Former military head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, retd, has described the establishment of federal government colleges, also known as unity schools, as a success.
Writing in the foreword of” Coral Beads”, a new book published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Federal Government Girls’ College, FGGC, Benin City this week, Gowon said the schools had promoted friendship among young people nationwide.
The establishment of 12 additional unity schools in 1973 started when Gowon visited one of the first three federal government colleges in Sokoto in 1970, soon after the end of the civil war.
At that time, only three unity schools existed.
He described that visit, as momentous and life-changing.
Gowon wrote: “The story of government colleges, later referred to as ‘unity schools’, is very fascinating, and I have fond memories of the very beginning of the establishment of federal government colleges for girls.
“I keenly observed the sense of unity and camaraderie among the students, how they related with one another in such a joyful and cordial way, regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds, immediately so soon after the civil war as though nothing so traumatic had happened.
”I salute the courage of those young returnees and the warm welcome of their other colleagues. It taught me a long life lesson of reconciliation. My personal experience and encounter from that particular visit was what inspired the establishment of more unity schools across the then remaining 12 states of the federation.”
According to a statement signed by Enuma Chigbo, on behalf of the publishers, FGGC Benin Old Girls’ Association, the 400-page book is a compilation of rich stories, from first experiences to academics, arts and culture, fun times, milestones and a whole lot more.
The book goes by the same title as the school’s magazine, which was published for the first time in the 1975/1976 session.
“It’s simply our way of projecting the school that has given us so much,” the publisher, Chigbo said.
The book will be launched on Saturday, October 15, the main day of the four-day event to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary.
Other projects to be inaugurated at the event include the school dining halls, which were renovated by the old girls’, the refurbished and expanded sick bay and solar electrification project sponsored by the wife of Edo State governor, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, also an old girl.