Being the Speech by His Excellency Seyi Makinde, the Executive Governor of Oyo State and Visitor to the First Technical University, Ibadan, at the Second Convocation of the Institution on Friday, March 31, 2023.
This is another notable day in the history of the First Technical University, Ibadan, as you host the second convocation ceremony for students in the different programmes in the Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences and graduate the pioneer set of engineering students from this great institution.
Looking at the progress this university has made from its humble beginnings, today is a good day to honour my predecessor who established the university. And so, we have made the decision to rename this university the Abiola Ajimobi First Technical University, Ibadan.
Today will be a reference point for you, graduands. Some of you have been here for four years and some for five, but none of you have spent a semester more than you should because of any sort of strike action. This is the legacy of our administration to do our bit to ensure that the school calendar is never disrupted.
As I stand here watching all graduands seated, I am taken back to the day, I sat like you are sitting, thinking of what the future would bring for me. It was, for me, a mixture of excitement, expectation, anticipation and fear. I know many of you are feeling the same emotions.
So let me share with you today a lesson I have learnt as the years passed. Just a little something from my life to encourage you as you leave school today, either to seek employment or to pursue another dream. Permit me to share this lesson based on a scripture in Ecclesiastes 3:6. The Message translation puts it this way: There is “A right time to search and another to count your losses, A right time to hold on and another to let go.”
We live in a world where we are often inundated with messages telling us to pursue our dreams. And there is nothing wrong with such advice. We really should pursue our dreams. I often talk about how I contested for and lost elections three times, but because I did not give up on my dream to serve the people, when I contested the fourth time, I won. But I sometimes also share a dream I once had to get a permanent position at Shell Petroleum Development Company, but that was a dream I had to “give up”. Or, as that scripture says, I had to “count my losses” and move on.
Wisdom is knowing which dreams to keep seeking and which to give up. How do you know when? From my life experience, I can say that when the dream no longer depends on you to become a reality, then you know it is time to count your losses and move on. For example, in my dream of working at Shell, all I could do was sit the exams and do my best in them. The fulfilment of that dream was not solely mine. It was dependent on management needing my services.
I know for some of you here, there are companies or organisations that you wish you could work in, and when they call for applications, you will apply, work hard and put in your best during the interview process. But what if you are not called?
Tech-U has prepared you not just to seek employment but to create employment. Never forget that there are many paths to success, and even when you give up one dream, you can start another, which might bring you even greater glory than the first. A roadblock is not the end of the road, it is an opportunity for you to make a detour and find another route to success.
Remember, the goal is success. So, even if you have to give up on a means to that goal, you must never lose sight of the ultimate goal: Success.
This is what we have done even in governance in Oyo State. Our goal has always been to bring about sustainable development in Oyo State. But we had to start with accelerated development under Omituntun 1.0. And we recorded such great success that the people of Oyo State voted overwhelmingly for our Omituntun 2.0.
Particularly, our investments in the education sector yielded gains that all stakeholders have applauded. I remember, during one of the governorship debates, someone asked what the result of our consistently investing 15-20% of our budget in education was.
My response referenced our administration increasing access to education, including university education. From one and a half universities in 2019, we now have three. Also, since 2019 when this administration assumed office, there has been a significant improvement in the ranking of Oyo State in the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB). For example, the number of applicants who wrote the JAMB examination in Oyo State increased and pushed the state from sixth position in 2018, to third position in 2019 and 2020, and second position (after Lagos) in 2021 and 2022.
These statistics attest to the efforts invested not only in tertiary but also in secondary education, culminating in increased enrolment.
The progress that Tech-U is making is thus a symbol of the overall development the entire education sector is experiencing in Oyo State. As a mark of my personal interest in and commitment to see this university firmly established, I approved the continuation of the local government-sponsored scholarship scheme for our teeming youths. And as the Vice Chancellor, Professor Adesola Ajayi, acknowledged, this has made it possible for several indigent students from the state who could not ordinarily afford it to have the qualitative and technically-oriented education that Tech-U offers. It is a scholarship that does not discriminate against anyone, giving our youths from all local government areas (LGAs) equal opportunity to realise their dreams.
If you have read our Oyo State Roadmap for Sustainable Development 2023-2027, you would find that we are still committed to ensuring access to education for all. This is why one of our promises is to roll out a government-backed student loan system, within the first year of being re-elected, in collaboration with the private sector, that will enable children of the poorest of the poor to access university education. We will pilot this programme with 100 students, three from each LGA and one selected by the state government. We will be sending some of these students to benefit from courses offered by Abiola Ajimobi First Technical University, Ibadan.
Yet, we all know that government cannot do it all, this is why we continue to thank and encourage individuals in the private sector who support our institutions and students in various ways. In this vein, I wish to acknowledge the Akogun of Yorubaland and the Chairman of Amni Petroleum, Chief Tunde Afolabi MFR, who is also the Chancellor of the Abiola Ajimobi First Technical University, for his continued support for this institution through the Josephus Foundation Scholarship through which the cost of education in this institution is partly defrayed for selected beneficiaries.
Let me use this opportunity to address the issue of a Governing Council for this great institution. We will have a Governing Council in place before the end of April this year.
So, I would like to at this time thank the management and staff of First Technical University for ensuring the success of this convocation ceremony. And also wish you, the graduands all the best in your future endeavours. I would also like to acknowledge your support systems – parents, guardians and well-wishers.
Especially to you the graduating students, I urge you to be good ambassadors of the university and Oyo State. Remember, it is okay to give up on one road and search for another road as long as you keep the goal in clear focus. And that goal is “success”.
Thank you all and God bless you.