Mr. Feyisola Oladejo Dinyo (BIFOBA President)
OUTGOING GLOBAL PRESIDENT’S FAREWELL SPEECH
... And so Fellow Old Boys, my Eighteen (18) years sojourn in BIFOBA’s Executive Council (Exco) in various capacities, the high point of which is as the Global President gradually comes to an end.
Come Saturday, 30th April, 2016, during our Homecoming and Re-Union Dinner, I shall be bowing out as the Association’s Global President and will hand over the Baton of Leadership of our great Association to my Friend/Colleague, Barr. Kingsley Essien and retire fully into the Guild of Awardees where I hope to continue to serve BIFOBA at yet another level.
It has been both a challenging and rewarding eighteen years of service to our Association and Birch Freeman High School (BFHS) and in spite of the difficulties of administering and leading a congregation of Gentlemen Old Boys, several of whom are my Seniors, I do hope that my Colleagues in Exco and I have been able to meet our Old Boys’ expectations and that we have been able to make a difference.
For each and every of the eighteen years, I have written beautiful and lengthy Speeches to explain Exco’s activities to extremely intelligent and demanding Old Boys of our School world-over, who have always put my Team and I to task and on our feet all of the time. This year, I shall limit my Speech but highlight our Achievements as Exco for which we hope to be remembered. My disengagement at this time when the ovation is loudest will afford me the opportunity to get a deserved rest and for a change to be able to shut down my phone at 10:00 pm and ask any Old Boy calling me at past 10:00 pm to call back the next day. I imagine it will be an exciting feeling as that is something I had NOT been able to do in the last 18 years.
As I depart the extremely demanding office of the Global President, permit me to summarise the Score Card of the outgoing Exco under my Administration as follows.
CONCRETE PHYSICAL TERMS
- Construction of an 80% completed,
N200.00 million BFHS Multi-Purpose
Auditorium, the type that no other School can boast of in Nigeria, courtesy of Funds raised from Donors, Friends, Well wishers & Old Boys ourselves.
- Constant engagement of the Lagos State Government and its Ministry of Education in the construction of a 26 + 1 Classroom Block for BFHS’ Senior School under the administration of Mr. Babatunde R. Fashola (SAN) erstwhile Governor of Lagos State, now Honourable Minister of Power, Works & Housing of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
- Ditto as above for the ongoing (60% completed) 19 Classroom Block for BFHS’ Junior School.
- Complete de-flooding of BFHS through joint:-
(a) Sand-filling of the entire School through joint efforts of Lagos State Government and Old Boys
(b) Construction of Drainages within and around the School through collaborative efforts by the Lagos State Government as well as Old Boys. Our Alma Mater no longer gets flooded, no matter the volume of Rainfall in the last two and half (2½) years
- Wall-Fencing of the remaining 4.4 Hectares of the School land to (once and for all) lock-out miscreants who had turned the School into a Den.
- Construction/Installation of a
N3.0 million worth of Gates at the Surulere end of the School – Courtesy Arc. Ladi Lewis (Old Boy). Full complement of the Gate’s construction is yet to be completed.
- Development of a new Master-Plan for BFHS to effectively utilise the remaining available land at the School.
- Erection of the Statute of the “Birch Freeman High School Student” – courtesy BIFOBA 1975 Set.
- Donation of Books, ICT Equipment, Educational materials, Gen Set, courtesy various Old Boys in Nigeria and in Diaspora.
- Creation of and management of two (2) very versatile and user friendly Websites –www.bifoba.com and www.bifobaglobal.org for BIFOBA and a separate www.birchfreeman.orgfor BFHS to disseminate information and showcase BIFOBA and BFHS to the world.
- Provision of free Medical Examination for Staff, Parents and Students of BFHS under the Labour of Love Programme – Courtesy BIFOBA U.K Chapter.
- Formation of a 30 – Student Musical Orchestra with
N3.75 million worth of Musical Equipment (yet to be matched by any School in Nigeria) – Courtesy BIFOBA’s North America Chapter.
- Construction of a Sporting Arena incorporating Lawn Tennis, Volley Ball and Basket Ball Courts for positive (controlled) recreation for BFHS Students -Courtesy BIFOBA 1976 Set, to be commissioned during this year’s Homecoming Event.
- Improvement of BFHS Academic standards from the unprecedented and all time low of 14% to the current 84% through systematic and continuing working together with the School’s Management Authorities by Exco.
- Creation and Institutionalism of BIFOBA’s Guild of Awardees comprising Distinguished Gentlemen, the best that our Alma Mater has produced in its short 56 years of existence who are involved in the policy formulation of BIFOBA and play a strong role in the development of BFHS.
- The gradual transformation of BFHS from a School rejected by Government, our Progenitors (the Methodist Church), Parents, Students (even Old Boys), a School that was already slated for demolition with its land planned to be divided into plots and sold off now turned around to a compact and beautiful School that everybody wants to associate with.
- The turning around of BFHS now to a School that Old Boys are proud of. Never again will Old Boys of BFHS deliberately remove the years spent in BFHS’ and BFHS’ name from their Curriculum Vitae. Never again will Old Boys lay claims to other Schools where they did H.S.C/A- Levels in preference to BFHS.
- The formation of the most vocal, vibrant and visible Old Boys Association “BIFOBA” in Nigeria as of today, with strong, active and dependable Chapters in North America, United Kingdom and Europe.
- Creation of a deliberate “Giving Back to our School Programme” that has turned our School around, from which largesse all Stakeholders including Lagos State Government, Parents Forum, Staff, Students & Management of the School as well as the Methodist Church are benefitting.
- Institution of Class Sets and creation of healthy competition amongst the various Class Sets under “Giving Back to our School Programme”, with BFHS and the Students benefitting from such competition. The new Sporting Arena donated today by the 1976 Class Set in celebration of Forty (40) years of graduating from BFHS is an example of such competitive donation of Projects.
- Institution of “Thanksgiving Celebration” for Class Sets graduating in Milestone years from the School, during which Celebration, all the Set’s members (both home and abroad) return home, re-unite to celebrate and thank God for what and who they have become and their achievements since graduating from BFHS while donating Projects to the School.
- Creation of Lifetime Endowments to encourage and motivate our Students to achieve Excellence. Cash Endowments by Old Boys all through their lives for deserving Students in various subjects have been established.
- Raising the Awareness of BIFOBA, (by all Stakeholders as the major developmental factor in the running, management and policy formulation of Birch Freeman High School, complementary to the State’s Ministry of Education.
- Complete removal of the “complex” that hung over our Students from several years of decadence and abandonment by all concerned Authorities/Agencies. BFHS Students now hold their heads high and can compete in whatever terms with any group of Students anywhere in Nigeria.
- Setting up of a “Finishing School” to expunge the riotous and thug-like behaviour of Students and inculcating gentlemanly and cultured behaviour for our Students.
- Re-establishment of the once severed relationship with our Progenitors, the Methodist Church, Nigeria.
Fellow Old Boys, the list is unending but suffice it to say that this outgoing Exco comprising hardworking and truly dedicated Gentlemen have indeed made the difference and are truly “Winners”, in the true sense of the word. These Gentlemen deserve your accolades.
Exco Gentlemen, I thank you most sincerely for giving me the honour of working with and leading you over the years. All of these achievements will not have been possible without you and your inputs. You are the best, the very best anyone would wish to work with.
Many Thanks to Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), the Honourable Minister for Power, Works & Housing, (erstwhile Governor of Lagos State) for working with my Team, giving us the desired recognition in Alausa and assisting us greatly to make a difference in BFHS. You were the instrument and vessel used by God at His chosen time, to change positively the fortunes of Birch Freeman High School and you have demonstrated that you are indeed truly “trained for Duty and for Thee”. As a Representative of our Alma Mater and our Association we trust that you will continue to make us all proud, even now that you are in the Centre as we assure of our support now and always as you steer the waters of governance at the Centre.
To my Predecessors in office, the Six (6) National Presidents of our Association, I thank you immensely for your words of wisdom and encouragements. For Mr Francis Van-Lare, my immediate predecessor with whom I share close and related vision for the growth and development of BIFOBA, I offer my sincere thanks. Your constant criticisms of my Administration (you may not know) actually helped and brought out the best in me. Thank you for being my friend and for the successes we achieved while working as your Vice President.
To the Guild of Awardees family which I am privileged to be a part of, I thank you for accepting me into the Guild and for your constant support each time I came calling. Never mind, that I gradually became an Oliver Twist who kept coming back for more. Thank you for tolerating all of the pressures I put you all through. It had to be that way if we must lay the standards for the other Old Boys to emulate and aspire to become members of this privilege Group. I am certain that you can all see the positive efforts of my coming back now and again in our Schools’ development and the vibrancy of our Association today.
For the generality of the Old Boys, I thank you for allowing me to lead you and for responding to my calls all of the time. It has been a pleasure serving you these past Eighteen (18) years and I thank you immensely for believing in my vision and your trust in my ability to lead BIFOBA and BFHS out of the woods. As I have always said, this Association has come to stay, BIFOBA will no longer suffer the epileptic rising and fall any more. Thank you all for standing by me through thick and thin. Your support, especially during the very serious BIFOBA crises three (3) years ago is truly, truly appreciated. To thank you for giving me “Mr. BIFOBA”, a name that my parents didn’t give me, No!! No Thanks for that.
My Colleagues in the North America, U.K and Europe Chapters, I thank you all so very much. I guess now I can save the cost of my Flight Tickets to your Re-Union annually and spend more time during the Summer Holidays with my family. Thank you Gentlemen for your support. We had our skirmishes from time to time but I am glad that together we have formed a strong and vibrant Old Boys Association that all of us can be proud of now, with our affairs directed from our Association’s Headquarters in Lagos Nigeria.
Fellow Old Boys, as I bow out today, I reflect on all of my activities in the past 18 years and feel the need to offer sincere apologies to Old Boys that I may have offended one way or the other through my action (or inaction) in the course of my Presidency of the Association and while performing the job the generality of Old Boys placed in front of me. I imagine that some Old Boys’ expectations may have been cut short but, I must reiterate that I ran an Exco with full Team participation and have had to concede to the popular views of my Colleagues in Exco from time to time. I therefore plead that you understand that I am human and have my frailties as I ask that you find somewhere in your heart(s) to forgive whatever misgivings you may have had against me as truly my actions (or inaction) were not intended to hurt anyone. I thank you for granting my plea for forgiveness.
My only regret in these years is my inability to recover the School’s stolen land. I hope my Successor, being a Lawyer can recover these stolen land or get compensation for BFHS in respect of same going forward.
Let me solicit your strong support at this time for Barr. Essien the incoming Global President, as he would need plenty of same for the demanding task ahead. I must quickly sound a note of warning though that Barr. Essien has also put in about Sixteen (16) years or thereabouts into BIFOBA and is consequently a Chip of the same Old Block. Exco’s policies are not likely to change very much even during his tenor as Global President, so Old Boys expecting a total change and complete departure from Exco’s established norms may be disappointed.
As I depart this evening, having made my contributions and paid my Dues, I will like to be remembered as the President and my Exco Team as the Exco that made the difference and brought BFHS and BIFOBA out of the doldrums. That was our Set objective and reasonable service which we hope we were able to achieve.
I wish to thank all Staff my Company for all the years of my subtle absence from running the affairs of my organisation. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Tracit Group, you have all done well in spite of my minimal involvement in the Company’s affairs on account of my Leadership of BIFOBA. I imagine you have had enough of BIFOBA and the Old Boys in our office premises. May I please appeal that our Old Boys be still allowed to use our office as BIFOBA’s Secretariat until such a time when the Association’s Secretariat will be completed.
Finally, my family, my Wife. I know how you felt over the years that I had unwittingly appeared to have put BIFOBA above everything else, well Sweetheart, I’ve done and completed my bit now. This time, I am coming home, no more late Exco meeting nights, no more compulsory attendance of Old Boys Social Parties/Gatherings etc. Mr. BIFOBA as you have also joined my Colleagues to call me is coming back home. Thank you Dear for accommodating me and all of my BIFOBA issues. Now I am fulfilled. I have run the race, I have done my best, I leave all else to Posterity to bear my witness. To God, indeed be all the Glory, Great things He has done. Thank you so very much, God bless you all.
GLOBAL PRESIDENT “EMERITUS”