ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR, DR. IFEANYI OKOWA, GOVERNOR OF DELTA STATE, AT THE 11TH CONVOCATION CEREMONY OF DELTA STATE UNIVERSITY AT THE CONVOCATION ARENA, SITE 111, MAIN CAMPUS, ABRAKA, ON SATURDAY, 22ND JULY, 2017
His Excellency, Barrister Kingsley Otuaro, the Deputy Governor of Delta State;
Members of the National Assembly here Present;
The Honourable Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevbori;
My Lord, the Chief Judge of Delta State, Hon. Justice Marshal Umukoro
The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council, Delta State University, Abraka, Professor Sam Oyovbaire;
The Vice-Chancellor, Delta State University, Abraka, Professor Victor Peretemode;
Members of the Delta State House of Assembly;
Secretary to the State Government;
Top Government Functionaries;
Members of the Governing Council, Delta State University, Abraka;
Members of Senate, Delta State University, Abraka;
Faculty Members, Graduating Class, and Student Body, Delta State University, Abraka;
Chancellors of other Universities;
Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission;
Pro-Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors of other Universities;
Chairmen of Local Government Councils;
Heads of other Tertiary Institutions here present;
Members of Diplomatic Corps;
Your Royal Majesties;
My Lords, Spiritual and Temporal;
Gentlemen of the Press;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is my pleasure to address this Convocation.
- I congratulate the class of 2015/2016 for successfully completing their undergraduate and graduate programmes. You deserve commendation for staying the course as you fought your way through the rigours of academic pursuit amid a difficult operating environment. The University is proud of you and so are we all gathered here today.
- Generous mention must be made of your parents, guardians, mentors and friends who stood by you through thick and thin. Always bear in mind that the story of your success is largely attributable to their moral and financial support. I say thank you to all the parents and families for the part you played to make this day a reality.
- As I have often said at different convocation ceremonies, graduation does not mean the end of learning; it means you are now responsible for your own learning. On this memorable day, a new dawn beckons on you to take responsibility for writing the remaining chapters of your life. It is your initial baptism into the age of responsibility. The word ‘responsibility’ is derived from two words – response and ability. The degrees and awards you receive today attest to your ability; it means you have been certified to function in your chosen discipline. How you respond to that is entirely up to you. I have a few suggestions for you.
- Number one, you must be goal-oriented. The principle of goal setting is the first step in turning your dreams to reality. A goal gives focus to your life, energizes you in the right direction and enables judicious use of resources. Without goals you won’t know if you are making progress. How would you know you made the mark without a goal? In fact, you should have set your goals before today. But you can start now if you haven’t already done so. Set short-term, mid-term and long-term goals for your career, family, finance and spiritual life. Write them down. Pursue after them. Seek counsel and help where necessary. And make sure you periodically evaluate your progress.
- Number two, conquer your fear. Fear is a negative emotion common to everyone born into this world. As you step out into the world, you will be confronted by fear -fear of not getting that dream job, fear of failure, fear of making mistakes, fear of making the wrong decisions or choices, and fear of not making it in life. If you are ever going to amount to anything in life or live a life of fulfilment, you must summon the courage to confront and overcome the fears that assail your minds.
- I believe in the proposition that fear is false evidence appearing real. In other words, many things we fear or worry about are not real; they only exist in our imagination. I dare you to do the things that you are afraid of. Shun excuses. Fear often comes disguised as excuses. In the Biblical Book of Proverb we are told of the man who refused to pursue his dream. Why? “There is a lion outside,” the man said, “I shall be slain in the streets.” That is the portrait of a man imprisoned by fear.
- You must not become a captive to fear. Pursue your dream. Acquire a skill. Apply for that dream job. Start that business. Do whatever you need to do; one thing you must never do is to succumb to fear. In your journey to success, you will stumble a few times but always remember these immortal words by Winston Churchill. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
- Number three, be original. There are far too many people trying to be like others. But you were born an original; you are not a carbon copy. So, be you. Don’t rush into something because you see others doing it, or because it is the vogue. Stay true to your vision.
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry” (Habakkuk 2:3).
- Please don’t fall into the temptation of comparing yourself with others, not even your classmates. It is a sure recipe for discontentment, frustration and failure. God’s plan for every man is different. It is counterproductive to measure your success by comparing yourself with others. That is what leads to strife and unhealthy rivalry. At every point in life, there will always be people ahead of you and behind you. It is a fact of life. Accept it. Embrace your destiny. Be original. Be happy.
- Number four, pursue excellence. Sad to say, mediocrity abounds everywhere in our country – in business, the professions, academia, politics and governance. This must change. I charge you to chart a course of excellence in all your endeavours. Excellence should not be confused with perfection. Excellence is the gradual result of striving to do better – all the time. In all that you do, continuous improvement must be your watchword. Every new assignment offers you the opportunity to do better. Don’t settle for less.
- Number five; please know that in this life you cannot please everybody. If you do things in order to please men, you will seldom end up doing the right thing. Far too many people are trying to live up to the expectation or gain the approval of others, instead of focusing on doing what is right. The desire for men’s approval will weigh you down and, in the end, you will still not please them. Despite His goodness and unconditional love for humanity, some are still living in rebellion towards God. So if even God cannot please all men, neither can you. Learn a lesson from Bill Cosby who said: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”
- In concluding this address, I wish to commend the Governing Council, Management and Staff of the University for their commitment to align talent, resources and good governance essential to building a reputable institution. Last year when I was here, I spoke extensively on the need for our tertiary institutions to improve their budgeting and accounting processes, correct the imbalance in their teaching staff, reduce the incidence of Visiting Lecturers and tackle the ghost worker syndrome. I am pleased to note that this university has made significant progress in these areas, as directed.
- I am also happy to report that our administration has recorded some notable achievements in this institution including;
- Completion, equipping and commissioning of the Faculty of Law Complex, Oleh Campus
- Accreditation of the Faculties of Law and Engineering
- Approval and Implementation of 2014 and 2015 salary increment and promotion of Staff
- Approval for recruitment of some academic staff
- Release of N100m for Accreditation of courses and N13m for Convocation
- We shall continue to give the necessary support to transform this university into an elite institution that places a premium on excellence in teaching and learning. As part of our commitment to academic excellence, we are determined to create the enabling environment that will enhance the university’s ability to attract, recruit, and retain high ranking academics.
- In the same token, we expect the Senate of the University to give priority consideration to excellence in teaching in the promotion, tenure, and reappointment of academic staff. As I did say last year, “promotion is reward for hard work, not an entitlement. So, for any staff to qualify for promotion they must prove their worth, not simply because they have been in the system for long.”
- In addition, community service learning, which integrates classroom instruction with practical community service, should be part and parcel of the curricula. It has the strong potential of preparing and equipping the students for leadership roles and selfless service to the country.
- As stated earlier, we have noticed significant improvements in the budgeting and accounting processes. Yet, some problems remain, chief among which is the discrepancy between the budget submitted to the State Government and that run by the institution. There is need to correct this anomaly to aid transparency and accountability, and build trust between the institution and the supervising ministry.
- This administration is mindful of the funding gaps in our tertiary institutions. Despite the challenging economic environment, we have ensured prompt payment of staff salaries and worked hard to provide basic infrastructure. But as in anywhere else in the world, adequate funding is possible when the university is able to mobilize substantial additional resources aside from the subsidies they receive from government. It is what enables universities to build first class facilities and attract and retain the best talent in academics. This is the challenge before our tertiary institutions. There is need to have well-structured and professionally run fund raising offices with the capacity to diversify the funding sources, especially through robust endowment funds and alumni funding stream.
- Finally, I urge all stakeholders, including the students, to maintain an atmosphere of peace in our tertiary institutions. These are trying times but with honest dialogue, mutual cooperation and respect for constituted authorities, we can - and shall - overcome whatever challenges come our way.
- I thank you for your time and attention.
- God bless us all.
Office of the Governor