When media, teachers and the Church partnered on governance | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Features, Slider

When media, teachers and the Church partnered on governance

Posted: Apr 6, 2015 at 12:31 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Francis Onoiribholo  Bureau Chief Benin

Workshops on language skill acquisition and improvement for Teachers, Media Practitioners, Local Government Community Relations Supervisory Councilors, Translators in Religious Houses and other users of Edo language have frequently been organized, virtually on yearly basis, yet no government or corporate sponsorship has been extended to this Institute.

Jonathan  Oritsejafor

Jonathan                                Oritsejafor

In Benin City of the late sixties, seventies and early eighties there were the libraries and reading rooms of The Benin Native Authority, the American Consulate, the British Council, the National Library and the Midwest/Bendel/Edo State library. However, by the 1990s only the National Library was available, as the Edo State Library remained moribund for years in the waterlogged location near Eghosa Grammar School.

Therefore, out of absolute necessity to bridge the yawning gap and obvious failure of government to do the needful, the Institute established its library close to the city centre to make it accessible to all and sundry and quite uncharacteristic of the average Nigerian, threw its doors open to all for free!

Perhaps, the avowed non-political stance of the Institute has protected it from collapse or being taken over by some aspiring politicians to feather their own nest and dump in fragments after use, just as it has happened to some other groups having ostensibly similar objectives that sprung up only to disband over sharing of funds surreptitiously obtained from politicians.

Welcoming guests to the occasion, the Executive Secretary of the Institute Aiko. Obobaifo who is solely responsible for the day-to-day running of its affairs said, “It is my most profound joy and appreciation to welcome you all to this very auspicious occasion, the15th in our lecture series, a journey we started in 1997. The topics we have so far handled virtually cover all areas of human endeavour, yet, there can never be an end to human progress. Therefore, the capacity building effort of every community must of necessity manifest in the advancement attained in any society. We must consciously build the intellectual capacity of our people so as not to be permanently relegated, as it has been wont to be in recent times.

A multi-national organisation used to have this admonishment pasted on their walls; ‘if you don’t train them, don’t blame them’ Consequently; this particular lecture has the potentials to highlight the existing deficient attitude of the average Benin person to self-preservation and propagation, which by extension is also true of most Nigerians. We should harness our potentials, dispense with negative attitudes, retrace our wrong steps and chart a new pathway to progress”.

As part of efforts to deliberately encourage other Benin, Edo and Nigerian intelligentsia to make sacrifices of self, talent and resources for the advancement of the general good, the Institute started to give awards and recognition to individuals and groups in appreciation of their contributions to development.

For the year 2014, the award recipients were pure role models in their individual lifestyles and life times. Okhaemwen Tayo Akpata collaborated with this Institute to organize an International Conference in 2009 but sadly and most regrettably, the First Line Editor thereby preventing Okhaemwen Akpata from seeing the finished works before his return to his ancestors recently is holding the presented papers at the conference.

On the other hand, Engr. Bernard Ehiosu Osaghae is amongst the pioneering set of Engineers of Benin origin, and he did distinguish himself professionally before retiring to a quiet life. His distinctive and generous disposition caught the attention of the Holy Father the Pope a long time ago and he was conferred with the prestigious Papal Knighthood of Saint Sylvester (KSS).

The only Fellow whose investiture was conducted that day is a personality of interesting parts. A retired Civil Servant who found extreme satisfaction from putting pen to paper especially in areas of arts, culture and tradition. He maintains a periodic column in at least three different Newspapers with a commendable deep knowledge of history.

The Chairman of that occasion, Prof. Osayuki Oshodi, a Fellow of the

Institute was a unanimous choice without alternative when the matter came up for discussion amongst members of the Institute, but fate played a fast one and the day of the event fell within the series of events marking the Convocation Ceremonies of the university of Benin, therefore, he could not be personally present. However, he was acknowledged and appreciated for the monumental developmental progress that the University of Benin made during his tenure as Vice Chancellor.

It is heart-warming when you have opportunity of frequently congratulating people for achievements rather than having to blame people for failures. In this wise, the Benin political representatives have roundly failed and performed below average especially in service to their constituents and constituencies. They have not been able to justify their participation over time and failed woefully to forge a united front for the emancipation of their people and the actualization of the Benin dream and project.

The entire political space has seemingly been taken over by miscreants and malfeasant characters that only pocket the commonwealth and still extort from their constituents. What a paradox! However, with the coming of a sound intellectual to the chair of one of the political parties, there is reason to hope for a renaissance and re-orientation.

Mr. Victor Ogiemwonyi of Partnership Investment Company Plc and the President Customary Court of Appeal has to be specially acknowledged for their interest in the sustenance of the activities of the Institute. Mr. Victor Ogiemwonyi has been very outstanding in his support without which perhaps the institute’s accommodation problems would have by now forced it to close shop. Notwithstanding, the apathy demonstrated towards the finance base of the Institute by most otherwise endowed people is heart rendering. There has never been any support from government or any other agency since inception yet; government would trip over many times to fully sponsor countless

“Beauty Pageants” culminating in the presence of so many Senior or just Special Assistants (SSAs or SAs) for entertainment while the State Archives is in a sorry condition of disarray. Every serious minded Scholar and or Researcher must inevitably find his or her way to the modest Library of the Institute while the State Library sits lame duck with outdated volumes covered in dust, and the entire library left in total darkness. Staff members of Edo State’s

Colleges and Polytechnic were on strike for long, yet the economic effort and energy dissipated on entertainment and beauty pageants could assuage to a long extent the academic and intellectual requirements that necessitated those strikes.

It is almost impossible to catalogue all the deficiencies in the educational and academic environment of Nigeria but suffice it to reiterate that a lot more needs to be done, because all beauty and  no brain does not make a good ‘queen’

Concluding his welcome address at the 15th lecture event, Aiko Obobaifo reiterated, “once again I have the honour most respectfully to welcome you all to this occasion and also wish to inform that God willing, I shall be retiring from the Federal Civil Service in January after 35 years and what that portends is that the day – to – day running of the Institute can no longer be sustained on existing arrangements. We need assistance! Oba ghato, okpere. Ise”.