VALEDICTORY SPEECH BY BOB-MANUEL FAITHFUL TEKEOPUYE, VALEDICTORIAN OF BENSON IDAHOSA UNIVERSITY CLASS OF TITANS 2017.
TITANS, PLEASE ARISE! As we acknowledge the presence of the following dignitaries.
His Excellency, Dr. Godwin Obaseki, Executive Governor of Edo State, ably represented by ….
Honorable and ever-young Chancellor, Archbishop Margaret Benson-Idahosa OON.
The President of BIU, (and for the record, my namesake) Bishop Faith Emmanuel Benson-Idahosa
The Pro-Chancellor, and chairman of governing council of BIU and Members of council
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ernest Izevbighie and Members of Senate of BIU
My Lord Spiritual and temporal;
Our Royal Fathers, The Oba of Benin represented by Chiefs
The Olu of Warri – our distinguished honorary awardee.
Distinguished members of staff of BIU
Parents and Well-wishers present,
Gentlemen of the press,
My fellow Graduating Students,
All others protocols duly observed.
I am indeed greatly privileged, honoured, delighted and proud to welcome you to the 13th convocation ceremony of Benson Idahosa University and present to you the graduating class of 2017. We are overwhelmingly joyous and grateful to have you here today despite your busy schedules to celebrate with us on this memorable day. It is said in my local dialect that “etelame obuju, tonjo emi” which is interpreted in English as “Light awaits a hardworking man at the end of the tunnel”. Everyone standing has been through the tunnel (the university) and has seen the light (our degrees) and today we celebrate our victory with our loved ones. Thank God, we made it!
YOU MAY NOW HAVE YOUR SEAT!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I cried! - A lot
Three weeks ago, I was told that I would not be part of the victorious titans graduating this year as an implication of my late payment of fees. I locked myself up in my room and wept terribly. Every laborer deserves his pay I kept saying to myself. The change of government and subsequent economic recession affected the financial status of my family tremendously. Most days especially in my Final year, I would write letters, plead and seek permission from the university authority before being permitted into the examination hall; sometimes I could be an hour late. This happened during all my exams during my final year. Thank God for the ever considerate and understanding staff in this institution who continually encouraged me.
As destabilized as I was I endured! Believing that “this too shall pass”. One thing I’ve learned from my experience is that “Smooth seas have never made great sailors”. With my condition, I would still bear the pains of studying my books even though they were almost soaked in teardrops believing that a great sailor would emerge. To bail me out, my amazing father sold one of his most prized possessions – his car, to cover for my fees. A sacrifice indeed.
At this point, I would like every graduating student here to give a round of applauds for our lovely and caring parents and guardians. They might have not sold their cars but believe it or not they have sacrificed a lot.
Just two weeks ago, my prayer was that my name should just appear on the brochure you have with you. Only for me to arrive in school to the realization that God had and continues to favour me. And today I stand as an 18year old valedictorian- the youngest valedictorian any African university has ever recorded to my knowledge. Glory be to God.
Four/Five years ago, we stepped into the home of Academic Excellence and Godliness, The Benson Idahosa University Campus where world changers are raised by Seven Core values, one of which is “people matter”. We walked through those bold gates as clean slates waiting to be written on. I believe we all have had beautiful experiences and have built meaningful relationships during our stay in the university. And above all I believe that we all have been fully groomed in character and in learning, ready to take whatever Lemons life hands to us and make a cold glass of Lemonade for the blistering Nigerian sun.
I speak for the entire class when I say that tales and testimonies of Benson Idahosa University would not depart from our mouths and our experience here is an unforgettable one. I’m sure we wouldn’t forget the Morning call of our faithful chaplains that goes “wake up, wake up, it’s time for morning devotion” and of course the recitation of our core values during chapel services and the chapel services in itself. I’m sure none of us would forget the BIU rules and code of conduct which at first, seemed stressful and inconveniencing but now we adhere to it effortlessly even outside the confines of the university. How would I forget our food vendors who tried their best to bring our mothers kitchen to us but of course “there is no place like home”. Our experience with the school-provided WiFi was magical it made learning less boring and a lot easier. Above all, I and the entire class would not forget the relationships we built with students and staff, the people we met, and the entrepreneurial, character and professional trainings we were put through during the Life Success Centre program which prepared us for not just life after school but a successful one. Indeed, as Pastor Osagie Alex rightly said, “I will remember BIU, because that was where I met YOU”.
Like I stated earlier, “Smooth seas have never made great sailors”. The journey so far was not a particularly easy one neither was it smooth. Setbacks surfaced, challenges of different natures arose, even the devil tried to raise his ugly head but because we are on the lord’s side and we are titans, we were victorious. Today, we are filled with joy that those struggles paid off and we can now be called graduates. Now we can proudly beat our chests and say that indeed we came, we saw and we conquered.
I would also like to point out that the class of Titans 2017 is a class of “Firsts”. We were the first to graduate students from the legacy campus and we were also the first to use the 4.0 grading system.
My greatest appreciation goes to God almighty, for his unconditional love and grace upon my life, to my father, Mr. Harold Olunta Bob-Manuel who sacrificed and did everything he could to the success of my educational pursuit; to my Mother, Mrs. Justina Dusaba Bob-Manuel whose prayers kept me going and to my siblings who supported financially and otherwise. Two of which are graduates of Benson Idahosa University. They are none other than Desire, Precious, Diepriye, Awoso, Sotom Ruth and her husband Kingsley Eigbadon to mention a few.
I wish to acknowledge my Dean and Head of Department, Dr. Osondu Akoma for his dedication, my course adviser, Mr. Osarobo Odeh for his hardwork and for not giving up on me even when things were falling apart and all the lecturers and staff in the faculty of Basic and Applied Sciences. May God continually increase you all.
I wouldn’t have made it this far without standing on the shoulders of a few people I call friends. I wish to sincerely appreciate my wonderful friends and roommates: Ernest Idehen, Etinosa Obaseki, Ezekiel Onwuka, Daniel Onwochei, Israel Obakpolor, Olayemi Timothy, Osato, Hamilton and Nosakhare Emmanuel. I also wish to appreciate my course mates to whom I served as course rep and association president: Okiemute Enajiyerin, Kimberly Oseme, Oyemwen Osatohanmwen, Fejiro Obire, Victory Eze, Milicent Katwe, Raphael, Rex, to mention a few and finally, my study partners: Juliet Oyathelemi and Jessica O
ga. Thank you all for your company.
I won’t fail to acknowledge Church of God Mission international House of Grace Benin, Living Faith Church, Stadium road, Port-Harcourt and Christian fellowship International BIU chapter for their positive impact in my life.
Finally, I want to thank Benson Idahosa University for providing a conducive environment for learning and for bringing out the best in me.
I want to urge each and every one of us graduating today to believe in yourself and in God and I assure you, the sky would be your starting point. I strongly believe that the faces we see today, in no time, would be the leading faces in the country and abroad.
Before I step down let’s do a little class work. Hold your caps in your hands. When I say "Titans" you say "Awu" and then fling your caps up in the air at the same time. Let’s be on our feet’s. Are we set? Okay let's go.
Thank you and God bless you.