· Gbajabiamila, Okonjo-Iweala, others to speak at the symposium
By Evelyn Usman
The King’s College Old Boys Association, KCOBA has called for the need to address ethnic bigotry in Nigeria, attributing it to the way out of agitation for separatism by some Nigerians.
Chairman of the association’s 2021 Kingsweek committee, Mr Chuma Anosike, made the call while briefing journalists on the events lined up for the celebration of the 112th anniversary of King’s College, Lagos, at the school’s premises in Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos.
This year’s celebration themed ‘ Unity in Diversity, Stronger together’, according to Anosike, was informed by the current realities facing Nigeria.
Expressing concern over the state of the nation, he noted that one of the major reasons for establishing the college was to groom leaders, in students drawn from the geo-political zones of the country.
To address the worrisome trend, he informed that prominent Nigerians, among who are: Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, among others, would be speaking at a symposium slated for 2 pm, on Saturday, September 18, at the King’s College Hall.
Other programmes of the event for the celebration include Jumat prayer on Friday, September 17, 2021, at the King’s College Mosque, Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, a church service on Sunday, September 19, 2021 at the Trinity House, Water Corporation Drive, Victoria Island and an Annual General Meeting, same day, at the King’s College Hall.
Noting that the theme of the anniversary was apt, Anosike said, “We believe before the country descends into the precipice, this is the time for reasonable people to come together and sit down to talk. This country is bigger than everyone. This is a country that was founded by great people and God has a vision for Nigeria.
“Most people don’t necessarily want to split off. That is where fairness and justice come in. We want to stay together but it has to be in a system that works for everybody. A system that is fair, a system where there is justice and a system that works for everybody and rewards efforts. A system that doesn’t overemphasize where you come from. And that is the Nigeria of our dream. And we believe that is possible.
“King’s College has stood the test of time and I think today in particular, given the challenges we’re facing as a nation, the level of division and allegations of all manner of vices that are going on, a lot of people has said since the civil war, arguably, this is the most difficult time we’ve had as a country. And we felt that as KGOBA, we’re in a position to actually speak on these matters because what we have here is a cross-section of Nigeria.
“In my time in King’s College about four decades ago, there were twelve states and we had at least two persons from each state. Essentially, you had the cross-section of Nigeria represented. Today, some of my best friends are from Borno, Kaduna and so on. That was the essence of King’s College and the model we all hoped Nigeria would evolve into.
“Unfortunately today, the story is different. This is what forms the theme of this year’s symposium_”Unity In Diversity, Stronger Together”. And we feel that as King’s men, we should be the voice of reason in Nigeria to address this burning issue”.
This year’s AGM, according to Anosike, “ is an election AGM as the tenure of the current executives lapses the same day,thus, new officers would be elected”.
On his part, a member of the committee, Mr Rotimi Aladesanmi, informed that as part of giving back to the society, the association had begun deliberations on having a Private Public Partnership PPP model with the Federal Government, as an elixir for funding education and improved management of their Alma Mata .
To this end, he disclosed that the association had set up two endowment funds- the Floreat Fund and the KC Education trust, poised to ensure proper and sustainable structure for the college under the proposed arrangement.
“As you are aware, the issue of education and its funding is very important. It is something that has gone beyond the scope of government and it is obvious that government cannot effectively fund all the schools.
” In keeping with the tradition of pioneering innovation KCOBA is coming up with a PPP model, which we believe if adopted by the government, will go a long way in addressing the decay in the sector which is largely caused by funding and could be rolled out across several schools. We believe it will address the issue dispassionately and objectively with a sense of fairness”, Aladesanmi said.