Nigeria: How Queens College Sent Forth Coker, First Indigenous Principal

23 January 2020

As encomiums continue to pour on the first indigenous Queens College Principal, Dr. Mrs. Iphigenia Efunjoke Coker who died last December, the Administrator, Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos, Fr. Marcellinus Teko has stated that Mama 'Cokie' as she was fondly called brought glory to the Girl-Child and Womanhood in this present day.

Fr. Teko who gave the sermon premised on: 'Life is short, death is sure, sin is the cause and Christ is the Cure,' on Thursday at the Christian Wake held in honour of the deceased at the City Hall, Lagos Island, noted that although, Mrs Coker's death was a huge loss to her family and loved ones, our hope should be found in the comfort of Jesus Christ.

His words: "We gathered this evening in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is our faith in the Lord and his ability to save us that have made us to gather for this purpose of celebrating the life of a woman that is worthy of celebration. A woman that has left her own impact on the sands of time. And history will never forget her.

"Mama Coker was a woman that actually made many people to find their bearings in life and to know what life is all about and how it should be led. She was somebody to be emulated by the life she had lived and her solemn contribution has been able to bring glory unto the female world, to the girl child and to womanhood in this age and time.

Continuing, the Clergyman reiterated that, "Her loss is a big one. A big one that saddens our hearts and make us believe that a rare gem has gone".

"Our gathering is a sign of hope which is what we gather to celebrate.And the hope entails in the first hymn we sang,, 'In Christ alone my hope is found', that is Jesus Christ has already given us a reason to devote ourselves to him and that even in death all is not lost and we should continue to look up to God indeed and forge ahead in Christ.

"To Mama' daughter and family, the word of Christ Jesus should console you and like one of the tribute by one of her students, Mama was not carried away by position, material things or political affiliations. Rather she looked at one positive impact on the life of those she came across. For this reason we celebrate her in a great way and for this reason also God celebrates her in heaven. I urge you not to let your sorrow compete with your faith, rather let your faith shed light on your sorrow. So that those who see you will see you not as hopeless people but as a people of hope."

Her impact in QC girls made them who they are today - Present PQC

For the present Principal Queens College, Dr. Mrs Oyinloye Yakubu, said the impact late Dr. Coker made on QC girls under her tutelage was responsible for how the girls have turned out.

According to her, "Mrs Coker was the first indigenous principal of Queens College. In fact, she was PQC nine, I am 15th PQC so you can see the distance. She was the longest serving Principal who served from 1963 to 1977,a whole 14 years. She was reputed to be a disciplinarian, someone who was passionate about the girl education. And most of the old girls who went through her testified that she made an impact in them and that she helped to make them what they are today".

"This why you have this crowd come to honour her. Yesterday, we had a candle night on her behalf in the school to honour her. We are building on the foundation she laid to ensure that Queens College remains the foremost girl secondary school in Nigeria". PQC noted.

Mama was just an inspiration - Former QC Head girl

The Head girl during Dr. Mrs Iphigenia Coker's tenure, Ms. Shade Bembatoun-Young, FIMC, CMC described the late educationist as just as inspiration.

Ms. Bembatoun-Young, the Honorary Life Vice President, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry said, "I am emotional now as it is very difficult for me to summarize the relationship and impact Mama had on me. I was very fortunate to have enjoyed that relationship for over half a century".

"It happened that I was the Head girl in 1967 under her, being a 65 set. Our set was from school cert. Being the Head girl was something I didn't think I could do as I didn't have much confidence then. Having Mrs Coker being your principal, we didn't want to upset her and let her down because she is someone that makes you always do your best. She managed to guard me and instill confidence in me".

"Above all, it was her example as a leader, the way she comported herself, her strictness and firm nature that made us to know that she had a loving heart for all of us. And she fought many battles on our behalf, some of which we didn't know until later in life.

"She was just an inspiration, a true inspiration. She is somebody we can never forget. I am very fortunate I met her when I was young". She said.

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