Rev. Fr. O’Connell Deserves Slot In Guineas’ Book Of Records – Gov Sani Bello

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Gov Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State

By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Accolades and garlands are not enough for the retiring Rev. Father Jeremiah Dermot O’Connell, an Irish Catholic Priest and school Principal for his over 50 years service as Principal, Government Secondary School, Minna, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has said.
Rev. O’Connell who retired last month from the services of the Niger State Government, made history as the longest serving school principal and deserves a place in history according to the governor.
The Irish Catholic Priest had arrived Nigeria in the late 60s as a missionary and worked briefly in Calabar before he relocated to Niger State and was appointed Principal of the GSS Minna.
Governor Bello while saluting the the Catholic Priest for his years of selfless services to the state, said the man is living behind a tall record that cannot be easily surpassed.
Speaking at a farewell reception for the Irish Catholic Priest and school Principal, Governor Bello noted that Nigerians need to emulate Rev. O’Connell.
The reception was organized by the Fatima Old Students Association (FOSA).  The occasion was held at the Legbo Kutigi International Conference Centre, Minna. It attracted creme’ de la creme’ from within and outside the state.
The occasion was more of tributes paying to the living legend whose services to the state were described as unrivaled and as a man whose services had impacted in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across several households within and outside Niger state.
Governor Bello said many of those mentored, taught and moulded by Rev. Father O’Connell were in different spheres of human endeavors are top notch public administrators, professionals in different spheres of life including business men, Military personnel, Police, academics, medics, engineers amongst other professionals.
He said the generosity of Rev. O’Connell, his simple mien, love and respect for Nigeria are legendary. “Many of our people doing well in various spheres of endeavour couldn’t have been educated today if not for Rev. Fr. O’Connell who sponsored their education to desired level”.
“For 50 years, this gentleman from Ireland meritoriously served as Principal of Government Secondary School, Minna which by the request of one of our elder statesmen has now been renamed Fr. O’Connell College, Minna”.
Represented by his Deputy, Ahmed Ketso, Governor Bello tasked Nigerians to invest in building human capacities rather than on super structures and on frivolities.
He said it is remarkable that for “for fifty years, this gentle man spent his time, energy and money building human capacities for posterity. He has no car of his own, no house of his own, no Bank account but spent all his earnings to building people who are today doing well in their various spheres of life”.
Speaker, Niger State House of Assembly, Hon. Ahmed Marafa in his remarks, eulogized Rev. O’Connell, a recipient of the national honour of Member of the Federal Republic, (MFR) who retired at the age of 85.
He said Rev. Fr. O’Connell has made world history by breaking world record as the longest serving school principal of a public school.
Hon. Marafa commended Rev. O’Connell for spending all his productive years in Nigeria building human capacities among whom are now Professors and Doctorate degrees holders in Universitirs, politicians, Medical Doctors, engineers, politicians, lawyers, etc.
The Lawmaker said “Fr. O’Connell does not only deserve a mention in the compendium of the Guineas Book record for being the longest serving school Principal of a public school but his sterling incorruptible services to humanity also speaks to our conscience.Here is a man who gave his all. He gave all that he has for the sake of God and humanity.  He didn’t have any Bank account, no car, no house of his own and will be leaving Nigeria with nothing”.
Other speakers at the occasion spoke of the man’s untainted integrity, his love for academic excellence amongst his students, his patience, long-suffering and simplicity.
It would be recalled that the Emir of Minna, Alhaji Umar Farouk Bahago had earlier in the month conferred on Rev. Fr. O’Connell the traditional title of Jagaban illimin Minna in his palace.
 
 
 
 

1 COMMENT

  1. Proud to have been taught by Rev. J.D O’Connell and his push for excellence was second to none. He exemplifies all that can be said of a good leader and beating his record may take decades. Father was simple and serious. I think words are not enough to describe what he achieved in Nigeria but only time will tell for people to realize what he actually achieved. He speaks local language ”Gwari” and as well Hausa fluently even better than some native speakers and this speaks for itself. I recall visiting the school after after like 16 years of leaving secondary school and as soon as he saw me, he recognized that I finished sometimes in 90s. I truly wish him well as he returns back to his home country and God a lone can replenish him enough of all sacrifices made.

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