Labour Party Stalwart, Val Ozigbo speaks at Tansian University Convocation Lecture

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PROTOCOLS

Introduction
My friends, it is an honour to share this historic day with all of you. Today is unique, not just for Tansian University but also for each of you graduates and your families. The excitement among the academic faculty and administrators is palpable. Their tireless dedication has made this day possible. As you stand on the threshold of a new chapter, I am thrilled to be part of this joyous occasion.
Today, we celebrate the culmination of years of hard work, determination and the beginning of a journey filled with promise and potential. Each of you, as graduates of Tansi University, holds within you the power to shape the future, to lead with courage and compassion, and to make a difference in the world.
Your education and experiences have equipped you with the tools to challenge the status quo, to work for change, and to create a better future. So, as we stand together on this momentous day, let us embrace the opportunities ahead with hearts full of hope and minds set on greatness.
As I approached the gates of your esteemed university this morning, memories of my university days and the exhilaration of graduation came flooding back. I remember the feeling of accomplishment, the sense of pride in my parents’ eyes, and the anticipation of the future. I understand the emotional weight of this moment. Your hard work and resilience have paid off. You have made your parents, families, and communities immensely proud. Congratulations to all of you.
Before deciding on what to speak about today, I spent quite some time pondering a topic that would resonate with you—the brilliant minds of Gen Z, the brightness of our tomorrow.
Your grandparents and some of your parents entered a world where white-collar jobs awaited them, with houses and official cars ready upon graduation. They were seen as exceptional citizens emerging from the ivory towers of academia. They were seen as valuable to the nation. The leaders had prepared a place for them to thrive.
But today, things are different. You are stepping into a society deeply scarred by successive, inept political leadership. The pathways that once guaranteed success, such as secure jobs and stable economies, are now uncertain. The world out there is waiting for your manifestation. But they are hostile to your emergence. They wait for you eagerly but have not prepared a place for you. It is a world where you may have to fight for your rights, where you may have to create your opportunities, and where you may have to challenge the status quo.
So you may ask the generations before you: What did they do to sustain the ‘Nigerian dream’? The ‘Nigerian dream’ promises a good life, a prosperous and just society, and a globally respected and admired nation. Why wasn’t this promise preserved and handed down to the next generation? As a collective, what contribution did they make to nation-building? We must reflect on these crucial questions as we embark on our journey as active citizens.
Indeed, a generation that fails to leave a better nation for the next can be said to have fallen short. Such is the case with our forebears. However, this is not a moment to cast blame but a call to action.

Our society’s rejuvenation depends on how well we apply the knowledge we have gained here. Our responsibility as citizens is crucial. The Almighty God has blessed us with abundant natural and human resources. If Nigeria is not in its rightful place in the comity of nations where it should be, the issue lies in our abuse of citizenship. Hence, my topic today concerns citizenship and ‘Redeeming Ourselves: A Call for True Citizenship.’ It is about recognising our past mistakes, taking responsibility for them, and committing to a better future.
Faithful citizenship is more than a title; it is a call to action. As a graduate of Tansian University, you are equipped not just with knowledge and talents but also with responsibility. You must harness your knowledge, skills, and collective will to build a nation that reflects our highest ideals. We are blessed with vast natural and human resources, but these blessings come with the responsibility to steward them wisely and justly.
Our nation’s future hinges on our ability to rise above the failures of the past and embrace a new ethos of citizenship grounded in integrity, service, and compassion.
Having acquired knowledge and been deemed worthy in learning and character by Tansian University, the success of the country we call our own now hinges on our accomplishments, which depend on how we conduct ourselves and fulfil our duties to our country.
Why Do We Need to Redeem Ourselves?
Consider the story of Rosa Parks, an ordinary citizen who became an extraordinary symbol of the civil rights movement.
On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus. This act of defiance sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a pivotal event in the fight for civil rights.
Rosa Parks’ courage reminds us of the power of individual action and active citizenship. She said, “When one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
Like Rosa Parks, you have the power to resist injustice in your society. Faithful citizenship is more than enjoying rights; it requires fulfilling your duties with integrity and commitment to building a better future. The discipline and values you have acquired at this institution demand that you strive for excellence and make a meaningful contribution.
Today, I call on each of you, as graduates of Tansian University, to be the torchbearers of this new vision. I urge you all to embrace your role as active citizens and work tirelessly to create a society that honours dignity, justice, and equality. By doing so, you will not only redeem yourselves but also pave the way for a brighter future for generations to come. Your role in nation-building is not just crucial; it is your purpose. It is your purpose to positively impact society and contribute to the progress of our nation.
What Is Citizenship?
Wayne State University’s Centre for the Study of Citizenship defines citizenship as “membership in a community,” a legal status and relationship between an individual and a state that entails specific legal rights and duties.
But citizenship is more than just a legal status; it’s about participatory membership in a political community, meeting the legal requirements of a national, state, or local government. It grants certain rights and privileges to its citizens.
Yet, with these rights comes the responsibility to obey the laws and defend the country against its enemies. A nation’s standing in the world is determined by its citizens’ commitment. When Nigeria gained independence on October 1, 1960, the power to shape its future was placed in the hands of its citizens.
If things aren’t going well, we must hold ourselves accountable. When things go right, we deserve the credit, too. We often blame citizens for political shortcomings and hold politicians responsible for our challenges. But we also celebrate our athletes and artists who make us proud despite the challenges they face at home. Their triumph shows us that our country’s destiny is truly in our hands. Our nation’s future depends on how we exercise our citizenship rights and duties.
A Call to True Citizenship
My friends, the challenge ahead of you is indeed daunting. But I stand here, filled with hope and confidence, knowing that the knowledge you’ve acquired at Tansian University has equipped you to stand firm. As you step forward to overcome societal hurdles, set your sights high.
Define your mission in this world and Nigeria.
Your parents and guardians have brought you here not just to be educated but to be transformed and upgraded as human beings. Having been upgraded, the question that stands before you is this: What will you give back?
As the Holy Scriptures remind us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Psalm 29:18) Vision gives us direction, ignites our passions, and propels us forward. Without it, we drift aimlessly, unable to harness our true potential.
Vision is the cornerstone of progress. It inspires us to reach beyond the ordinary, strive for excellence, and build a better future. As you step into the world, carry with you a bold and inclusive vision that seeks to uplift yourself and everyone around you. Let it guide your actions, shape your decisions, and fuel your dreams.
Remember that faithful citizenship is not a passive state but an active commitment. It is about standing up for justice, advocating for those who cannot speak for themselves, and working tirelessly to create a society that reflects our highest ideals.
Active citizenship means holding yourself and, in turn, your government and leaders accountable. Society falters when leaders are not held to account, and it is our duty as citizens to ensure that they serve with integrity and transparency. To be a good citizen, operate within the law, strive for excellence, and let your actions be a testament to the values you hold dear.
Each of you has the power to make a difference, to be a beacon of hope and progress. Together, let’s build a nation where every voice is heard, every person is valued, and every dream has the chance to flourish.
To tackle future challenges, be a good planner and engage in scenario planning. Prioritise your needs while pursuing excellence.
Let your entrepreneurial spirit be driven by value, not just by making money. Many young people who fall into trouble do so because they lack morals in pursuing money. Do not aspire to make it through dishonest means. Quick money has consequences, and regrets often follow.
As an entrepreneur who operates at the top in various sectors, I assure you that hard work and patience are always rewarded. The giver of every good thing is a just God who rewards us according to our efforts and His mercies. Without Him, we can achieve nothing.
After Jesus’s death, the Apostles, led by Peter, returned to fishing but caught nothing until they reconnected with Christ. This teaches us that in all we do, we must remember that Christ is the vine, and we are the branches looking up to the vine-dresser, God, to create a fruitful society. Remember that this university is named in memory of Blessed Iwene Tansi, the first West African to be beatified by the Roman Catholic Church. May he continue to intercede for every one of us, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Your university’s motto is Scientia Potestas et Vistas (Knowledge is Power and Virtue). Let this wisdom be your guiding light as you navigate the complexities of life, ensuring that your actions reflect the wisdom and virtue that come with proper understanding. By embodying this principle, you can become a force for good, making a meaningful impact on the world around you.
The Citizen, The Idiot, and The Tribesperson
Before I conclude, consider the reflections on human nature from Greek philosophers. They identified three types of people: idiots, who are indifferent to everything; tribespeople, who see everything through the lens of their origin; and citizens, who view things rationally and patriotically. Sadly, studies show that only 10 per cent of Africans are citizens, while the remaining 90 per cent are either tribespeople or idiots, which hinders our continent’s progress.
In 1931, another philosopher, Nicholas Murray Butler, categorises people into those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. As you embark on your journey, choose which group you want to belong to. Your parents, this university, and your country hope you will be the citizens who make positive changes and contribute to societal progress.

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Call to Action
It is a reminder that the torch of hope and progress is now in your hands. So the question is: Are we destined to follow the path of the generations before us, or will we blaze a new trail for our children and grandchildren? You have the chance to reignite the Nigerian dream, rebuild the promise of a good life, and ensure that it endures for future generations. The future belongs to us, and it is up to us to act to safeguard it rather than watch it be senselessly withered away.
A British Methodist minister, William Lonsdale Watkinson, once said, “It is far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.” The hit Netflix series “3 Body Problem” vividly explores this timeless wisdom. The series is about how a group of scientists, led by a top-level government fixer, work tirelessly to avert a future catastrophe set in motion by the actions of a ruthless government regime and a lone scientist decades earlier.
‘3 Body Problem’ powerfully illustrates how the mistakes of yesterday, no matter how well-intentioned, can haunt the present day and how today’s actions and inactions can profoundly shape tomorrow. This narrative reminds us that we have a choice. The future is not a predetermined path but a canvas awaiting the brushstrokes of our collective effort.
It is in our hands to light the candle, to take decisive action, and to create a brighter future. Building a more just, equitable, and prosperous nation is within your power. Let us learn from the past, act in the present, and shape a tomorrow that reflects the best of who we are. Together, let us rise to the occasion and build a future that our children and grandchildren will be proud to inherit.
This is your moment. Seize it with courage and determination.
In Conclusion
Your Excellencies, Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, and other dignitaries:
Let me conclude with a story from Judson Cornelius’s book, ‘A Feast of Laughter’. Harry Truman and Charles Ross were close friends and classmates. Charles was the top student, giving the valedictory speech and winning all the scholarship honours, earning congratulations and a kiss from their favourite teacher, Miss Tillie Brown.
Envious, Harry asked the teacher, “Don’t I get one too?” She replied, “Not until you have done something worthwhile.”
Years later, when Truman became President of the United States, he appointed Charles as his Press Secretary.
That night, Charles remarked, “Wouldn’t our teacher, Miss Brown, be glad to know we are together again?”
Truman called Miss Brown and said, “Hello, Miss Brown, this is Harry Truman, the President of the United States. Do I get that kiss now?” She replied, “Yes, come and get it!”
The essence of this story is that not all of us leave university as award winners, but we all deserve recognition—if not now, then later. So, go out, shine, and reclaim your recognition.
Distinguished audience, thank you for the honour of speaking to you. God bless us all.

2 thoughts on “Labour Party Stalwart, Val Ozigbo speaks at Tansian University Convocation Lecture

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    Anodebe chisom Lilian
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