By Dada Ayokhai
Old students of Our Lady of Fatima College, Auchi in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State have instituted an award in memory of the former Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Zakawanu Garuba who died in July 2020.
In order to sustain the legacy of the departed, the institution has rolled out an award of excellence to be given to the best graduating student of the School in which Zakawanu was an Alma mater.
President of the School’s Old Boy’s Association (OLOFOBA) Worldwide, Hon Paschal Ugbome who broke the news at the 60th Founders’ Day Anniversary of the Institution, said that he was immensely impressed as he recalled the sterling qualities of the late detribalized politician.
The Anniversary Celebration which was marked in low key in line with Covid-19 protocol and regulations, held in the Auchi premises of the elite Missionary institution, attracted a motley crowd of guests.
Announcing the birth of the Zakawanu Garuba Endowment award to the best graduating student of the school, with an attached princely sum of #50,000/ 00 (Fifty Thousand Naira as cash prize, Hon Ugbome said the award was in recognition of the late Speaker’s contributions to the growth of the institution during his lifetime.
He said, “As an Exco, we wish to announce the institution of an award of excellence in honour of late Zakawanu Garuba. This award is to be presented to the best graduating student every year and it is in recognition of his commitment, deduction and contributions to the school as well as the Association whilst alive.
“It will carry a sum of N50, 000”,
Hon. Ugbome noted the award is expected to spur the students to excel, while also ensuring that Olofobaites show sufficient dedication towards their Alma mater as well as the Association
“Our Lady of Fatima, Auchi, was established in 1960, same year Nigeria won her independence from her colonial authorities. The Catholic Church, with support of the then Western regional government, of which Edo was part of, established the school to cater for the educational needs of the people. Since then, the school has churned out notable graduands who have impacted positively on the society
A particular event which brought the upscale school to national limelight, occurred in 1977 when it won the top position in the All Secondary School football competition
Following the controversial takeover of schools during the military regime, the school was renamed Otaru Grammar School, Auchi.
It later reverted to its original name of Our Lady of Fatima when the state government decided to return missionary schools to their owners.
One of the saddest moments in the rich history of the school was in 1981 when, as a result of a communal conflict between two of its neighbouring Communities, an inferno, ostensibly sparked by unknown persons, engulfed and damaged the school facilities, reducing them to rubbles. Like a phoenix with nine lives, however, the school rose from the ashes and took its rightful place.
Some of the products of the school occupy vantage positions in diverse fields of human endeavours.
Among the top Edo North politicians who are graduands of the school are Chief Dan Orbih, Hon. Paschal Ugbome, late Zakawanu Garuba and Late Alhaji Chalton Mogaji.
The School has also produced other seasoned technocrats and academic such as Dr Simon lmokuemeh, former Head of Service, Edo State; Prof Eddy Eragbe, Vice Chancellor, Edo State University, Iyamho; Prof Aluyor and Prof. E. K Omogbai respectively.
The highlights of the Ceremony was the commissioning of some projects donated by different Sets of the school, which includes, standard Olympic table tennis sets by 98 set, washing hands sets ,white boards , 1993set , renovations and replacements of iron doors, windows and white board’s 98 set, brand new world class basketball court 1982 set, presentations of books 87set and lock up shops by Olofoba worldwide.
TheNewspad.com recalls that Zakawsnu was elected into the Edo State House of Assembly in 2003 and and became the Speaker of the Assembly in 2007.
He also had also served as the chairman of the House Committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters, as well as memberships of other Committees at different times.