By Oshaloto Joseph Tade
The early nineties saw Igbaruku bustling confidently and thankfully with the establishment yet another primary school. And, no, it wasn’t a state government initiative neither was it a gifting from any billionaires. The community only got lucky to have a revolutionary heading the local government.
A tall dark confident forty-something year old was now calling the shots as Chairman, Yagba West Local Government Area of the newly created Kogi State. Blocks of classroom were being constructed across Yagba West with an audacious speed that got the fearful fearing for him.
What’s this man up to? Does he think there’s need for all these? Was the local government ripe for this? I wasn’t old enough to hear these pessimism but I’m now old enough to know that something very similar must have been the prevailing thinking. And yes, for those who felt every penny is for the sharing, boy, Asagun must have been the bad boy that should never have existed.
At Igbaruku Okeri, Skulu Asagun (Asagun’s school) or Model became a symbol of modern primary education. And yes, I’m reminded of the excellent jobs the pioneer teachers did. My Olu Olókè Steve (RIP), Mr Dada (RIP) Mr R.O Bello (RIP), my beloved mum Deaconess Comfort Mubo Oshaloto (RIP). Our school was the very first primary school in the community to conduct almost it’s entire business in English language. Not many people with privileged background would easily understand the significance of this policy but they’re completely forgiven.
We were intellectual kids. Basically.
Teacher ‘Dele Olorunsola, Mrs Yemisi Aiyembo, Mr Femi Adeyemi (Agendo) and our handsome headmaster Mr PT Owolabi (who took over from Mr Igunugbemi) did significantly selfless job adding color to the newly created primary school. Asagun planted, these teachers watered and God indeed gave the increase.
With our teachers, we planted trees and flowers of different species and did some layouts. We worked the pitch and all that. We laid stones for our driveways.. Something today’s misguided woke people may call child abuse. News went abroad that skulu Asagun (Asagun’s school) was something else. Memory verses? Checked! Poems? Checked! Sports? Checked! We made sense. And I’m being modest. Lol. As one of the pioneer pupils, I feel eternally indebted to God and these honorable vessels He used.
Look, my friend, any time you have the chance to make history, just do it.
Yagba West Local Government Education Authority/Community Model Primary School was the official name of the school. Given the lean purse of the local government at the time, it was a school that would never have existed if Chief Asagun was not determined to set a legacy. There simply wouldn’t have been enough strength to sail the socio-political waters.
The establishment of Confluence University of Science and Technology, Osara and other legacy projects by His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Bello reflects everything I admire about Chief Gbenga Asagun and I use their foresights to encourage fellow young people at every chance I get.
Today, chief Asagun is 75. I love him so much more than I have the capacity yet to prove. But I’m trusting God to keep him in good health till some more years, say another 70. But frankly, chief represents the demographic that Nigeria needs to spoil with good life now that we are still privileged to have them with us.
Happy birthday, dear revolutionary chief. May the good seeds you defied so many odds to sow yield great fruits to you and society in Jesus name.