THE SECOND CONVOCATION ADDRESS
LEAD CITY UNIVERSITY, IBADAN
(FOR THE AWARD OF FIRST DEGREES AND HONOURARY DEGREES)
Lead City University, Ibadan remains the capital of this country and our blue roof and intellectual content continues to adorn this city and its academic community.
I address myself to the graduates of Lead City University. You are trained as leaders of our evolving knowledge, society and democracy.
Life is full of beginnings: For Lead City University and you, life here had one beginning with admission as a prospective student. Here it had another. You are beginning now to go into the world to bring change, but you are not beginning alone. You are surrounded by a community of your peers and your teachers, who would ensure that your life is not one of isolation; rather your life would be connected with many others in the day-to-day work of love and care for others in this country.
There would be many to turn to on this journey, many offering help and that would make the journey through your adult working life a lot easier. Still, the journey would be your own, though there would be solace, encouragement and assistance. You are embarking on something that would ask of you, your very best in order to become leaders. There was a day you got into this university to commence a course of study. Now you have completed your programme here and you are about to have another beginning in the months and years ahead, one in which you would come to know the long strain and difficulty of a life lived for another, you would also come to know the greater tension that comes with trying to balance this life with that other, the life lived on the edge. And yet, great as the difficulties would be, the rewards were always to be greater.
Trying to live a life that goes back and forth between edge and center is to live off balance. We have not yet found a way to steady the imbalance. For life’s balance to be maintained, the free energy must be favorable, resulting from a balance of the heat generated by living and for living; into the minimization of the entropy of chaos in our arrangement.
The dance is sometimes slow, sometimes frantic, frequently awkward, but it has a beauty that is all its own. I invite you to try the steps. Reach within yourself, there you will find God, reach out to others, there you will find God, back and forth it goes, until the end edge and center becomes one. Everywhere you turn, you meet God.
Lord, bless the imbalance of our days, bless it and turn it into a dance. Make it a dance that speaks of the love of our country, our community, our friends and strangers and let it be a great magnificent dance Lord, paced to the rhythms of eternity, a dance of praise to be performed onto the brink of the unknown and then beyond into your presence.
In many ways today, we are sending you all out to pursue a passion to make a real difference, to change your country and invariably the world for the better. But before we can reasonably expect you to change the world, you must experience a real transformation. Today, we celebrate the beginning and completion of that transformation.
You have spent the last four years undergoing a transformation. You have moved through the different disciplines to acquire knowledge, to learn how to use them, to make rational and evidence-based decisions that would affect not only your life but that of others. You have been promoted from first year to second, third and fourth, most of you have transitioned or will soon transition from teens to legal adults. You have mastered various levels of knowledge in the humanities, management, law and the sciences and for which you have been tested and tried. To be sitting where you are today, you have experienced a transformation and today you emerge prepared for the next step and a new stage of your life to make worthy contributions to our society as educated men and women.
You are adequately equipped as most of you will move on to different spheres of life in your various callings. Many of you will enter into the world of work in one of the most challenging economic periods in world history. The economic meltdown, banking crisis, stock crash, environmental and climate change and energy crisis. All of you are entering into your country, world and a culture that yearns for change and transformation, change in our relations within our federation, change in our domestic and international relations, change in our environmental relationship with the planet. In all ways, your community and states are seeking a better sense of humanity and a deeper sense of civility to support your atmosphere where opportunities can flourish. As young adults, you now would legitimately contribute to the nature and tone of human relationships in our nation. You can no longer blame such things on the adults or older people. You are now the pacesetters that will contribute to the cultural definitions about how people should live together and relate to one another as a nation. Our behaviours would build nationhood. The character of the people is the character of the state.
You influence whether we reach out and help the struggling neighbour or ignore him or her. You will determine whether we the people include you and me but yes it does and we must stand.
Your experience at Lead City University has been an opportunity to remake yourself from the shy adolescent that first entered our premises to the confident young adult that leaves it today. At Lead City University, you have been given special tools to prepare you for engagement with your new beginning, your new life in the community and in the nation. High expectations have been set, faith in your ability to meet those expectations has been exhibited and today, we celebrate the reality that you have come through the process successfully and are now ready to deliver your skill and ability to better your country and yourself. I pray that you take that transformation through education, reflection, socialization and discipline to a country Nigeria and a world that desperately needs your contribution to make a change. But it doesn’t stop there. Throughout your life’s journey, you will have many opportunities to remake yourself. You all are approaching that time now, All of you now step into the world.
I hope your university experience has been a moment that you have seized and an opportunity that you have taken full advantage of. You have studied things that you will not have time or opportunity to study again. You have opportunities to participate in organizations and events that will only be rarely available to you outside of the university. You will be confronted with chances to develop your leadership skills to prepare you for a world that needs leaders in many ways. These realities and opportunities if embraced and not avoided are able to transform you into a stronger, more insightful and confident leader.
You are entering the world of adults who are expected to take responsibility for their lives and follow through on high expectations. In my own journey through life, I have come face to face with people who in many ways have changed the world. But as I stand before you all today and look into your faces, I see my country and our world transforming before my eyes.
I see in you a generation of people who have grown up in the communications revolution[texting, browsing] closing gaps of division and discord created by deficient politics through your innovative ways of connecting and relating with peoples around this country and across the globe, thus creating an intimacy that past generations could never have dreamed of. Please integrate with your host NYSC community during your service year and bring about thorough national integration. I see a determination to survive and flourish arising out of a generation assaulted by the precariousness of a cult culture, to organize, build, serve and sustain a sense of community and civility that will render cult affiliations in our society unnecessary and alien.
I see you with transformed lives making a new community, a new city, a new nation, a new world. It is a high expectation, but I present it to you all because I know you have within you the capacity to attain and achieve it.
We can’t change the country Nigeria or indeed the world, unless we change ourselves. Please do, as God will bless you for it.
We have a duty to perform, the care and concern for our neighbours, our community, our country and the planet. We all acting together would make a difference, your education here is supposed to do that. The life expectancy in this country continues to drop. It stands at 42years, it was 47 years previously. Italy has a life expectancy of 100. Frequently, the meaningful lives that have been cut short speak volumes to us about the urgency of our own lives. You are young, but this graduation initiates you into the world of adulthood, that world yearns for change– change that we now turn to you to bring about. The late great leader of the Indian independence movement, Mohandas K, Gandhi insisted that his followers must first be the change they wanted to see.
The change Nelson Mandela brought into his country South Africa, you also can bring into our country and we can. The world is waiting and I stand proud that this morning as I shake your hands and admit to your various degrees, I have the hope that I am already hand in hand with the very hand that would bring change into our country as managers to improve our economy, and as worthy citizens that would give this country a worthy image among the community of nations.
You are the right people and the right time is now, it is left for you and me to become and act as the change which we now seek.
May God bless you all.
Delivered by Professor Gabriel B. Ogunmola FAS
Lead City University.