Government College Umuahia

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Government College, Umuahia
Motto In Unum Luceant
(May We Shine as One)
Established 1929
Type Secondary School
Founder Rev. Robert Fisher
Location Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Road
Umuahia, Abia State
Nigeria Nigeria
Ages 11–18
Houses 9
Colours Pink & Brown ‹See Tfm›     ‹See Tfm›    
Publication The Eastern Star
Pupils Umuahians

Government College Umuahia, is a secondary school for boys located along Umuahia Ikot Ekpene Road in Umuahia, Nigeria.

Twenty years after the establishment of Kings College, the first government-owned high school, by the British colonial government, three similar public schools were founded in 1929. These three institutions, Government College Umuahia (GCU), Government College, Ibadan and Government College Zaria (Barewa College), were designed to follow the traditions of British "public schools" such as Eton, Harrow and Winchester. The GCU was known as the 'Eton of the East,' at that time because it was located in Nigeria’s orient and was known for its elite standards and selectivity.

Rev. Robert Fisher was the founding principal of GCU, which in one generation produced a large number of celebrated writers. Roll call: Chinua Achebe, Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike, Elechi Amadi, I. N. C. Aniebo, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Christopher Okigbo, and Gabriel Okara.

Apart from men of letters, famous GCU alumni include master artist Ben Enwonwu, and such outstanding personalities like Jaja Wachukwu, Okoi Arikpo, N.U. Akpan, Victor Mukete, Dr. E. M. L. Endeley (former premier of Southern Cameroon), Dr. J.N Okekpe (One of the first medical doctors from the Eastern Region), Dr. J.O.J Okezie (first republic Minister of Health), and academics like Prof. Bede Okigbo, Kelsey Harrison, Wilfred Chukudebelu, E.J. Allagoa, Donald Ekong, Laz Ekwueme, and Dagogo- Fubara.[1]


In 1927 the British Colonial Government in Lagos decided to start 3 new Secondary Schools for boys, namely a school in Ibadan (Government College, Ibadan), in Zaria (now Barewa College) and in Umuahia (Government College Umuahia). Kings College, Lagos had started twenty years earlier in 1909. These four schools were modeled after the famous English public schools – Eton and Harrow. The Queens College, Lagos (for girls) had opened that year. The onus for starting the Government College Umuahia fell on an English Educator, Mathematician, and Anglican priest, the Rev. Robert Fisher who had been a teacher at the famous Achimota College, Accra, and Education administrator in the Gold Cost, now Ghana. He served as the first principal of the Government College Umuahia from 1929-1939.

Robert Fisher arrived in Umuahia in 1927 and acquired land that is more than 10 square miles (26 km2). On January 29, 1929 he opened the gates of the school to 25 students drawn from all parts of Nigeria and West Africa, but with catchment in Eastern Nigeria, and the Southern Cameroons. The Government College Umuahia began in 1929 as a Teacher Training Institute and in 1930, converted to a Secondary school. Fisher ran this school until 1939 when, at the start of the 2nd World War, he left for England on retirement. The school was closed thereafter, and for 3 years it was used as a Prisoner of war (POW) camp for detaining German and Italian prisoners captured in Cameroon by the British.[2]


Established as one of Nigeria's elite and most selective schools from inception, The Government College Umuahia has drawn students from among the best performing from Nigeria and Southern Cameroons.[3] Umuahia (as it is often called) has sustained its reputation as one of the best secondary schools in Nigeria. It has well-resourced classrooms and laboratories. Its students consistently achieve high scores in exam results at SSCE, O-Level and A-Level. All students are required to complete a number of core courses in the Arts and Sciences. Students of the school also participate in sports like, cricket, hockey, handball and football(soccer). Sporting life in Umuahia had ample space and facility with two standard fields (the Upper and Lower fields),cricket pavilions, 7 lawn tennis courts; a basketball court; an Olympic-size track field. It also had a nine-hole golf course; a botanical garden, and an aquarium. The famous English artist and archeologist, Kenneth C. Murray, pioneered modern art education in Nigeria when he left Balliol College, Oxford and arrived Nigeria in 1927 to teach art. He taught art at the Government College Umuahia from 1933-1939 and started the Art Gallery which had in its collection, the works of C.C. Ibeto, Uthman Ibrahim, and the early charcoal drawings of Ben Enwonwu. The Gallery was sadly looted and destroyed during the Nigerian-Biafra civil war (1967–70), when the school was once again closed to serve as the General Staff Headquarters of the secessionist Republic of Biafra. K.C. Murray himself had left Umuahia in 1939 to become Director/Surveyor of Nigerian Antiquities, and the editor of the important Nigeria Magazine from work he did at Umuahia.

The Government College Umuahia also had an Officer Cadet Corps that offered instruction camps in field drills, and adventure training. It was no wonder that it produced the highest number of Professionally trained military officers in one generation in Nigeria before the Nigerian civil war including General George Kurubo, first Southern Nigerian to be trained at Sandhurst and first Nigerian Chief of the Nigerian Air Force; General Alex Madiebo, General Officer Commanding the defunct Biafran Army, General Patrick Anwunah, Tony Eze, Tim Onwuatuegwu, C.C. Emelifonwu, Ibanga Ekanem, August Okpe, Col. (Dr.)Bassey Inyang, etc.

GCU has produced high numbers of professionals in other fields, and among its distinguished alumni include renowned Engineers, Scientists, Novelists, Poets, and many in the professions in Nigeria and Africa. For a school that emphasized a broadly science education, GCU has indeed produced an unusually high number of literary giants, whose roles have helped in defining African literature in the 20th century [4]

School houses[edit]

  • Cozens House
  • Erekosima House
  • Fisher House
  • Kent House (and Kent Extension)
  • Niger House
  • Nile House
  • School House
  • Simpson House
  • Wareham House
  • New House
  • Extension House

The listed houses are not in order of establishment or creation but there were 11 houses in all as at the popular and highly celebrated Golden Jubilee of 1979. It remained so to date even though due to negligence by the Government and other stakeholders, some of the houses have become inconducive for students to live and as such put aside by school authority for safety reasons. The old boys are making great efforts since the diamond jubilee to renovate all the great houses of GCU. Much support is therefore needed to sustain this practice.

School song[edit]

Verse One We lift our voice to thee, O Lord To Thee we sing with one accord To grant us through Thy Son Adored The will to shine as one.

Verse Two From Morning till the approach of Night With humble minds, with all our might We seek this gift which is Thy Light The will to shine as one.

Verse Three As all of us, or black or white Beseech Thee now us to unite That all may seek this gift Thy Light The will to shine as one.

Verse Four We beg thee now to show the way That all of us may kneel and pray And seek and keep from day to day The will to shine as one.

Alumni (Old Boys)[edit]

Notable among Umuahia old boys include:

  • Chinua Achebe, writer/novelist
  • Chukwuemeka Ike, novelist/ University administrator
  • Chukwuedu Nwokolo, medical doctor
  • Elechi Amadi, novelist, Mathematician, surveyor, and public administrator
  • Nimi Briggs, Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt
  • INC Aniebo, novelist/soldier
  • Ken Saro-Wiwa, writer/ environmental rights activist
  • Christopher Okigbo, poet/ publisher
  • Chike Momah, novelist/United Nations Librarian
  • Gabriel Okara, poet
  • Obi Nwakanma, poet & Journalist,
  • Ben Enwonwu, modernist sculptor/Painter
  • Mr. M.E.P Udebiuwa, Permanent Secretary
  • Mr. Austin Ugwumba, Permanent Secretary/Head of the Civil Service Defunct Republic of Biafra
  • Dr.Ibi Mboto renowned Educator
  • Dr. Isaac Dagogo Erekosima renowned educator/First African Principal of the Government College Umuahia
  • Mr. S.C. Nwapa Head of Service/Secretary to the government, Imo state
  • Dick W. Emuchay renowned Medical Doctor, Public servant/ First, Chairman Civil Service Commission, East Central State, First, Chairman Civil Service Commission, Imo State / First Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of Imo State University currently Abia State University[5]
  • Okechukwu Nwadiuto Emuchay Diplomat and "until his voluntary retirement last month, Okechukwu Nwadiuto Emuchay MFR was the award-winning Nigeria’s Consul-General in Johannesburg, South Africa. As a career diplomat had previously served in Angola, United Kingdom and Austria".[6]
  • Mr. Peter C. Chigbo, Chairman, Nigerian Stock Exchange
  • Mr. Festus Emeghara, Head of Service/Secretary to the government, Imo state
  • Prof. Ephraim E. Okon Professor of Electrical Engineering/Permanent Secretary
  • Mr. George Nwanze Permanent Secretary
  • Dr. Tim Obiaga Scientist/Director-General National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI)
  • Kelechi Amadi-Obi (Lawyer/painter/Photographer)
  • Uche James-Iroha, sculptor/Photographer
  • Chike C. Nwoffiah, Filmmaker/Director
  • Bob Ejike, Nollywood actor/Director,
  • Jide Obi, Lawyer/pop star,
  • Laz Ekwueme, Actor, Musicologist/Professor of Music,
  • Ralph Opara, Broadcaster,
  • Ernest Okonkwo, Broadcaster,
  • Dr.Jaja Anucha Wachukwu, Lawyer, Nigeria's first Speaker of the House of Rep and First Republic Foreign Minister
  • Dr. Okoi Arikpo, Anthropologist and Nigeria's Foreign Minister (1967–75),
  • N.U. Akpan, Secretary of Government Eastern Nigeria/Biafra,
  • Victor Mukete, First Republic Minister for Information,
  • Dr. E. M. L. Endeley, former premier of Southern Cameroon),
  • Dr. Sam Imoke, Minister for education, Eastern Nigeria,
  • Dr. G.C. Mbanugo, renowned Medical Doctor/Politician/ Chairman Eastern Nigerian Committee of the defunct NCNC
  • Dr. Akpabio, Minister for Health, Eastern Nigeria,
  • Mr. John Nwodo, First republic Minister, Eastern Nigeria
  • G.K.J Amachree, solicitor-General of Nigeria/ Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations,
  • B.O.N. Eluwah writer, public servant, politician/Secretary-General the Igbo Federal Union
  • Fred Anyiam Journalist/ politician
  • M.C.K. Ajuluchukwu Journalist/ Politician
  • Dr. J.O.J Okezie (first republic Minister of Health),
  • G.I.C. Eneli, Diplomat/Industrialist/ Late Chairman/Founder GICEN Technologies
  • Dr. Ishmael j. Igbani,2nd Republic Minister of Industries, National Electoral Commissioner, INEC
  • Dr. Chu S. P Okongwu (former minister for national planning/ oil Minister),
  • Dr. Edmund Daukoru, Oil Minister/ Group MD, NNPC,
  • Mr. Lawerence A.O Amu, Group MD, NNPC,
  • Mr. Odoliyi Lolomari, Chairman African Petroluem/Group MD, NNPC,
  • Mr. Chamberlain Oyibo, Group MD, NNPC,
  • Mr. Ben Osuno, OPEC Governor,
  • Dr. Mofia T. Akobo Nigeria's first Minister for Petroleum
  • Senator Dr. Offia Nwali
  • Peter Katjavivi, Diplomat & former SWAPO Rep/Vice-Chancellor, University of Namibia/Namibia's Ambassador to the EU & Germany,
  • Mr. F.I. Ajumogogbia, Scientist/UNESCO Director & Chief of Mission,
  • Jerry Enyeazu, Chairman, Nigerian Sports Commission/ Renowned Sports administrator,
  • Renowned academics like Prof. M.A.B Ogakwu (medicine), Chukwuedu Nwokolo (medicine), Prof. Bede Okigbo (Agronomy), Kelsey Harrison (Medicine), Gaius Igboeli (Agriculture), Wilfred Chukudebelu (Medicine), Bassey Andah (Archeologist/Anthropologist), E.J. Allagoa (Historian), Donald Ekong (Chemistry), Eugene Arene (Chemistry),Fidelis Udeh (Medicine/Neuroscience), Nwachukwu Azikiwe (Oncology Hematologist), J.C. Ebie (Neuropsychiatry), Dagogo-Fubara (Geodesy); D.U.U. Okali (Forestry),Domingo Okorie (Agriculture), professor of music and Igwe of Oko (Anambra State) Laz Ekwueme, ex governors Commodore Amadi Guy Ikwechegh, Commodore Joe Aneke (military), Achike Udenwa (Imo) and Orji Kalu (Abia); Dr. Okwui Nwodo (Enugu), Legal luminaries like Judge Charles Daddy Onyeama (judge of the World court), Justice Anthony Aniagolu (Supreme Court), Justice (prof.) Okay Achike (Supreme Court), Attorney Lucius Nwosu (SAN) and so many more.

. Mba Ndubuisi John (Administrator) Managing Director Saap Tech Nigeria Limited (One of the Leading ICT Company in Nigeria)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Umuahia: Centre of‘God’s own state’". 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ African Literature and the Role of the Nigerian Government College Umuahia
  5. ^ "Dick W. Emuchay". Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Okechukwu Nwadiuto Emuchay". Retrieved 1 October 2014.