• Laments impact of insecurity

From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu

Legal luminary Peter Eze has lamented that fostering unity which was the main purpose government establishing unity schools (Federal Government Colleges) in Nigeria shortly after the civil war, has been defeated.

Eze, a product of a unity school, noted that the FGCs was established in 1973 (50 years ago) to foster unity amongst the various citizens of Nigeria but regrets that they were today a shadow of themselves.

Delivering the keynote address during the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Federal Government College (FGC), Enugu, Eze, identified the high level of insecurity in the country as one of the main causes of the defeat of the purpose of unity schools.

He said, “One of the reasons for setting up the unity schools which is to foster unity and to make for one Nigeria seems to have been defeated. In 1973, three years after the end of the Civil War, parents had to send their children and wards from other parts of Nigeria, but today kidnapping and insecurity have stopped all that.”

Eze, an alumnus of FGC Enugu and chairman of the event organized by the Alumni of the School, which also witnessed the unveiling of the anniversary logo, said something drastic should be done to restore the glory and essence of the unity schools.

He said the college started at the present premises of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital along Chime Avenue Enugu with the first admission of students taken in January 1973 and thereafter moved to its present site around 1975.

The lawyer said, “The major purpose of setting up unity schools (Federal Government Colleges) in 1973 was to foster unity amongst the various citizens of Nigeria. So when we came here we had people from all the 12 states in Nigeria because that time we had only 12 states. We had students from all the tribes in Nigeria and for us, at that time we were more interested in building friendship between us rather than this question what state are you from and what tribe are you from?

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“We also have teachers from all parts of Nigeria and we even had foreigners teaching us. So the Federal Government actively encouraged unity. It is sad today and I say it with a pinch of unhappiness that I am sure that students in this school now are predominantly students from the South East.

“I do not also think that you have a lot of teachers from outside the South East teaching here today, and so one of the main purposes of setting up the federal government colleges has gradually been defeated. The integration that the federal government meant to achieve by bringing students from all parts of the country together, to form a bond, to realize that we are one and that there is just one Nigeria has gradually disappeared and that is regrettable.

“But you really can’t blame parents; in 1973 as I looked back I marvelled that parents from all over Nigeria would send their children to Enugu where a civil war had just ended three years before. They would send their 10, and 11-year-old children to come here and believed that nothing will happen to them.

“My brothers, sisters and students, I confess that I will find it difficult to send a child of 11 or 12 down the road to Okigwe now because security no longer exists. If our brothers and they are our brothers can go to a secondary school and kidnap 11 or 12-year-old children like you, would you blame the parents who would not send you there? Something should therefore be done about it.”

Earlier, the President of the Old Students Association of the School, Nnaedozie Eze, expressed joy that FGCE has come a long way and has attained great academic heights haven produced a prominent personality in the country.

While welcoming people on behalf of the entire Alumni of FGCE to the event that marked the 50th Founder’s Day of the school Eze said, “An anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys, the memories of yesterday and the hopes for tomorrow. May we always have what to celebrate and memories to reminisce, and hope to hold on to. Welcome to the 50th Founders day celebration of our great school, FGCE,” he declared and urged the students seriously to become great men and women in future.

He disclosed that the main 50th-anniversary celebration would take place in August as what the Alumni did was to mark the anniversary in January exact month the school took off in 1973.