It was a memorable gathering that evoked great memories when former students of the premier college in Ikorodu Division, Oriwu College, hosted and honoured the outgoing Principal of their former school, Alhaja Abiodun Ogunniyi, for her excellence service to the school as a teacher and Principal.
Alhaja Ogunniyi, whose tenure has scored many first in the area of academic, sporting, socio – cultural and infrastructural developments in the school and who was adjudged on merit as the 2017 Best School Administrator in Nigeria and winning the Presidential honour in the process, will be retiring at the end of September 2020, after 35 meritorious years in service.
The Class of 1995 of the Oriwu College Old Students’ Association of Nigeria (OCOSAN) on Thursday, September 3, 2020, took the lead to emerge as the first set of the Old students to organize a befitting retirement ceremony to honour the outstanding educationist who had made great contributions to educational development and also won several outstanding honours for the school.
At the reception held within the premises of the Oriwu Senior Model College, lkorodu, were family members of the outgoing Principal, teachers and students of the school.
In recognition of her tremendous contribution to their great school, Ikorodu, Lagos, Nigeria and humanity in general, members of the Class of 1995 of the school bestowed on her a Certificate of Excellence Service at the ceremony.
She was also presented with a giant portrait frame in commemoration of her retirement.
The Secretary of the Class set, Kunle Adelabu, speaking at the ceremony, said that members of the set deemed it fit to honour a woman whom, according to him, they first knew as a teacher and later as a Principal, administrator, educationist and mother unequaled.
“On behalf of the Chairman of my set, executive council and general membership, I thank the outgoing Principal of Oriwu Senior Model College, lkorodu, Alhaja Abiodun Ogunniyi, her family, staff of our great alma mata and students for honourng our invitation for this brief ceremony in honour of Alhaja Ogunniyi.
“We first knew her as a teacher when we were in Junior classes about 30 years ago and she was our Social Studies teacher. She was very amiable, caring and knew how to teach effectively without physical engagement.
“She later became Principal of our alma mata and we realised that she is an outstanding educationist and an administrator per excellence and an unequaled mother with the way she has been able to manage human and material resources to achieve great feat for Oriwu College, our old school.
“During her tenure, our great schools have been recognized at the local, state, national levels and beyond the shore of our country. Few years back, she was recognized as the Best School Administrator in Nigeria after winning all that were available for winning in the area of academics, sports and socio – cultural contest for secondary schools.
“We are here today to say thank you, to appreciate you and to honour you for all that you have been able to do, even though you have refused many attempts to organize a retirement ceremony for you.
“At first, you refused our offer but later, gave us the opportunity to honour you and here we are today. The truth is that your retirement is not the end of your public service because after that, I have no doubt that appointments to serve in higher places await you because you are deserving and committed to serve your community and humanity.
“Thank you, thank you and thank you for everything”.
Mr Lanre Kalejaiye, Chairman, OCOSAN 1995 Set, in his own remarks, also commended the outgoing Principal for taking the premier college to a greater height and impacting sound academic and moral capacity on the school.
“We are very proud of the way that you have managed our alma mata and your achievements.
“On behalf of our set, we thank you and wish well in your retirement. As my able Secretary stated earlier, retirement is not the end of your career, we are sure that you will be given an appointment because you still have the capacity to serve and you are deserving”, Kalejaiye said.
Afterwards, Mr Kalejaiye presented an award and frame to Alhaja Ogunniyi on behalf of the set.
“Again, on behalf of my set, we are presenting you this certificate of excellence service to our school and humanity generally. Please, do accept it as our little way of appreciating your efforts and contributions.
“In addition, we have also made this giant portrait as our gift on your retirement”, he said while presenting the certificate and giant portrait to Alhaja Ogunniyi.
Alhaja Ogunniyi, who was brimming with joy, in her speech, was full of appreciation to the Class of 1995 set for the honour given to her.
She recalled how the set and other Class sets of the Oriwu College Old Students Association of Nigeria (OCOSAN) have been of immense assistance to the success of her administration.
The educationist also acknowledged the government’s support in creating an enabling environment for learning.
She also acknowledged the role of a member of the Class of 1995, who has been using his news medium to give the school adequate publicity and also has also been serving as a watchdog over the years.
Alhaja Ogunniyi also did not forget to funnily recall how members of the set ‘plotted’ coup with her daughter to achieve the retirement ceremony despite her objection.
“My wonderful Class Set of 1995, I want to say it to you that you are very courageous and bold, because ever since the beginning of this pandemic in March, I told everyone that I will not do any celebration as l wanted to abide with the COVID – 19 protocols”, a fulfilled Principal said.
“But you got me where I cannot turn it down. I realised that one of you, THE IMPACT (Secretary of the Set) actually plotted ‘coup’ behind my back with my daughter and other family members to achieve this. Thank you for the honour”, she said jokingly.
“The saying that whatever you are doing, there are some people that are observing and watching is apt. You have been monitoring me since I was a classroom teacher and when I became the Principal of your great school, you didn’t stop, especially through your great Secretary who is a journalist.
“Anything that we are doing, whenever anything or something is happening and it is involving our school, he will be the first to call to know about it and he always give us wide publicity for our activities”, she said thankfully.
“I thank the Class of 1995 greatly for this honour and for the great thing that you are doing today. Your set is the pacesetter. You took the lead because several people have been wanting to organize one thing or the other but I did not allow it but your set got me into doing this”, she said.
“Thank you very much for doing this. I want to appreciate the great honour that you are doing to me and I tell you today that I will treasure it throughout my life”, she said while appreciating the old students for honouring her.
“As your Secretary had said, we have been winning awards, but can we do that without the old students?”, she asked rhetorically.
“Also, to the general old students as well, that has been supportive too, l say thank you. Before we make a request for anything, they are already asking for what we need and providing for them. With all these efforts, why won’t we excel? We thank you all.
“You have been there for this school, the Lord will be there for you and endow you with all that you will need to continue to do more for your great alma mata as well as your community and for your individual growth and developments.
“I appreciate you and will treasure this that you have done for me today all through my life. Thank you for this that you have done for me today. I feel so humbled and honoured. Thank you. The Lord will continue to increase you in all that you do.
“My greetings to your entire Class Set and the entire Oriwu College Old Students’ Association (OCOSAN), she said.
She also did not forget to acknowledge the support of the state government for providing an enabling environment for the school to excel.
“On this note, I want to appreciate the State Government, especially our ever ready Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo – Olu, and the caring mother that we have in the Education Ministry, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, and the caring and ever ready Tutor General/Permanent Secretary, Education District 2 who is also monitoring District 4 because of her hardworking nature.
“We want to appreciate them for creating an enabling environment for us to operate. If not for their efforts, we wouldn’t be able to go this far.
“The government also provided us with everything that we needed to excel. We have our interactive boards in this school and how many schools can boast of that? We have computer systems all over the school. In actual fact, we have four computer centres in Oriwu College”.
The outgoing principal also did not forget to acknowledge the impact of the teachers and students of the school whom she said gave her maximum support and cooperation.
“And to my wonderful team that has been working with me, they have always been there. May the Lord continue to be there for you. You will excel and surpass all that I have done in this educational sector”.
She revealed that the school has added to its ever increasing nest of laurels and honours by emerging the Best School in Lagos State 2020 among other recently won academics awards.
Ms Bola Ogunniyi, the daughter of the retiring Principal who spoke on behalf of the family, commended the old students for honouring her mother.
She also appreciated the school’s staff who she described as dutiful and supportive for the cooperation they extended to her mother during her tenure.
The representative of the school staff, Mr Mutiu Raheem, in her own remarks, said that he has emulated Alhaja Ogunniyi’s managerial ability.
“I have learnt a lot from Alhaja Ogunniyo who we all called ‘Mama’. The school has also benefited immensely from her”, he said.
Mr Raheem also recalled the outgoing Principal’s impact on other schools like Luwasa, Reri, Iyewa and other places she had been posted to in the course of her teaching career.
“I don’t know what the situation was before her coming to this school, but she has not only won awards at the community, district, state and national levels, but our school has also been recognized at the international level because of her leadership”, he said.
He appreciated the support the Class of 1995 has given to the celebrant and the honour that the set is also doing to her on her retirement, while also pleading that they should continue to extend support to the school.
The representative of the students, Ms Nofisat Gidado, the Assistant Senior Prefect Girl, also thanked the celebrant for her impact on their lives while also acknowledging the support of the old students to the school.