BY SEGUN AINA
It is my pleasure to address this distinguished audience on the eighth convocation ceremony of the Premier University of Education in Nigeria. I consider it a great honour to be found worthy for conferment of an honorary doctorate degree of D.Sc Business Education (Honoris Causa) by this unique University. In this regard, I want to express my appreciation to the Governing Council, the Senate and the Management of the University. I am indeed very happy to become a member of this University community.
I am expressing this appreciation not only on behalf of myself but also on behalf of the family and friends of my co-honouree, late Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh. This lady whom Nigeria has not adequately appreciated represented an immeasurable good seen in Nigeria’s past and hoped for in its future. She represented the glory of an authentic African culture and the technical or professional confidence, competence and integrity of her generation. Nothing indeed could be more gratifying to me than being honoured along with the late Dr Adadevoh, a woman who made the supreme sacrifice to save her nation the trauma and the holocaust that would have arisen through the spread of the Ebola virus.
It is also very amazing to see the achievements that this Institution has recorded since the idea of establishing it was concretized in 2005 as a transformation of the former Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE), which was established originally in 1978 as the then Ogun State College of Education. There is something in a name, and Dr Tai Solarin, in whose honour this institution was named, was a champion of sound and liberating education, a national icon and a man of supreme integrity. These are the virtues I appreciated in Dr Solarin and which I see in the institution named eponymously after him. And I want to commend all the stakeholders of this great University for the awesome strides the University has made especially since the coming on board of the current management under the able leadership of Prof Mrs Oluyemisi Obilade whom we all know as a global icon of education, an exemplary leader and administrator and a distinguished academic.
The letter informing me of the award dated 17th November 2016 stated that “this award is in recognition of your enviable achievements in the fields of banking and commerce and your contributions to the promotion of youth education”. I realised very early in life that education is the key to effecting lasting and progressive change in the life of an individual, a family, community and a nation. It is one sure mechanism to escape poverty, to obtain gainful employment, to create wealth and to empower generations. The surest way therefore to empower an individual is to give him good quality and focused education, which is the foundation of any development. It was in realisation of this that my wife and I founded the Segun Aina Foundation (SAF) in 1994, twenty-two years ago, with the vision to create a society where youths can function effectively and contribute positively to the development of their communities.
SAF has positively impacted, directly and indirectly, on over one million youths and children through its various activities and programmes, including entrepreneurial support, mentoring, motivational schemes, including weekly radio programmes, leadership development initiatives, and so on. I wish to express my gratitude to all those God used to support and contribute to my personal and professional life particularly my late parents, my wife, children, siblings, family, friends and professional associates. I also appreciate a great deal all those selfless individuals and organisations that have contributed to the development and strengthening of SAF and for keeping the organisation focused on its mission and vision in the last twenty-two years. I am appealing to well-meaning Nigerians to create enduring initiatives that will help us build Nigeria into a saner society where our youths, the leaders of tomorrow, can be well prepared for their future roles and responsibilities. It is obvious government alone cannot do this task.
Universities like TASUED need to create enduring collaborations with professional bodies and associations towards inculcating ethics and professionalism in our students while still in school. In this regards I want to appreciate the founding fathers, past and current leaders of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, the umbrella organisation of the Nigeria banking industry for its commitment to ethical conduct and professional banking education. I was privileged to be the 17th President and Chairman of Council of the Institute (2012 – 2014) and working dedicatedly with my colleagues on Council and other stakeholders, we were able to build on the legacies of our predecessors and fast tracked the platform for collaborations with Universities, Polytechnics and other educational Institutions for the purpose of providing world class professional banking education to future leaders of that important industry. Today CIBN is assuming global leadership in many respects and will be hosting the Banking world in Nigeria in April 2017 and has been giving global responsibility to coordinate the establishment of a global banking education standards.
The solemn assembly and ceremony we are witnessing today are similarly witnessed every year and in every tertiary institution in Nigeria. As I look over the graduands of today and reflect on the prospects they have in the Nigeria of today, it seems obvious to me that we all have great work still to do. If we really mean to sort out the problems of Nigeria, the very beginning of our individual and collective efforts is to sort out our educational goals, priorities and institutions. As a professional banker, I can tell you that money does not solve problems by itself. Nigeria’s problem is not primarily the problem of money or its shortage; it is a problem of wrong values and the wrong use of money and privileges. The beginning of the solution, therefore, is to identify where we missed our way, and return to the path of rectitude. The compass we need to navigate a new and progressive Nigeria that we will all be proud to live in and raise our children in is the right dose of quality education given to every child. Once our people become truly educated, they will automatically become the change agents to make other good things happen in our nation.
As I end these remarks, I urge those leading this premier institution to incorporate in their curriculum the life skills that need to be imparted into our young people to be responsible members of the larger society. I have in mind skills that enhance tolerance to different views of fellow men, skills geared at the promotion of peace, skills that inculcate ethical behaviour in the practice of our professions and daily activities and, above all else, patriotism. We should seek to create well-rounded individuals who have the right mix of skills needed for their growth and for national development. May I also note that the Tai Solarin University of Education, being a specialized university, and the Premier University of Education should be able to produce teachers and educators who have a deeper understanding of the subject matter and imbibed with skills and competencies required in knowledge dissemination.
Let me use this opportunity to congratulate the graduands of today. I implore you to be good ambassadors of this great Institution and remember to give back to the institution that has made you. I also commend your parents and guardians for the sacrifices they made to support your education. I equally thank the University administration for the hard work and sacrifice to realize today’s achievement.
Finally, in the spirit of giving back, I intend to work with and through the various organizations and constituencies that I belong to support this University in various ways towards the actualization of some of its specific plans, projects and areas of focus. The modalities for achieving this will be discussed with the University authorities.
I thank you all for listening.
Aina delivered this speech on 28th November 2016 at Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria, during the convocation ceremony of TASUED, where he was honoured with a doctorate degree.