Miss Joan Steward, an expatriate Principal of St. Catherine Girls’ Secondary School, Owo and the 5th Secretary of the Association gave a very authoritative history of how it was founded. She took over from Miss C. Groves another expatriate and served for 10 years from 1970 to 1979; indeed one of the longest serving secretaries.
Perhaps because of her long years as Secretary and custodian of the records of the Association, she was more authentic and emphatic than Dr. Adegbite the first Secretary and Ven. J. Iluyomade the first President about the date, time and place of the birth of ANCOPSS.
In her write up “25 years of ANCOPSS 1957 – 1982”, she has this graphic story to tell:
“On January 3rd 1957, 32 Principals met at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology at Ibadan. They came from all three Regions of Nigeria and from Lagos.
“This was the birth of ANCOPSS as an annual meeting of Principals of Secondary Schools in Nigeria.
“Miss N. C. Wedmore of St. Anne’s School, Ibadan took the chair at the first meeting, where the topics included “Aims of Secondary Education”, School Discipline and Citizenship”, and “the need for a unified system in Nigeria for schools and the Teaching profession.”
Guests Speaker came from as far afield as the then Gold Coast (Ghana), and from the Federal and Regional Ministries of Education.
“Amongst the founding fathers were Dr. J. A. Adegbite then of Baptist Academy, Lagos, Rev. E. O. Alayande of Ibadan Grammar School, and Mr. M. A. Ajasin of Imade College, Owo.
“The first elected officers were Mr. F. L. Evans, Okongwu Memorial Grammar School, Nnewi as President; Dr. J. A. Adegbite, Baptist Academy Lagos as Secretary; and Mr. W. A. Perkins, Kings College, Lagos as Treasurer.
“In 1958 the Conference moved to Enugu, then to Lagos, back to Ibadan, to Enugu; then in 1962 to Zaria.
“The venue was rotated yearly with the President coming from the host Region”
On aims and objectives of the Association, Ven. J. Iluyomade had this to say:
“Meeting and gathering of Principals of Government and voluntary Agency Schools, both black and white; thinking of Education as a unifying factor and a national conference as a forum from which we could speak with one voice on matters of common interest to the Nation.”
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the picture and background of the Association we have been building upon since 1957, some sixty four years ago. For instance my first meeting with Malam I. Shakerau was around 1986 when we were both chairmen of our States. I was State Chairman old Ondo State, he was chairman Kano State. Somewhere down the line our relationship blossomed to real confidence sharing and when a few years later the ANCOPSS National Presidency for the first time shifted to the North and because of his very brilliant record of achievement and patriotism, he became the obvious choice for the office, I was invited to be his 1st National Vice President. And ever since we have been together.
Today, we are happy to be here in answer to your invitation to see what great blocks you have been putting on the solid foundation especially with the commissioning of the National Secretariat of ANCOPSS at its permanent site in Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital territory of Nigeria.
ANCOPSS National Veterans: It’s Emergence on March 23, 2009, the first ever second term Governor of Kano State Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau flew into Akure and stormed the State with members of his Executive for my 70th birthday and presentation of three of my creative works. The ceremony attracted a lot of dignitaries including some serving and former State Governors, like HE Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Ondo State Governor, and Gen. Raji Razaki erstwhile Lagos Military Governor; literary guru like Prof. Femi Osofisan, and Prof. Ishola Olorunisola; members of the academia, some former ANCOPSS national executive and other top military brass. In the course of our interaction, two of us, Mallam Shekarau and I discussed the idea of a forum to bring together former national executive members who had served the country meritoriously, and were still serving so as to restore life and confidence in them, guide the younger ones and still give back to the country.
This led to a very well planned top level one day State visit and tour of ANCOPSS chief executives (1985 to 1995) from all parts of the Federation, hosted free in Kano by Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau from Thursday October 29, 2009 to Saturday October 31, 2009. Before we left Kano, ANCOPSS Veterans as a national organization was officially inaugurated on Thursday October 29, 2009. I became the National Chairman while Deacon Abioye one of the earliest to buy into the project became the Secretary. Members were so impressed by the performances of Mallam Shekarau in his social welfare delivery to his people that a resolution was taken that he would be supported if he ever came out to campaign as President of Nigeria.
From Nov. 26 to 27, 2010, thirty seven of us were again back in Kano from different parts of the country. One very significant decision we took was the appointment of 6 zonal coordinators for the activities of Veterans in line with the six zonal political structure of the country; and when Mallam eventually decided to contest the Presidential race in 2011, ANCOPSS Veterans, while pursuing their set goals, did give the moral political support which he richly deserved.
Finally in February 2015 in Abuja, The Constitution of ANCOPSS Veterans became operative with the following aims and objectives.
to be a major stakeholder in education development especially secondary education in Nigeria;
to provide platform/forum for ANCOPSS Veterans to cross fertilize ideas, views and pieces of information, and make available to other stakeholders, recommendations on matters affecting secondary education in particular and education in general;
to serve as a platform or social interactions for the welfare of ANCOPSS Veterans and others in the education industry;
to present to Government and the public an informed, matured and unbiased opinion on education matters;
to advise and assist serving heads of institutions, particularly those at the secondary level at appropriate time; and
to be non-political and free from religious bias.
ANCOPSS VETERANS and the Challenge of Political relevance
Please permit me to comment on your closing remarks in your invitation to us to the effect that you “would want to have more of veterans like H. E. Sen. Ibarahim Shekarau to be politically relevant… as to have relevance, politics is NOW the in-thing in Nigeria…”
From my long experience as a veteran in education and in politics, where I twice aspired to represent my district in the Senate, let me share these views with you.
First is the fact that the concept of relevance from the philosopher’s point of view in the olden days was different. How I wish we all have the opportunity of reading “Juvenal the Satirist: A study” by Gilbert Highet concluding remarks of Satire Ten on aims of life, relevance and desires. Juvenal with the remorseless lucidity of pessimism scrutinizes one wish after another and discards them all – wealth, power, beauty, political relevance and many others, because some of them are sources of violent and sometime ignoble death and concludes that if we should wish for anything at all, it should be “mens sana in corpore sano” i.e. a sound mind in a sound body which will make man most relevant in any situation or environment he finds himself.
Or take the story of an Ancient King from Arogbofa’s “In Defence of Teaching as a noble Profession published in “Searchlight on Nigeria Education and the Polity” There is no greater lesson on relevance that can be got other than the King’s choice and crowning, as the greatest, the most noble and the most relevant, a frail old woman, who taught the greatest and most illustrious men and women of different professions in his kingdom.
In contrast to this ancient concept of being relevant, today, however, there are other areas, apart from politics, where professionals like us can bequeath lasting legacies of relevance on the sands of time.
You can be a great writer like Wole Soyinka or Chinua Achebe and contribute to knowledge like great pathfinders in education and science. You can influence opinions in the society and make landmark contributions, like great journalists and newspaper publishers. You can render positive and indelible community services to your people like Chief Afe Babalola of ABUAD. You can work really hard, keep to the ethics of the profession, and excel, thereby becoming a role model to the people like Ajasin, Shekarau.
However if people’s choice of having relevance is now to go into politics, such an advice must go to the younger ones, who still have very many years to plan for it, not old people like us. Today in Nigeria, politics as it is played is loaded with wrong signals for positive relevance. Unless you want to play politics the way Mallam Shekarau is playing it, in our interests and that of the country, you better don’t go there.
I am aware that our brother Mallam Shekarau had a long, tortuos and rough journey to where he is today. It has not been easy, but we thank God for his life. So it is you younger ones that must start early. In addition choose where you want to excel and work hard towards it.
In any case, what interests me most in your challenge is the assurance that you “shall provide the back-up for those who want to be politically relevant”.
But beyond this assurance, my own wake up call is that teachers must buck up and begin to prepare to ascend to where people like Sir Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief M. A. Ajasin, Chief Ade Adefarati and our own Mallam who unconsciously used teaching profession as a launching pad to political leadership.
And you can do it. Of recent, Sir Pedro Castillo, a rural teacher, propelled by the same rural voters he grew up with, dined with, and whose lives he shaped for better, defeated the priviledged daughter of a former President to become the President of Peru. Amongst other things, on assumption of office this school teacher turned country President because, “the pride and pain of his country ran through his veins promised not only to “create one million new jobs” to arrest youth joblessness and restiveness, but declared a national emergency to improve education and ferociously tackle the “cancer of corruption.”
My brother teachers, you can likewise do the same to bring our country back on the right track. Prepare now for this with this knowledge that those of us who are in political limelight started preparing for it during our service years. Indeed, in line with ANCOPSS motto of “Leaders that build Leaders”, my candid advice for you is to start building yourselves as Shekarau did, so that you can lead the country in all areas of human existence, politics inclusive, after your service years.
You see, politics is about service to the people. A lot has been said about the successes recorded by some of our leaders who ventured into politics and some of us want to be like them. But not many know how they got there and what they went through before getting there.
It is time to begin to ask how relevant you are in your community; how many people you have assisted one way or the other; how many stars in different professions you have produced; how effective you are, administratively, academically, morally and otherwise; and what good records you have set.
For instance your profession is the father of all professions, and if you count your blessings, most of those who matter in the society have passed through your hands. God bless.
Being a paper delivered by Basorun Seinde Arogbofa during the commissioning of the ANCOPSS National Secretariat in Gwagwalada, Abuja