“THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF BAREWA COLLEGE TO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA”
by General Dr. Yakubu Gowon, GCFR (B.783) being Keynote
Address on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary Celebrations of Barewa College
I am most delighted and elated to be here with you all in Kaduna to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the founding of our famous “alma mater”- the old Katsina College, Kaduna College, Government Secondary School, Zaria and ultimately Barewa College. I am also most delighted and consider it a great honour to be asked to be the “Keynote Speaker” at today’s get-together- the gathering of “oldies” irrespective of age difference. I deliberately said “Keynote Speaker” rather than a “Guest Speaker” as I do not consider myself a “guest” and a “host” I am here as a colleague, a brother who is here to meet my seniors, colleagues and juniors, to share old memories and past experiences and to also give thought to the future of our old school, our old school, our lives and our country. I am convinced that at the end of this anniversary celebration, we will have reasons to thank God for His blessings on each and very one of us and appreciate the College and ourselves more than ever before. Indeed we have cause to thank God because if we look around the hall you will be struck by the array of impressive cross-section of the cream of Nigerian achievers who have excelled in various fields of human endeavour-in politics and governance, science and technology, education and economy, trade and commerce, health and medicine, military and paramilitary and so on, all exchanging pleasantries and happy memories. I also wish to recognize the presence here with us of friends from other Federal Government Institutions and Colleges. Thank you for accepting our invitation. You are all welcome! Ladies and Gentlemen before
I proceed further may I invite all of you to rise and observe a minute’s silence in the blessed memory of our old boys and teachers who have gone before us. Than you.
You will all agree that Barewa College has become a household name in this country and beyond and Barewans are to be found in all walks of life in our society. For the benefit of our visiting friends and guests from other Colleges/Schools and for those of you who may have forgotten, perhaps it will be appropriate at this juncture for me to give a brief history of our College. Barewa College was established in 1921 as Katsina College, Katsina. The College moved from Katsina to Kaduna in 1930 and was renamed Kaduna College. The College was further moved to Zaria in 1949 and was again renamed Government College, Zaria. This later metamorphosed to the present name Barewa College.
The Main objective of the College from inception is to develop the “total student”. Remember the school motto? “Manjadda wa jadda”: He who tries succeeds”. Thus, the school served, and should still serve; as a centre of academic and moral excellence. I recall with nostalgia the strict academic rigour we went through in our days. I also remember the rigorous sporting and other activities all in an effort to train the body and mind. We were also taught early to feel concern for others especially the younger and poorer students. Many were so young at the time and could not comprehend the disciplinary actions of the teachers and prefects then in charge. However, later on in life, they did come to understand. All these lessons cumulated in the strong foundation of a great edifice that produced young men of good character and upbringing whose contribution to the growth of the nation has been very evident.
Barewa College had produced leaders in every facet of our national life-in politics, and economics, in education, science and technology and other fields of human endeavour. Although I shall not be able to rehearse the contributions of all the “Old Boys”, it is appropriate to point out few
glaring cases. In politics and governance for example, the college has “produce” four national leaders, namely the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first Prime Minister and Head of Government, the late General Murtala Mohammed, Alhaji Shehu Shagari and one other! (Yakubu Gowon). And at the regional/state levels, names like the Late Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto and the late General Hassan Usman Katsina and several military/governors and administrators come in mind. We have excelled in various areas of our national life. We have produced such distinguished Jurists as Justice Mohammed Bello, former Chief Justice of the Federation and our BOBA President, Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais, the incumbent Chief Justice of the Federation – Justice Mohammed Nasir, Buba Ardo, Umaru Kalgo, and many others. In education, Dr. Mustapha Mohammed (CFR), Professor Isa Baba Mohammed, the Vice Chancellor of University of Abuja; Professor Ango Abdullahi, former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Professor Mahdi Adamu, Vice Chancellor University of Sokoto, and so o and so on. In public administration, late AH Akilu, Secretary to the former Northern Regional Government, Chief Sunday Awoniyi, former Permanent Secretary, my good friend, late Alhaji Sa’idu Gwarzo in public administration and education. Alhaji Adamu Fika, former Head of Service and Secretary to the Federation, Alhaji Hamza Zayyad. Chairman, Bureau for Public Enterprises; Alhaji Adamu M. Fika. Clerk of National Assembly, late Balarabe Ismail (CON), former Chief Executive of Kano State Urban Development Board; Alhaji Rilwanu Lukman, former Minister for External Affairs and Petroleum and no OPEC Secretary-General, and Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule (OFN), former Federal Minister and Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN. What of Alhaji Dahiru Modibbo (MFR), Nigerian Ambassador to Germany in broadcasting. Whereas in the field of Medical Sciences we have Dr. Gungura S. Mohammed, Veterinarian; Professor Saka Nuru, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, ABU, Zaria; Dr. Abubakar G. Lamurde; and Professor Jibril Aminu former Minister of Education and Petroleum, Cardiologist and Vice Chancellor, University of Maiduguri, Dr. Wali, Personal Physician to the Head of State, etc. all excelled in their profession. In Banking we had late Alhaji Aliyu Mai Borno, Alhaji Abdulkadir Ahmed, former
Governor of CBN, Mr. Silas B. Daniyan, Managing Director, NIDB, Alhaji Muktar Bello (MD/CEO), Allied Bank of Nigeria, Plc and many others. In journalism, late Abubakar Imam, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma and Alhaji Mamman Daura both former Editors of New Nigerian Newspapers Ltd. What of Dr. Godwin Abasi, the President of the World Meteorological Services and Mr. Joseph Adejokun (both classmates)? Nor are we left out in the area of Traditional Institutions. I recall with pride names like Alhaji Umaru Ndayako, Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu, the Emir of Bauchi. Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, former Sultan of Sokoto etc.
The foregoing “roll call” is not exhaustive, it is not a Barewa “who’s who” but a mere sample to buttress my earlier claim that Barewa College has “produce” men of great ability who have distinguished themselves in their professions and have become catalysts in our national development. Let me say, all protocols are observed here!
Citadel of learning
Ladies and Gentlemen, Barewa College as you all know has been one of the citadels of learning in this country since its inception in 1922 and it is the wish of all of us old Barewans that the College must live up to the aspirations of our noble founding fathers. May I remind you again, that the school was established to mould character and personality, refined in very sound morals and well grounded in academics. It should remain the beacon of excellence which other institutions of higher learning in the country should seek to emulate.
In the recent past, however, some detractors have described it as an elitist institution designed to serve the children of aristocrats, the rich and farmous only. There are some who have alleged that the school has been segregationist in culture and therefore, sought to dilute its academic content, perhaps unconsciously, through reduced emphasis on academic achievement. This is far from the truth and or the intentions of the original founders of the school. Instead, the founding fathers had sought to build an institution that will serve not only the northern part of the country but our entire country and nation. It was a melting pot for all
cultures and all traditions and religions, and had a place for all citizens of the country. It was intended to engender good relations and foster unity, good neighbourliness and remove all forms of discriminations. I am sad that the false all allegations against the school and what it stood for has led to a dangerous fall in quality and standards. The number of students has increased beyond the infrastructure provided and has stretched the school facilities to the limit of endurance. It is understood that because of shortage of good staff, there is no longer individual attention for the students and discipline has fallen to a dangerous level. One feels sad that the school has now been designated and classified as a Local Government catchments area institution. This is a deviation from the original concept of the founding fathers who sought to bring together all Nigerians to know themselves better and serve the country with unity of purpose.
There is need for our school to be restored to its former glory where the school assisted the development of the individual personality who grows up to cultivate and nurture love for his neighbour and concern for his society and country. We were trained to help bring about a good and fair society for the benefit of all its members irrespective of class, religion or culture. In this respect, I salute the foresight of the founding fathers of the school, both indigenous and expatriates.
May I seize this opportunity to make a number of suggestions aimed at revitalizing the school as we knew it before:
(a) To appeal to the Federal Government with the agreement of the Sate Government to take over the school and make it a “Unity School”.
(b) That the former Northern States should take over responsibility of the school contributing equally to its funding and admission making allowance for participation by other states in the Fed eration outside the former Northern States.
(c) For the school to be handed over to the Old Boys Associa tion to run and administer. Perhaps self pride will encourage
them to restore the old school’s high standards. The Federal and State Government should contribute substantially towards this goal. Therefore, the responsibility of running the school will be squarely in the hands of the Old Boys Association and the Parent Teachers Association (PTA). This should apply to colleg es like Kings/Queens Colleges, Lagos; Edo College, Benin; Gov ernment College, Ibadan, Umuahia Government College, all of which had once served all of each of the former regions of the Federation.
I appreciate that these issues may have been previously discussed y the Association at its Executive as well as its annual general meeting, but I thought I should flag them again because of the fresh urgency which the situation has assumed. Any one who has any ideas or suggestions on this subject matter should communicate it to the BOBA Secretariat for consideration.
I would like to end here with gratitude to God for all alma mater, Barewa College and all those who went through its portals and all the contributions which they have made in the overall development of our country. I call on the Old Boys to contribute their quota in assisting the College to regain its past achievement and glory to the greater good of our country and the honour of our alma mater.
I thank you Mr. President of Barewa Old Boys Association (BOBA) and your Executive for giving me this rare honour to speak to our Association today and hope that we have all benefited from our meeting today, from our exchange of views and ideas on how to improve our old school and to restore its past glory. I would like to thank all other guests especially from sister schools who have honoured us by their presence and their good wishes. Finally, even though belatedly, I wish to thank the National Executive Committee of the Barewa Old Boys Association for the honour of appointing me a Trustee/Patron of the Association in place of the late Alhaji Abdulrahman Mora of blessed memory. This is indicative that I have come of age!