WELCOME REMARKS AT THE OPENING PLENARY OF THE CONFERENCE, ‘FREE EDUCATION IN NIGERIA: 55 YEARS ON’
It is my pleasurable duty to welcome you to this, the grand finale of the year-long celebrations of the centenary of the birth of Chief Ọbafẹmi Awolọwọ.
There could not have been a better way to round off the celebrations than this conference on education – an issue that, as you all know so well, was so dear to the heart of Chief Awolọwọ and to which he devoted much of his political life.
I particularly welcome the students and pupils in our midst and hope they go away at the end of this conference, inspired, challenged and full of hope.
I welcome the Chairman, Professor Ade-Ajayi, a quintessential educationist and patriot, who was in fact the Keynote Speaker at the Foundation’s 2nd Dialogue on Education in 1993. His views on the sector, 17 years later, will be most instructive.
I am also delighted to welcome Chief Babatọla, who was Parliamentary Secretary to Chief Awolọwọ in Western Nigeria. His insights into how it all happened 55 years ago will also be most interesting and informative.
I acknowledge the hard work and meticulous planning that has gone into the preparation of this event. I wish to recognise the all-female members of the Organising Committee, chaired by Dr (Mrs) Fẹmi Ogunsanya. Other members are Mrs Nikẹ Adamọlẹkun, Dr (Mrs) Maggie Ibru, Mrs Ṣade Adefisayọ and Mrs Yinka Ogunde. They demonstrated remarkable commitment
I welcome all the key participants – session chairmen and speakers. On this occasion we have, deliberately, opted for ‘fresh voices’, ‘fresh expressions’. We think it is about time that the voices that are often drowned out in debates on the great issues of the day were given the opportunity to be heard. The more this is the case, the greater would be the benefit to the country, in our considered view.
The keynote speaker is Mrs Sade Adefisayọ. She is a bright, highly focused young lady and, in my view, one of this country’s ‘hidden assets’. You are in for a treat this morning.
I have no doubt that the proceedings in the next two days will be exciting and that the outcome of the conference will prove invaluable to policy makers. Above all, we hope thereby to do justice to, and remain worthy of Chief Awolọwọ’s legacy.
I thank you all for your attention.
Dr Ọlatokunbọ Awolọwọ Dosumu
January 20, 2010.