Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has said teachers play a very significant role in the moulding of their students to become leaders.
He said leaders and professionals could not have been successful in their careers without the discipline and tenacity of teachers.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, said the governor spoke on Saturday night at the gala/awards of the alumni of his alma mater, Government Secondary School, Odi in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of the state.
The event held at the DSP Alamieyeseigha Memorial Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa, was to raise funds for the building and equipping of the school’s science laboratories as part of activities marking its 50th anniversary celebrations.
The Bayelsa governor urged the alumni members to remain united and committed to sustaining the association and to continue to give back to their alma mater, saying the school laid the foundation of who they have become in society.
He appreciated King Alfred Diette-Spiff, who as former military governor of the old Rivers State, initiated the policies that gave children in rural areas access to education.
The governor also thanked the principals and teachers of the school, who he said moulded the students of the school to become responsible and productive members of society.
Senator Diri urged members to reflect on their days as students in the school and thank God for who they have become, noting that in spite of the non-conducive learning environment most of them have excelled in various fields of endeavour.
His words: “Let us hold this association very strong. What we have done in Odi today will produce more professors, doctors and politicians. What you have done is giving back to our children by motivating them to have role models.
“The journey of 50 years from 1972, as we can all attest, is a worthwhile one. Some of us have left.
“Let us appreciate God for keeping us alive and allowing our alma mater, Government Secondary School, Odi, to continue to turn out very useful manpower for our society.
“I would like us to retrospect on our days at GSS where we drank stagnant stream water. There was no pipe-borne water, no electricity and we were using lanterns to go to prep.
“In spite of the difficulties we passed through, the school produced people who became Rear Admirals and Generals in the military, lawyers, doctors and legislators. Most of us have distinguished ourselves in one area or the other. It can only be God.
“I feel very happy that our secondary school was established under the leadership of King Alfred Diette-Spiff in the old Rivers State, who had the educational policy that children that were far from Port Harcourt, the state capital, and who did not have the opportunity to be admitted into schools, had access to education. Today, virtually all of us are what we are because of those policies.
“We are what we are because of the principals and teachers that moulded us during our stay in that school. I pay tribute to our principals and teachers that moulded us academically.
“On behalf of the alumni association, we say thank you for making us who we are academically. You moulded us very well.”
Earlier, chairman of the GSS alumni association, Professor Ebimieowei Etebu, stated that the golden anniversary celebration provided an opportunity for members to reunite and reminisce on their days in the school.
According to him, the school formed in the students the capacity to withstand difficult situations, which has resulted in their great exploits in different facets of life.
He further stated that the association was formed to motivate members to give back to the institution and urged members to work together to further develop the school.
Awards were presented to former staff and students including Governor Diri, former Speaker of the House of Assembly and member representing Kolokuma-Opokuma Constituency 1, Dr. Tonye Isenah, the state Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Moses Teibowei, retired Rear Admiral Geoffrey Yanga, Brig-Gen. Eric Angaye as well as former principal and teachers of the school among others.
More than N30 million was raised in pledges to support the school’s science laboratories project.
On Saturday morning, the governor was joined by past and current students of the school for a march past and novelty football match in Odi community by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, Rear Admiral Yanga (rtd), Prof. Etebu, Gen. Angaye among other dignitaries.
The football game was between former students of the school and the All Stars International Football Club of Yenagoa, which ended in a 2-2 draw.
Governor Diri scored the second equaliser for his alma mater from the penalty spot and was voted the most valuable player of the match.
Speaking to journalists, he said: “It feels very great to be back, to reunite with those I met at a very tender age. Now we are all fathers and some even grandfathers and mothers.
“I like to commend my school mates for this event. It is a take away for every other school. We believe that those who benefited from this school are what we are today because of the discipline. I am sure a lot of the young ones today will see models among us.
“We will act as a bulwark for galvanizing the students of GSS to let them know that wherever you are you can be what you want to be.”