By Demola Akinyemi, Ilorin
A former Minister for Youths and Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, has challenged Nigerian youths to take a cue from him whose parents were very poor and be determined to succeed in life, irrespective of their background.
Bolaji also former Commissioner for Education in Kwara state who recalled with nostalgia how he survived his education career at public primary and secondary schools as a child of very poor parents said with sheer determination any seriously determined Nigerian youth of today can succeed in life.
The former Minister spoke at Queens Elizabeth College, Ilorin weekend venue of Spelling competition organized by the Saving Dreams Foundation, which was co-sponsored by him.
He awarded scholarships to six students that emerged winners of a spelling competition and also announced university scholarship for the three winners in the Senior Secondary School category, while Senior Secondary School scholarship was awarded to winners in the Junior Secondary School category.
He said “My parents were very poor even poorer than the parents of most of you here. The way I survived during my primary and secondary education didn’t even meet up to the standard of many of you here it was terrible.
“But here I am today, to the glory of almighty Allah my parents are no more working, I’m taking care of them comfortably. So, that anybody’s parents are poor is not an excuse, any youth in Nigeria with determination to succeed can even be better off than me in life.
“Nothing in my background suggested that I would be what I have achieved today except for quality education.
“I am being addressed as a former minister and commissioner today due to the power of education.
“That means you will have a very bigger opportunity if you study hard”, he said.
The former minister also described education as the bedrock of every development adding that the need to effect balance in the opportunity provided for students in private and public schools informed his decision to sponsor the event.
Abdullahi, who promised to make the championship an annual event to improve the education standard of the children, stressed the importance and power of good education.
He urged the students to study hard so that they could be useful to their parents, family, and the community at large.
“I realise that the education of children should not depend on the economic status of their parents. “This is causing an imbalance in access to quality education in Nigeria. “He added
Also speaking, the founder of the foundation, Mr Abdullateef Abdulkareem, said that the event was conceived to help improve dwindling quality of education in the country.
Abdulkareem advocated upgrade of public schools to ensure that students of the school also gain a quality education. The competition, he said would improve the learning ability of the participants particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the closure of all schools.
Prof. Sulaiman Ambali of the University of Ilorin, who was the guest speaker at the event, said that education is synonymous to any development, hence it should not be taken with levity.
“No nation can develop more than its level of education and thereby every stakeholder must contribute to fulfilling this thrust”, he said.
He commended the sponsor for his staunch belief in quality education.
Aminat Yahaya of University of Ilorin Secondary School won the first prize in the senior category, Sofiat Ayuba of the Federal Government College, Ilorin emerged second while Turawa Kamaldeen of Ansar Islam Secondary School came third.
In the junior school category, Abdulrahman Ridwanah of Government Day Secondary School, Okekere emerged the winner and Sanni Habidah of Government Girls Day Secondary School, Okesuna came second while Mohammed Garba of Government Day Secondary School, Okelele won the third position.
The winners of the two categories went home with N50,000 while the first and second runners up went home with N30,000 and N20,000 respectively.