In a recent statement, former military head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, expressed his admiration for the Federal Government Colleges, commonly known as unity schools, describing them as a success in promoting unity and camaraderie among young people across Nigeria.
General Gowon’s remarks were made in the foreword of the book titled “Coral Beads,” published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Federal Government Girls’ College (FGGC) in Benin City.
He shared his memories of visiting one of the first three federal government colleges in Sokoto in 1970, just after the end of the civil war, which left a lasting impression on him.
He recalled, “I keenly observed the sense of unity and camaraderie among the students, how they related with one another in such a joyful and cordial way, regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds, immediately so soon after the civil war as though nothing so traumatic had happened.”
General Gowon commended the courage of the young students and their warm welcome of their peers, highlighting the lesson of reconciliation he learned from the experience. This visit inspired the establishment of additional unity schools across the country.
The book “Coral Beads” is a 400-page compilation of stories, covering various aspects of life at FGGC Benin City, from academics and arts to culture, fun times, milestones, and more.
It shares the same title as the school’s magazine, first published in the 1975/1976 session.
The book is set to be officially launched on Saturday, October 15, during a four-day event celebrating the 50th anniversary of FGGC Benin City.
Other projects to be inaugurated at the event include the renovation of the school’s dining halls, sponsored by the school’s alumni association, as well as the refurbished and expanded sick bay and a solar electrification project funded by Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, an alumna and the wife of the Edo State governor.