By Eric Elezuo
“Have patience with all things but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them” – Winifred Awosika
From her very humble beginnings, it was obvious that Mrs. Winifred Adefolahan Awosika, was going to grow up to become a moulder of character, a pace setter, pathfinder and one whose milk of human kindness will fill the gapping mouths of the needy and the well to do as well. In other words, it was not a coincidence that Mrs. Awosika ended up becoming a distinguished educationist as well as a selfless philanthropist. She started at a very young age to nurse the ambition to become an educationist, invariably, a teacher, and diligently pursued the dream to fruition.
Born on February 13, 1940 to the illustrious and equally royal Oshuporu Chieftaincy family of Owo, Ondo State, High Chief Dr. Mrs Wninifred A. Awosika (OON), cut her education teeth at the Government Primary School, Owo, where he had her elementary tutelage before proceeding to the renowned St. Anne’s Girls Secondary School, Molete Ibadan where she studied and made her presence felt between 1954 and 1958, and consequently obtained her West African School Certificate in brilliant colours.
Toeing the line of her excellent WAEC performance, the young, but full of ideas Winifred immediately proceeded to the Nigerian College of Arts, Enugu for Advanced/Intermediate studies and followed it up with an appearance at the foremost University College, Ibadan, (now University of Ibadan) in 1962. After a rigorous but rewarding four years, she graduated with Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1966.
Keeping abreast with what destiny has called her to, she, as a matter of urgency got admitted into the University of Lagos for a post-graduate Diploma in Education; this choice satisfied her search for the knowledge she had so desired. The field of education has always mean so much to her from inception. Reports have it that Awosika’s thesis at the post graduate level at the University of Lagos remains a reference book on education up till today.
With a total love and passion for teaching in her kitty, and armed with arguably the highest requisite qualification of a teacher, she headed for the classrooms. Her stint with the academic environment, which spanned a glorious two decades took her through many reputable schools including Methodist Girls High School, Yaba, Lagos, where she left her enviable footprints in the sands of time.
As is with most ideas whose time has come, Awosika, equipped with years of experience in modeling and mentoring youths, creating the right atmosphere for life achievements and moulding character for the good of the society, planted the tiny seed of Chrisland Educational Organisation in 1977. She choose the name from the name of her local community “Abule Onigbagbo”, which means Christian Land, and thereafter shortened it to Chrisland.
That tiny seed, like the mustard, has grown into a mighty oak with tentacles, branches and even tributaries across Lagos and Abuja. The growth is by no means a fluke or luck, rather as a result of dedicated, passionate and meritorious service she put in while in public service and in the early stages of developing the schools.
Awosika reportedly established Chrisland Nursery/Primary School with just five children in the Boys’ Quarters of her home at Ladipo. It is worthy of mention that she did it with the support and encouragement of her hardworking and dedicated late husband, Chief Victor Oloyede Awosika whom she married in 1963.
By her Midas touch, Chrisland is a by no means a run-off-the-mill educational institution, but a global brand, a force to be reckoned with. The institution boasts of today five prestigious nursery/primary schools, four world class secondary schools and a Pre degree College. The schools are strategically located at Lekki, Victoria Garden City, Idimu, Festac, Abuja and the headquarters at Opebi, Ikeja. In all, she dutifully combines academic with co-curricula activities to produce the complete graduate.
Awosika is not one to lay back in the quest for complete achievement, and so was counted worthy to be granted license to set up the highest citadel of education acquisition in February 2015. And so came to life Chrisland University. The birthing of Chrisland University in no small measure brought to fulfillment her vision to be at the forefront in the private education sector, and to nurture children to become all they can be from kindergarten to tertiary level. Today, Chrisland schools are rated among top educational institutions in Nigeria, and it is a school of choice for high and middle class citizens. It is possible that if NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) camps can be established and run by private individuals, Awosika will not hesitate to set up one, just to ensure that wards get the best quality and all-round tutelage.
Below is the sequence of establishment of institutions by Awosika:
- Chrisland School, Ladipo Oluwole – 3 October 1977
- Chrisland School, Opebi – 2 October 1978
- Chrisland College, Idimu – 27 February 1987
- Chrisland School, VGC – 5 October 1998
- Chrisland Nursery School, VGC – 5 October 1998
- Chrisland High School, VGC – 23 October 2006
- Chrisland High School, Ikeja – 15 September 2008
- Chrisland Pre-Degree College – 27 September 2010
- Chrisland School, Abuja – September, 2014
- Chrisland High School, Abuja – 17 September 2015
- Chrisland High School, Lekki – September, 2017
At 80, Awosika is celebrated as a woman who has set the standard on how schools should be run for the purpose of producing excellent, successful and beneficial children for the future.
Yes, she may be a core educationist, with unmatched love for raising champions, she also has her hands in other lucrative pies. She is the Chairman/Managing Director in several blue chips companies including Holy Trinity Hospitals and State Clinic, Chemopharma Laboratories Ltd., a pharmaceutical Manufacturing company; C.C.I.E (City Commercial and Industrial Enterprises) Ltd., a construction/property management and development company in Lagos.
As it is said that a man’s good will make a way for him, so has Awosika’s commitment to the academic field been creating avenues for awards and recognitions across board. They include a Doctorate degree in Management Technology (Honoris Causa) from the Federal University of Technology Akure and honours from the Science and Mathematics Teachers Association of Nigeria. She is also a Fellow of the Ondo State Polytechnic, Owo and also a Fellow and member, Governing Council, Institute of Directors in Nigeria (I.O.D).
Chancellor/Chairman Board of Trustees, Chrisland University, Awosika is also the Charter President of Inner Wheel Club of Opebi, member, National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), where she once served as the Asst. National Secretary and Chairman Standing Committee on Education. She was at a time the Charter Treasurer, Zonta International Conferences on World Environment and Peace Matters.
As far back as 2004, Awosika was conferred with the Nigeria National Merit Award as Officer of the Order of the Niger OON, for her immense contribution to the development of education and service to the country.
She has mentored and is still mentoring several clubs and societies among which is Busy Bees Society of Archbishop Vining Memorial Cathedral, Ikeja.
Awosika is also a crowned royalty. She is the Oshobiken of Owo and the Erelu of Okaland among several others. These have given her the right to be addressed as High Chief.
A seasoned administrator, Awosika was the Charter President of The inner Wheel Club of Opebi, District 911, in 1985, a club formed under her supervision in 1983.
The High Chief is a dutiful mother, an all-round disciplinarian, role model, intelligent with proven integrity, and to cap it all, is endowed with Christian virtues.
Many of her students are of very good standing and holding very important positions nationally and internationally, and among them are veteran Nollywood actress, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde and dancehall queen Kaffy.
With two prominent foundations, High Chief Awosika is deeply touching lives, creating conducive atmosphere for growth for both the youths and adults. In this guise, she runs the Winifred Awosika Foundation, and the Victor and Winifred Awosika Foundation in honour of her beloved late husband.
The Winifred Awosika Foundation among many things awards scholarships to pupils who performed excellently in its exams. In June 2019, over 10 pupils who performed creditably in the entrance examination into Chrisland High Schools and College were awarded scholarships by the Foundation. Also in 2018, in conjunction with National Scrabble Federation, the Foundation sponsored the National Scrabble Championship for under 11. The Winifred Awosika Scrabble Tournament for Schools (WASTFS) has also been running for years.
Mama Awosika is living example of perfection, and leads a life worthy of emulation.
At 80, we celebrate your doggedness, sincerity, diligence and focus. We pray that the Almighty who you have served diligently, satisfy you with long life as you and your numerous loved ones shall desire.