A VALEDICTORY SPEECH PRESENTED BY MR. OGUNMODEDE JOSEPH JAGUNMOLU (BEST GRADUATING LAW STUDENT) ON BEHALF OF THE GRADUATING CLASS OF THE 2015/2016 ACADEMIC SESSION ON THE OCCASION OF THE 69TH CONVOCATION CEREMONY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN, IBADAN THIS MONDAY, 13TH DAY OF NOVEMBER, 2017.
His Excellency, the Visitor and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
His Excellency, the Governor of Oyo State,
Honourable Vice Chancellor,
Our Distinguished Convocation Lecturer,
Distinguished Members of Staff,
Fellow Graduating Students,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
All existing protocols duly observed.
I feel so privileged, ecstatic and honoured, not only for the priceless opportunity I’ve been given to represent this awesome graduating class of 2015/2016 Academic Session of this prestigious University of Ibadan (The First and The Best) but also to stand at this exact podium where great scholars have stood. I am particularly elated and fulfilled on the achievement of this rare feat considering that I am the first Valedictorian from the Faculty of Law since the inception of this noble University. All glory and honour be unto God.
I thank the Almighty God for the gift of this day. On behalf of the graduating class of the 2015/2016 Academic Session, I sincerely appreciate the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka, members of the Senate and other Principal Officers of this Great University for making a day like this a reality. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to our responsible parents, guardians, siblings, friends and colleagues who all have contributed in one way or the other in no small measure in making today a dream come true. Permit me to specially thank and eulogize my wonderful parents, Chief & Chief(Mrs.) Benjamin Oludare Ogunmodede, not only for their financial, moral, spiritual and physical support but also for their firm belief in me. I think you all deserve a thunderous applause and commendation.
We thank the University Staff and recognize the relentless efforts of our dear lecturers in all faculties, in arming us with the requisite knowledge we need to face the battle ahead. I must confess that lecturers in the Faculty of Law, in particular, are not only our teachers but also our fathers and mothers. I acknowledge the Dean of Law, Prof. A.I. Olatunbosun, the former Dean, Prof. Yemisi Bamgbose, the Sub-Dean who also doubles as my able Supervisor, Mr. K.O. Olaniyan amongst others. Pardon me if I’m unable to mention your names one after the other due to time constraint, but I’m sure you know we sincerely appreciate you all.
Noble Graduating Students of this prestigious University, we have successfully completed the journey we commenced on this campus about 4 or 5 years ago, as the case may be. Today is indeed a very unique occasion and memorable day in our lives, and our joy knows no bound. As expected, it has been full of ups and downs, and I’m sure we all have series of stories to tell about our individual and collective experiences while undertaking this adventurous journey to academic success.
For me as the Best Graduating Law Student for the 2015/2016 Academic Session, my journey through this prestigious University was quite challenging. Having to study countless cases many of which were decided long before I was born, reading pages of textbooks for hours only to get to the last line and discover it had been replaced by a Section in a Statute, striking a balance between my academic work and my extra-curricular activities such as Moot & Mock Trials, Students’ Politics as well as Fellowship activities, and still finding time to prepare my usual delicacies such as my sumptuous ‘Eba’ and ‘efo riro’.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I must say that, amidst all these challenges, my success was intentional. After all, Jean Nidetch said, “It is choice-not-chance that determines your destiny”. I could remember I represented University of Ibadan at a Moot and Arbitration Competition which held at the University of Lagos in 2015, I came back very tired and was suppose to have a test the following morning. I had to give my roommates my belt to wake me up by fire by force so I could study for the test. As the First and the Best indeed, University of Ibadan won the competition and I also passed my test.
There were times I failed but I never allowed failure to define me. As a matter of fact, because I’m not afraid to fail, I keep succeeding. The lowest score on my transcript happens to be in the Course I enjoyed most, Family Law One (1) where I had 56 even after collecting three (3) extra sheets in the examination hall.
One thing I’ve always enjoyed is God’s grace, but I can’t rule out the place of hardwork, discipline and determination in this achievement. Just like Andrew Carnegie said, “whatever I engage in, I must push inordinately “. Oh! This is not a Law Court. If not, I would have called as witnesses the following persons; the young Abefele (Security man) that used to come and send me away from the Faculty of Law around 11:30pm every night, an old man that threatened to report me to the Vice Chancellor if he sees me again at Computer Science Department during late hours, Attendants at the Kenneth Dike Library and the young lady that told my younger Sister I was listening to the notes I recorded on my phone at Bodija market because I had to follow the Welfare Unit Members of my Fellowship to shop for the Annual Anglicana Program.
Why am I telling you this? I’m sure you are wondering what I am driving at? Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, my point is: consistency is the key. Winston Churchill is reputed to have said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts”. In my words, you are not yet a failure until you stop trying and you are not a success except you keep flying. In short, you can begin from anywhere and still reach for the stars. All you need is to summon the courage.
Today, I have a treasure to present to my fellow Graduating Students and that I have tagged “Value Creation”. Yes! As we move on in life, create value and watch yourself climb the ladder of success. “Value” is the worth of something while “value creation” is an activity that produce benefit to people. This is the basis of efficiency and productivity. As you know, for you to achieve anything, you must have a sense of purpose. However, Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO, in the Commencement Address he delivered at Harvard University on the 25th of May, 2017 emphasized that “it is not enough to have purpose for yourself. You have to create a sense of purpose for others”. That, in my view, truly defines what value creation and addition is.
This is a critical time in our lives. Many of us are asking ourselves, “what next?”, “what does the future hold for us?”. The fear is even more overwhelming with the current economic situation in Nigeria which is characterized by abysmally low employment rate and the relative unease in doing business. Nevertheless, I urge us to use the little resources at our disposal to meet the needs of people. In my view, unemployment is a myth. It is a basic principle of economics that human wants are insatiable and this clearly indicates that there is always something to be done. Therefore, never stay idle waiting for opportunities but create such opportunities for yourselves and others.
John D. Rockefeller, the richest man whoever lived after King Solomon, said, “the best capital a young man can have is a good name”. Let’s be good ambassadors of this Great Citadel of Learning, the University of Ibadan; don’t join the multitude to do evil and never trade your integrity for anything. We are in a time when our age mates have bagged masters and doctorate degrees in internet fraud, but I assure you that you can become a victor without making other people victims. My fellow Graduating Students, we need to set goals for ourselves and be focused. With patience, determination and dedication, we shall reach the better tomorrow that is ahead of us, for we have a very bright future.
The goodnews is this; value creation has been made much easier with the advent of technology. There is hardly any of us who does not own at least a mobile phone and a greater number of us buy data frequently. Apparently, the world has gone digital; technology remains the future of human relations and we now have access to the global market if only we can make optimal use of our technological gadgets. Checkout the lives of the most successful entrepreneurs, they look for a need and meet it. Why don’t we do likewise?
By extension, our social media should portray the big picture we have for our future, rather than we inundating the internet with pictures and comments that adds little or no value to the life of the common man. Remember, Tony Gaskins said,“if you don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire you to help build theirs”. Personally, with all sense of humility, I have led by example in this respect by founding “The Legal Diary” which is an online platform to creatively educate the world on their legal rights and duties. Kindly log on to www.thelegaldiary.com and be part of my testimony.
Fellow Graduating Students, politics is another vital area where value creation is a pressing need. Nigeria is experiencing a fundamental crisis in governance today because everybody wants to live at the expense of the State, forgetting that the State lives at the expense of the people. We, as energetic youth of this great Nation, should make a difference. In our various endeavours, let’s show sincere commitment to the political and socio-economic development of Nigeria rather than being blindfolded by our selfish interest.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Members of the Academia, Ladies and Gentlemen, and my fellow graduating Students, it is no longer news that Nigeria and indeed Africa is lagging behind. This country and nay the continent have been short-changed by leadership ineptitude and deficiency, coupled with unparalleled greed and corruption, but then, this is not the time for lamentation. Rather, this is the time to step up with a courageous mind and create the value our world needs. We must rise up without despair nor fear and create the change we seek in our world. The truth is: the world awaits us, but the question is: Are we ready?
Thank you for your audience and rapt attention. God bless you all.
JOSEPH JAGUNMOLU OGUNMODEDE
Best Graduating Law Student/Valedictorian,
2015/2016 Academic Session,
University of Ibadan.
Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede is the Founder/CEO of THE LEGAL DIARY.
He is a Double First Class lawyer from the prestigious University of Ibadan and the Nigerian Law School. Joseph is an Attorney at Udo-Udoma and Belo-Osagie with interest in Corporate Law, Energy Law, Real Estate Law and Commercial Litigation.