St. Gregory’s College

St. Gregory’s College

December 30
08:41 2020

There are a few prominent schools in Lagos that have been responsible for producing what would appear to be a disproportionate share of the country’s leaders in various fields. St Gregory’s College, the Catholic missionary secondary school in south-west Lagos is one of them. A beautifully appointed school with a large expanse of land to accommodate it’s well manicured football pitches, cricket pitch a chapel with a sitting capacity of 1200, making it one of the biggest chapels in any private institution in the world, St Gregory’s College is a beauty to behold.

St Gregory’s College, Obalende came into existence in 1928 after the original Grammar school founded in 1884, was converted into a College in 1928. This makes it one of the oldest schools in the country, along with CMS Grammar School which is the oldest and Baptist Academy. It’s first school administrator was Archbishop Leo Hale Taylor, who was at the helm from 1928 to 1934. The first Nigerian administrator was Paul Amenechi, from 1972 to 1977. St Greg’s as it’s commonly know, was initially a coeducational school but became a boys only school, after its sister school, Holy Child College was established in 1945. The predominantly boarding school was named after a former Pope of the Catholic Church, St. Gregory the Great (540-604). Gregory, born into a wealthy patrician family was at a time one of the richest men in Rome where he rose to become a prominent politician. He eventually became the Prefect and Senator of Rome but history books record that all that changed when he decided to sell off his possessions and even turned his opulent home in Rome into a Benedictine monastery. With his wealth, he went further to build six more monasteries in Sicily. He was soon made a Deacon by the Pope at the time and that began his monastical journey which eventually saw him elected Pope many years later.

St Gregory’s College was partly built by Ace Jomona, the construction company owned by Chief Michael Ibru, the equally ace Nigerian businessman; and from the very beginning, it made it’s mission as a school and feeder to society very clear. It gave and still gives it’s mission to be, “To train students for excellence and leadership positions in all areas of human endeavour and to produce gentlemen that are neither deficient in learning nor in character, in the society.” The school is quick to point out it’s guiding philosophy which is to educate “the whole of the human person: his intellect, his heart, his will, his physique, his character and lastly, his soul, i.e. physical, mental, academic, moral and spiritual development.” All these combine to produce a culture which is unique to itself.

The fortunes of the school took a nosedive following the military Federal Government’s Takeover Decree in 1977, which forced all the missionary schools in the country to relinquish control of their schools, with the Federal Government’s Ministry of Education taking over. Lack of investment to sustain or improve facilities and the poor quality of both school administrators and teachers almost destroyed the schools entirely. Classroom sizes at St Greg’s ballooned from 30 to 100 pupils. However, the Old Boys of the missionary school kept a watchful eye on their school waiting for a time when they would be able to intervene and restore the pride of their alma mater. This opportunity came decades later when the Bola Tinubu’s civilian administration in Lagos State returned all the missionary schools in Lagos to their original owners. Gradually things began to change, with the active involvement of a very strong alumni, which set up it’s own office on the school campus. Typical projects funded were the expansion and improvement of boarding facilities; building of a state of the art block of 15 laboratories and so many more. The camaraderie that exists amongst Old Boys, the success many of them have enjoyed at their different callings and the unique love they all have for the school has always helped to make it relatively easy to raise funds for capital projects; without having to hold any official fund raising campaign.

Ever since the country returned to civilian rule and the missionary schools were permitted to take control of their schools once more, St Gregory’s has very quickly made up for lost ground and is flying high once again. Thanks to the invaluable contributions of it’s alumni who have devoted a great deal of time and resources to restoring not just the ambience of the school but the quality of it’s education.

St Gregory’s College boasts of many distinguished Old Boys who have not only contributed to making Lagos a centre of excellence but have contributed to shaping the entire Nigerian society. Amongst them are:

Adetokunbo Ademola – the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Jimi Agbaje – Nigerian Pharmacist, Politician and governorship candidate for Lagos.

Ben Murray Bruce – Nigerian business magnate and former Senator

Sir Adeyemo Alakija KBE – Nigerian lawyer, politician and businessman.

Ade Abayomi Olufeko – Award-winning technologist and entrepreneur.

Ganiyu Dawodu – Nigerian politician and democracy activist.

John Abebe – Prominent businessman

Antonio Deinde Fernandez – Nigerian Business magnate and diplomat.

Jibril Martin -Nigerian lawyer

Olufemi Majekodunmi – Renowned architect Raymond Njoku – Nigerian politician and former minister for Transport.

Mike Omoighe – Nigeria Artist and critic.

Segun Agbaje – CEO of GTBank

Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie – Archbishop of Lagos.

Victor Uwaifo – Nigerian musician

Funsho Williams – Politician

Lamidi Adeyemi III – Alaafin of Oyo.

Patrick Ekeji – Nigerian sports administrator

Tayo Aderinokun – Former CEO of GTBank

Obafemi Lasode – Nigerian veteran film maker

Tomi Davies – Entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Rafiu Oluwa – Nigerian sprinter.

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December 2020