VP’s Remarks At The 30th Anniversary Gala Of Atlantic Hall School
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY GALA OF ATLANTIC HALL SCHOOL ON THE 1ST OF FEBRUARY, 2020.
I am honored to join you all to celebrate 30 outstanding years of this institution. We must honor the selflessness and enterprising spirit of the founders who not only dared to envision this great institution, but committed their lives and resources to give birth to it. Five, and then ten extraordinary women, who after making a success of their lives and careers, cared to look back and give back.
But it is to the staff of the school that we owe that special debt of gratitude for running with the vision and executing the mandate of molding and developing the many young talents for which they were custodians, and doing so, so masterfully in the past 30 years.
But a school is ultimately about its students; what they become in character, values, and learning and especially what difference they make in their societies.
Almost invariably, we are all products of our environment, especially our schools. There, our world view is formed, our ethics are shaped, our sense of fairness, right and wrong is honed, our fidelity to principles, loyalty to family, friends and the nation is defined. Indeed, all that ultimately makes us who we are is developed in school.
So not surprisingly as a part of this event, you are unveiling the school’s ten “ambassadors of the decade”, made up of some particularly exemplary former students whose remarkable achievements in their various fields of endeavour are the pride of the school and indeed the nation. From Kemi Adetiba; the award-winning film maker, a music video director, filmmaker, and television director, who has become a leading light in Nigeria’s movie industry, who wrote and directed two top grossing Nigerian movies, the Wedding Party 1, King of Boys 1. These outstanding achievements in a few short years to Damilola Ogunbiyi who at 28, built and managed the five Lagos Independent Power Plants, went on to become the Presidential Adviser on Power, worked with me for a few years before going out to head a major Federal Agency.
She was responsible for building the largest solar power plant in Nigeria, the 7 kilo watt solar plant that is in Bayero University Kano. She was recently appointed as you know, Special Representative of United Nations Secretary-General and CEO of Solar Energy For All which again is a UN agency.
And then also Mark Okoye, he is the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Anambra State. Today, he is said to be the youngest commissioner in the country. I also had the privilege of meeting him at subcommittee meetings of the National Economic Council and benefitted from his clarity of thought and keen mind. And also in the public service, but this time in the diaspora is Matthew Otubu, Youth Councillor for the Newcastle City Council in Scotland, a British Empire Medalist, and named just recently as a medalist of the most excellent Order of the British Empire, O.B.E, in Her Majesty, the Queen’s National Honours List 2020.
Then there is Omilola Sokoya, the award-winning Life and Finance Coach, and author of the Richer Woman. That book, Richer Woman is now translated in several languages, and published in several countries of the world. She’s also the founder of the highly successful “Do It Afraid” entrepreneurial conference. And then to my learned colleague, Donna Ogunnaike, a partner in the reputed law firm of Adepetun, Caxton Martins, Agbor and Segun. She is an energy expert of international renown, a poet, oral and performed poetry.
In many ways, these young men and women demonstrate to us, that the future is here and that the past is certainly gone. There’s much more to careers these days than the traditional areas of medicine, engineering, law and the likes, and we live in a world that has come to reward a much broader range of skills and talents. So, we have Amaka Osakwe – a.k.a Maki Oh, excelling in high fashion, clothing the likes of Beyoncé and Rihanna.
I first heard of her a couple of years ago when she was celebrated in Vogue magazine and also in the New Yorker as West Africa’s most daring designer. Her use of Adire in many collections was described in that publication as an intentional ploy to deploy the elements of culture and redefine culture in fashion. She is showing us that you can also ‘secure the bag’ in fashion. And Damola Ladejobi is taking over the continent’s nutrition and fitness space; she is the CEO of one of Africa’s leading healthy lifestyle companies, Askdamz. And she is by the way, a lawyer. While Ijeoma Balogun is redefining the PR market by sheer innovative energy, she is the founder/CEO of Redrick PR, an award winning journalist and a Forbes under 30 2019 honoree. We also have Seye Ogunlewe, Nigeria’s one time fastest man, whose athletic prowess and endeavours continue to make us all extremely proud.
Each of these outstanding individuals is a product of the nurtured skills and solid foundations, of years in a school environment that valued their talents, celebrated their skills and cheered them on. Atlantic Hall has every reason to be extremely proud of the outstanding achievements and you have done us proud to produce this best-in-class, world class results. Congratulations!
Before I take my seat, permit me to throw a challenge to the Board of Trustees and all of us here. In August 2015, I paid my first official visit to Maiduguri, Borno State to inspect some of our facilities there; IDP camps and some of the facilities for victims of the conflict in the Northeast. On that occasion, we counted over 49,245 young children who had lost their parents, almost half of them were girls, and some of them were just simply roaming around. That was only in parts of Maiduguri metropolis, there were thousands more. The tragedy of conflict and its outcomes in poverty and displacement is stark. Governments alone cannot handle it. There are international NGOs here and there, but the local private response is still so little.
I met with a group of friends and we agreed to establish the North East Children Trust Fund, NECT, chaired by Mr. Jim Ovia. The objective is to build learning centers, schools and equipped to handle traumatized children, and give them world class education and care. The North East Children Trust has built the first of this school, accommodating over a 1500 children. And they have taken over yet another school for about 700, and are looking at the prospects of a bigger facility. The board invited Grange School to help in passing on some experience and knowledge about teacher and school experience, and they have done a wonderful job.
Despite their best efforts, and the best effort of the of the Borno State government, the former and present governors are outstanding public servants and the State is said to be fortunate to have. But so much more is left undone, and so much more still needs to be done. There are still thousands, especially girls in the camps, and some roaming the streets waiting for the second chance that only committed persons and organizations of conscience can offer. And so, I urge you to join in that effort as soon as possible.
I believe that the Atlantic Hall Educational Trust is one that can also render help, especially to so many thousands of young men and women in the Northeast and several other parts of the country, but in particular, the Northeast.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, join me in congratulating all the honorees, this decade’s ambassadors of Atlantic Hall, and also the Board of Trustees, the staff, the students and alumni of Atlantic Hall. My prayer for this school on this anniversary is that as your days, so shall your strength, so shall your wisdom and so shall your favor from God in Jesus Name.