Indigenes recall fond memories of Jonathan's stay in Iresi

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Tunde Odesola

There is a connection between President Goodluck Jonathan and Iresi, an agrarian community in Boluwaduro Local Government Area of Osun State.

So, when the monarch of the town, Oba Adeseun Ibiloye, asked his subjects to observe three-day fasting and prayers for Jonathan when he was inaugurated as the President, it was partly meant to show that the community sees the President as one of its own.

The President, a 1981 graduate of Zoology, University of Port Harcourt, had his primary assignment as a youth corps member in Iresi.

Clutching his National Youth Service Corps call up letter with number UPP/81/11905, Jonathan, on September 1, 1981 got to Iresi and reported to the Principal, Ebekun Secondary Commercial Grammar School, Mr. S. O Omotayo.

One of the corps members that served in the school with the President, Mr. Olufemi Ajayi, a graduate of Biochemistry, is now Jonathan‘s Senior Special Assistant on Development and Cooperation.

The other corps member is Mr. R. N Ohaga, who bagged a National Certificate of Education in Agric Science.

A visit to the school by PUNCH METRO correspondent on Saturday showed that the school had seen good days. Many classrooms have either their roofs blown off or their ceilings falling off. The staffroom has partly blown off roof and ruined ceiling. Some classrooms have no windows and doors. The roofs, doors and windows of the school‘s laboratories are also in ruins. A 32-seater bus, which was functional when Jonathan was serving parked, under a cashew tree in front of the staff room, where it has become home to reptiles.

One of the students, whom Jonathan taught Biology in Class IV, Mr. Adebayo Olasupo, described the President as a voracious reader.

He told PUNCH METRO, “He encouraged us to improve our vocabulary by reading novels. He gave indigent students his personal money.

“Jonathan never left Iresi in the 11 months of his service. Then Iresi did not have water and light.”

Another student, Mr. Kunle Yusuf, who was a class captain then, said Jonathan was never absent from class.

The owner of the house that Jonathan lived till August 31, 1982, Pa Ajibade Okeyinka, was said to have freely given out his residence when the need arose to accommodate youth corpers posted to the community.

“My elder brother, Adebisi Okeyinka, popularly known as Baba Welili, who died two years ago, lived in the house with the corpers,” Okeyinka told PUNCH METRO.

The current Principal of the school, Mr. Folorunso Fakokunde, recalled that the school was established on September 1, 1972 and had Mr. T. O Aderibigbe as its pioneer principal.

Fakokunde said that community invited Jonathan, when he was the country‘s vice-president to the Iresi Day Celebration 2009.

He said that the President sent Ajayi, who also served in the school, to represent him.

The monarch said when Jonathan became President, Iresi decided to pray for him because he needed divine guidance to govern the country.

As the community recalls the fond memories of the President‘s 11-month stay in Iresi, PUNCH METRO‘s findings show that the indigenes still look forward to a day when he (Jonathan) will set his feet on the soil of the community.

Spokesman of the community, Mr. Hammed Bodunrin, urged the President to elevate the College of Technology in the community to either a Federal College of Education (Special) or a Federal College of Technology.

”We also want the President to help us in the construction of 12-kilometre Iresi - Ajaba - Ikoro-Ekiti dual carriageway,” he added.


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