by Chesa Chesa
Nigeria can produce the highest quality individuals to run the most efficient governments and private institutions if the right values are taught in learning institutions, while absorbing the national ethic of hard work, honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, among others.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said this Tuesday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, while giving the Centennial Lesson of the Boys Baptist High School (BBHS) in the state capital.
Speaking on the topic: “Values: the difference between success and failure”, Professor Osinbajo urged that an ethical revolution is needed to accelerate the country’s development and make it a great nation.
According to the vice president, a national consensus was needed, especially among the political, religious, and business elite, to accept and implement minimum ethical standards, “where we establish a national work ethic of honesty, hard work, thrift, and deferred gratification. “
Explaining this, Prof. Osinbajo noted that “it is what is taught and learned that shapes the character of individuals and nations. But it is not just about teaching, governments must lead this ethical revolution, rewarding ethical behavior and guaranteeing swift punishment for misconduct.
“The religious elite must reinforce the agreed ethical direction by showing that wealth and influence are built by hard work, diligence and the postponement of gratification and not just miracles.
The religious elite must also shun and ostracize public officials and people whose wealth cannot be explained or clearly comes from shady or suspect sources. Every modern society has had to deal with corruption and enshrine minimum ethical standards to succeed, we must do the same.”
The Vice President, referring to the previous section of the ceremony where the Centennial Commemorative Obelisk was unveiled with the names of the distinguished centenarians inscribed on it, observed that the same values of integrity, hard work and reliability are what make people great. , institutions and nations. .
He said that “the difference between men and women who achieve significance and those who don’t, are values. So it is also the case that the difference between successful societies or countries and unsuccessful or unsuccessful countries are values.”
Pointing to the examples of countries in Asia and Africa with enormous reservoirs of natural resources and human talent, the vice president said that “while geography plays an important role in the success of individuals and communities, they are not defining characteristics; otherwise, the countries with the largest deposits of mineral wealth would be the most prosperous.”
Defining values as ethical principles by which individuals and communities live, work, and interact, including honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, perseverance, hard work, diligence, discipline, respect, etc., the Vice President emphasized that “it is the values that determine the success or failure of individuals or societies.”
According to him, “Venezuela has one of the largest oil deposits in the world but the UN estimates that 94% of its citizens are poor. The Great Lakes region in Africa has some of the richest mineral deposits in the world, yet the countries in the region are some of the poorest in the world. On the other hand, some of the richest countries in the world and those with the most Nasdaq-listed companies include Israel, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, South Korea, and Singapore, none of which have wealth. natural.
He stated that “all the great and successful economies of the world share the same characteristics, they emphasize hard work, integrity”.
Prof. Osinbajo also highlighted BBHS’s ‘incredible legacy’ in producing alumni who have achieved national and international renown in academia, the professions, business, politics and civil society.
He narrated stories of four of those former students emphasizing their strong values.
They are the first Prime Minister of the then Western Region, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo GCFR, SAN; the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo; the late MKO Chief Abiola, acclaimed winner of the annulled presidential election of June 12, 1993; and the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federation, Prince Bola Ajibola, SAN.
In his early days in public service, the vice president, then in his early 30s, had worked directly for 5 years with Prince Ajibola, who later also served as a judge on the International Court of Justice and Nigeria’s ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Regarding the first three names, the vice president noted that “I mention only these three men because they resolutely defended the principles even in the face of great temptation to compromise, made personal sacrifices or suffered for their beliefs.
“They have something that sets them apart. They seemed to have absorbed something that made them so resolute even in the face of sometimes terrifyingly overwhelming challenges: standing up for one’s beliefs and principles, even if it means pain or punishment.”
On Prince Ajibola, the vice president recalled some defining events while working with the former AGF that exemplified the exemplary values it embodied.
“The first was a situation in which a foreign contractor who had won a lucrative federal government contract gave a car to Judge Ajibola’s son who was then in college abroad.
“Judge Ajibola’s son told him about it and I had never seen him (Ajibola) so angry. Not only was the gift returned, but the man’s government was reported to him. I remember when he came to the Ministry to apologize, he looked like a rain-lashed chicken.
“The second incident was a commercial airliner arrested in Nigeria for transporting drugs. The Attorney General’s Office took up the matter. And a very successful lawyer who claimed to be acting as an intermediary for some interests even offered the AGF a large sum of money in FX.
“When I remember how Prince Bola Ajibola yelled at the lawyer and ordered him out of his office, I still remember the shame and fear on the man’s face.”
The vice president also narrated how in later years, Prince Ajibola decided that his life’s work would be the establishment of a university.
“He sold all the properties he had in Lagos and moved to his house in Abeokuta. He established Crescent University with all the resources he had. I asked him why, he said that at the end of the day wealth means nothing if it doesn’t positively impact the lives of others”.
Speaking further, Professor Osinbajo pointed out that the successes of these four old BBHS boys who rose to prominence and greatness were not based on talent or opportunity.
“They all worked hard, but they showed courage and integrity, they fought for what they believed in, and in three of the four cases they were wrongfully imprisoned for their beliefs or because their opinions or positions were considered threats to the authorities of the day,” the vice president said.