Minister advocates restoration of core values in schools
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called for the restoration of values of “discipline, integrity, industry, honesty and patriotism in schools.”
He made the call on Saturday night in Abuja at the Keffi Old Boys Association (KOBA) 2016 Cheetah Gold Awards Dinner and Fund Raising ceremony.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the awards ceremony was organised to recognise outstanding old students of Government College, Keffi, and Mohammed, as well as the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, were among the honoured.
Other recipients of the awards were the Secretary to Nasarawa State Government, Umaru Sulaiman, former Comptroller-General of Immigration, Martins Abechi, a retired banker, Alhaji Abdulsalam Ahmed and an Engineer, Mr Abubakar Usman.
Mohammed noted that the country must rebuild the minds of citizens and most especially the young ones to build a greater future.
He said it was because of the culture of discipline and respect for core values that schools in those days, including his alma mater, were able to turn out great numbers of successful people.
He added that “Keffi moulded me and whatever I have become today is because I had the opportunity of attending Government College, Keffi.”
The minister said it was in recognition of this that the government embarked on national reorientation campaign, the “Change Begins With Me”, which would be made effective also in schools.
On how the minister, from Kwara, gained admission in Keffi in 1964, he explained that “you do not need to know anybody, we sat for common entrance in our various local native authority schools and we were admitted.
“We were given state warrants and transported to Keffi in the school lorry which was a wooden one, but very efficient.
“In those days, each province used to provide seven students and when we got to the school, we met our colleagues from other provinces like Benue, Kabba Savannah, Sokoto and so on. The school was a mini Nigeria. “
On how the college operated in those days, Mohammed said students paid different school fees based on the status of their parents.
He said “students from wealthy families paid higher than those who came from poor families.
“We were fortunate to have in our class the son of a Prime Minister and we also have the sons of peasants like me in the same class.
“While the students from the rich homes were paying about 36 pounds, we were paying three pounds.
“However, we took the same lecture, we ate the same food and we were subjected to the same discipline and sat for the same examinations.
“By the time we were together for about a year, we forgot who was a son of a prime minister or a son of a peasant.
“The institution moulded us to become refined citizens that we have become today.”
On his unforgettable experience while in the school, the minister recalled that he was popularly called “Raufu” and he used to have his name in not less than five lists for disciplinarian action.
“The Prefects would write down my name for punishment, about five of them in one day, including the present Secretary to Nasarawa State Government, Amb. Sulaiman.
“I developed a very effective method of handling the situation. If I offended five prefects, I will not do any punishment.
“If A called me, I will say I went to serve B, If B called me I will say I went to serve C and so on until I was discovered one day, and I paid dearly for it.”
To underscore how discipline was the hallmark of the school in those days, Mohammed also narrated an experience many years after he had left the school.
“After I had left the school for many years and graduated from the University and I went on an official visit to London.
“I was at the Heathrow Airport. You can imagine a young man who was on official duty to the UK with pride, and then from nowhere, I just heard “Raufu stop there!
“ I looked back and I saw one of my seniors of those days in Keffi and he said, “come here.“He was carrying two brief cases and of course, intuitively, I have to carry one of the cases with my own. That is Keffi for you.
“Keffi taught us one thing, which is that with discipline, there is nothing you cannot achieve.“Those who came out to be good citizens from Keffi, were not necessarily the most brilliant but they were the most disciplined. “
The minister said he felt very proud to be a recipient of Cheetah awards and would forever cherish it.He thanked Gov. Umaru Al-Makura for his efforts at rebuilding the structure and other basic infrastructure in the school.