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Folorunso Alakija: A Kind Heart Supporting Aregbe’s Dream

Do you hear the current noise about declaring ‘State of Emergency in Education” in Nigeria? Are you aware that the warning was first sounded by Aregbe in 2014 in one of his gospels on Education? Do you know that this declaration was re-echoed by the Special Adviser to the Vice President on Political Matters, Senator…”
October 30, 2018 10:24 am

Do you hear the current noise about declaring ‘State of Emergency in Education” in Nigeria? Are you aware that the warning was first sounded by Aregbe in 2014 in one of his gospels on Education? Do you know that this declaration was re-echoed by the Special Adviser to the Vice President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, calling for the declaration of emergency on the nation’s education sector at a book launch titled: “Tales of an Uber Minor in College” authored by an 18 year old Ph.D student, Nkechinyere Chidi-Ogbolu in Lagos? Do you know that the call for this State of Emergency in education is a call to all of us to volunteer and serve?  Do you know what ‘State of Emergency’ connotes? Come along, please.  The words of Senator Babafemi Ojudu resonate:

“We need to declare state of emergency on our education system. Our graduates are not employable as well as other deficiencies due to the negligence of both government that failed on its responsibilities, and the teachers who are angry at their treatment. Today, in all sectors of the economy, things are going wrong because of the kind of youths coming out of schools.”

This fact was noted in a statement credited to Nelson Mandela allegedly inscribed on the wall of the  gate to  the University of South Africa that says:   :”Destroying any nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or the use of long-range missiles.  It only requires lowering the quality of education and allowing cheating in examinations by the students. Patients die at the hands of such doctors.Buildings collapse at the hands of such engineers. Money is lost in the hands of such economists  and  accountants. Humanity dies at the hands of such religious scholars. Justice is lost at the hands of such judges… The collapse of education is the collapse of a nation.”

A state of emergency is a situation in which a government is empowered to perform actions that it would normally not be permitted. It can be declared during a disaster, civil unrest  or armed conflict. It is to alert citizens to change their normal behaviour.  It allows government agencies to implement emergency plans. It came as part of Roman Jurisprudence that allowed the Senate of the era to pass a final decree that was not subject to question. The period  allows  the suspension of rights and freedoms guaranteed under a country’s constitution. Do you know that declaration of the State of Emergency is compatible with International Law?  Under International Law, rights and freedoms may be suspended during a State of Emergency.  All rights that can be derogated from are listed in the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights. Non-derogable rights cannot be suspended and they are listed in Article 4 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights.  These include: right to life,  rights to freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty, freedom of slavery and to freedom from torture and/or ill-treatment.

Since the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is an international law document signed by States, therefore, the Covenant applies to only those persons acting in an official capacity, not private individuals. Equally, signatories to the Covenant are expected to integrate it into national legislation. The state of emergency as contemplated in this international instrument must be publicly declared and the Secretary-General of the United Nations must be contacted immediately, to declare the reason for the emergency, the date on which the emergency is to start, the derogations that may take place, with the time-frame of the emergency and the date in which the emergency is expected to last.

On 31 December,  2011, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a limited State of Emergency in parts of Yobe, Borno, Plateau and Niger States to stem down the tide of insurgency in the area.  This declaration included the temporary shutdown of the international borders in the areas.  Equally, on 14 May 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan again, declared a State of Emergency for the entire north-eastern States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. We must note that the present patriotic call to declare a State of Emergency in Education’ is not born out of the zeal to curb Boko Haram, but to arrest a national chaos worse than Boko Haram that a crash in education can facilitate.  It is not a war strategy but an ethical persuasion. Aregbe continues to walk the talk at every opportunity.  You care to know more about that?  Come along.

The date was 9th March, 2016.  Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola made another history.  It was on that sacred day that our Governor appointed Mrs Folorunso Alakija as the Chancellor of Osun Varsity. That was the first appointment of female Chancellor in Nigeria.  Do you know that the rare wisdom of Aregbe to do so has paid off bountifully today?  You say: how?  Come along..

Have you heard the news of a new romance between the town and the gown?   Osun Varsity has become a theatre of pride of sort where the town and the gown are in warm embrace.  Are you aware that Mrs Alakija promised to build a Pediatrics hospital facility following her appointment in 2016 as Chancellor of the Osun Varsity by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the out-going Governor of our State? Do you know that  this Chancellor  has announced plans to redeem her pledge by beginning with the turning of sod of that hospital as part of the programmes for the seventh convocation ceremonies of the university holding from November 19 to 22, 2018? Are you aware that her gesture is a mark of honour for the visitor of the University, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, whose final term as governor of the State ends gloriously five days later on November 27? Are you aware that she wants to use the project to challenge the management of the University and all of us together,  to take the university above being just a State University to becoming a world-class institution? Do you know that this gem is rated by Forbes as the second richest woman in Africa?  Do you know Forbes?  Come along!

Forbes is an American business magazine published bi-weekly.  It features original articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing topics. Forbes also reports on related subjects such as technology, communications, science, politics, and law. The magazine is well known for its lists and rankings, including the rating of the richest Americans (the Forbes 400), of the world’s top companies (the Forbes Global 2000), and The World’s Billionaires. The motto of Forbes magazine is “The Capitalist Tool”. Its chair and editor-in-chief is Steve Forbes.  This internationally recognized magazine has rated Mrs Folorunso Alakija as the second richest woman in Africa. Who is this Mrs Folorunso Alakija?  You wish to meet her?  Come along, please.

Folorunso Alakija was born on 15thJuly,  1951 to the family of Chief L. A. Ogbara in Ikorodu, Lagos State. At age seven, she travelled to Britain to begin a 4-year primary education at Dinorben School for Girls in Hafodunos Hall in Llangernyw, Wales.  After returning to Nigeria, she attended Muslim High School Sagamu Ogun State. Afterwards, she returned abroad for her Secretarial Studies at Pitman’s Central College, London. She also studied Fashion Design at the American College, London and the Central School of Fashion. She started her career in 1974 as an executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises, Lagos, Nigeria. She moved on to the former First National Bank of Chicago, now First City Monument Bank.   She left the bank to establishing a tailoring company called Supreme Stitches which she later changed to  Rose of Sharon House of Fashion.  She became the national president and lifelong trustee of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN).  She stepped into a higher ground in May 1993, when she applied for the allocation of an oil prospecting license (OPL).

The license to explore for oil on a 617,000-acre block—now referred to as OPL 216, was granted to Alakija’s company, Famfa Limited. The block is located in the Agbami Field. In September 1996, she entered into a joint venture agreement with Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Texaco) and appointed the company as a technical adviser for the exploration of the license, transferring 40 percent of her 100 percent stake to Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited.

Today, she is a Nigerian billionaire business-woman, one of the richest African women, and one of the richest black women in the world. In 2014, she temporarily unseated Oprah Winfrey as the richest woman of African descent in the world. She is involved in the fashion, oil and printing industries.  She is the group managing director of The Rose of Sharon Group which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited and Digital Reality Prints Limited and the Executive Vice-Chairman of Famfa Oil Limited. She is ranked by Forbes as the richest woman in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion.  As of 2015, she was listed as the second most powerful woman in Africa after Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the 87th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.  As of 2014, she was listed as the 96th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.  On 9 March 2016, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola made another history through her.  It was on that sacred day that Nigeria had its first female chancellor as she was appointed the Chancellor of Osun State University by Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola. Do you know that this Chancellor is an epitome of philanthropy, always keeping humanity happy?

She has a Foundation called the Rose of Sharon Foundation that helps widows and orphans by empowering them through scholarships and business grants.  Her company is also into Corporate Social Responsibiliity as it is a major sponsor of the Agbami Medical and Engineering Scholarship Scheme.  Do you know that her scholarship scheme is one of the most reliable scholarship schemes in Nigeria with over a thousand people yearly as beneficiaries?  She is a fervent supporter of education in Nigeria as she once donated funds in 2014 for the renovation of a 350 Seat Lecture Theater to Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University Lapai, Niger State.  On 1 July 2013, the Federal Government of Nigeria inaugurated the National Heritage Council and Endowment for the Arts and appointed her as Vice-Chairman of the body. Equally, she serves as the Chief Matron of Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs, a pet project of Elumelu Foundation. Do you know that we have got lessons to learn from her philanthropy?  Come along, please.

Philanthropy is any meaningful act done to show love of humanity to promote quality of life.  Do you know that it is slightly different from charity?  While charity aims to relieve the pain of a particular social problem, philanthropy attempts to address the root cause of the problem.  A cursory reference to the term came through Plutarch in the second century and later popularized by Sir Francis Bacon in the 1600s.  In 1739, Thomas Coram, feeling challenged by the number of abandoned children living on the streets of London, received a royal charter to establish the Foundling Hospital as a philanthropic organization to look after these unwanted orphans in Lamb’s Conduit Fields, Bloomsbury.

Jonas Hanway was another notable philanthropist of the era who founded” ‘The Marine Society’ in 1756 as the first seafarer’s charity to assist the recruitment of men to the navy.  In addition, this Foundation established the Magdalen Hospital to rehabilitate prostitutes. Do you know that our popular William Wilberforce, the anti-slavery campaigner was a philanthropist specializing to champion a cause and lobby the government for legislative change for animal rights and rights against slavery? Do you know that in 1863, the Swiss businessman Henry Dunant used his personal fortune to fund the Geneva Society for Public Welfare, which became the International Committee of the Red Cross?  Are you aware that he shared the first Nobel Peace Prize for this work in 1901? Are you aware that the Rockefeller Foundation helped design and fund France’s modern public health system, under the National Institute of Hygiene?  Do you know that the Foundation set up schools to train physicians and nurses for France? That is humanity per excellence. K. Seatholo interlude: “ We are nothing on earth if we are not at first, a slave to a cause…”

Do you know that some people can be ‘mad’ to be a slave to the cause of humanity?  Yes! Andrew Carnegie(1835–1919) was one of them.  He was an American philanthropist,  ‘mad’ (so to say) with his passion to do good to others through philanthropy.  Are you aware that Andrew Carnegie sold  his steel corporation in the 1890s and devoted himself to establishing philanthropic organizations, and making direct contributions to many educational cultural and research institutions?  Do you know that his final and largest project was the Carnegie Corporation of New York, founded in 1911 with a $25 million endowment, later enlarged to $135 million?  Are you aware that Carnegie gave away 90 per cent of his fortunes to philanthropy? Do you hear of John D. Rockefeller? John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937) retired from business in the 1890s.   He and his son John D. Rockefeller Jr. (1874–1960) made large-scale national philanthropy systematic, especially with regard to the study and application of modern medicine, higher, education and scientific research. Of the $530 million the elder Rockefeller gave away, $450 million went to Medicine to safe humanity from curable diseases.

Do you know that the Ford Foundation has become the largest American philanthropy, splitting its activities between the United States, and the rest of the world funding network of human rights organizations, promoting democracy, giving large numbers of fellowships for young leaders to study in the United States, and invested heavily in the Green Revolution, whereby poor nations are dramatically increasing their output of rice, wheat and other foods?  Do you know that Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is assisting the whole world to fight all curable diseases wiping us out of existence?  Do you know that Warren Buffet is assisting humanity, too?  What of Zukerberg? His Foundation is doing pretty good.  We salute the contributions of Lawrence Omole Foundation and the Ayinke Foundation of Late Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony.   We must ask:  what do you do for charity? Do you live for yourself alone?  Do you waste money for burial ceremonies?  Do you know that there is enough to share if only we care? Do you know that by not engaging in free service to humanity you are just existing without living?   Do you know that you do not need to be rich to be philanthropic?  Do you know that you can volunteer service to your community as your personal or corporate social responsibility?   Do you know that Folorunso Alakija’s companies still engage in corporate social responsibility by funding medical education and engineering?  What is Corporate Social Responsibility?  Come along, please.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an internal organisational policy to involve in “actions that appear to further some social good, beyond the interests of the firm and that which is required by law”.  Sheehy defines it as the act of “sacrificing profits.” According to Sheehy, Corporate Social Responsibility is a pyramid of responsibilities, namely, economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic responsibilities.  Carroll in his own thesis, sums it up to mean “a company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. Companies express this citizenship (1) through their waste and pollution reduction processes, (2) by contributing educational and social programs and (3) by earning adequate returns on the employed resources.”

There are two schools of thought on CSR.  The Proponents argue that corporations increase long-term profits by operating with a CSR perspective, while critics argue that CSR distracts from businesses’ economic role. Observers  identify a difference between the Canadian (Montreal school of CSR), the Continental European and the Anglo-Saxon approaches to Corporate Social Responsibility.  It varies according to jurisdictions.  The Chinese consumers expect a socially responsible company making life safe and making high-quality products.  To  Germans, a Corporate Social Responsibility is to provide secure employment in the community where you operate.  In South Africa, Corporate Social Responsibility is to make a positive contribution to social needs such as health care and education. A common thread in all these approaches to CSR is corporate philanthropy. This includes monetary donations and aid given to nonprofit organizations and communities. Donations are made in areas such as the arts, education, housing, health, social welfare and the environment, among others, but excluding political contributions and commercial event sponsorship. Another approach to CSR is to incorporate the CSR strategy directly into operations, such as procurement of Fair Trade Deal.

Do you know that Corporate Social Responsibility includes six types of corporate social initiatives? These are:

–           Corporate philanthropy: company donations to charity, including cash, goods, and services, sometimes via a corporate foundation

–           Community volunteering: company-organized volunteer activities, sometimes while an employee receives pay for pro-bono work on behalf of a non-profit organization

–           Socially-responsible business practices: ethically produced products which appeal to a customer segment

–           Cause promotions: company-funded advocacy campaigns

–              Cause-related marketing: donations to charity based on product sales

–           Corporate social marketing: company-funded behavior-change campaigns

All six of the corporate initiatives are forms of corporate citizenship. However, only some of these CSR activities rise to the level of cause marketing, defined as “a type of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in which a company’s promotional campaign has the dual purpose of increasing profitability while bettering society.” This is popularly referred to as ‘Social accounting’.

Are you not concerned about the deplorable conditions of education in Nigeria? Are you aware of the propaganda that ‘Nigerian Graduates’ are  unemployable?  Are we not to show concern and volunteer to make a difference in the lives of the coming generations?  Do you know that a lot of young people in Nigeria are rising to the challenge by acquiring relevant skills of the age to contribute to the global tech wave?  Have you heard about The Team of Five Nigerian Girls who won the $10,000 App Award at the Technovation World Challenge in California for their app, FD Detector, to fight fake drugs in the country? Do you know things are changing due to the vision of people like Aregbe and Alakija, givingus their ‘all’?   Many Nigerian youths are realizing that the key to employability is possessing a good set of hard skills along side a good school result.  But they need our encouragement.  That is our State of Emergency.

The State of Emergency in Education in the dream of Aregbe is for all of us to contribute in all  ways possible,  to assist the education sector to guarantee a bright future for our State and country.  We have got enough beautiful churches.  We have got enough beautiful mosques.  But we have not got enough beautiful schools.  We have not got enough libraries.  We have not got enough laboratories.  We have not got enough hospitals.  We are in dire need of more equipment in our schools and hospitals.   We lose our foreign exchange on medico-tourism and edu-tourism. Today, Universities in Ghana depend on rising Nigerian patronage because of the seeming collapse of our education.  The clarion call now summons us not to bear arms but to bear hearts prospecting always to assist humanity selflessly.  Our hearts must shun ostentatious burial ceremonies, wedding ceremonies and baby-wash.  We must join the spirit of Folorunso Alakija to improve Osun Varsity and all other institutions in our State.  Equally, our people that are less-endowed may cultivate the spirit of service by popularizing volunteerism. We commend Professor Labo Popoola and his team for keeping a good flag flying.

On behalf of the Public Service of our State, we want to salute the vision of our out-going Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola for discovering the ‘jewel of inestimable value’ to Osun, Nigeria and humanity in person of Mrs Folorunsa  Alakija.  May your generations continue to multiply in us.  Alan Paton in the book: “Cry the Beloved Country”  cried: “ The men that are doing the work cannot be kept down perpetually forever.  If they stand together, who will put them asunder?”

Aregbe! We thank you for the good works done here.  May you be more relevant to humanity.

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