By Michael Jegede
It was a moment of great joy and excitement for the members of the 1995 set of Bishop Delisle College Old Students Association, BIDOSA ‘95, when they gathered in Lokoja, the Confluence City, from different parts of the country, for a three-day reunion event tagged: “Delisle, we are still singing your praise”.
The event started last Friday, July 16, 2021, with the convergence of members at the premises of the College to interface with the students and have a view of the current look of their alma mater. The students were so elated to see old boys and girls who graduated 26 years ago come to interact with them. They were thrilled with the scintillating presentations by Mrs. Comfort Alemayo-Obaromi, a lecturer in Kogipoly and Mr. Lawal James, Chairman, Kogi Youth Development Commission, on the Assembly Ground.
The novelty football match between sets 94 and 95 held on Saturday, July 17 ended 1-1 draw. Some of the old students who had played for the College years back were seen still displaying their usual skills to the admiration of the spectators. Both sides played with energetic spirit, ebullience and zeal to win, not minding that it was a mere novelty match.
At the reunion party, the BIDOSA 95 members recalled the memories of their days in the College and thanked God for keeping them alive to witness the Silver Jubilee+1 anniversary of their graduation from the secondary school.
The interim Vice President of BIDOSA 95, Augustina Ihiaba, in her welcome address, said: “I take this time to appreciate God and thank God for keeping us alive this past 26 years. It’s not because we are good or upright but for His mercy.
“These past years for some has been a blissful period, for some it has been a trying one but wherever you find yourself, know this one thing which I am certain and sure of and it is that we are all where God desires and wants us to be.
“Standing before you this day I see heads of businesses, politicians, career civil servants, priests or pastors, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and proud spinsters. But in all these I see and remember us as young mates back in our beloved college, all young and innocent or so to say with no social class, tribe or religion segregating us.
“Today I admonish us to interact in that same spirit of oneness and innocence knowing that we are all equal and equal we stand before God.
“My sincere desire is that when we look back fifty years from college, we would have impacted our beloved alma mater in a tremendous way and we would be proud for it. And we would have helped and supported each other to stand and be known in the society where we all find ourselves.
“I appreciate us for the sacrifices we have all made to make this occasion a success. I pray that God will keep us all and bless us with good health, long life and plenty money.”
The Chairman of the occasion, Comrade Haroun Opotu Yusuf, a political economist and social crusader who was the Government and Economics teacher of the old students, felt delighted for seeing his former boys and girls now men and women, coming together after 26 years to reconnect and chart a new course towards contributing to the development of their alma mater. Interestingly, Mr Opotu, a man of great intellect, presently the Chairman of Kogi Central Think-Tank Forum, remembered most of the old students by their faces and names, an indication of how close he was to them when they were in the College.
The educationist who once worked in the National Assembly said he had to shelve all his other important programmes for last Saturday to travel down to Lokoja from Abuja to partake in the first reunion of his former students that were so dear to him back in the day. He applauded the members for their efforts in ensuring the success of the reunion event.
A Lokoja-based business tycoon, Mr. Peter Onujeme, said he was happy to be in the midst of the BDC 95 set, disclosing that many of the old students are his friends. The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Peelinks Electroworld Limited, reminisced how he was always in the premises of BDC those days to meet his very close friend Mr. Kabirudeen Tiamiyu, who chaired the Central Planning Committee for the reunion.
According to him, most of the 1995 old students of BDC became his friends through Tiamiyu, a mass communication graduate turned businessman. Onujeme revealed how the current principal of the College, Mrs. Mary Bola-Boro approached him for support thinking he was an old student of the school. The business mogul said nevertheless he responded to the request of the principal because of his love for BDC resulting from his closeness to a lot of ex-Bishop Delisle students.
On his part, the Catholic Education Secretary of Lokoja Diocese, Mr. Pascal Dare Osagbemi, stressed the need for missionary schools to be supported to grow and develop after being established by the church. Osagbemi, a one-time principal, implored the BIDOSA 95 set to continue to remember their alma mater and do the best they can to contribute to its advancement.
Addressing the old students, the principal of BDC, Mrs. Bola-Boro, said: “This occasion was slated for last year, 2020 but the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 made you to postpone it to this time. This tenacity of yours surely showed your commitment to your chosen path to remember the foundation that made you whoever you are today.
“I therefore, want to commend and also thank the organizers of this epoch-making event, which to me, should be emulated by other sets of the college in no distant time.
“Let me sincerely say that, I have always looked forward to seeing a day like this right from the very day I took up the headship of the college because, I know that it is only with the support and collaboration of groups like yours that we can surmount the infrastructural challenges that I inherited on resumption my assignment (as BDC Principal).”
She listed the sets that have assisted the school in the renovation of classrooms since she came on board in 2018 to include: sets 2000, 1998, 1995, 1996 and 1994.
On the challenges facing the College, she stated: “Presently, the College has no I.C.T room, and equipment. Therefore, students are not able to practice on computer. The College also lacks teachers. Many teachers have retired and there are no replacements yet. Suffice to say that the level we are presently in, in this regard is as a result of teachers employed by the PTA.
“Thus, we are in dire need of teachers in the following subjects: Geography, Home Economics, Physics, Computer Science, Physical Education and Basic Technology amongst others. I hereby request/appeal to you who are resident in Lokoja that are versatile in any of these subjects to avail us of their services. If able, you can also sponsor the engagement of temporary teachers to teach any of the aforementioned subjects.”
Funds were raised in different ways for the association in the course of the reunion party. Members and the dignitaries present joyously made donations to support the good cause of BIDOSA 95.
Also, the new officials elected earlier at the Congress were sworn in during the reunion show. They include: President – Okpanachi Joseph Adejoh, Vice President – Comfort Alemayo-Obaromi, Secretary General – Kabirudeen Tiamiyu, Assistant Secretary General – Ramat Mohammed, PRO – Michael Jegede, Treasurer – Martins Idoko and Financial Secretary – Mary Yusuf-Adams.
Others are Legal adviser – Barr. Suleiman Yakub, Provost – Vincent Itemagbor, Welfare officer – Lawal James, Security Officer – DPO Suleiman Alli and Liaison Officer – Peter Awirere.
The Thanksgiving Mass held on Sunday at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral to end the three-day event was officiated by the Catholic Bishop of Lokoja Diocese, Rt. Rev. Dr. Martin Olorunmolu.
The Bishop who is the proprietor of BDC, advised the BIDOSA 95 members to continue to be good ambassadors of the College at their respective places of work and in whatever positions they find themselves. He expressed his heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the old students for being one of the few past sets that have deemed it necessary to contribute their quota to the upliftment of BDC as their foundation. Michael Jegede, a media professional writes from Lokoja.