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The Early Years - Early Years

Rev Ludlow, who was at all times a very genuine friend of Offa, was very instrumental to securing government registration and approval. He was made the first Manager of the school, and he brought in Mr SO Ajayi, a certified teacher and pastor, assisted by Mr Ojo as the foundation teaching staff. A rented apartment provided boarding facility for students who were not domiciled in the town or its neighbourhood while the others commuted daily on foot to school. By 1944 the students’ enrolment had reached 30.

As the school gained more grounding, the owner community provided more fund towards further development. A U-shaped stone block of classrooms was therefore constructed at the permanent site and was ready for occupation by the end of 1945. Before then, Reverend JB Olafimihan (a Grade 1 teacher and an active member of the ODU) was invited to replace Mr Ajayi as the Principal in January 1945, and both worked assiduously to enable the movement to the permanent site. A students’ population of 65 was being managed by a staff of 8 in 1946 when Thorburn inspection took place, and the school was approved to conduct examination albeit at the level of Government Class 4 (junior Cambridge).

In the same year the Board of Governors was reconstituted and became re-invigorated. Its membership included Rev RN Ludlow retaining the chairmanship, Gbadamosi Ijaiya as the treasurer, JB Olafimihan as the school Principal, AB Oyediran, WA Adedoyin, T Tanimowo, James Bambe, Samuel Adesiyun and Raji Adeyemo. The board was able to assure the full government recognition of the school and thus paved way for the first government grant of 500 pounds to the school and the take over of the staff salaries, both of which were to the relief of the ODU.

The population of students was about 120 by the end of 1948, and in early 1949, Rev Olafimihan had to leave for Ibadan. One of the very brilliant teachers, Mr TA Babalola became the acting Principal. Of the 8 members of staff of 1946, 5 had left before the new substantive Principal, Mr JA Osanyin assumed office in September 1949. Although, many students were then spending just 2 or 3 years in the school before getting out to seek employment (in such establishments as Posts and Telegraphs (P∓T) department and the Nigerian Railway Corporation), replacement was easy enough because the school was highly sought after, and enrolment was on the steady increase.

By enduring the early teething problems, and thus giving instructive lesson in perseverance, the pioneer students who completed the studies were deserving of a lot of commendations. The tremendous contributions of Rev RN Ludlow, Mr SO Ajayi, Rev JB Olafimihan with other active members of ODU and the Olofa of Offa, Oba Wuraola Isioye and his chiefs that helped in overcoming the numerous problems of those heady days would also always be remembered.

Although the school had surmounted the formative problems by 1949, it was still very much in need of development and approval for the conduct of senior Cambridge examination. These were some of the challenges that Mr Osanyin faced when he came into office. By the end his tenure of 17 years, not only did he successfully address them, the school had become, in fact, primus inter pares, the best among equals and even among the older schools. The standard of the school at that time deservedly earned it the appellation of the “King’s College of the North”.

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