Urhobo Historical Society
THE MIRACLE OF
AN ORIGINAL THOUGHT
the Origins of
Originally printed as a book in 1965 at Unity Press & Stationery Stores Ltd;
It is with the deepest respect and honour that I dedicate this little book to Joseph Akpolo Ikutegbe Esq., J. P., the great thinker, philosopher and philanthropist.
various reasons, the publication of this work has
been delayed for nearly a year even though I referred to it in my
Address for 1964. I hope that now that it has at last been published,
it will meet
with a popular welcome.
T. E. A. SALUBI
President-General, Urhobo Progress Union
114, Lawani Street,
New Benin , Benin City
28th August, 1965
As could be seen from the heading of Part I, the substance of this paper was contained in a speech that I delivered on
Because there has, so far, been no written account of the why and wherefore and the early history of the College, I thought it would be a good thing to expand the text of the speech embodying more facts and details to make up this little publication.
There are three definite periods covered in the book. The first is from 1935 to 1942, that is to say, from the time when Mr. Joseph Akpolo Ikutegbe first conceived the idea of scholarships for Secondary Education of deserving Urhobo youths up to the time that the Urhobo Progress Union in Council decided to found a
I have deliberately packed the book full with details, facts and also quoted in extenso. My aim is to make the book a preserve of details and facts which may probably not be available to many students in the years to come. I therefore offer no apology for what may, perhaps, be regarded as unnecessary clusters of details and boring quotations.
The terms “Home Union”, “Mother Union” and “Headquarters” have been freely used. In every case, they are synonymous with and refer to Warri branch up to July, 1945, when the quarterly Executive Council now, Central Executive Committee, was inaugurated.
It was at the end of 1949 that the Urhobo Progress Union ceased to have direct management and control of the College. Let the writing of the history of the College from the years subsequent to 1949 be a challenge to some one else. My humble efforts here end in the laying of a foundation for whoever will take up that challenge.
Most of the facts and information in this book were taken from the archives of the
T. E. A.
President-General, Urhobo Progress
* * *
A speech delivered by Chief T. E. A. Salubi, President-General, Urhobo Progress Union, on the occasion of the second “Speech Day” of Urhobo College, Effurun, held on Saturday, 1st August, 1964, at 3. 30 p.m.
Principal, the Staff
And the Students of
Members of the Board of Governors,
Ladies & Gentlemen
As the President-General of the Urhobo Progress Union, the Proprietors of this College, it is with pleasure that I rise to welcome you all, especially the invitees, to this occasion, the occasion of the second Speech-Day of the College. As some of you may remember, the first “Speech Day” was held on the 9th of November last year. As I have already observed in my Presidential Address to the Annual General Council of the Urhobo Progress Union held in December last, the Speech-Day was a very successful event. The College was congratulated for it.
I am glad to see that that the Principal acted on the suggestions I made in the Presidential Address that, in future, sufficient notice of the holding of the “Speech-Day” should be sent to our prominent men and women, and indeed, to select members of the public so that they might, by their attendance, grace the occasion, and also that appeal be made to them and others who might be interested to donate prizes.
If you permit me, I should like in this speech to take you back to the earliest possible period of the events which led to the founding of the College. When I shall have finished taking you along with me through the long and tortuous journey of how the College came to be, you will, I am sure, agree with me that the institution you see here today is, indeed, a wonderful achievement arising from an original thought, from a people’s faith, self-help and steadfastness. This is why I have styled this speech “The Miracles of An Original Thought”.
Now I proceed with the story.
Origins of the Proposed Scholarships for
Secondary Education for Urhobo Children.
Viewed from many angles, the emergence of Lagos as a branch of the Urhobo Progress Union can not but be regarded as a great event in the annals of our great Union.
But what is perhaps
who know Mr. Ikutegbe intimately well in
Looking at the record today, the research student or any one for that matter, may well ask: why scholarship for as low a standard as secondary education? But such an enquirer must need be told that we were then in the days when it was difficult, if not altogether impossible, to produce Urhobo youths with education higher than the proverbial standard six. That was incredibly so. Owing to the dreadful scarcity of secondary school leavers, the idea was to regard that class of scholars as a recruiting ground for higher scholarships.
On the face of it, this long story appears to be irrelevant to the occasion that has brought us here today. And yet this was the beginning of the very long journey that landed us in the two-pronged, and clearly, a bigger, educational programme whereby the
First Indications of Departure from the Original Idea<>
Another deviation from the
policies occurred at the Annual General Council of 1939 when the title
Scheme was changed from Urhobo Scholarship Scheme Fund to Urhobo
Scheme Fund. No details as to the implications of the change were
and one was therefore left in the dark to guess as to what it was all
about. What we in
Asked whether if (iv) was adopted it would not be very vigorously criticised by the public, the Professor stated that it was bound to be since it was unique. He admitted that not much was wrong with it, but concluded that since it was a new idea, the force of public opinion would be much against it. After admiring and encouraging our (the whole U. P. U. ‘s) efforts, he advised us to try and persuade the remaining branches, which were in favour of refunding the money, to agree with us and to start the scheme on a free basis for the next 5 years. He promised that during that period, he would try his best through the press to educate public opinion that not all scholarships, as many people thought were free. That after the public should have been sufficiently well educated on the point, there would be no fear of criticism if any one started a scheme on such basis. He advised us strongly to try and co-operate with the Headquarters to avoid separation as such would be detrimental to the scheme and the
It was a most helpful interview the conclusions of which were communicated to the Headquarters. The communication to the Headquarters at that time was a fruitless exercise. They could not take any decision outside the Annual General Council and everything about the Scheme had to stalemate especially as no Annual General Council was held in 1940.
a most dramatic change of policy in
the Scheme was yet to come. It took place at the Annual General
in December, 1941, when the Council, to
second branch to kick violently
against the Council’s unprogressive decision was
This letter was circulated widely, and consequently, the Headquarters invited comments upon it from various branches.
evidenced by available record, it was
Elsewhere in his letter already quoted, Chief Mariere argued brilliantly thus:
“3. As you know too
well, the idea of subscribing money to found scholarships for Urhobo
originated from our branch (
In the same letter,
Further, in my annual report to the Annual General Council holden in December, 1942, I also wrote the following in connection with the Urhobo National Education Scheme:
first time in our history, we failed to do anything worthwhile in the
prosecution of this scheme this year. Very lately in the year, we
on a nominal subscription of 2/- per member. The subscription is
ready for sending to the Headquarters as usual. Our failure was
the attitude of the executives of the Headquarters to the Scheme
and to the
most backward decision had at the last General Council of the
from this considerable pressure
and stiff opposition, the Annual General Council of December, 1942, had
alternative but to rescind its previous decision and to record a fresh and healthier one, namely,
significant event at
that Council after agreement had been reached on founding the
important decision taken by the
Council was the siting of the proposed
“opposite the N.A. Oil Palm Nursery near
By that time, the President-General’s first 5 years term of office had expired “and being satisfied with his five years peaceful services,” the Council re-elected Chief Mowoe as President-General for a second tenure. The Council requested the President-General who was to be accompanied by the General Secretary and the General Financial Secretary, to commence touring to all branches in April, 1943, with the primary object of facilitating collection of funds for the Scheme.
In winding up the debate, the President-General rationalized in order to save the face of those who took the 1941 decision. He said the Council should thank “those who proposed the establishment of an Elementary School during the last Council. That had enabled Port-Harcourt to make the more refined plan” –suggestion to build a national College.
Council however rejected
his letter dated
the 1942 Annual General Council
decision one would have thought that all troubles and disagreements
Scheme were over. But the contrary was the case. The next
years, as would be seen presently, were years of bitter disagreement
between the Home Union and
of sending two men on Scholarship
“As soon as this
matter was tabled for discussion Mr. I. Okandeji in a lengthy speech
pointed out how real national progress depended upon ability of the
send deserving sons for Overseas education. In the
"Mr. D. A.
Green-Okoro in disagreement dwelt upon the
advantages of a
"Mr. I. Okandeji
speaking once more in support of scholarship told
the Conference that it was a National duty to seek the rise of our
nation. The general minimum standard of obtaining a Government
Scholarship was an Intermediate Degree. With the greatest
expedition the proposed
"The Clerk of the Conference pointed out that a national college even called for studies abroad as we must produce worthy Urhobo men fit for Principalship and mastership at the College or otherwise we would have to count upon the help of foreign-hands.
further discussion on this matter, Mr. I. Okandeji
moved that the time was overdue to send two deserving Urhobo men to
decision the Conference felt that scholarship was an immediate need by
nation and should be given priority over
The Conference therefore passed this resolution:
"That the sending
deserving Urhobo youths on Scholarship to
Conference was being held, I [i.e., Adogbeji
Salubi] was already on the high seas proceeding to
After reporting in full the sad circumstances and misfortunes which befell Mr. Borke, I added:
far, is the stage to which Mr. Borke’s six and a half years stay and
are we heading?
“When will our day dawn?
“When will our sun rise?
“When will our moon bloom?”
“Let us admit that for the moment our ship has shattered and we have to retrace our steps. We have to begin again. But can we find another Ikutebge? Can we find another broadminded person among the lot? What a discouragement, what a national shame—for a first attempt to be so ended!” attempt to be so ended!
letter added fuel to the fire
already lit by the North. On its receipt,
the appeal, dated
of sheer disgust occasioned by the
Home Union’s attitude, the Northern branches in February, 1944,
to Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe
speak to our leaders at the Headquarters and to our people at Sapele in
to rouse them to immediate action. Zik
contemplating a visit to the area. Like the Nothern
It now seemed as if there was a battle between the “progressives” and the ‘reactionaries.’ Lagos called for inauguration of Conference of the branches of the Union in Southern Nigeria with the object of:
common understanding among the members of the individual branches.
(b) strengthening the fold and thereby enabling us to present a formidable front in allmatters affecting our destiny.
(c) Its inauguration would help broaden our general outlook and quicken the materialization of our dreams and schemes, such as the Scholarship and other menacing problems.”
In the circular, Mr. Ben Davis said:
“The advantages of a conference such as it is now being proposed cannot be overemphasised. The enviable strides of the North, largely due to their intermittent conferences are achievements quite unexpected. Please be referred to their Circular re the recent resolutions on Scholarship and other matters of grave importance confronting the Urhobo race. Why not we? Once up and doing with such tow conferences in the North and South, there is no doubt that other branches in the East and West would automatically wake up and live to immeasurable advantages. The Mother Union is asleep, should we too?”
April, 1944, the Home Union reported
the conclusion of its enquiries from branches as to whether priority
given to founding a college or overseas scholarships for law. Of
branches consulted, only 20 replied. Twelve of the twenty
proceeding immediately with the
"(I) That the Secondary School should open in 1945 January.
(II) That owing to difficulties in obtaining qualified staff as well as to those of getting Government’s approval to open at one stroke a full-fledged Secondary School, it is decided to start from very humble beginnings—viz: from infants to Std. VI, and one Secondary Class, other classes being added gradually as more qualified staff become available.
(III) That Scholarships be offered to at least two Urhobo young men one to
Study Science in
(IV) That an appeal, a copy of which is attached marked “Strictly confidential”, be issued to all Urhobo youths throughout the country for two objects, --viz:-
(a) To secure from amongst them if possible a staff with which to open the school next year.
(b) To get the necessary candidates from amongst whom selections will be made against the two scholarships to be offered for the present.”
question of selection of candidates
for the scholarships was to come up in due course.
A few weeks later, Mr. (now Chief G. Ohwotemu Oweh, then a Co-operative Inspector at Ibadan, who did not appear to agree with certain aspects of the Education Committee’s proposal, wrote a well considered letter to advise and appease Lagos in order that they might bow to the wishes of the Home Union. In the concluding part of his letter, Chief Oweh said, “If you are convinced with what I have written, I am advising you to write canceling our invitation circular for United Kingdom Scholarship. It is no disgrace to do so, but a vindication of our goodwill to avoid quarrels in the ranks of the
But the month of May, 1944, was an uneasy month for the Home Union. While this harangue between the North and
The Home Union now realised that the game was up and that they had to face the practical realities of the situation – to start the educational scheme at once or to further advance dilatory tactics as it had done over the past years.
OF TWO OVERSEAS SCHOLARSHIPS
FOR PROFESSIONAL STUDIES IN EDUCATION
That was how the Urhobo Progress Union groped for eight long years in its dreams to found a suitable scheme of its own for the educational advancement of Urhobo youths. But that was not, by any means, the end of the struggle. The story continues..
one who was for away from home (for I
was already in England), I did not know in time all the developments
taken Place at home in the fold of the Union. I was aware of the
Commission of Inquiry but did not know in time that Mr. Ejaife
had been awarded a scholarship.
In the midst of my studies however, the deteriorating state of affaits of the
this connection, I will respectfully
seek indulgence to quote what I wrote at
And I wrote as follows:
“I do not propose to discuss here subscriptions to this fund, as this might be said to be encouraging.
“The members subscribed far more than the minimum of two shillings, per head pr annum,some even subscribed up to about £5 or more, all depending on will and financial ability.
In a place like
The clan unions which were firmly organised made it a point to subscribe something each year
And so they did until very recently.
This branch, besides other activities, organised a very successful cinema show the proceeds of which benefited the fund and the Nigerian Troops Comforts Fund.
Between 1936 and 1942, this fund rose to a few hundred pounds, now idle in the coffers of the local bank.
Here again we had and still have enormous resources to explore for the benefit of this fund.
All we wanted was a little more effort and psychology—to start the project with one or two of the most deserving youths in a local secondary education institution (King’s College, Lagos, preferably), for that was the original idea, and hold that up to stimulate the people.
Meanwhile collection of more money would be going on.
But instead, what did we see?
The subscription which was encouraging from the beginning began to drop, not because subscribers were tired but because the General Council was incapable of taking decisive action as to what to do with what had already been collected.
aim was altered to creating Overseas scholarships for professional
Views were sharply divergent, and, although we had the benefit of advice of well-informed and qualified men like Dr. I Ladipo Oluwole, Zik and a few others, yet we were unable to come to a definite conclusion.
Later, it was suggested that instead, we should found a secondary school in Urhoboland.”
And so we kept on changing our minds each year without doing one out of all, until quite recently when some one with a brilliant brain came along with a very clear idea. Not only did he suggest, but actually manoeuvred and got the 1942 Council to rescind the previous decision and to substitute therefore another, which was that the founding of an elementary school which would gradually develop into a secondary school was the best solution to our pressing educational needs!
Well, we are in a world in which each man is entitled to his opinion, and provided he knows how to get about his job, it is easy to carry the majority in a Council where most delegates, particularly those from Urhoboland, feel that the views sponsored by influential members of the headquarters are always right.
If ever the headquarters exhibited obvious inability in handling a given problem, it is how they fumbled, bungled and muddled over the scholarships scheme.
They had never once had a clear view of their own as to what to do, nor were they prepared to accept others’ views with any appreciable sincerity, with the result that they kept on tossing representatives of branches here and there at the annual council meetings.
Is there any wonder, therefore, that some members now begin to feel that the scheme is being deliberately frustrated by some people with private axes to grind?
We won’t be surprised if the next move would be a decision to adopt the Forge three or five year plan for Standard II Mass Literacy!
Unfortunately or fortunately (which it is in this case we don’t really know), this officer who was alleged to be at the head of Education Department, Warri – a department which has for the past two decades consistently worked in a manner as tended to betray the cause and strifle almost to death the progress of education in that Province – has been transferred.
In the address presented by the Urhobo Progress Union to the new Governor on the occasion of his first official visit to Warri, it was observed among other requests that they needed three secondary schools in the Province, and what is more, they had made representations to this effect in the Elliot Commission!
From their last
decision before I left
Whatever may be their present views, we strongly feel that enough experiment has been tried on the Scholarships Scheme, and, therefore, it is high time something concrete is done.
We must remember that members of the general public subscribed to the Fund and for this, we owe them a responsibility and obligation.
Already, the Okpe Union, Lagos, one of the Urhobo Clans Unions which supported the scheme admirably, had quite rightly called the Lagos branch to question recently as to what happened to the Fund, since they had heard nothing about it." 
That is how we groped for eight long years altogether. But my article worked, perhaps like magic. The Commission of Inquiry together with this open press criticism ‘ferreted’ the Headquarters leaders out of their inexcusable state of inaction.
all those events, the year 1944 must
have been a most exciting and excruciating once in the annals of the
1935 Mr. Igho had entered Christ the
Six years later, Ezekiel was
of the two Overseas scholarships by the Urhobo Progress Union with the
aim of qualifying for Science Mastership on the staff of the proposed
Ten-Year Policy: Its Content and Obstacles
All along, the Education Committee was hard at work producing by August, 1945, the following detailed ten-year educational programme:
URHOBO EDUCATION SCHEME
CHANGE OF TITLE:-
This Scheme formerly known and circulated as the “Urhobo College Scheme” should now by known and called the “Urhobo Education Scheme”.
EFFECT OF CHANGE:-
The Urhobo College Scheme was wholly based
on the building, equipment, maintenance of, and the training of staffs
for the “
This scheme may be clearly defined as the
Urhobo Education Scheme planned under the auspices of the Urhobo
There are three objectives the scheme is out to achieve:
(I) Founding of Secondary School
(II) Granting of Scholarships for Higher Education
(III) Raising of Funds.
FOUNDING OF SECONDARY SCHOOL:-
(a) Acquisition of land: Lease or freehold Survey of the plot Plan of the building.
(b) Building: U Shape Storey Building according to the plan prepared by the Education Committee and submitted to the Executive Council for approval.
(c) Houses for the Principal and Vice-principal to be concrete modern buildings and so are the houses for other tutors. There shall be built houses for gardener and cook and Other members of the College.
(d) Commencement of Building: As soon as funds are available, i.e. after setting aside total expenditure for Messrs M. G. Ejaife and Igho for period covered by their training and transport fares back to Warri, the building will commence.
(e) Purchases of materials – Cement, sand, gravels, planks washers and nails
(f) Block moulding and assembling of same.
(g) Employment of Watchman and appointment of Contractor. Agreement
With the contractor drawn and signed.
(h) The Education Committee supervises the building.
(I) The period 1945 to 1946 December set aside to complete the
Building, if not earlier.
(II) STAFFS: Employment of Tutors and opening of the College.
(III) January 1947:- (a) Four Masters to be employed – College opens
with 120 boys (girls may be admitted as day girls in classes one 1
(a) (b) & II (a) (b) 30 in each.
(b) Laboratory Instruments and equipments to be provided.
1948:- (a) Employment of more Tutors and opening of class III probably (a & (b).
(b) More equipments and laboratory instruments.
1949:- (a) Messrs. Ejaife and Igho return and assume duties.
(b) Opening of Class (IV).
(c) Equipments, and Instruments.
(d) Two students sent abroad for Education.
1950:- (a) Opening of Class (V).
(b) More equipments and laboratory instruments.
(c) Employment of more staffs.
(d) Two students abroad for Education.
1951:- (a) Opening of Class (VI).
(b) More equipments and laboratory instruments.
(c) Employment of more staffs.
(d) Two students abroad for Agriculture to be Tutors.
(a) More openings considered
(b) Two students abroad for Commerce (to be Tutors).
(c) 1949 Students arrive and assume duties.
1953:- (a) 1950 Students arrive and assume duties.
(b) Two Students abroad for Education to Specialise in Technology
( option Tutors).
1954:- (a) 1951 Students arrive to assume duties.
(b) Equipments and Laboratory – General Improvements.
1955:- (a) Ten years plan end in May 31st.
(b) 1952 Students arrive and assume duties.
GRANTING SCHOLARSHIPS FOR PROFESSIONS:-
(1) As soon as 1945 funds are available by
RAISING OF FUNDS
This move is a National Concern
The Scheme is a project to serve the educational need of the people of
Urhobo. Apart from its immediate attainments i.e. establishment
(3) It is wise to sound a note of warning here that the success of this scheme depends largely on principally just two things: firstly the degree of efforts by, and general activities of, the members of the Urhobo Progress Union as a whole; secondly the co-operative efforts of the Urhobo public backed up by their willingness to pay up quotas.
It would not be too much for a clan or group of clans to raise funds of their own for the purposes of granting secondary Education Scholarship or University Education scholarship if the sponsors would make the people affected by their move to clearly understand that their scheme would not prejudice the Urhobo Education Scheme Fund, nor would it in any why serve as an excuse of paying less quotas.
In any further awards of scholarship either under 4 (1) or 4 (2) above, due advertisements By publications, circulars, open discussions at Mass Meetings, will be made in inviting applications, supported by testimonials from Clan Heads, Executives of Clan Unions, of Urhobo Progress Union branches and Headquarters: and from the Executive Boards in Townships. No application will be accepted in cases where condition stipulated above is not satisfied.
Selections will be determined by the Educational attainment, Conduct and Health. In some cases advices of the Education Authorities may be sought either by way of Tests or Interview to be arranged for the selected candidates. The Education Committee is free to award Scholarships to Candidates with exceptional ability and of good character provided such applicant is recommended by the approved Authority.
The Education Committee has rightly concluded that when the College is opened Scholarships will be offered to deserving students either 9a) for free Tuition and boarding, (b) free lodging, (c) free Tuition. There shall be also certain number of regular Scholarships to be granted annually for boys or girls of exceptional brilliancy during their College career in cases where the parents of such boys or girls are unable to foot the College bills. The terms of the Scholarships will depend on the merit of the case or on the degree of the poverty of the parents.
The question of Adult Education is a matter of willingness on the part of present adult Illiterates to learn how to read, write and do simple arithmetic.
All Clan Unions should encourage girls of
school age to attend school. If special effort is made and good
number of our girls are found to attend schools, Secondary Education of
our girls will receive special attention of the
All expenses incurred in respect of Medicine and Law students are refundable in full. Those students for Education shall refund half the expenses.
The above Scheme is subject to amendment, alterations, modification as the need arises.”
In his first Monthy Circular,Avbenake left for us the following summarised record under the heading “Controversy On Education Scheme”
“In 1936 a
Fund known as Scholarship Fund was opened for all branches of the
“A successful campaign
is being made in
1. Words of appreciation for the existing Co-operation between the clan and the
Urhobo Progress Union Stressing the need for more and better mutua
Understanding between the two
2. Need and value of a
Branches of the Urhobo Progress
3. The Need and value of unifying
all 29 clans under one Native
Administration with Authority vested in Urhobo Council.
4. The survey of the present
World Order with particular reference
to Secondary and higher Education and progressive strides of
our Sister tribes in those directions.
5. The Urhobo Education
Scheme, with Aims at achieving both
needs Secondary and University Education, the later of cours
includes professional studies abroad.
"I close this June
Circular by remarking that at this stage of the Scheme
And to try as best as it can to avoid misunderstanding not only between the
Union and Among the local Urhobo elements.”
of the ways and means proposed for
raising the necessary funds for the Scheme was touring to outside
the President-General and to branches in Urhoboland by officers and
members of the Home Union. Sums of money to be subscribed by each
Accordingly, the President-General planned two tours of the branches in the Provinces for the collection of the allocations. The first was to be undertaken from the 15th to 27th August, and the second from the 10th to
From what I
could gather from my interview with you when I visited Lagos, I deduced
unless one of the two parties to the quarrel gives way to the other,
will be a permanent disunity and by that we may destroy what we have
created. I need not state categorically the needs for an
2. I held meeting with the Headquarters Union and came to agreement that an unqualified apology be sent you. I made them to realise whatever shortcoming they have. From constitutional point of view your action in contacting other branches in matter of general policy is wrong. Originally that power was vested with the General meeting of the Home Union but the New Bye laws has, by creation of an Executive Council brought the General meeting of the Home Union to this because it is the only offence for which you are held by the Home Union.
As your President-General, I am in duty bound to settle dispute between
branches but the effectiveness of my settlement depends on your loyalty
is this loyalty I crave for in my asking that Warri Home Union shall
apology to you. There is nothing short of loyalty when Home
to do so. And now it is your turn to display this same spirit of
accepting this apology in true spirit I know, it is expressed. I
therefore hesitate in anticipating that the scheme now in hand will
your approval in that. Scholarships for U. K. and
You will no doubt fall in sympathy with me when I state here for your
information that this quarrel has already done some harm to the
My tour was planned before I met your
5. I therefore appeal to you to cease fire and lay down arms as Home Union has honourably, unconditionally surrendered. In the name of progress I have made his appeal.
While I remain,
J. J. OKENE M. MOWOE
In order to further
The Urhobo Collegiate
January, 1944, a respectable retired Civil Servant, Mr. E. O. Wey (popularly known as Pa Wey)
in Warri, founded a school, known as Collegiate School of Commerce,
Warri. It was providential for the Urhobo Progress Union that two
later, Mr. Wey, for some reason, offered
to sell the
school. Mr. J. G. Ako, who was then a
teacher in the school, suggested the purchase to the Urhobo Progress
The School maintained classes
from Middle Class I to Middle Class IV and the first Manager, under the
direction of the
On the 30the April, 1947, Mr. (now Chief) J. A. Obahor was appointed Treasurer or Bursar of the School. Other appointments, in August, 1947, to the membership of a newly created School Management Committee were Messrs. L. T. Mayiko, R. O. Efekodo and A. Udih. By October, 1947, there appeared to be some dissatisfaction with the management of the school and a Commission of Enquiry was set up to make necessary investigations. The Commissioners were Messrs. J. C. Avbenake and F. R. A. Iyoma.
1948, Mr. P. K. Tabiowo resigned not only
from the Managership of the School but
also from the membership of
the Warri Township Education Committee where he was serving as a
of the Urhobo Progress Union. He was succeeded in the Managership
by Chief J. A. Obahor assisted by Mr. J.
R. Sharta-Okoh with effect from
might have been its initial operational difficulties, the school showed
signs of brilliant academic performance. The first three
presented in 1946 for the Junior Cambridge Examination were all
They were Johson Edremoda,
Egoke O. Buluku
and M. David Unurhoro. All three were
scholarship holders of the School. The future educational
progress of the
School, from the point of view of
Rent on the hired private premises which very inadequately housed the school was a heavy item of expenditure in the running cost of the school; there was, therefore, a proposal as early as June, 1947, to erect a temporary school building on the present site of the College which had then been newly acquired by the Union. Three principal reasons prompted this idea. In the first place, the hired private premises had already proved to be two small, thus giving rise to serious overcrowding. In the second place, the temporary building would elimate the element of rent in the school expenditure to the tune of about £60 per annum. In the third place, the building would facilitate the full change-over from the purely commercial character of the School to that of a secondary Grammar School, Accordingly, the Education Committee drew up a detailed scheme for the establishment of the College. The change was to take effect from January, 1948, and the
An extract of the letter reads;
“1. We are
submit this, notifying our intention to convert the Urhobo
School is owned by the Urhobo people, but is being run under the
the Urhobo Progress Union and, the thought of its elevation to a
full secondary school status in the immediate future was supreme
time of its acquisition.
"3. The Principal-designate and the Vice-Principal of the school are now at different universities in the
"4. The Principal, M. G. Ejaife, Esq., B.A., Inter B.Sc. (Econ), is reading for Diploma in Education in the University’s
"An early consideration and approval of this request will be highly appreciated.”
be seen from Paragraphs 3 and 4 above, the
appointments of the two Urhobo scholars had been designated long before
return from the
among members of the teaching staff of the
school at that time was a teacher called S. J. Mayaki who taught Mathemtics
and Latin. Pa Wey’s appointment as a
teacher in the school was terminated as from
It is interesting to see the array of young teachers, especially those of Urhobo and Isoko origins, among the staff of which Gordon Ako was the head. They included Messrs. G. E. Om’ Iniabohs (Isoko), G. Diejomaoh, Egoke E. Buluku, M. D. Unurhoro, Frank Sodje and M. A. Akpofure (now a Chief and Barrister-at-Law). I am happy to say that Mr. Diejomaoh is still on the staff.
return of Mr. Ejaife
this connection, I still remember quite well
my conversation with Mr. Ejaife at
It is a bit of
He sent me abroad for a purpose
I returned but I did not see him
To report to.
With the great leader’s death, it would not be too much for any one to expect a set-back in the School’s projected programme. But fortunately, this did not happen in any appreciable way. Here, our thanks are due to the deceased leader’s able lieutenants, chiefly Chiefs J. A. Okpodu and J. A. Obahor, who rose admirably well to the occasion. But one significant incident which occurred was the desertion of the school by the three scholarship holders to whom reference had already been made above. They had since become teachers deemed to be serving under bond in the school. By their desertion, the strength of the staff was naturally reduced.
Without any prejudice whatsoever, I
reproduce below the text of the letter sent by the
“I am directed by the Officers and members of my
would teach in the school for an unbroken period of three years after the completion of his training has deserted us thus breaking the contract.
understand that he has left the town for employment elseswhere,
but he forgets that we can easily interfere with his present move and
a stain to be put on his character for life.
"In order therefore to avoid such unpleasantness and a resort to legal action to claim refund of expenses incurred for his training, and damages caused to the
this respect, I am directed to ask you to meet the Executives of my
However, the programme
to convert the School to a secondary grammar
school was pursued earnestly and undisturbed. In anticipation of
approval being obtained, Mr. Ejaife issued
For the following years, the government of the College, as it must be under the law, was vested in a Board of Governors which had been set up.
Thus the onus of
supervision, control and overall management of the College shifted from
It is not the
purpose of this exercise to deal with the history of the College in the
subsequent to 1949. But I must refer to a significant decision
the members of the staff of
The text of the resolution was conveyed to Mr. Ejaife, the Principal, who replied the Union eighteen days later as follows:
“Staff and Discipline”
“With reference to your
No. U.P.U./84191 dated
Staff will please note that if they already hold office in any
parties, they should resign such office and send me a copy of
resignation, to reach me at or before on
(sgd) Mac. G. Ejaife
"I have since received no copies of resignations though I understand that both Mr. Ako and the Vice-Principal are officials in their respective parties. I am therefore leaving the rest to you.
"The following members of staff have been absent from school for the following periods without leave.
(1) The Vice-Principal; May 24th – 31st 8 days.
This is already in your hands.
(2) Mr. J. G. Ako; June 19 and 20th 2 days. The usual penalty is to
deduct the pay due to the period – 20/- in the case of Mr. Ako.
The Vice-Principal has however suggested that the Staff should meet to
consider the whole question of relationship of staff and Urhobo Progress Union,
and the Board of Governors. If the staff meets, it will communicate to you
whatever decision it arrives at.
Mr. Ako has now written to resign in order to participate actively in politics
M. G. Ejaife.
not make any comments as to the deviation of the staff, no doubt with
connivance of the
That wisdom and
foresight of the
Tribute to Mr. L. U. Ighomore
I can not
conclude this brief historical survey of the origins of the College
paying just and well-deserved tributes to some one who was the General
Secretary of Urhobo Progress Union at the time the
The number grew rapidly in the late
thirties and throughout the forties. Today, it stands at 85-72 in
whole Federation of Nigeria, 8 in
 Those present at the special Committee meeting were, F. A. O. Susu President, O. Arebe Uyo, Vice-President, T. E. A. Salubi, Secretary, J. R. Noquapoh who volunteered to be the first “Oyinko” (Messenger-Circular bearer), U. O. Johnson and A. S. Wowo.
Mr. Joseph Akpolo
Ikutegbe was the first Financial Secretary,
becoming Vice-President for many years of
In this connection, I can not do better
than reproduce part of a letter dated
Chief Mariere wrote: “We understand with concern that during this year the post of a clerk, falls vacant in the Resident’s office, Warri. The Resident, out of sheer interest for the Urhobo, offers the post to an Urhobo youth with a Class VI pass if one can be had. Three months together tine President-General was engaged in combing all over the country for a boy, but not one can be found, unless we have to rob the mission of one of their trained teachers. How many standard VI pass have we all over the country. Why not send one to fill the post if this is just as good? Simply because we could not produce one with a Class VI pass?”
was a reply to the Headquarters who had invited his comments on
Even at Logos, the Treasurer and one of
the leaders of the branch who was not present at the special Committee
asked for the meaning of the word ‘scholarship’ when the
proceedings of the Committee were being reported to the next General
 See page 12 of the minutes of the proceeding of the Annual General Council for 1937. It was the scholarships for professional studies awarded at that time by the Ibibio State Union that influenced the minds of our leaders at Warri and elsewhere.
 Agendum 20 and p. 20 of the minutes of the proceedings (printed) of the Annual General Council for 1938, refer.
 See P. 161 of same file quoted immediately above for the letter.
 See P. 10 of the minutes of the proceedings of the Annual General Council for 1939.
 It was about six years later that the content of the Urhobo Educational Scheme was defined. See the policy outline of the Scheme reproduced under Part VII, pages 26-32. The most significant thing about the original idea and this new one was that scholarship for secondary education was completely dropped and new proposals such as scholarships for medicine, law, commerce and banking substituted.
 Mr. (now Chief) IROLIKI OKANDEJI was at that
time a Postal Clerk and Telegraphist,
been a staunch member of the Urhobo Progress Union. As
the Management Committee,
 The Southern Nigeria Defender was then publishing at Warri. The article was published in more than 14 insalments.
 This is part of the fourth installment. See pages 3 and 4 of the
 Ezekiel Noruchor Igho was born at Owrode,
Udu Clan Wester
District. He received his early education at St. Phillips’
School, Burutu and the
 Following the reorganisation
Mr. (now Chief J. Gordon Ako was the first Hon Secretary, Urhobo Progress
Union, Ughelli branch, founded in
1935. He was one of the
six honourable members elected in 1951 to
Urhobo Division in the Western House of Assembly and was made a
Secretary in the Ministry of Health. At the end of this career,
Chief Ako proceeded to the
 “The School was purchased because of the late Chief Mukoro Mowoe’s stick-to itiveness; all others were apologetic” so wrote Chief J. Gordon Ako in a personal communication to me. The purchase price was £160.
According to Chief Ako,
Johnson, Edremoda is now in the Foreign
the Federation Egoke O. Buluku
(son of Madam Okpada, first Lady President
Women Section of the
branch supported by
 Letter No. UPU/84/44 of
44, Urhobo Collegiate File (Home
Provincial Education Officer’s
letter No. W. 1103A/6 of
Mr. S. J. Mayaki
LL.B, B.L., Diploma in Public International Law of Gray’s
 This is the name of Chief Mukoro Mowoe’s House.
 Both attained the post of President-General
 Mr. Unurhoro who was present at the College on the “Speech Day” had an opportunity of a speech as an old boy of the College. In the course of his speech, Mr. Unurhoro denied ever being under bond with the Urhobo Progress Union.