Akpabio charges Graduating students on looking beyond limits

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, and pioneer Chancellor of Ritman University, Senator (Dr) Godswill Akpabio was among national dignitaries who graced the 1st convocation ceremony of the institution in Ikot Ekpene on Saturday, November 30, 2019.

Akpabio who met with former Governor of Kano State, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, and the present Governor of the state, Abdullahi Ganduje, presented a speech on “You Have Greatness Within You”.

The Minister in his speech, preached that just as Neil Armstrong stepped out of the Eagle Lunar lander in July 20, 1969 and became the first man in history to set his foot on the moon, remarking that it is one small step for a man, but a giant leap for mankind, Ritman’s convocation was “one small step for this academic community, but a giant leap for education in our country, a giant leap in personal initiative for our state, and more importantly a giant leap for development in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area”.

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Akpabio noted that Ikot Ekpene has been the melting pot not only of the Senatorial District, but the entire Akwa Ibom State, and has by the current occasion, again risen to that of being a melting pot for the quest for knowledge.

He paid glowing tributes to the school’s founder, Senator Ibokessien whom he said “planted a seed of hope in a nursery school, when the idea of private universities was an anathema in our country”, adding that “today, decades later, he has reaped the fruit in an excellent global university”.

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs who recalled the moments he was chased by security men from the school into the bush, said that the chase inspired the free and compulsory education scheme he initiated as Governor of Akwa Ibom State. “I believe that the ultimate obligation of leadership is to build people, nurture people and give people hope, not build infrastructures only”, he asserted.

While congratulating the graduating students, Akpabio lauded them for leaving indelible footprints in the sands of time.

He told the story of a boy born and raised by a foster mother in an abandoned building and often labeled as “educable mentally handicapped” by educationists.

He explained that the boy had a twin brother who was bright and gifted and his schoolmates therefore nicknamed him, “the dumb twin.”

The Minister narrated that the boy was asked to solve a problem on the blackboard one day but he refused, saying “But I can’t,”, “I am educable mentally handicapped.” This made the class laugh while his teacher walked over to him, looked him in the eyes and said, “Don’t ever say that again. Someone else’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.”

“That day the boy began to think reflectively. Today that boy, Les Brown, is one of the world’s leading motivational speakers and grosses millions of dollars every year on the speaking circuit. Why? A teacher encouraged him to think reflectively and his most famous line is You have greatness within you”, Akpabio said.

He expressed optimism that there are “lecturers, like that teacher, in Ritman University who would have awakened the giants” in the graduating students, and urged them “to always remember that their greatness is within – not without”.

“Stay away from the motley crowd of greedy, selfish individuals who can sell their communities for crumbs from the table of selfish politicians. Do not mortgage your future for porridge like Esau did. You may have been trampled upon, rejected, bruised, humiliated but always remember that a rumpled five hundred Naira note and a mint five hundred Naira note have the same purchasing power. Your circumstances have not diminished your value because your worth is based on what is printed in your heart. You have greatness within you”, he admonished.

“Helen Keller was blind and stone deaf but she became one of the one hundred greatest persons of the last century, according to a Time/CNN survey. When she was asked what was worse than being born blind, she retorted, “To have sight and no vision.” You are graduating in this great institution because one man had a vision. You must have a vision for your life and pursue it until it blossoms and provides shelter for others. You have greatness within you”, Akpabio charged.

“As Nigerians we need a paradigm shift. The mindsets of many Nigerians need psycho-social re-engineering. Our hope is in our universities to help us in this regard. A system in which everyone thinks of consumption, not production cannot rise to its full potential”.

“A system which sees public service as an avenue for wealth is in a slow-motion suicide and must be rescued by the good people in our midst. If all of us want to share the national cake, pray, who will bake the cake? Who would fetch the flour to bake the cake? Already, diminishing oil reserves and fluctuating oil prices have diminished the size of the cake. Nigeria must rise and respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s call for all of us to go back to work, cultivate integrity and love our country”.

“The Ritman University’s pioneer graduates and the rest of the cerebral people in this academic environment must brace up for the challenge of development. They must produce ideas that would change the world. I dare to believe that we can produce another “Albert Einstein” who would re-write and expand our knowledge of the theory of Relativity”.

“I see another “Nicolaus Copernicus” emerge with something just as astounding as a heliocentric model of the solar system. John Dalton who originated the modern theory of atomic elements came in the same package as you. Gregor Mendel, who laid the mathematical foundation of the science of genetics, did not close the door on further discoveries. You have greatness within! Rise up to the challenge! the Minister called.

He paid glowing tributes to the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of Ritman University, Professor Nsongurua Udombana; the premier Vice Chancellor, Professor Celestine Ntuen; the Board of Trustees, Governing Council, Senate, Staff, Graduating Students and the entire University Community for a work well done, while preempting again that “this institution young and strong is Ikot Ekpene springing up to take its place once again in the pantheon of great cities in our nation.”

“I see this institution rise up as the control post of education in our country”, he concluded.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Ritman University, Senator Effiong Bob, noted that Ritman University was built on “home soil” to fulfill the maxim that “charity begins at home”.

“While some think that big institutions like this one can only thrive in the biggest cities, we were determined to prove that our land is fertile, that is why we bequeathed to Akwa Ibomites and Nigerians of today and the future this beautiful institution tucked away in the beautiful town of Ikot Ekpene with an ambience serene enough for serious intellectual activity”, he said.

Speaking at the occasion, Governor Udom Emmanuel charged the graduands to jealously guard and uphold the virtues of character, integrity and honour, if they must live a happy and fulfilled life.

Represented by his Deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo Udom who pressed on the high demand for character, intergrity and honour in all spheres of life and endeavour, adding that such were in high demand in today’s society.

“These three element will be the first set of of ideals your recruiter or future business partner will look at before your GP and these three should never be in short supply or you will constantly receive the sure end of the stick inspite of your glowing credentials, he noted.”

At the event, the former governor of Kano State, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau and Sir Effiong Afiakurue Ikpoto were conferred with the award of Doctorate Degree.

Senator Ibrahim Shekarau was awarded with the degree of Doctor of science (D. Sc), while Sir Effiong Daniel Afiakurue Ikpoto was awarded honorary degree of doctor of business administration (D. B. A).

The former Governor of Kano State is an educationist, politician, leader and a lover of education, while Sir Effiong Daniel Afiakurue Ikpoto is a philanthropist, lover of education, respected community servant, and a retired public servant.

At the event were Senator Kabiru Gaya, Governor Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Senator Ita Enang, Senator Chris Ekpenyong,