SPEECH: Governor Rauf Aregbesola Speaks At His Visit To Iwo Baptist High School, Iwo And On The Distribution Of Opon Imo


Building knowledge-based society

It gives me great pleasure to be in your midst this morning. I am happy and overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotions and the tumultuous reception I received from the pupils, teachers andentire Iwo community since I stepped into this town. Our elders have a saying that people are the real dress that we wear andfor this, I will cherish forever the honour you have done to me today.

I have decided to visit you today after I heard about a little misunderstanding and consequent bad behaviour by a very tiny number among you, which does not by any stretch of the imagination approximate the spirit of amity and scholarship in this school and even the community. The united manner inwhich you have all received me has put a lie to the antics of mischief makers who made futile bid to impress upon the whole world that this school and indeed Iwo town are on the verge of civil war.

On the contrary, what I have seen are happy students in gay mood willing to project the Omoluabi ethos and looking to the future with great hope.

This indeed is our desire for you. Our philosophy of education is the creation of the total man, a man physically, intellectually, morally and spiritually equipped to contribute to societal development. This is a man who views his acquisition and life attainment as instruments in the service of society and improvement of fellow citizens. This new person stands confident and radiates love to fellow human beings and is never threatened by other people who are different from him or her in some respects.

Education is the means by which this new man is produced. Our interest in education even goes further. The world is now a rapidly changing place. Knowledge has become the basis of power and no longer the old notions of large territory, large army, large human population and large deposits of material resources.

The most powerful nations are those that know how to use resources and trade in knowledge. Our world is now controlled by those who know technology, and not those who have it. It means in essence that a nation that knows how to manufacture cars, tractors and nuclear weapons is superior to those who merely have the money to buy them. The former is the master while the later is a mere servant.

As we are, we are already marginalised in that world and our pie will further shrink in the future if we do not prepare our youth to compete favourably in that imminent future. We are therefore preparing those who will be political leaders, scientists, clergies, diplomats, inventors, captains of industries and leaders in all respects in the next 20 years, at least. Inorder to underscore how rapidly our world has changed, there was no GSM in Nigeria 20 years ago, but now there are 117 million active mobile phones in the country. What preparation was made 20 years ago for this change? Our level ofpreparation (or rather unpreparedness) is reflected in the importation of at least 200 million mobile phones from Europe and Asia until we opened, last month, a phone manufacturing plant in Ilesa.

We are therefore interested in developing robustly the next generation that will take over from us and we are giving it everything that it will take to develop our successors in the brave new world of the future.

At the moral level, we are developing the youth as an Omoluabi, that quintessential Yoruba man that is the epitome ofknowledge, wisdom, honour, integrity, discipline and chivalry. Aperson who believes in success through hard work; who conceives of societal problem and sees himself or herself as part of the solution and is working to the bone to provide solutions to every problem in his immediate environment; aman without prejudice who realised that God created us equal but differently in many respects and therefore have deep respect to others and their differences.

Let me briefly intimate you with our commitment to education since our inauguration three years ago. The first thing we did was to convoke an education summit which was attended by eminent stakeholders in education, including Prof Wole Soyinka. The reforms we have carried out emanate from the summit. We realised that there was shortage of teachers and as of now, we have employed 10,407 teachers in all categories of schools. We now have a total number of 12,715 teachers in primary schools and 7,848 teachers in secondary schools. This is 54.8 per cent more than we inherited. We have also employed 564 non-teaching staff in schools.

The salaries and pensions we consequently pay every year is N16.8 billion for primary school teachers while N10.3 billion is expended on same in secondary schools. So, on salary alone, we are spending a total of N27.1 billion. For the free school uniforms we gave to pupils, we have spent N900 million. Forthe free school feeding programme, we commit N3.6 billion every year. For the furniture supplied to the schools, we have committed N2.5 billion. Before we came, no school had instructional materials and again, on this, we have spent N503 million. The total grants to schools stand at N856 million against N122 million recorded for previous administration. We have also paid N400 million for WAEC fees against N38 million paid by previous administration.

We have spent so far N1.2 billion on Opon Imo, and this includes the delivery of 50,000 units of the tablets, some of which will be distributed in this school today. We have spent N14.4 billion on capital projects so far for the construction of brand new 13 elementary schools, 14 middle schools and 12 high schools. Work is ongoing. We have also spent N1.6 billion on school renovations and will continue until all our schools are all centres of excellence.

The total recurrent annual expenditure on elementary schools is N21 billion, amounting to N84,000 per capita spending on each pupil while for secondary schools, it is N13.43 billion andper capita of N30,000 on each pupil. Our capital expenditure on all schools stands at N31.31 billion.

We are not just bandying figures. These are good money spent and reflected on increased school enrolment and healthy and well-fed school children; in the cutting edge instrument of Opon Imo; in conducive environment for learning; and in drastically improved performance in internal and national examinations. They are reflected in brand new uniforms; in fulfilled teacherswho now have instructional aid for the first time; in promptly paid salaries; and ultimately in self assured youths bracing up with confidence to the future.

Beyond our financial commitment, we have invested hope in you; the hope that you will realise your greatest potentials and be a winner in your life endeavour; the hope that you willredeem our future that looked bleak hitherto. You cannot let us down. It is our hope that Nobel Laureates; renowned clergies like Pastors Adeboye and Kumuyi; Imams like Sheik Adelabu; army generals like Petinrin; great entertainers like Moses Adejumo (Baba Sala), Kareem Adepoju (Baba Wande) andKing Sunny Ade; inventors like Prof Makanjuola; eminent jurists like Kayode Esho and Emmanuel Ayoola; astute diplomats like Hastrup and Fafowora; and great politicians like Bola Ige.

I want you to know that our concern for you is getting the best education available. You should therefore avoid distractions and indiscipline. We view you all as created equal by God andare therefore our shining stars. We cannot place any group above other.

We are a product of the rule of law and this has guided all our actions. As we have said in the past, we have not approved or dis-approve the use of hijab in any school. Let me repeat this again for the hearing of mischief-makers who have been working tirelessly to bring religious war to our state; those prompting chaos and conflagration in our state; those who have well established antecedent of violent behaviour; those sowing the seed of discord in our schools and community and inciting one religion against another (and they will all fail miserably by the grace of the Almighty), that the government did not at any time approve or dis-approve the use of hijab in any school, before the matter went to court. It is the court’s position that the status quo ante be maintained until the case is determined. This means that where it is in use, it will be maintained and it should not be extended to where it is not. This is the beauty of democracy, where there is respect for the rule of law.

We have set up a committee on in-discipline in public school and when we receive their report, a summit on discipline will be convened and the resolution therefrom will be the charter on discipline in Osun, which shall be enforced in all schools. The future we are preparing you for has no place for unruly behavior and undisciplined persons. Order, they say, is the first law in Heaven.

Yoruba people have a tradition of accommodation and inclusion; that is why our families are interwoven around all religions. Some people, goaded from hell, however, are working to break our bond of unity by beating the drum of religious war. They will fail and only they and their families will dance to that evil beat.

As I return to my base, I commit you to the Almighty, to keep, guide and protect. May you become great, reputable,accomplished, dominate and fill your world. May our investment and your parents’ expectation over you bring forth fruits, in hundreds and thousands and may you become the best that God Almighty wants you to become.

Let me once again thank the pupils, teachers, parents and the good people of Iwo for their love, accommodation and warm welcome for me.

I thank you for your kind attention.

Osun a dara!