Full text of valedictory lecture delivered by Insight publisher at Anglican Grammar School Ogbomoso today

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Yinka ADETUNJI

The SSS 3 graduands
The transiting JSS 3 students

Being text of the valedictory lecture, titled, “The challenges of post secondary school education: Brace up, you can become another Bill Gates,” delivered by Mr. Femi Ogunlana, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Insight newsmagazine/ogbomosoinsightonline.com as Guest Speaker, at the Valedictory Service/Prize & Speech Giving Day of Anglican Grammar School, Ogbomoso, today, October 20, 2021 at the School Hall.

Protocols
Good morning all of you. I am honoured and grateful for the invitation of today to the 2021 Valedictory Service of this great citadel of learning. This day, I am not just congratulating you for successfully completing high school but I am also congratulating your proud parents, who have been waiting for this special academic achievement. Before I proceed with my speech I want to enjoin you, the celebrants, to stand and together let’s honour the people behind your success. Turn back, if you are able to see your parents give them the sweetest smile. Give them a big round of applause, if not for them, you will not be here today celebrating your success. Thank you, now take your sit.
I consider my invitation a great honour because of the historical antecedent of the school. The school has a rich tradition and history. Who will forget that the school produced the candidate with the best result in WAEC throughout West Africa in 1985 (courtesy of now Dr. Dapo Isola)? I know many other alumni of the school who are performing amazingly well in different fields of human endeavours and significantly making the society a better place today. I know of Professor Akin Odebunmi, an international scholar of Pragmatics and Discourse Analysis in the Department of English, University of Ibadan, he best could be described as a linguistic avatar or language surgeon; I know Professor Jide Ajao, a former Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at LAUTECH; I know Oba Professor John Akinola Akintola, who is now Alapa of Okin-Apa, a first rate traditional ruler; I know of Mr. Adewuyi Adegbite, an historian, author and columnist; also, Chief Yusuf Kasali Oladipo, an Assistant Controller General of Prisons and currently the Abese of Ogbomosoland, is an alumnus of this school, he should have been serving as the Controller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Services (formerly Nigerian Prison Services) today if merit is the yardstick for appointment and if nepotism and bigotry aren’t so much elevated in Nigeria. There is also Architect Shakiru Soara, he is responsible for the constructions of many intra-city roads ongoing in Ogbomoso today, he is also a former student of this school. There are many others time and space will not permit me to mention.
A few decades ago, these men of timbre and caliber also sat with sobriety like you are sitting here today, but they went on to make ineffaceable marks in the sands of time. It is my sincere hope that you will follow in their gracious footsteps and surpass them in achievements.
The organizers of today’s event have chosen a most apposite theme in view of the retrogressive tendencies that now override and overwhelm our beloved country. The topic given me is “Bracing up for the challenges of postsecondary school education.” But I have taken the liberty to effect a little modification to it, and the topic now is, “The challenges of postsecondary school education: Brace up, you can become another Bill Gates.”
The beautiful graduands of Anglican Grammar School Class of 2021, you are graduating at a time Nigeria is at a crossroad, when the falcons can no longer hear the falconets; at a time the state of nature propounded by Thomas Hobbes has atrociously taken roots in Nigeria, one in which there were no enforceable criteria of right and wrong, and one in which people took for themselves all what they could, and human life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” But I am by no means telling you to lose hope. It is just to stress the fact that there are stiff challenges ahead of you and consequently prepare you ahead. You have reached an important landmark in your life but the journey is just beginning, you are just about to “set forth at dawn,” to paraphrase Professor Wole Soyinka’s memoir (You must set forth at dawn) and so, it is very germane that you buckle up for the arduous journey. Because you will not be judged in the end by the depth of depravity Nigeria sank into at your time but by the success you are able to make of your life. The primary goal of living is to make success of one’s life. Thus, nobody will assess you based on the daunting challenges you faced but by the success you achieved. That is the crux of the topic, to underscore the presence of challenges, and their enormity and consequently equip you with nuggets to overcome them.


Meanings of three vital terms in our topic
1. Brace up: Merriam Webster Dictionary defines brace (up) as prepare, steel, invigorate, make stronger, to give life, vigour, or spirit to. Accordingly, it means to face a daunting prospect with energy so as not to be caught napping or unawares.
2. Challenge: I will also rely on Merriam Webster Dictionary for its definition. Challenge (in our context here) is a stimulating task or problem, difficulty that confronts someone.
3. Post secondary school education: According to Top Hat Glossary, postsecondary school education is “the education level that follows the successful completion of secondary education, often referred to as high school.” This includes universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. It usually culminates with a diploma, certification or academic degree. It is also known as tertiary education.


Bill Gates: Who is Bill Gates?
Bill Gates is a global icon of American heritage. He is one of those men of colossal accomplishments, who by sheer determination and choice set forth at dawn and made success of their lives. Bill Gates became the richest person on earth at age 40. Since his early teens (at age 13), he had discovered himself, what he wanted for his life and he went about pursuing it. He jettisoned what needed to be jettisoned to achieve his goal. It is therefore no wonder that he set up a company when he was barely 18 years old (that should be your average age today, my beautiful graduands) and by the time he was 32 (in 1987), he had gotten listed by Forbes magazine as one of the wealthiest persons on earth, a title he would hold on to till now. In fact, between 1995 and 2017, he was consistently listed every year as the wealthiest person on earth (except on four occasions – 2010 to 2013). He is currently the fourth richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$129 billion. Bill Gates demonstrated precocious talents for computer programming from when he was 13; his feeble hands churned out software and codes that changed the world and transformed his life and many others’. When he was 18, he founded Traf-O-Data. After this time, he took a most dramatic decision that confounded many. And what did he do? He pulled out of the university to pursue his dream. Not just any university, but the prestigious Harvard College, the best university in the world. He was in his second year at the time and just 20 years old. And immediately he took this daring step, he, along with his childhood friend, Paul Allen, founded another company – Microsoft, which became a success story. I have narrated the life of Bill Gates to let you realize that you too can make it.
But there are certain traits discernible in the life of Bill Gates, which could be useful to you as you begin your life’s journey also. These include:
i. He discovered his interest and therefore talent very early

ii. He set forth at dawn
iii. He had belief and was persistent
iv. He followed his heart
v. He took time to explain to his parents his reason for abandoning university
vi. He didn’t allow distractions to weigh in on him
vii. He built his knowledge base by reading and asking questions
viii. He indulged in personal development through personal study
ix. He moved close to the right persons/friends
x. He did not scatter his energy – high level concentration
xi. He seized opportunities
xii. He was diligent
xiii. Verbally combative
xiv. Smart
xv. Stickler for details
xvi. He bullied others if he had to, to achieve his goals etc.


Postsecondary school challenges
But I need to emphasize that Nigeria is not America. Nigeria is rather a bundle of contradictions, a cesspit of confusion. It is blessed with huge natural resources but which it cannot harness to generate opportunities and wealth. Those poltroons in its chambers and corridors of power lack the requisite capacity to achieve that and the little they explored and exploited is diverted into private pockets. Also, the country commits an abysmally low amount of money to education. Similarly, it consistently fails to meet the UNESCO’s benchmark for education share in the budgets, which is 15-20 per cent; Nigeria in its 2022 budget proposal has a paltry 7.9 per cent allocated to education. This is just as a recent report by the World Bank did not include Nigeria in the list of Africa’s 10 biggest spenders on education (% of GDP). Botswana, Namibia and Sierra Leone took the first, second and third positions respectively. All this is an albatross and a poignant reason for the ill-equipped graduates we produce at all levels.
And so, this is the basis of the enormous challenge standing menacingly before you as you begin another stage in life. Had it been you grew up in a sane country, a topic such as this would have been unnecessary because, you would have had humongous opportunities and have been prepared for the task ahead and seamlessly and without much ado slip quietly into your different areas of interests. But this is Nigeria, a nation that has no plan for its youths, which flagrantly kills dreams, smothers potentials, and frustrates goals.
The statistics is perplexing; the number of youths who are unable to proceed to higher institutions or secure gainful employments is frightening. Nigeria now holds the unenviable record of the poverty capital of the world (since 2018), boasts an unemployment rate of 33.3 per cent and is the third most terrorized country in the world.
That is why crimes – banditry, armed robbery, kidnapping, internet frauds, yahoo-yahoo, ritual killings etc – have multiplied in the country. Youths like you instead of being like Bill Gates are expending great energies in anti-social activities. This is a lucid illustration of the hostile environment you are being thrown into as from today. So, let it be underlined that the challenges ahead of you are gargantuan. It is not going to be a child’s play. It won’t be a tea party.
Ordinarily, there are different paths that are opened before you as you start out from today. Some of these are:
i. gaining admission into a post secondary institution
ii. learning a trade or vocation
iii seeking (a low pay) employment
iv. becoming an okada operator etc
But of these paths, the best you should explore is the first one – admission into a university, polytechnic, college of education, an institute, NDA and so on. But to achieve that, you must pass your O’ level papers at credit level. That is the basic requirement for admission. And you must have excelled in UTME and other qualifying exams. Your results will soon be released, if you pass, congratulations, but if otherwise, prepare to re-sit for the exams. It is a hurdle you must cross. I must reemphasize that proceeding to a higher institution remains your best bet.
But if you seek another path aside higher education, there is no problem, you can find fulfillment there too, the important thing is to seek knowledge and dare to be different. If you seek to become a mechanic, tailor, rewire, welder, bricklayer, vulcanizer or learn a trade there is no problem, what is important is to seek to widen your knowledge base, to be creative, to be passionate, to be driven by initiative and be proactive. You must always think of ways to improve yourself and excel. Bill Gates painstakingly improved himself and in the end he became a universal luminary. So, gaining knowledge and applying it is the key. Whatever trade or vocation you end up with, develop yourself. Use your mobile phone to find knowledge and not to commit crimes (cybercrimes) or watch immoral films or listen to gutter, listless songs. Read about great figures, use your phone positively.
Now, I want to leave you with two valuable quotes from two great men. Abraham Lincoln posits, “It is not a crime to be born into a poor family but it is a crime to leave it unchanged.” What can be extrapolated from this is that your background does not matter; you are the person that matters. The second one is this by another philosopher: “If you cannot run, walk; if you cannot walk, crawl; whatever, never be stagnant.” Let this be your guiding principle as you walk out of this hall today.
Some other measures to cope or overcome the challenges of postsecondary school education
i. Exhibit high level commitment
ii. Focus
iii. Have mentors
iv. Determination
v. Information
vi. Prudence
vii. Never quit
viii. Occasional self-appraisal
ix. Have the gut to follow your dreams. Be stubborn in following your dreams
x. Adopt the GHS principle that is generosity, hardwork and self. Be generous to yourself most importantly and then to others, work hard and intelligently and then embrace self-development.


Conclusion
I want to round off by emphasizing that you have big challenges ahead of you. And it should spur you to have bigger ideas. The rule is ‘big challenges: bigger ideas!’ Have dreams, the future belongs to dreamers! Put these at the back of your mind always. When a gigantic mountain arises in your path, don’t sit lamentably at its base, rather climb it. Yah, securing a degree is good but it is not what will determine your success ultimately. Applying the above nuggets and committing your ways to God always will. This is the dawn of a new era for you and you must start right away working for the greatest years of your life, but you must realize that these years will never come unless you work for them. Good life is never guaranteed; you have to work for it.
Today’s graduands, I want to congratulate you once again on this milestone and I wish you the best of luck as you set out to unlock the door of a fulfilled life. I hope all of you will be bestowed with a good chance to realize your dreams. I wish you all the success of the future.
Thank you very much for the grace with which you have listened to me.

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