Igbobi College

Igbobi College

December 30
08:53 2020

Igbobi College’s fame is not hinged just on it’s age and it’s claim to being one of the oldest colleges in Nigeria but also on the large number of movers and shakers of Nigerian society that have passed through its hallowed halls. It also represents one of those rare occasions when two different church denominations will come together to jointly establish an institution.

Igbobi College was founded by the Methodist and Anglican Churches in 1932 in Yaba, Lagos. Till today, it remains on it’s original site even though, due to different encroachments by Federal Government policies, it’s not remotely close to it’s original size. After several decades of the most harrowing disruption, which made total nonsense of the joint founder’s purpose in establishing this prestigious institution, governance of the school was finally handed back to the original owners in 2001 by the Bola Ahmed Tinubu led Lagos State Government. Like all the other schools that the Federal Government forcefully took over, following it’s disingenuous Takeover Decree of 1977, it suffered neglect, lack of investment and the the worst possible maladministration, which it’s still trying to recover from.

GCI Foundation student and Teachers of Igbobi College, Yaba, 1963

GCI Foundation student and Teachers of Igbobi College, Yaba, 1963

The establishment of Igbobi College was prompted by the success of a Teacher Training College for women established in Ibadan called United Missionary College. The Catholic Mission and the Wesleyan Methodist Mission had successfully cooperated to set this Teacher Training College up in 1928. This set the precedence for a qualitative secondary school for boys that would incorporate all the lessons learned about shortcomings of other schools in Lagos. This gave birth to Igbobi College, a few years later. It was the firm belief of the two Church missions that if they can ensure the school has ample land to accommodate sports fields, other extra curriculum activities, farming and most importantly, boarding facilities for the pupils and adequate living quarters for the teachers  who need to live on the grounds, they will be able to achieve their aim which was simply, “to give a well balanced secondary education to boys in an environment adequate for the purpose.” They also wanted to show that such a conducive environment coupled with sound Christian doctrines would be the ideal arrangement to provide the desired result of excellent all round education. This goal was an effort to satisfy the growing demand at that time for better secondary school education to prepare boys for both higher education and professional training and this Igbobi College approach was a new and unique one. For this purpose, a 32 acre acre plot of land was acquired and carved out of the Kola nut plantation belonging to the family of Madam Tinubu. Hence the name “Igbobi” meaning “kola nut bush” in Yoruba language.

To start the school off, the founding fathers sought the help of CMS Grammar School and Methodist Boys High School (MBHS) whose staff and pupils they asked to volunteer. With the founder’s goal of creating an ideal learning environment to produce scholarly yet morally sound individuals for society, students were carefully selected for each class based on academic merit, good disciplinary record and good behaviour but with no discrimination regarding religious background. That was how Igbobi College begun, with a total of 55 boarders and 95 day boys. It wasn’t long though before the boarders became the majority and the school introduced the novel idea of establishing entrance examination centres outside Lagos in order to attract admission of children from across the country. It was determined to have the best. The idea worked.

To be the best, the school certainly needed to have the best teachers and so the founders were very selective in their recruitment process. The first Principal of Igbobi College was Reverend W. Waterton of CMS Grammar School, while Reverend J. Allen Angus of (MBHS) was the Vice-Principal. Unfortunately Reverend Waterton only lasted three weeks as Principal as he had to leave the country due to his wife’s poor health. Reverend Angus therefore took over and he served the school for 12 years before later becoming Education Secretary of the Christian Council of Nigeria and then the Chairman of the Western District of the Methodist Church. Most of the school’s teachers became equally notable. M.I Fadipe later became President of the Grade A Customary Courts of Western Nigeria. Mr A.B Oyediran later became the Principal of MBHS and was appointed an Ambassador. Mr. O. Briggs who later changed his name to Mr Ona Oruwariye, became a doctor and Police surgeon and founder of Oke–Ado Hospital.

Vice President Osinbajo With Students Of Igbobi College Yaba, Lagos

Vice President Osinbajo With Students Of Igbobi College Yaba, Lagos

After a period of settling down, Igbobi College soon began to pave the way as the schools on Lagos began searching for sizable land on the mainland that they could move to. The likes of CMS Grammar School, Queen’s College, Baptist Academy, St Finbarr’s and Methodist Girls High School all wanted to emulate the Igbobi College model but none was able to find anything as spacious as what Igbobi had. At this time of it’s inception and for several years, Igbobi College was truly in the bush, as it’s name suggested. There was no Ikorodu Road, no hospital or any of the establishments landmarks we know now, at that time. The school itself was vast but sparse with just a few buildings and so, in order to develop it into the “adequate environment” that the founders had in mind, the Principal himself led the staff and pupils to lay out roads, playing fields, lawns and other things to achieve it. Mirroring schools in Britain, where the founders came from, sports, crafts, games, literary societies and debating formed part of daily school life. Unlike the other existing schools in Lagos that lay almost total emphasis on academics, Igbobi sought education of the total man supported with good moral training. Emphasis on sports, clean competition and solidarity was very deliberate and the value placed on playing the game far outweighed that placed on winning. This approach could not but produce a certain type of individual.. A man, which competition brings the best out of him, both in ability and yet in character. A competitive yet fair minded man. It was during Reginald Parker’s time as Principal that Boater hats with Igbobi College colours of blue and gold and blazers were introduced. But for the colour of the pupil’s skin, Igbobi College in almost every way, resembled the globally famous English Public School known for it’s elitist bent but respected for all round excellence and for developing the perfect gentleman.

The first Nigerian Principal of Igbobi College was Mr S. A Babalola who was appointed in 1958 to succeed Mr Reginald Parker. A Cambridge University graduate and himself an old boy of the school, he was famous for setting the record in the School Certificate of passing each of the maximum number of subject exams he took in 1943 with an “A”. He later became a distinguished Professor of Yoruba and a National Merit Award winner.

The introduction of the Takeover Decree by the Federal Government in 1977 literally decimated this school and succeeded in taking away everything that made Igbobi College special. The extensive playing fields, introduced by the founders to allow their pupils expression and the well kept school lawns, were condemned as elitist and unnecessary luxuries during a time of mass education. Within a jiffy, three new secondary schools and one primary school had been erected on the college grounds. Careful selection of candidates to get the best was abandoned, boarding facilities were banned and provision of accommodation to enhance staff productivity became history. By the time Bola Tinubu, as Governor of Lagos State, returned the affected schools to their original missionary owners, it was already far too late for Igbobi College as it was once known. It’s original ethos, which distinguished it from its peers, was long gone.


From time immemorial and till this day, Igbobi College alumni have held commanding positions in the socioeconomic and political life of Nigeria. Amongst them are:

Yemi Osinbajo – Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Earnest Sonekan – former Interim President of Nigeria

Femi Gbajabiamila – Speaker of the Nigerian House of Assembly

Babatunde Fashola – Federal Government Minister and former Governor of Lagos State

Babatunde Former – former Chairman of the Federal Internal Revenue Service

Taslim Olawale Elias – former Chief Justice of Nigeria and President of the International Court of Justice

  1. F. Ade Ajayi – former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos

Olu Falae – former Secretary to the Government of the Federation

Michael Ibru – Prominent Entrepreneur

  1. O. Mbadiwe – Federal Government Minister in the First Republic

Subomi Balogun – founder of First City Monument Bank PLC

Bolaji Akinyemi – former Federal Government Minister

Gbolahan Mudashiru – former Military Governor of Lagos State

Lanre Tejuosho – former Senator

Dosu Joseph – former Goal Keeper for the Super Eagles

Abiodun Baruwa – former Goal Keeper for the Super Eagles

Femi Kuti – famous Musician

Paul Adefarasin – Senior Pastor of House of the Rock Church

Olufemi Elias – prominent Lawyer

Dele Sosimi – famous Musician

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December 2020