A speech presented at the 2017 End of Year Party of Petra Christian Academy, Ughelli.
About 605 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar, in a bid to raise leaders for his vast empire, decided to seek young men that have the following Cs from among the young captives from Israel.
- CONNECTION WITH ROYALTY AND NOBILITY
The aim was to train them to take over leadership roles in the vast empire—Daniel 1:1-6.
He knew that leadership is cultivated. Sporadic leadership, without training and grooming, usually ends up in tyranny and disaster.
In 1440, King Henry VI replicated this concept by establishing Eton College to raise leaders for the British Empire. He admitted young men aged between 13 to 18 years, selected based on excellence from all backgrounds irrespective of religious beliefs. They were to be in boarding and trained in sports, leadership, and tough academics. It has eventually turned out 19 Prime Ministers of the UK. Eton has been referred to as “the nursery of England’s gentlemen” and “the chief nurse of England’s statesmen”.
With colonization in Nigeria and the expansion of the British Empire they set out to replicate this same process.
Mary Slessor established the Hope Waddell Institute in the late 19th century. This school has produced great leaders like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Akanu Ibiam, and several other prominent leaders and professionals. In 1909, Kings College, Lagos, was established. Kings college has produced so many leaders—Anthony Enahoro, Ojukwu , and several prominent Nigerians.
Barewa College, Zaria, was established in 1921, in the similitude of Eton College. It has produced 5 Nigerian Heads of state and the cream of the northern elite in Nigeria. This includes several politicians, captains of industries, and military personnel.
They also set up Government College, Umuahia; the list of the products from Government College, Umuahia, is very intimidating—several Generals because of the cadet unit, uncountable professors, poets like Ken Saro Wiwa and other great men.
Government College, Ughelli, came up in 1945 and it has produced several generals, professors, doctors, and uncountable leaders in all spheres of life and I am one of them.
The early missionaries were not left out. Igbobi College has produced Enerst Shonekan, Olu Falae, Babatunde Fashola, the current Federal Minister of Power and former Governor of Lagos State.
The secret is to select children of all backgrounds based on academic excellence and teach them hard work, integrity, and discipline. Establish routines of dressing their beds, housework, punctuality, and independent thought, but set a great vision of the future that awaits them. Provide mentors and models for them. Let the system become a mold such that any person that passes through the system fits into the model while still maintaining his/ her own individuality.
I don’t cross lawns; I don’t rush for anything; I don’t drive against traffic; I am not a typical Nigerian of the present breed. I don’t cheat; integrity, to me, is supreme. Excellence is my second nature. Some of the extra-curricula activities like debates, dancing, drama, sports, and the general inspection made us become a family, an unbroken brotherhood. We painted our hostels, planted our flowers ourselves for the general inspection.
This is the same vision we want to replicate at Petra Christian Academy.
Our motto is righteousness and excellence.
At Government College, Ughelli, where as the son of a refuse collector, I sat on the same bench with the son of the Secretary to the Federation and Head of the Federal Civil Service of Nigeria. At one time the sons of the principal and the senior gate man were in the same class at Government College, Ughelli.
In our school, Petra Christian Academy, Ughelli, children of commissioners, Kings, and the very poor learn together.
I am endeavouring to give back to society what affordable and great public education gave to me.
Our nation has so degenerated that the poor have no hope.
Even our churches build schools that their members can’t afford.
Where did we miss it?