Nigeria Livestock Ranches Failed Just Like GCI And Similar Schools


Many Nigerians are oblivious to the fact that Nigeria in the 60s had thriving livestock ranches all over the country that have now failed because of budgetary constraints to the sector. The Nigerian governments just felt uninterested in the livestock sub-sector just like the Oyo State government lost interest in maintaining a model school like what Government College, Ibadan (GCI) was in its hey days. This is the opinion of Demola Majasan, better referred to as Demla, by his classmates.

Demla, who qualified as Veterinary Doctor, began his career with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture as Veterinary Officer on a Cattle Ranch in Funafuna, Kontagora. He recalls the desperation of the noblest of the staff who went to the extent of using their own salaries to try to keep the animals alive. The result was that their efforts failed and many resigned in frustration as they saw the animals decrease in number over the years and some unscrupulous government workers used the rest of the neglected animals for their private consumption. Demla concludes sadly that “such schools as GCI failed as the ranches have failed”.

Despite his experience, however, Demla has remained an active advocate of bringing back the glorious days of GCI by his contributions to Government College, Ibadan Old Boys’ Association (GCIOBA) branch in Abuja and the GCIOBA class set.

Jasan came to GCI from Abadina Primary School, attended by most of the children of University of Ibadan (UI) staff and was already informed of the greatness of GCI before he sat for the Common Entrance. Since he was a top member of his class he expected to be admitted and he was not disappointed when the results came out. His Uncle, Kola, was a member of the set of 1948 while his elder brother was a member of the set of 1963 and so he was familiar with some of the traditions for which GCI was famous.

He recalls the confidence he and Opakunle, Bamgbelu and Oyenuga had as they headed to the 5-day interview. He ruled out the option of a day student because he looked forward to the experience of living away from home. He, nevertheless, had few challenges with some of the older students, mainly because he had the challenge of snoring in his sleep. He was constantly being woken up by some seniors for this challenge until Akinsanya, his grand tior, protected him from the Form 3 boy that used to disturb his sleep because of his snoring.

He also enjoyed the protection of his tior, Atewologun and his great grand tior, Ikotun, who was the Head of his house, Swanston House, a house renowned in this period for the kindness of its senior boys. “I was not challenged by the house chores. I was able to cope with the grass cutting and the frequent fetching of water, though I would have to get late to classes because of the errands of the senior boys. Nevertheless, I escaped many of the house punishments because I really was not a very troublesome boy”, explained Demla.

“I was average in Athletics and made it into the Swanston House Hockey and Cricket teams in Class 3. I didn’t attempt playing football because my mother had given me strict instructions against playing football because my brother had broken his jaw while playing football. D. J. Bullock had personally brought him home after the injury”, revealed Demla. He recalls how close his boy, Fadahunsi, had been to him to the extent that he came first in his house test. He went on to become a renowned cricketer, who did not only become a prominent bowler in the School Cricket team but went on to play for Nigeria.

Demla confesses that he was a rather shy boy and was not interested in “girl stuff”. He was an average student in a class of very brilliant students who still have the record of producing 4 boys in Aggregate 6. He left GCI in Form 5 to attend International School, Ibadan (ISI) for his Higher School Certificate (HSC) because he preferred the freer American life style. It was a mixed school and was able to choose his friends. He thereby made more friends and related without restrictions with females, an opportunity that was not in GCI.

Bullying was completely prevented because he was a day student and he had his own bike to get to and m school. He went on to University of Ibadan (UI) to study Veterinary Medicine. He was deployed to Funafuna Cattle Multiplication Centre, Kontagora, Niger State on joining the Federal Civil Service where he worked for six years before he was transferred to Livestock Market Information Unit at Ibadan where he met one of his classmates, the late Ajayi Williams (RIP) who was also transferred to the new Unit.

Together they were part of the team that first introduced computerized market information to the Federal Livestock Department. He worked in the Unit as a Veterinary Officer while Ajayi Williams was Livestock Development Officer. The Unit was later moved to Abuja under the Planning Unit of the Department. On getting to Abuja, his work schedule was mainly related to Livestock policy and planning from where he later became a Director, heading the Quality and Standards branch of the Department of Veterinary Services. He retired from the Federal Civil Service after reaching the mandatory age of 60.

Demla started taking keen interest in GCIOBA activities when a senior old boy, late Sola Onoviran (1956 Set), also a Veterinary Surgeon, based at the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Jos, and who was also the Registrar of the Veterinary Council, invited him to join him to start a branch of the Association in Abuja. Because of their experience in the Civil Service, they were able to rally the old boys in Abuja to build the branch in 2002. The branch became a recognized member of the national body and gave it an opportunity to utilize the more than 100 members who had influence in Abuja. The branch meetings were initially organized quarterly but later became bi-monthly. The first Chairman was Femi Okunronmu who was then a Senator of the Federal Republic followed by Roland Oritsejeafor and then Demola Majasan.

He is impressed with the overwhelming support of GCI Old Boys in Abuja to matters of the college. Many are responsive and want to see how we can bring back the days of glory. We were the first to start harping on the National Executive to ‘bring back the glory’. We didn’t press for a new school but that we should continue to dialogue with the government. We were also able to dig boreholes, redecorate the school buildings and start an educational foundation. We gave 1 million naira into a separate account for the Education Foundational Fund. GCI has been a significant part of my developmental process and I am always interested in its progress”, enthused Demla.

He is married to Biodun (nee Ogundeji) and the marriage is blessed with three children. The couple who are now retired have also been blessed with two grandchildren.

Culled from Camaraderie - 1968 Set Golden Anniversary Publication

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