I feel both honored and humbled to have been given the opportunity, out of the multitude of very illustrious and highly accomplished products of our great Institution, to lead this prestigious Association.
In more than 100 years of its existence, King’s College has amassed an impressive array of alumni that is remarkable, in size, accomplishment and reputation.
My initial resistance when my colleagues first approached me to contest for the Presidency of this distinguished body, was because of the reasons I have already outlined above.
I asked my colleges why they wanted me to lead the KCOBA. And the more I listened to them, the more they succeeded in breaking down my resistance.
Moreover, I kept on recalling the memorable words of our school song: “WHEN THE CALL IS SOUNDED, ALL MUST ANSWER HERE!!” And so I felt duty-bound to answer “HERE” to this call, with my “VOICE AND BEARING SHOWING NEITHER SHAME NOR FEAR”.
I am very aware that I am not the best and certainly not the most accomplished, yet you, my colleagues, have found me worthy of such an honour, and perhaps for the first time in KCOBA history, a unanimous nomination of one individual to lead this prestigious Association.
Again, I am truly, truly humbled. And most importantly, I am grateful, to you my colleagues, and to The Almighty.
So how can I justify this immense trust? In the words of Aristotle, “dignity is not in receiving honour, but in deserving it”. At the very least, I assure you that I shall remain very mindful of the sacredness of this trust placed upon me.
I cannot go one moment without being conscious of the unique identity of our prestigious Institution. I shall not fail to uphold the noble objectives of this Association. I shall rise to the challenge.
Today the torch has passed on to a new generation of Kingsmen born in the post independence era. We want to restate our commitment to the foundational ideology of this association.
We will ensure that we continue to give back, out of the abundance that this prestigious Institution has given us, in a way that will reinforce our impact and relevance to this Institution. We will work to restore the greatness of the college.
While the aim of the Executive Committee tonight is not to give an elaborate address, please permit me however to briefly outline our priority programmes for the next three years.
In company of senior members of the KCOBA Executive Committee, I toured the premises of both the College and the College Annex. The level of decay of the Old School’s infrastructure was overwhelming.
This tour has set the stage for three very broad agendas.
Our first agenda will be in two stages.
The first stage is to spearhead efforts to overhaul existing infrastructure. This will further reinforce our commitment and capacity and favourably set us up for the next stage of the agenda.
In the second stage, we will again approach the Federal Government, particularly the Executive and Legislative arms (fortunately headed by one of us) to formally request the Federal Government to hand over the administration of the Old School to the Board of Trustees and the KCOBA Executive Committee.
Our second agenda involves working assiduously to empower our old boys.
The school song captures the second agenda aptly.
First, it addresses those who have done well for themselves: “LEARN TO PULL TOGETHER EACH ONE WITH THE REST”.
This further imbibes in our character; generosity and kindness; and reminds us that when we are successful, we should look back with a reaching arm and pull up our brothers.
The school song also says: “PLAYING UP AND STRIVING EACH TO DO HIS BEST”. To the rest of us aiming to hit our targets, it emphasises the importance that our efforts play in the games that lead us to our successes.
And we have to “ALWAYS PLAY THE GAME” for failure starts the day we stop trying. Any other challenge is just a minor set back, to make us uncomfortable and force us to think of how to improve ourselves. Recall, “IF YOU FAIL LOOK CLOSELY, SEEK THE REASON WHY. YOU HAVE POWER TO CONQUER IF YOU ONLY TRY” after all, “OTHERS WENT BEFORE YOU AND ATTAINED THE LIGHT”.
So, in obedience to our school song, our second agenda will entail putting our formidable support network at the disposal of the older Old boys; but I am also particularly concerned and totally committed to providing employment for the younger ones just starting out in life.
On average, our universities produce two million graduates every year. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s economy lacks the capacity to absorb up to 10% of this number.
We also realise that unemployment is the major source of insecurity in the country. This is particularly manifested in the case of Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, the agitations of the IPOB in the South-East and the Niger Delta militancy in the South- South.
We will therefore strive to get Kingsmen to work everywhere we can.
As part of my humble contribution to this project, our farm, Golden Acres, is currently working on a Graduate Agriculture Entrepreneurship Scheme that would support about one thousand graduates from across the geo-political zones.
A minimum of 100 slots in the scheme have been exclusively reserved for young Kingsmen who are yet to find employment after their NYSC assignment.
It is my fervent wish that we would join hands to strengthen the KCOBA to become a dependable pillar of progress for its members and Nigeria.
The third agenda is to make the Association self-sustaining.
Obviously, this last agenda would take a lot more strategic thinking and planning before it is presented. But already, some consultations have commenced within the KCOBA towards actualizing this agenda.
What is clear at the moment however is that, our current system of funding this Association will not be sustainable, if we are going to comfortably achieve and maintain the first two agendas above. So let us all prepare ourselves for what will be required of us, in regards to this self-sustaining agenda, in the weeks to come.
In “giving back” we must also look beyond the material and the temporal. We must remember that what King’s College gave to us first, was the honorable character, the distinction and the self-belief that has become the core essence of the KC grooming.
These qualities are as “BRIGHT AS WHEN WE TOOK IT FROM OUR FOUNDER’S HANDS”, and we must continue to impart them to the present and future generations of King’s scholars through constant knowledge sharing; through relentless role-modeling; and through dedicated mentoring.
I say it always and I will say it here again, the greatest achievement in my life is the privilege of having attended King’s College Lagos.
To this effect, we will see to improved coordination, synchronization and collaboration of events and activities across our branches and chapters worldwide ensuring that there is efficient learning and re-learning across board.
We would like to congratulate those who continuously present themselves for service in our branches and chapters, while also reminding them of the trust placed upon them as they discharge their responsibilities.
We all are dedicated to the highest standards of ethics and moral code of conduct. We count on your cooperation towards achieving our objectives.
In pursuing these noble objectives, our mission is to make our modest contribution to restore and preserve the greatness of our institution. This should be our solemn pledge.
It is the very least we can do for this great institution that has given us first, an exceptional education, and then the privilege of being part of a family that others can only dream about.
It is also pertinent to mention at this point, that no Alumni Association in the country has the quality of the members of Board of Trustees that we have in KCOBA: Chief Phillip Asiodu CON, Justice Ishola I. Oluwa, Dr. Alex Ekwueme GCON, Chief Allison Ayida, Alhaji Femi Okunnu CON, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, Chief Tunde Oshobi MON, Dr. Sonny F. Kuku OFR, Captain Femi Adegoke and Otunba Christopher A. Tugbobo.
With these men of caliber fully supporting us, men who have always gone above and beyond the call of duty in all their endeavours, whose accomplishments are recorded in the history of our great nation, men we all cherish, celebrate and are proud of, I have no fear or doubt as to our ability or capacity to achieve our agendas above.
I cannot close this presentation without recognising some of our other illustrious colleagues who have also recorded great achievements on the national and global stage. Just as Eton College is to England, so is King’s College Lagos to Nigeria.
These distinguished gentlemen include: Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi, Bashorun J. K. Randle, and Chief Audu Ogbe.
The younger generation of old boys who have blazed the same trail include; Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, HRH. Alh. Muhammadu Sanusi II, Atedo Peterside, Mustapha Chike Obi, Udoma Udo Udoma, Albert Okumagba and Muhammad Sanusi Dagash.
We are especially proud of our worthy ambassadors who have broken new grounds in the fields of law, academics and innovation across the globe. They include Tunji Sowande, first black British judge of Nigerian origin, Professor Ade Mabogunje of Stanford University, Professor Zakari Tata of Michigan State, and Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, a very celebrated pediatric surgeon who recently performed a ground breaking surgical procedure.
Our Kingsmen have also made resounding statements on the global corporate world. Bayo Ogunlesi, formerly of Credit Suisse who has acquired Gatwick Airport and Chinedu Echeruo, an IT entrepreneur, recently sold his company, HopStop to Apple for a cool $1 billion, Amb. Martins Cohbam, Ismaila Muhammad Zakari, newly elected President of ICAN and his partner Amb. Shuaib Ahmed, former SSG to Bauchi State Government.
These illustrious Kingsmen are clear testimony to the fact that Kings College has produced the finest – arguably the best and the brightest – in all spheres of human endeavor. They have undoubtedly “ATTAINED THE LIGHT, WHERE THEY WAIT TO CHEER YOU, VICTORS IN THE FIGHT!!”
I would like you to recall that King’s College has been at the forefront of leadership through national integration longer than any other institution in the country, the school songs says: “THOUGH OF MANY NATIONS WE WILL NOT FORGET, THAT WE ALL ARE BROTHERS WITH A COMMON DEBT”.
Our debates and national discusses must always be beyond what we see going on in the country today. Never forgetting that “ONLY BY OBEDIENCE MAY YOU LEARN TO RULE”.
This quote from Goalcast.com neatly summarises what we owe to our country; “The measure of our compassion lies not in our service of those on the margin, but only in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them”. This is our patriotic duty.
I am convinced that the fortunes of our great country are intricately linked to the fortunes of King’s College, Lagos. We have a rendezvous with destiny. Indeed it is Kingsmen that will take Nigeria to the next level.
I would like to thank the out going President of our great association, Mr. Hakeem Belo-Osagie for his leadership over these past years. I would also like to similarly thank the out-going EXCO that worked with him for their services to the Association and indeed all past EXCOs for leaving very positive footprints in our journey thus far.
Finally, I would like to salute my brother and my friend, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, our principal guest of honor and keynote speaker, an astute politician and a great leader. Asiwaju has spoken tonight on a topic for which passion consumes him – A New Nigeria. History will remember him as one of the greatest political leaders of this generation for his contribution to making a new Nigeria possible.
Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim Imam
President, King’s College Old Boys’ Association.