(A tribute to the foremost educationist Nigeria ever knew who brought most of us up)
What is the meaning of your name; for it is believed that a child will live out the meaning of his/her name. So, can you guess the meaning of the name of Rev. Father Angus Fraser?
Well, the name simply means Mount Saint Gabriel’s Secondary School, Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria (known as MSG in short).
My mother prayed just like many mothers did, Father (as Father Angus Fraser was popularly called) should not die until I would grow to enroll into and graduate from MSG. God answered this prayer as He also answered many other mothers in and around Benue State. Eventually I did in 1998 and left 2004.
MSG was known as the best school in the North Central part of Nigeria, yet it’s school fees were unbelievably low or affordable. This was the administrative ingenuity of Father. I registered into MSG with N1,500 and paid termly school fees of N380. This was when my siblings were paying over 1000 per cent higher in other schools. Father continued to defy pressure from the elite to increase our fees to N6000. The only increase was done in our JSS 3, when development fee (N500) was added and in our SS1 when Mathematics and English language text books were compulsorily added to the fees (instruction from Ministry of Education). The fee eventually came to N1500.
Father Fraser was a simple man from St Vincent’s Island in North America. He was a Holy Ghost Priest who believed that his treasure was in heaven, and lived it out by having no luxurious personal possession even though he could easily have done so. He had a rich father but he allowed his only sister to own it all.
The Fr. Fraser I know would insist that his living quarters be wired directly from the students hostel so that whatever the students felt, he felt it too. Imagine what life would be in Nigeria if our leaders lived with the same facilities (water, power, schools, hospitals, security, and roads) that we all use. They would strive to improve on them steadily. Father’s rooms were always open such that every student who passed by saw whatever he was doing inside. We would pass by and say hello to Father even without invitation. There was no open door policy for him because there was no door at all. We saw everything. His students were his witnesses. He hardly had visitors, let alone female ones. There were no ex-female students because MSG is a boys’ school.
Father sponsored so many MSG Old Boys to seminaries abroad as they graduated in flying colours and mostly at the top of their classes. He did fee drive with so much compassion, such that a story is told of how he told a certain student – William Avenya; “William, come back to school, kobo or no kobo, books or no books, uniform or no uniform. Come back to school, now”. The boy gladly went back to school. Today, that boy William is the same, Rt. Rev William Avenya, Catholic Bishop of Makurdi Diocese. Just to mention, Avenya is not the only Bishop Father Fraser produced. Under Father, MSG has produced at least two bishops and many Rev Fathers. He garnered awards along his path in life, touching and shaping lives.
Now to the primary reason why Fr Fraser came to MSG in the first place; academics. He was a success. With integrity and due process he administrated an era of top performance and excellence, making Mount Saint Gab (as some would call it) a beacon in the North Central.
Father had so much love for his boys that he protected them from bullying and maltreatment. If we showed displeasure with any teacher, that teacher would be changed.
In MSG, we resumed a typical school day by 7:45am; had assembly for 15 minutes and classes would commence by 8.00am. We closed by 2.00pm and played to between 4.00pm to 6.00pm. He knew that students (children) need to study hard and play harder. Yet MSG churned out the best results during WAEC and NECO.
In our certificate year (2004), father would ask the invigilators to be very strict with us, telling them he was sure that we were prepared to do well. WAEC invigilators used to lobby to avoid being posted to MSG during GCE and SSCE exams, because, apart from the customary malt and meat-pie, Father Fraser would never give any other kind of “gifts” or tips or bribe to them. Still, MSG boys would pass in flying colours.
It was tough to pass the MSG entrance written interview and so students who made it cherished their admissions and would not want to loose it by expulsion.
Father Fraser had the will to instill discipline even if it meant expelling a student who had broken the rules of the school.
Today MSG alumni are scattered around the globe doing exploits and standing out. I am Obinna Nwachukwu and I am product of Father Fraser, assisted by such heroic teachers and mentors as Sir Eugene Ibe and Mr Mhange. Most others are late such as Mr Sabi, Mr Ukah, Mr. Obi, Mr. Asiegbu, et al). I am an investor and manager of Silver News & Media Agency Limited, publishers of Silver News (an online newspaper). The company is also into Investments and Leadership Training. In all of these, the values Father built into us remain our bedrock wherever we operate.