REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR, DR. IFEANYI OKOWA, GOVERNOR OF DELTA STATE, AT THE REUNION OF THE CLASS OF 1981 OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE, ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2016, AT PREMIER HOTEL, IBADAN
I welcome all of you to this reunion.
- It has been 35 years since we all left the prestigious College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. That’s the exact number of years a man is expected to spend in the Nigerian civil service, after which he retires. I mentioned that just to say that we have come a long way. The implication of that also is that while we have all progressed in different directions, we are in the twilight of our professional careers.
- As we share fond memories of the past – the countless hours of intense study, lecturers who made us laugh and those who made us cry, late-night parties, the boys/girls we thought we loved, the friendships we forged and the pranks we played –it is also time to look ahead and begin to think of the legacy we will leave behind. In an ideal situation, this period in our life should be one of transition, where we are preparing the
younger generation to take over from us. That is why I want to talk to us today about moving from success to significance.
- In today’s world, the common measures of success are money, possessions, recognition and power. In and of themselves these things are not bad. Sometimes we need power to be able to effect positive change in the society; and we do need money and material possessions to live well, raise our children and have a decent shelter over our heads. Even the Holy Bible acknowledges that “money answers everything” (Ecclesiastes 10:19). Hence, the pursuit of success in a lawful manner is noble and legitimate. After 35 years, I want to believe that we have had a good measure of success.
- However, to become people of significance is borne out of the realisation that life is more than personal luxury and comfort. As many of those that have amassed material things have come to realise, true fulfilment comes from living for a higher purpose, of abandoning ourselves to the common good and the uplifting of the less privileged in the society. We are at the point in our lives when we should be more concerned with posterity than personal prosperity.
- As we gather here today, we should be able to reflect on the state of our country. Truth be told, this was not the Nigeria that we dreamt of when we left school with such high hopes and big dreams. The same issues that we complained about then – epileptic electricity supply, crumbling infrastructure, urban decay, inefficient health services, corruption etc. – are still with us today. The question now is; should we keep complaining or do we rise up and take action? I am in favour of the latter, and have few suggestions to make.
- Get to work:- We must work to see the entrenchment of a functional healthcare delivery system in the country. Health is wealth. And being doctors, healthcare is our first love. Hence, I think we owe it to this generation to band together and formulate strategies and take concrete steps to reform and strengthen our health sector.
I believe we should be able mobilise ourselves to ensure that those entrusted with managing our health institutions do the right thing. Even when such people are our friends or classmates, we must hold them accountable to the standards expected of the office that they hold. Of course this must be complimented with ethical conduct and probity in our private practice, where saving lives matter more than pecuniary considerations.
- Get involved:- The absence of principled, responsible and values driven leadership is one of our biggest challenges. We need to see more NGOs coming out to advocate for good governance and work for institutional structures that promote same. Doctors are not exempt from activism. NGOs are critical in a democratic setting such as ours; they exert pressure on governments to be accountable and have respect for human rights and the rule of law. We need to see more Dr. Beko Ransome Kutis rise up from among us.
Some of us may have passion for educational reforms or compassion for the poor and needy. It is time we begin to take action. Begin to take steps to establish that educational institution you have always dreamed of to influence the generation coming after us, and raise a new
breed of leaders without greed. You can also set up a foundation that will provide scholarships for indigent students or engage in community services to improve the lot of the common man.
- Give back:- It is our responsibility to give back to the society that has given much to us. Jesus said to whom much is given much is expected (Luke 12:48). A good place to start is to think of what we can contribute to advance teaching excellence in our alma mater. We can do that as individuals and as the Class of 1981. Then, as I mentioned earlier, one of the best ways we can give back to the society is to mentor the younger generation. Identify a talent, bring him/her under your tutelage and pour yourself into that person. This is the best legacy we can live behind. Have you noticed that at funerals people don’t talk of the money, cars and properties that the deceased left behind? But they will always talk about how many lives were touched and impacted with his/her generosity, godly character, selfless service and loyalty to a cause that he or she believed. That is what it means to live a life of significance.
- In concluding this address, I want to inform you that Delta State under my watch is the first State in the Federation to launch the Universal Health Insurance Scheme. It continues to be my belief that universal health coverage is the best way to enable access to affordable and quality health care in the country. We are backing up the scheme with massive investment in our healthcare facilities in the State. We have already undertaken a baseline assessment survey of healthcare facilities in the State, their capacity, current health insurance financing status and baseline health indices. The scheme is being managed by the Delta State Contributory Health Insurance Scheme in collaboration with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). It is my passion and commitment to drive the heath sector in Delta State in such a way that it will become the model for other States.
- It is on this note, ladies and gentlemen that I wish us a very happy reunion today.
- God bless us all.
Office of the Governor