The saying that where there is a will, there is a way has not lost its aroma on students at all levels in Ekiti State. From independence to this day, one major industry of value and taste embraced and patronised by the people of Ekiti generally is education.
The State has very few accomplished philanthropists as they are not into commerce like their counterparts from Ijebu and Abeokuta in Ogun State. Lagos ‘Eko-Akete’, Oyo and Osun also produce numerous fulfilled philanthropists of envy as they all hold the key to commercial ventures in the region. Many of the afore-mentioned States apart from Ekiti at the same time lead the Yoruba axis of Nigeria in politics, hence, seen to be representing the Yoruba community in public offices.
For example, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Ladoke Akintola, Ernest Sonekan, and Aremu Obasanjo, are creams of high profile Yoruba politicians that have served Nigeria at the apex level. MKO Abiola is another political juggernaut also from Ogun State but one that in 1993 was denied of his staff of office by Gbadamosi Babangida ‘a self-acclaimed evil genius’ from Mina in a political squabbling. Currently we have a Lagos born Acting President of Nigeria in Professor Yemi Osinbajo that further stretches the unbroken chain of political heavyweights from down south Yoruba region. Moreover, on the platform of education, Ekiti State is on its own, sitting on the Eagle wings, soaring into the high heaven in unmistakable rainbow colours. In comparison to other Yoruba territories, the State is on the front burner, roughing feathers with Kings and Queens of the global academics.
To Ekiti State students of Science, Technology, and Essay writing, Kilimanjaro has become a pedestal crossing. Like money, to them, education is no more regarded as a need but a want and insatiable want for that matter. On the cusp of quality education, the expectations are high, so are the rewards.
The cocoa farmers’ and firewood sellers’ investment on their children is in no way a wasted venture since the subsequent returns are mouth-watering in terms of attributable local and international recognition, and better placed job opportunities in the labour market. Year in, year out, the students have been leading their counterparts nationwide in inter-school, and inter-states literary debates and essay writing across Nigeria.
Recently, news report had it that the President’s School Debate Nigeria (PSDN) honoured Ekiti contingent that came first in the National Junior Engineering and Technology Skill (JETS) competition, “while in NECO examinations the state was declared the best in the whole federation”. More to that, Ekiti had emerged the best in national essay competition, Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN) fair; overall best in essay competition and overall best in Young Scientists Competition among others.
This year ‘2017’ is the time insatiable students from the fountain of knowledge explored a new frontier in their quest to globalise their academic strength and capability, believing with aplomb assurance that testing their intellectual sagacity beyond their traditional shore would pose no problem. At the first bite of the cherry, Ekiti students took the debating stage in Singapore by storm, beating the host, thumping China and clubbing other global participants in all fields of the competition at stake.
The victory was eye-pulping, as it was a sword of David running through the jugular of Goliath. Though not completely unexpected; from time to time, the Fountain of Knowledge State has produced most academic Professors and Doctorate Degree holders ‘PhD’ that have dotted the sand of history with indelible footmarks not only in Yoruba territory, but Nigeria as a whole. It is in Ekiti State that one time Professor of Economics ‘Sam Aluko’ became a symbol of academic success in the country and on the world stage. From this platform arose many mythical professors as in Professor Adaba, Prof Atioro, Prof Odidere, and Prof Ologose, a fiction that lends credence to the general belief that in Ekiti, every academic man is a Professor.
From Ikere Ekiti is Niyi Osundare who is a world acclaimed Professor of literature. Osundare is a prolific poet, dramatist and literary critic who has won many local and international accolades in his field. One would however require more than a generic literary encyclopaedia before knowing the numbers of self-fulfilled Legal Luminaries, Medical Practitioners, Civil Engineers and Accountants the State has so far produced and who have made immense contributions to the social and economic progression of Nigeria.
Whilst acknowledging the intellectual capacity building of the Ekiti State students, mention should also be made to those parents who sacrificed own pleasure to pay for their children education. One would expect that this opportunity cost should be something of value for consideration by other parents who perhaps erroneously and ignorantly by virtue of tradition, culture or belief still remain averse to the idea of sending their children to school to now do so if not only for anything else, but posterity. Ekiti is one of the smallest states in Nigeria but a leader in literacy capacity building. Therefore, for one to go to the ants, learn their ways and be wise may yet be a good investment.
There is no pleasure in having many children without education to back their existence. Tears are how our mind speaks when our lips cannot describe how much we have been hurt. There is a perfect distinction between children born into education for they at maturity shall manage the economy of their community and those ones born into the streets for they at early stage shall engage in begging for food, and at maturity, found themselves in devil’s workshop. With this belief, well-meaning Nigerians should no longer wish to put up with a dysfunctional tradition which has passed its life-cycle.
Any culture that is capable of hindering the academic progress of the youths in modern day Nigeria by giving uneducated children into early marriage before their time is not only injurious to the individual child but anathema to a nation’s socio-economic development, growth, competitiveness, and sustainability.
We should aspire to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s dam is the history we make today and such that is perfectly in tandem with the Presidency joining all strata of the government and the education sector to celebrate the trending historical moment of Ekiti State students’ academic achievement on the world stage.
Written by: Dr Sam Aruleba; PhD Email: firstname.lastname@example.org