Nigeria can break free from the shackles of poverty and ignorance through education, All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said on Monday.
To him, education is the foundation for peace and a tool for engendering development. The former Lagos State governor said any nation that does not invest in education is sitting on a keg of gunpowder.
He spoke in Ado Ekiti during the 10th anniversary and seventh convocation ceremonies of the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD). Tinubu was conferred with Doctor of Public Administration (Honoris Causa) at the event.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar; the Obi of Onitsha, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe and Green Energy International Limited Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer Prof Anthony Adegbulugbe were honoured with Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa).
Ninety-nine of the graduates bagged first-class degrees; four of them were among the 57 beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme sponsorship. Tinubu was honoured for his exemplary leadership role and contributions to democracy.
He said: “Education is the light of a nation and ignorance its darkness. Only with that light can we hope to see where we are and to discover the path we must go to realise our greatness as a nation.
“To educate a generation is to secure the future. Thus, it is indeed, my honour to be here with you for this university stands as a shining beacon, casting the light of education upon our nation and its people. This university thus serves as a vital piston in the machinery of national progress. Our young people deserve and require quality education that will unlock their utmost potentials.
“This will engender critical thinking and build their capacities for self and national development.”
He said ABUAD is dedicated to providing stellar education, adding that it has distinguished itself since inception. Tinubu added: “If we do not board the train of progress, it will pass us by. This means we must acquire and use the scientific and technological skills of the 21st century to advance our common purpose.
“In this manner, we help break the fetters of underdevelopment and expand the boundaries of economic, intellectual and moral growth.
“I understand the university accords special attention to the sciences and technology. This is it as it should be. I urge that we consider imparting solid knowledge and proper guidance in those areas where our youths can, upon graduation, begin to reshape the world around them by using their knowledge and ingenuity to improve extant economic processes and to embark on novel and innovative enterprises that will undergird national prosperity for decades to come.”
Tinubu said it was “an honour and a privilege” to be considered among the illustrious group that was recognised. I deeply treasure this moment. I will continue to do all that I can to live up to this acclaim.
“We must continue to do all that is within our capacities so that we hand over a steady helm and a vibrant and strengthened nation to these young people,” he said.
Stressing the need for investment in human capital, Tinubu said there can be no nation-building where people are not built.
He described ABUAD founder Aare Afe Babalola (SAN) as a builder. “We are very proud to be associated with you,” Tinubu said.
Praising Babalola for his commitment to education, the APC National Leader said: “Truly, investing in education at 90, the twilight of a man like Afe Babalola, is something that you cannot find in the book but the heart.
“Babalola is an embodiment of strong commitment, great determination, honourable character and a talent-seeker and producer.
“We know that the lack of economic facilities in many of our public institutions is affecting our nation.
“We will promise you that there will be a rehabilitation of facilities in the areas of roads and more infrastructures will be provided in other sectors.
“We will not give you Nigerians excuses; we are practical and pragmatic economists.”
To the graduands, he said: “The future is not bleak, it is real. We can be your symbol so that you can be more successful than many of us.
“It is one thing to get the education, but you must match this with character and if you fail to emulate Afe Babalola, your Bachelor degrees are nothing.
“Let this institution go through you as go into the world.”
Babalola, who described ABUAD as a child of circumstance, said the university’s 10-year development plan has been improved upon.
“We need the help of the government in the area of road construction. We learnt the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) awarded the road contract but it was badly executed.
“We also need an independent power plant. All over the world, universities are sustained through endowments and donations from private bodies.”
Babalola said the distinguished awardees were carefully chosen based on their contributions to nation-building, education and service to humanity.
Ekiti State Governor Dr Kayode Fayemi, represented by his deputy, Bisi Egbeyemi, congratulated Babalola for making ABUAD one of the best universities within 10 years.
He assured him of the state government’s support.
Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal said he was impressed with ABUAD’s outstanding exploits in Africa, saying the institution has carved a niche for itself.
Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola said the honour bestowed on Tinubu was well-deserved. He said it bore eloquent testimony to Tinubu’s leadership qualities as a foremost selfless social reformer, astute politician, high-profile technocrat and seasoned administrator.
Also at the event were Governors Babajide Sanwoolu (Lagos State) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola and former Osun State Governor Chief Bisi Akande.
Others are former Ekiti State Governor Segun Oni, former Defence Minister Demola Seriki, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Lagos State Commissioner for Information Gbenga Omotoso, Dr Mukaila Isamotu and Dr Wale Babarinsa.