Interview with E.O. Oladeji (1944).


The GCI Museum Project Team interviewed one of the oldest Old Boys of Government College Ibadan and foundation member of Carr House who is older than GCI itself. E.O. Oladeji who constructed the School Library, adjudged today to be the most beautiful Secondary School Library in Oyo State revealed among many other things that GCI is an ideal school & likened it to a laboratory where character were regularly molded and students of all mix were groomed without fear or favour to become good citizens.

Can we meet you sir?
Am Engr. Emmanuel Olaniyi Oladeji (412, Carr, 1944). I was born at Abebi, Ibadan on the 25th of January, 1929.

Where did you have your Primary Education?
I attended St. Patrick School for my Primary Education between 1935 and 1942.

Why did you choose GCI for your secondary education?
GCI was an ideal school. I looked forward to attending Schools like Kings’ College, Lagos; Baptist Boys High School, BBHS, Abeokuta; Government College Ibadan. I wrote GCI entrance examination twice before I was admitted. We were many then and the spread cut across all regions of the country.

What year did you gain admission to GCI?
January, 1944.

What House were you?
I was in Grier House, and later moved to Carr House in my last year, which was 1949 as a foundation student of Carr House.

How was the process of gaining admission to GCI like then?
We wrote entrance examination, after which successful candidates were invited for interview at GCI for a couple of days. The maximum age of the entrants then was 12. In those days, less than 20 pupils used to be admitted but we were very fortunate in my own Set that the School admitted 24 candidates. I was admitted during the era of V.B.V. Powell, as the Principal of the College.

Can you remember how your first day at GCI looked like?
My first day at GCI was a day I was looking forward to. I was very happy to be called in. With all the athlethics GCI was known for, I was very excited to be a GCI student. Four students – Jire Akinleye, Ogunshola, M.O. Raji, and myself entered GCI from Ibadan in 1944.

What was your favourite subject while in GCI?
My favourite was Mathematics. Maths was a very important subject then.

Why was Maths your favourite, was it because of your dream to become an Engineer?
I just loved it. The conception I had was that I wanted to be a Doctor, particularly a Surgeon but God redirected me, so I had to opt for Engineering.

What really happened?
There was a leakage at University College, Ibadan in 1949 when we left GCI, which made some of us not to gain admission. At that time, some of us wrote entrance exam into Public Works Department, PWD Technical School in Lagos. Olatunbosun (1938) and Adebayo (1939) also attended this School. It was a sandwich course of three years, 9 months per year.

What did you engage in during that period of leakage having graduated from GCI?
I worked in the Banking Industry as a Bank Clerk at the then Barclays Bank (now First Bank) in Ibadan.

Were you keen at sports in GCI?
Yes, I actively participated in all the sports played at GCI then. I played Football and Cricket and I even got Cricket Colours won when GCI played with Edo College in Benin, I made 51 Runs. I also broke a record during my second year at GCI in High Jump, I was at Junior B where I jumped 5 ft. At that time, V.B.V. Powell humorously heralded it that I had natural springs. I used to hurdle too, there was one Mr Kadiri at Ibadan Grammar School whom I used to compete with in hurdles. I used to swim and would compete with swimmers from Warri and other Islanders. GCI had a standard Swimming Pool then.

Did you have any favourite Teacher?
The Teacher who impressed me most was Mr V.B.V. Powell aka Very Bad Very Poor. He was very good, he used to wear shorts. Mr Alafe-Aloko from Ilesha influenced me positively, he was good too. There was also Captain Browne (later became Principal) - our Games Master, he was loved for his promptness, dexterity and diligence.

Who was your Teur?
Omitola (formerly known as Bolarinwa), a skillful Footballer was my teur. He later became a Policeman.

Do you still get in touch with your ex-Classmates?
Yes. Kola Aina, J.A. Olanrewaju – a former Permanent Secretary, Olawore, Ajayi Obe, and Ogunshola. We were all in Grier House but different dormitories. There used to be Arubayi Dormitory, Odiase Dormitory etc. The Dorms were named after the Foundation Students of GCI. Other new entrants then who came from Ibadan were Jire Akinleye (later Doctor, and became a Principal at Yaba College of Technology), J.O. Raji and Layi Ogunsola.

Did anyone move to Carr House with you?
Only one person, and some like Agbonkankan Peter (later an Artiste) came from Swanston House. He was very instrumental in the formation of the then newly built Carr House.

Who was the first Head of Carr House?
I was the first Head of Carr House in 1949.

Who were the Heads of School & Heads of Grier House at that time?
CSO Akande was the Head of Grier House.
Olapade (later became a Doctor), Akingba J.B., CSO Akande, Adesanya B., Sama Ekpo Sama, and myself became Head of School for each year between 1944 and 1949. G.N.I. Enobakhare was the first Carr Housemaster. A.D. Porter taught us Grammar while Deardem taught us Geography. These Masters were very conscientious.
Akin Deko (1930) and Biobaku (1932) among other Old Boys who returned to GCI as Masters shortly after they left GCI. Akin Deko became Grier Housemaster while Biobaku was good at English, and later became a Registrar at UI.

Was it possible to be Head of House & Head of School at the same time?
Yes, very possible.

What is your general experience about GCI?
GCI was a place where we were groomed to become good citizens. At Boarding, I mixed with different Boys from different geographical locations, we lived together, danced together and played games together, thereby developed long-life bond. There was no discrimination as children of the rich and the influential were jungled with the children of the poor and upstart. When I entered in 1944, there were children of influential eminence like the Ooni of Ife, Akenzua of Benin – Omo N’oba who was a fantastic Football player etc. In fact, I could really say a lot about the Boarding System of GCI as it was, was a laboratory where character were regularly molded. We were highly disciplined.

Was there any bad experience or downside about your lifetime at GCI?
It was the grass cutting part of GCI. We used to call cutlass ‘Ojigbe’, though I don’t know the etymology of that name.

Which School did you attend when you graduated from GCI?
I attended PWD, Lagos for 3 years after which I became a Civil Servant in July, 1949 as an Engineering Assistant. I later attended University of Ibadan, UI, at UI then, there was no Engineering School but we were doing BSc Intermediate (advanced study of Maths, Chemistry and Physics) after which we were sent to the Engineering School of the University College, London at Queen Mary College, UK between 1953 and 1955. I could remember that I traveled alongside Akinkugbe (1946) (now an Emeritus Professor) on the same day in 1953 to London. At UK, I met Tunde Adeyemi, from Ilesa Grammar School, we married on the same date on 29th August, 1959 at UK. I also met some of my juniors at GCI then such as Titus Owojuyigbe and Nat. Oyelola at Queen Mary College and we became friends.

Did you carry your interest in sports at GCI to your tertiary education?
Yes I did, I used to play for Ibadan team after my days at GCI. At University College, Ibadan, I participated in Sports – Cricket and High Jump. I took part in Social Circles and I represented my Hall – Trenchard Hall.

What did you engage in after your tertiary education?
I returned home to work in the Western Region. I had initially worked under PWD where I was first posted to the North at Sokoto State’s Ministry of Works for a year. My first flight was at this period from Lagos to Sokoto sponsored by PWD. Later, I was posted to Katsina for another one year.
Thereafter, I started as a Water Engineer with the Water Corporation, after which I went for my Post Graduate studies in Sanitary Engineering at Deft Technological University, Holland courtesy of a World Bank Scholarship.

If you were to choose a profession again, would you still choose Engineering?
Yes, I will choose Civil Engineering. I like the part of Design and Structural Engineering. It was from my bulk of engineering knowledge that I erected this building of mine on such a swampy land as this, decades after, it still stands strong and straight despite being built on water area.

While in GCI, was there any memorable political event that ever happened?
It was the reign of Action Group. I liked them and I was an Action Group Member. I liked Pa. Obafemi Awolowo. I even won their scholarship.

Did you continue with the political interest during your post GCI days?
Yes, I was a member of the Student Union while at UI.

Did you hold any political office?
No, I was just a member. I was not really active politically.

Have you ever been inclined for any political position?
No, I like to be a good follower. I like to know more about who is governing me.

Being an Action Group member, were you quite pleased with the works of Pa. Awolowo and his party members?

Why sir?
Because they had a lot of foresight. Our University building was one of their best educational facilities.

Was your university education from Awolowo?
No. I attended University College, Ibadan which had always existed before. But University of Ife was a product of Awolowo’s Action Group. Awolowo was more prominent, particularly in education. The scholarship he gave to people endeared many to him.

How would you compare the politics of those days to that of today?
The politics of those days was spearheaded with visionary and selfless leaders, such as Awolowo et al., which resulted in us setting the pace and doing exploits in all sectors especially the education sector. But today, those who claim they are threading the path of Awolowo are actually threading on an entire different path. If Action Group was still ruling us till date, not only the Western Region but the country at large would have been much better.

How would you compare the attitudes of Politicians of then to those of today?
There is a lot of greed now. In those days, the Politicians genuinely wanted to rescue us from the people who were ruling us – The British; and further ensured our comfortability. Then, we were compared to other developed nations. But now, we aren’t yet a Nation, but we will still get there.

Where would you like to see change in the current political dispensation?
The excessive money allocated to Political Office holders should be changed to a sensible minimal, and their greediness should be thoroughly looked into.

Any hope for our dear country?
Yes, there should be a lot of hope. The younger ones should be able to rescue us. I do not believe in division as some are currently advocating for but I believe in unity in diversity. If the recent National Conference’s resolutions could be implemented, we would be some steps ahead but it’s unfortunate that there exist some set of Nigerians who do not want it to be implemented, thus drawing us back in multiple steps.

What do you think your children would like most about you as their father?
By the grace of God, I have tried as much as possible to help them and they have not let me down. I owe my comfortability to them, if not for them, I don’t think I would have been as comfortable as I am now.

Are they in or outside Nigeria?
The five children are in Nigeria. Two – Olabode and Olajide, out of the three boys finished from GCI. The third and last child finished from International School, Ibadan, Abadina though I personally preferred GCI for him but his mother deferred and had her way.

What were your accomplishments as a GCI Boy that you are most proud of?
In GCI, I equalized a record in my Lower Form I. I later became Head of House and Head of School. Outside GCI, I was fortunate to win many scholarships.
I also designed and constructed the GCI Library and I was honoured for it with the GCIOBA National Merit Award in 1989.

What were the criteria used in awarding scholarships then?
It was strictly on merit and based on academic performance. Those within the first and tenth positions would win Government Scholarship to study abroad while those within the 11th and 18th position would win Native Authority Scholarship. Native Authority Scholarship used to come from the Native Authority (now called Local Government) of your place of origin. Mine was from Mapo Hall and it covered all fees for secondary institutions within Nigeria.

When did you get married?
It was in 1959 at London, UK. I met her here in Nigeria. We returned home by sea on the 13th of February, 1962 and spent 13 days in Auriel Ship.

What are your views about GCI?
GCI is an ideal school. I really enjoyed my stay at GCI. I loved it and the way things were done there.

What are your views about GCIOBA?
GCI Old Boys Association has always been interesting & very helpful to the school.

What were your earliest memories at GCI?
The most trivial one was that I used to talk in my dreams while in the dormitory and I didn’t know the reasons behind that. Others were the Treasure Hunts, Socials, and Impromptu Speeches etc.

What memorabilia (e.g. pictures, books, awards etc.) would you like to bequeath to GCI Museum?
I’ll search home again, Opeyemi should please check back at his earliest convenience for the memorabilia.

Thank you very much sir.





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