Teaching young people that there are huge rewards from creativity, innovation with a culture of integrity in business and personal life, coupled with hard work and diligence, is the foundation of a good and prosperous society.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN stated this today while delivering the keynote address at the 111th Founders’ Day Lecture of King’s College, Lagos.
Mr Osinbajo said that “when people are nurtured in the notion that rent seeking or the prebendal capture of wealth or benefit by access to power is the path to success, then the society will not prosper. A few will capture all the resources, everyone else will be poor or on their way there.”
He stated that Nigerians are gifted with attributes of confidence, resilience and mental acuity that is by any standard exceptional, adding that this is best demonstrated in how “we excel even in other countries in sciences, medicine and even politics.”
Referring to Edward Banfield, an American political scientist, the Vice President said that those exceptional attributes do not free us from what Banfield describes as “the moral basis of a backward society”, which is the self- interested, family-centric society where often the public good is sacrificed for personal or parochial benefit.
Whilst receiving an education, the mind of a young person must be lifted up beyond self, the education “must teach the primacy of community, of the good and the well-being of the collective over self,” said Mr Osinbajo.
The Vice President said that the educational design and content must take into account, the current moral and social circumstances, as well as the physical and mental constraints we face as a people.
According to him “there must be, as a rule, a prevailing moral standard, corruption or deviance must be the exception, not the rule.”
Mr Osinbajo added that the national conversation on education will be futile unless it also addresses the “concerns faced at the lower levels of our society; the problems of out-of-school children and the huge deficit in education of girls.”
He noted that there are challenges of government investment in education, arguing that public funding alone cannot be enough to deal with the sector. The Vice President then proposed that such challenges can be tackled head-on when associations such as King’s College Old Boys’ Association (KCOBA), private individuals, and corporations put their resources together to change the narrative.
Mr Osinbajo highlighted other points in his remarks such as the need to recognize that Nigeria’s main endowment as a country “is neither crude oil nor any other mineral resource, rather our people.”
He also noted that the country’s economic aspirations and capacity to compete in the global economy depend on “how effectively we empower our people to fulfil their potential.”
Thirdly, the Vice-President observed that of utmost importance, is the need to focus on productivity, character and civic education. Finally, he also listed the need to “change both the substance of education and the methods of educating our children.”