How Ekiti Parapo College was estaablished
By Chief E. A. Babalola
As far back as 1922, I used to write to the D. O. and the Residents about Ekiti affairs. The District Officials usually considered me an agitator because I was the only critic in the whole Division. The Obas and Chiefs could not understand me then, because the British Officials were then considered as demigods. I always come from my station to attend their meetings. I usually thwarted their subtle methods of getting the people to accept all they wanted. They played on the credulity of the simple people. This caused me to be bitter against them.
It happened in 1933, that Mr. (now Rev.) J. Ade Ajayi a native of Ado Ewi, suggested founding the Ekiti Progressive Union. I became a foundation member. I took wholeheartedly to the Union. I founded branches at Ondo, Ilesha, Oshogbo, Offa, Ilorin, Ibadan, Ijebu ode and also joined the branch at Lagos. This Union became the vanguard of Ekiti life politically, socially and educationally. I was made the secretary of my branch. That gave me the opportunity to write to the other branches, to suggest educational and social schemes for the conference of Ekiti Obas (pelupelu as it was then called). I was the ambassador of the union. I always paid my own travelling expenses. Scholarships were recommended, a secondary School was proposed, a Hospital was a need, motor roads to connect the towns and villages of Ekiti were recommended.
Chief Elijah Falana Sanusi Babalola, the Akowajo and Obalasun of Oye-Ekiti. He was the High Master of Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti from June – December 1947.
The Union and its branches, about fifteen then started to raise funds at my suggestion. Prominent among the Ekiti pioneers were Messrs J. B. Daramola of Aiyede, R. O. Adedayo of Usi, E. O. Adebayo of Usi, Mr Omotade now Chief Obanla of Ijero, Mr. D. Olagbaiye of Igbara Oke, Mr Adesina of Efon and some others. Later Messrs. M. D. Durotoye of Okemesi-Ekiti, J.A. Aiyegbusi, S.K.Familoni and Fakiye of Ifaki came to join the forementioned gentlemen in the struggle for the progress of Ekiti land.
Since I discovered that the British was not prepared to build a Grammar school for us in Ekiti, it occurred to me that the sons and daughters of Ekiti land particularly those abroad, should found one for ourselves. I drew up a scheme for the grammar school in 1937 and sent a copy to the Lagos branch of Ekiti Progressive Union. With another copy of the scheme in my hand, I left Ijebu ode on December 24th, 1937 for Ilesha and explained the scheme to the Ilesha Branch and on December 29th, I went to Ilorin to explain to the Branch there too. For the same purpose I visited Oshogbo on 31/12/1937 and Ibadan on 31/1/38. I returned to Ijebu ode on 5/1/38 and held meeting of the E.P.U. branch and reported on my educational trip.
On 7/1/38 I proceeded to Lagos where I first discussed the scheme with some individuals before I finally met the Lagos branch and explained and discussed the need for a Grammar school for Ekiti land. All the branches agreed to work for the success of the scheme. While the above branches and some others were working towards the realisation of the scheme, my absence from Nigeria from 1940-44 retarded progress. It was not until 1945 that the enthusiasm was rekindled. The Ekiti National Association, a sort of fund collecting organisation set up by the EPU Lagos branch, became very successful in its activities in Lagos among the Ekiti-Lagos communities. Oye and Iddo districts were the most active.
By 1948, The EPU and E.N.A. had collected some funds. Fortunately, at this time I was told that one Mr G.K.Dada passed the London matriculation. I did not know the fellow, but as soon as I heard he was Ekiti man, I quickly asked him to come for an interview. I saw him and recommended him for a scholarship. I started the fund with (ten guineas) 10/-, The contributions came in slowly. I therefore decided to get a permit from Government for a public collection of Fund so that we could collect money from the public in the Western Region. This was done. I had to appoint a collecting agent at £60 per annum in the name of the Union. He worked for about six months but could not collect as much as would pay for his salary for each month. This method had to be abandoned.
But the Union resolved that each branch should use the licence to collect money in its own area. That was done fairly well. As a result of these collections Mr G.K. Dada was able to go to Fourah Bay College. When he had passed his intermediate Arts Examination there, he returned and went to Ibadan University College. He finished his course but could not pass his final examination as expected. It had been hoped that Mr Dada would head the new institution. To save time, I recommended to be Union that Mr Adepoju Akomolafe who had passed his B.A London be made the Principal of the proposed College. The Union accepted my suggestion and Mr Akomolafe was appointed the Principal of the proposed College, which was named “Ekiti Parapo College”.
The appointment of Mr Akomolafe as Principal created enmity for me among Ekiti graduates, because they said the post was not formally advertised, and I did it because Akomolafe was my favourite. Nonetheless, Mr. Akomolafe was appointed the Principal designate. The Ekiti Progressive Union had proposed as far back as 1948, to build the college at Iddo-Faboro. This caused a great agitation. Finally in 1953, a vote was taken at Ara by the Ekiti Council. Ijero scored ten, Ara twenty three and Iddo eighty one votes respectively. The school was therefore built at Iddo. I could easily influence the approval of the Principal and the site and plan of the college, because I was then the Minister of Public Works, Western Region, and the Director of Education, Mr F. K Butler, was my personal friend. The buildings were sufficient in number in 1954 and it was formally opened by the honourable S.O. Awokoya, the Minister of Education. It was a Red Letter Day in my life in particular and of Ekiti people in general. Thus my life’s work and dreams were realised. My Union provided Ekiti sons and daughters with a secondary school.