary), we gave free health check to all old boys and Teachers/Staff.