The Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah, has advised young Nigerians wishing to leave the country (the popular Japa syndrome) not to hesitate.
However, he prayed that the right and conducive environment be created so that those left behind can compete favourably with their foreign counterparts.
Bishop Kukah, the Pro-chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of Veritas University, Abuja, said this while addressing graduands of Veritas University, on Saturday. It was the school’s convocation ceremony.
The Bishop said: “I encourage young people who want to leave Nigeria to please, feel free to leave. The country is big enough. We can assure you that by the time you settle down in the United States of America or wherever you have gone, you will discover that Nigeria needs you.
“And for those you left behind, our hope and prayer is that they will be competing at the same level with you. We have everything that it takes to turn the corner.
“We are Veritas University will continue to inspire and shape the new generation so that the change we expect in our country is not the change we expect from politicians.
“It is the change that will come with a big intellectual understanding of the complex nature of this country. So every graduate who walks out of the portals of Veritas will be truly equipped mentally and intellectually to conquer Nigeria.”
Kukah tasked the graduates to remain focused and remember the school they were leaving behind. He also appealed to teachers to strive to be role models for the students.
According to him, “The quality of help and support you will get from the alumni will be determined by how they left this university.
“As you prepare to spend a new chapter in your life, I encourage you to remain focused on your dream. Do not forget your alma mater because you are standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before you. Do not forget the sacrifices you have made.
“This is why we also appeal to teachers to become sources of inspiration because the quality of help and support you will get from the alumni will be determined by how they left this university. If they leave this university feeling sorrowful, they are not likely to look back.
“So we want to encourage you parents to please endeavour to serve as models and mentors to these young people. Remember it could have been done anywhere. It’s not by accident that they are in Nigeria,” he added.
He noted that some teachers were sacrificing to give their best to the country. Kukah said contrary to the claim that teachers’ rewards were in heaven, they are here on earth, appealing to them not to rest on their oars.
‘How pilot delayed plane for me’
He narrated an experience: “I have a personal experience of coming late to catch a flight to Sokoto. I was the last person to get on the plane.
“Miraculously, the plane continued to wait and when I got to the aircraft, the pilot was waiting at the foot of the plane.
“I tried to take my seat and knelt to greet me. I was quite embarrassed because I had never seen this gentleman in my life. But he said, ‘Well, Bishop, I have to kneel and greet you because you are the one who recommended me over 10 years ago for the job as a pilot’.
“We never know as teachers. Do not fall victims to the claim that your rewards are in heaven. Your rewards are actually here and they will also be in heaven.”
He congratulated the management and staff of the university, headed by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ichoku Hyacinth.
Kukah said the VC’s outstanding leadership and qualities “have been very clearly enunciated on how far the university had travelled.
“We hope that this university will achieve the elasticity that all those who started with Veritas will be able to secure the place.”
He appealed to the bodies that regulate university admissions to expand the opportunity for some universities, including Veritas University so that they can contribute their quota to the education of the citizens.
… to parents
Turning to the parents and guardians, Kukah said: “As a chairman of the Council, I’m fully aware of the sacrifices that people have made. (I am) also taking notes of the rising amount of internally generated revenue without necessarily punishing anybody.
“These things, we don’t take for granted. I, therefore, salute the management and staff of Veritas University for their courage and determination in fulfilling their obligation.
“As Pro-chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Veritas University, we assure you of the unequivocal support of the council for the ongoing development of Veritas University.
“Once again, we appeal to you to please let your name be printed somewhere in this university. It doesn’t matter how big and how little. Step forward and make your commitment because it is through this that we can expand the frontier of knowledge through Veritas University.”