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Crowther Seminary: The school that birthed federal varsities, colleges in Abeokuta

Laide Raheem, Abeokuta

In the annals of locating federal tertiary institutions in Abeokuta, Ogun State, one particular location has served consistently for this purpose. Since the state was carved out from the defunct Western Region in 1976, Crowther Graduate Theological Seminary, Isale-Igbehin, Abeokuta, has served as a take-off point or better still, temporary site for a number of federal higher institutions of learning.

Prior to that, the famous Abeokuta Grammar School, Idi Aba, was situated in the premises, hence, the name of the seminary bus stop, “Grammar School.”

History of the seminary

The centre, named after the translator of the Bible to Yoruba Language, Bishop Ajayi Crowther, belongs to the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), housed the Anglican bishop, his wife and children, having got to Abeokuta in 1846/47. Ajayi Crowther was born in Osogun in present-day Oyo State around 1806.

He was captured and enslaved by the Hausa-Fulani in 1821 he regained his freedom in 1822 through the intervention of the British Navy and was taken to Sierra Leone. When the Yoruba mission started in 1846, Crowther was part of it. Henry Townsend settled in Ake while Crowther settled here in Igbein and started St. John Anglican Church next door. This was where he did most of translation work.

This historical building was built in 1910 at the time of Oba Gbadebo, the grandfather of the current Alake of Egbaland. The Ransome-Kuti family lived here as well as Prof. Wole Soyinka. The premises were taken over by the Federal Government, and many institutions started here, the last being the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB).

This premises was restored to the Anglican Communion through the help of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. The Most Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola played a unique role in this, because he was the one who approached Obasanjo for government to give the premises back to the Church.

Institutions that started from the seminary:

Federal Advanced Teachers College

Contrary to the belief that the first institution to be hosted by the seminary was the then University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (UNAAB), Federal Advanced Teachers College (FTC) was the first tertiary institution to use the location as its temporary site. The school, later renamed as the Federal College of Education (FCE), and moved to its permanent site at Osiele, outskirt of Abeokuta.

University of Lagos, Abeokuta Campus
This was another attempt to ensure the state capital was with a tertiary institution and the seminary, as usual, came handy. But the institution was short-lived as the school’s affiliation with the University of Lagos fell through.

College of Science and Technology

After the inability of the university to survive, the College of Science and Technology, Abeokuta (COSTAB), was facilitated to the site at Isale Igbehin. The establishment of the school returned the seminary to a temporary campus of the new college.

Two years later, it was changed to Federal University of Technology, Abeokuta (FUTAB). The institution, however, suffered the same fate as the preceding schools, as the Federal Government moved the school to Akure, Ondo State, and had its name changed to the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA).

University of Agriculture

Apparently determined to establish a federal university in Abeokuta, the Federal Government in 1988, having abolished FUTAB, established the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, (UNAAB). Naturally, it took off at the seminary and went ahead to have its convocation at the location.

The institution renamed Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), 10 years later moved to its permanent site at Alabata, a suburb of Abeokuta.

According to 75-year-old Alabi Adeaga, who grew up in Isale Igbehin, the seminary has seen many institutions come and go. He said the centre served as shelter for the federal tertiary institutions in Abeokuta, which according to him, made access to education easy for the young and aspiring students. Pa Adeaga, however, disclosed that three of his children enrolled at FUTAB before it moved to Akure.

For a 65-year-old engine seller at Isale Igbehin, Muraina Adesola, bringing UNAAB back to the seminary transformed the economic fortune of the area as business thrived as a result of students and staff population of the school. He said though, none of his children gained admission into the institution then, but locating the school at the seminary, served as inspiration to several young ones.

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Online Editor: Aderonke Bello
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