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Let me begin by thanking God Almighty for making this day possible and counting us worthy to be active partakers in it. I pray that the blessings of this day will be available to all present here today, and by extension Egbe sons and daughters, as well as Yagba people wherever they may be at this time.
I like to respectfully affirm that it is a great honour and a privilege for me to be here in Egbe today, and as Chiarman of this great annual event which brings together people from all works of life in particular sons and daughters of Egbe Mekun at home as well as in diaspora.
Let me also pay a special tribute to Our Royal Father, HRH Oba Ayodele Irukera who made it possible for me to be here today.
Kaabiyesi o o o!! Ki ade pe lori o, ki bat ape le se Sir. May the Lord keep and protect you for us, in the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.
As a proud son of Yagba land precisely from Igbaruku, I am happy and thank God immensely to be part of this again.
I remember attending one of such some years ago when the rehabilitation works of the Egbe hospital commenced. We are all very happy today, to see that major strides are being achieved in the community, year in, year out.
Let me sincerely congratulate His Royal Highness, as well as the sons and daughters of Egbe, and by extension all Yagba people on this laudable annual event which has been sustained over time.
Come, let us make progress together
When I was asked to chair this occasion, what immediately pricked my spirit was a beckon to build bridges and make progress together across Yagba land in particular, but indeed across Okunland in the larger space. No doubt there are worthy dignitaries that would have been invited to do this today, but it has pleased the Lord for me to be called.
That is the reason why I have chosen to address this august audience on a subject titled – “Come, let us make progress together.”
Your Excellency, Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, today, I will like to use this platform to call on all Yagba people, but Egbe Mekun in particular to:-
• Come, let us make progress together because I take it personal that this is a clarion call for handshakes across communities in Yagba land;
• Come, let us make progress together because it is clear to me that individually, there is very little that can be achieved; rather together, we can make everything happen;
• Come, let us make progress together because even the world has since become a global village, with connections happening by the seconds rather than weeks, months and years.
• Come, let us make progress together because our villages ought to be fusing, almost becoming one indivisible whole; afterall, etnically we are one people;
• Come, let us make progress together because even the Bible confirms that where two or three are gathered, God resides; and in times of trouble, the Holy Book affirms that one can chase one thousand, but two will chase ten thousand. I still struggle to resolve that arithmetic up till this day.
• Come, let us make progress together because the level of inequality, extremism and poverty in our land is increasing by the day.
Your Excellency, Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, what I am calling for is a purposeful Re-Collaboration across Yagba land.
Collaboration is the process of two or more people or communities working together to complete a task or achieve a goal, the ultimate objective being to assure development across the land.
Collaborations accomplish shared vision, achieve positive outcomes for the audiences they serve, and build an interdependent system to address issues and opportunities.
Collaborations also involved the sharing of resources and responsibilities to jointly plan, implement and evaluate programs to achieve common goals.
We did collaborate many years ago; we can do it again, because it is for the social good of our collective well-being.
Yagba people were bookworms!
Yagba, and indeed Okunland have produced many great people. If I begin to count them we will be here all day.
Because of our love for books, we had the highest density of schools, boasted of best professors, greatest intellectuals, and the most educated people. We had men and women of high spiritual standings and great character. And I can go on and on. Unfortunately, these are all gradually fading away.
I started my primary school in Igbaruku, a little village few kilometers from where we are now, before eventually following my parents as children do around several postings in the old Northern Nigeria. Because of frequent movements, I eventually attended about 4 schools before earning my first school leaving certificate in Minna.
Thereafter I progressed through colleges and university, coming out in flying colours. In the follow up 35 years, I worked in various executive capacities across the world, in Italy, the Netherlands, in Russia, in the United States as well as cities in Nigeria, all with great records until retirement some six years ago. I have a great family with my wife Victoria, four children, 2 boys and two girls.
I have taken time to summarize my life story specifically to let us know that the foundation of all my achievement in life was that same primary school in Igbaruku, a small village hardly visible on any map. Thank God for google who recently recognized and located the village with the right coordinates.
In fact, some years ago, I decided to show my last son around in Igbaruku. I took him to Omi, Odo Ara etc just for him to know where we originate from. I also showed him that primary school I started from, of course now dilapidated.
When we got to my old primary school, my son could not talk for a while. He just looked around in amazement. When he eventually summoned courage to talk, he asked, what did you do to you parents and they sent you to a school like this?
All effort to convince him that the school was not as bad as it looks today proved abortive. In short, he refused to believe I ever attended a school like that because it was just impossible to connect my achievements with such a foundation.
My question today:- would it still be possible for a child from such obscurity to attain such global heights and recognition?
Education is the best anchor
Sometime this week, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), expressed serious concerns about Nigeria losing out on literate and skilled workforce needed to grow its economy due to huge number of out of school children.
This is corroborated by the Federal Ministry of Education and other government records that have put the figure of out-of-school children aged 6-14 at 10.5 million, most of whom are in the northern part of Nigeria where we also belong.
Although some other sources say the number is higher, the focus should not be on the precise number, but on boys and girls in communities like ours who lose out on education and better livelihoods. These affected children lose out on hope and the future they can have for themselves, their families, their communities and their country.
The level of poverty our people face today is unprecedented. But this is worsened by increasing number of uninformed and jobless youths. The way and manner they stray these days is of a great cause for concern. In fact, it is fast becoming a security issue since such youths engage themselves in criminal activities including drug rings, cultism and even terrorism.
That is why I think the best place for Yagba people to re-start is getting education right again. After all this used to be our bread and butter!!
Collectively we must re-live the good old days when we had quality teachers, fit for purpose curriculum, welfare of teachers and students, infrastructure, ethics and discipline.
As an African proverb says “it takes a village to raise a child”. Interestingly in those days, it was the responsibility of the whole community to collectively raise the children, not necessarily parents alone.
We cannot to rely on local, state or even federal governments to take ownership of all the issues we face locally. We need to work together to nurture our youths for community needs.
We must refocus development on our young people knowing that when they are empowered, they can become key agents for development and peace. If however they are left on society’s margins, all of us will be impoverished, directly or indirectly.
As communities, we must create a picture of the future we desire, set measurable goals and objectives, identify leaders who are open minded, and willing to empower others.
We must foster open and honest communication knowing that everyone needs to be heard. Above all, we must persevere and support to deliver the goals as planned, and together celebrate success when achieved.
I will personally offer myself in this league of new tribe of leaders who will commit to getting our people back on that competitive edge we were known for – education.
Your Excellency, Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, let me begin to conclude.
Once again I respectfully congratulate His Royal Highness, as well as the sons and daughters of Egbe, and by extension all Yagba people on this annual event which has been sustained over time.
The rising wave of poverty, uninformed citizens and population of out of school youths in our communities is alarming and becoming great concern. If we focus and do the right things now, the trajectory can be re-directed.
Learning is what has always unified us. I believe prioritizing education and well-being of our youths is a good place to start, being more of a trans-generational investment rather than one off stomach infrastructure.
I believe the answer to the transformation we aspire is strong, authentic community connections and actions. When families, social and community groups come together, young people achieve more through participation and experiential learning.
We must collaborate, plan together, develop our communities together, play together, celebrate together, and live happily together, building on the type of unity summit we are attending here today. It is nothing new. We did before, we can do it again.
Finally, Yagba people must actively complement the efforts of government in the development of their communities. Nothing can be more dangerous to our efforts to build peace and development than being divided by whatever means. We must work to promote unity based on our shared humanity.
Come let us make progress together.
I thank you for listening, and wish you a great day today!!
Being speech by Mr Osten Olorunsola, Chairman Egbe Unity Day 2018
Chairman Energy Institute Nigeria, a former Director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), on the occasion of Egbe Unity Day 2018.
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