Back home from home-A Nigerian “orphan” traces his academic root to Navrongo

When Chief Muda Dayo Ogunsola, the only son of his Nigerian parents, migrated from Nigeria with his uncle to settle at Bolgatanga, capital of then Upper East Region of Ghana in 1966, at the tender age of 12 years, he knew he had found home far away from home.

To him the enabling environment in Ghana, coupled with the presence of large Yoruba migrant population offered him the opportunity to take advantage of the Ghanaian educational system to better his lot.

At Bolgatanga (now capital of the Upper East Region) he enrolled into Abilba Middle School. In 1968 he passed the common entrance examination and gained admission into Navrongo School (NAVASCO), now Navrongo Senior High School in the Kassena-Nankana East Municipality, about 30 kilometres west of Bolgatanga.

Unknown to him, he was to be dealt with severe psychological blow with the passage of Alien Compliance Order(ACO) of 1969 that saw  migrant Yoruba community in Ghana and other nationals from the sub–region,  in a dilemma to either  regularise their stay in the country  or return to their home countries.

Chief Ogunsola and some of his compatriot students in NAVASCO, some of whom were born in the country rushed from NAVASCO to Bolgatanga to enroute with their families back to Nigeria.

“One of my Tutors in NAVASCO, called Koperchek conveyed me in his car from NAVASCO to Bolgatanga, to see how best he could secure my retention in NAVACSO I met my uncle who was disposing of their properties to leave back home,” Chief Ogunsola recounted to me in his recent visit to Ghana.

“Later the Headmaster of Navrongo School, Collins MacDonald a Scottish, also arrived  and advised the Ghanaian/Yorubas  students in NAVASCO from returning home, he went to the Regional Minister, Mr Imoro Salifu, who  advised him to secure  our permit to continue with our education in  NAVASCO and assured that students  were not affected by the  ACO.”

It was during the Biafra War in Nigeria “back in NAVASCO I became like a guest in our classroom…my classmates will make fun of me to go to Nigeria and fight in the Biafra War… then I will also make a fun that I am a foreign student in NAVASCO.”

“I had challenge being an orphan, the centre could not hold well, nonetheless I faced my academic work squarely,” the retired Petroleum Engineer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said.

But as fate will have it, Chief Ogunsola, who was active in science club, although was saved from the clutches of the ACO, he had to return to Nigeria to continue with his studies.

Recalling to me in a chat on the farms of his classmate at NAVASCO, Issah Y.Y. the Chief Director of the Ministry of Communications, Chief Ogunsola said although he wanted to continue to sixth form in NAVASCO after completing the Ordinary Level Examination, the cutoff point for entry into the Sixth Form was reviewed from aggregate 21 to 22 aggregate, saying “I got aggregate 22 so I was ineligible to enter Sixth Form in NAVASCO.”

“Although I was good in the class, I scored high marks, especially in the mathematics and sciences, I had made some careless mistakes in the final Ordinary Level examination …we ran out of graphs sheet in one of our Mathematics papers, a friend even collapsed in the hall.”

Back in Nigeria after the “O” Level in early 1970s, Chief Ogunsola enrolled at Yaba College of Technology, and further graduated with the of award B. Tech Industry Chemistry, and undertook several courses including Post graduate Diploma in Petroleum Engineering. He taught for a year and later got employed by the NNPC till he retired in 1998.

An expert in the petroleum value chain, Chief Ogunsola, who is also a writer with 10 books to his credit, is still engaged as a consultant in Human Resources and Environmental Management.

Chief Ogunsola facilitated in a training programme for Ghanaian who came to Nigeria between 1988-89 to learn best practices in the oil and gas industry.

He stressed the need for Ghana and Nigeria to collaborate in exchange of ideas to reduced risk of explosion in the industry.

Chief Ogunsola still has fond memories of NAVASCO: “NAVASCO made me what I am today…during our time we had great tutors from all over the World coming to NAVASCO to impact knowledge in us, we often finished the syllabus ahead of the term.”

We had a chemistry tutor called Stocks popularly known as ‘acid” he will finish the syllabus ahead of the  term, the chemistry he taught me over 40 years ago is still on my finger tips…I also recollect Mr Smart, who taught me Additional Mathematics, we all passed, which made us what we are today.”

Chief Ogunsola and his compatriot will never turn their back to Ghana, especially  NAVASCO, he coordinate  the affairs of about 40 of his compatriots who  passed through NAVASCO and are back home  occupying high positions in  academia as Professors, in public and private sector, one being a  Deputy Governor.

Chief Ogunsola said he was nearly enlisted into the Nigeria Army where he passed the examination but he declined because he would not like to be trained to kill a human being.

He trekked with his family from Nigeria to Navrongo in 2006(for the first time since in 1974) and donated some items to the School followed by some of his compatriot who joined the school’s homecoming last September.

He was back in Ghana to meet old friends and to visit his alma mater to donate unspecified amount from NABIA Nigeria (NAVASCAN), as contribution to their former school.

For their efforts, the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Michael Samson-Oje, an old NAVASCAN, honoured the Nigerian old NAVASCANS, through Chief Ogunsola, who visited him while on the brief homecoming to Ghana.

Chief Ogunsola, a traditional leader, politician, writer and Petroleum Engineer says coming back to Ghana is like home away from home!!

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman

 

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