AN ADDRESS BY THE RECTOR, REV. FR. PROF. IKECHUKWU ANTHONY KANU, O.S.A AT THE 2018/2019 MATRICULATION CEREMONY OF VILLANOVA POLYTECHNIC IMESI ILE, ON SATURDAY, 22nd MARCH, 2019

His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. John Akin Oyejola, Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Osogbo and the Proprietor of Villanova Polytechnic, Imesi Ile.

Priests and Religious of the Diocese of Osogbo

HRM Oba Enoch Ademola Akinyemi, Oyoyo II, Owa Oye of Imesi Ile

The Registrar

Director of Academic Planning

Heads of Departments

Matriculating Students

Parents and Guardians

Special Guests of Honour

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

With a profound heartfelt sentiments of joy and gratitude, I welcome you all to this august occasion that marks the official entry of every student into higher institutions of learning. Ours today is a statutory gathering to formally admit deserving and qualified candidates who are fortunate to be offered admission into this citadel of higher learning and institution of academic excellence. Today our Fresh Students participate fully by swearing to the Oath of Admission and signing the Matriculation Register, and thus would be regarded as bona – fide students of the Institution, and so entitled to all rights and privileges appertaining therein.

It may interest you to know that you are the very first set of students that I am admitting into the membership of this unique academic community of inquiry in my capacity as the Fifth Substantive Rector of Villanova Polytechnic. I envision a Catholic Polytechnic that is a primus inter pares (first among equals), a home and fountain of advanced technology

[1], the most preferred institution of learning, making significant contributions to the society; I have a dream of an institution  that is efficiently run

[2], and a force to reckon with among the community of polytechnics globally in the advancement of professional and vocational training for career progression

[3]. Gladly, you have come at the right time, and I challenge you to enlist in this noble vision.

To our Matriculants, where you have come to is an institution with an educational pedagogy based on the life and philosophy of Saint Thomas of Villanova. This great saint was born in 1486 in Castile, Spain. He received a superior education at the University of Alcala and became a popular professor of philosophy at the same university. He later became an Augustinian priest at Salamanca. Even after his ordination, he resumed his as Professor at the University of Alcala. He later became the Archbishop of Granada. He was not only a scholar with a head; he was an academic who had a heart. As Archbishop, the money given to him to furnish his house, he gave to a hospital instead. His explanation was: “Our Lord will be better served by your money being spent on the poor in the hospital”. Several hundreds of the poor came to Thomas’ door each morning and received a meal, wine, and money. He took in orphans and paid his servants for every deserted child they brought to him. No wonder, in his lifetime, Thomas of Villanova was called “the almsgiver” and “the father of the poor.” As Villanovites, we have a task before us: to keep the fascination of Saint Thomas of Villanova alive even in our modern times. He teaches us that education is not just about strategy but character; that education is not only about developing the head, but the heart; and that education does not only prepare one for a profession but a vocation.

On 26th October 1967, Six months before the death of Martin Luther King Jr., while speaking to a group of students at Barratt High School in Philadelphia, USA, he gave the students a few guidelines he believed they should follow to reach success in life. The words of Martin Luther King Jr. are still relevant to anyone looking to set a standard of success in his or her life. They are eternal principles anyone can use as a personal blue print for life.

He said to the students that: “Number one in your life’s blueprint should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your own worth, and your own somebodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you are nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth. And always feel that your life has ultimate significance.”

[1] That is the beginning of every success. If you believe in yourself, there is no limit to what you can achieve.

On a second point, he said: “In your life’s blueprint, you must have as a basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor”

[2]. If you are in the field of computer engineering, try to be the Ronald Wayne of our time. If you are in the field of business management, try to be the Aliko Dangote of our time. If you are in the field of Computer Science try to be the Nigerian Bill Gates that we all hunger for. If you are in the field of Electrical Engineering, try to be the Timothy Donald Cook of Africa. There can’t be an end to our dreams. The Scripture teaches: “As a man thinketh in his hearth, so shall he become”

[3].

On a third point, Martin Luther King Jr. said that you must be the best of whatever you are here for: “If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill, be a scrub in the valley. But be the best little scrub on the side of the hill. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be the sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or you fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”

[4]Finally, on your life’s blueprint, Martin Luther said that there: “must be a commitment to the eternal principles of beauty, love, and justice”

[5]. However young you are, you have a responsibility to seek to make Villanova the best institution in which to study and our nation Nigeria a better nation in which to live. You have a responsibility to seek to make life better for everybody. Be your brother and sister’s keeper. Our purpose of education here is to make the human person more human- “to be worthy of man among men”

[6]; to achieve a certain balance between: talent, education and virtue

[7] and to make use of knowledge

like scaffolding to build the building of love; a building will last forever, even when knowledge has been dismantled

[1].

You need to continually remember that the distance between today’s ceremony and convocation ceremony is short, and it is important that the journey ends successfully well. For this to happen, you need to be regular in attendance at lectures, carrying out all your assignments, shunning deviant behaviours and other vices that can expose you and others to danger. Villanova Polytechnic has zero tolerance for cultism, any form of hooliganism and corruption. I need to further advise you to show respect to your colleagues and staff to make your stay fruitful and productive. Let us be modest and decent in our dressing and approach to issues.

In spite of dwindling resources, Villanova Polytechnic has managed to stay afloat to deliver good services to her students. The presence of meager resources would not in any way alter our dream. We are Villanovites, and Villanovites are known for having the heart and attitude of a lion. Always remember that a lion is not the biggest animal in the jungle, there is the elephant, yet it is the king of the jungle. The lion is not the fattest animal in the jungle, you have the hippopotamus, yet it is the king of the jungle. The lion is not the wisest animal in the jungle, you have the fox, yet it is the king of the jungle. The lion is not the fastest animal in the jungle, you have the citer, yet it is the king of the jungle. Many of the celebrated men and women of our time came from humble backgrounds: Daddy Showkey, the veteran Nigerian singer, Oritsefemi the song writer and performer, Taribo West and Emmanuel Amunike, professional footballers, were al from Ajegunle, not Lekki or Abuja. When I look into your eyes, I see future Presidents, Ministers, Ambassadors, Professors, Doctors, Millionaires, Vice Chancellors, Rectors, etc. I see in you, “A living and dynamic potential of energies, and values ready to be dynamized”

[2]. God has a plan for each of you. It is a plan for a future that is filled with hope. And that plan begins now.         

Once again I congratulate all the matriculating students and wish you a fruitful stay in Villanova Polytechnic.

Long live our Matriculants!! Long live all Villanovites! God bless us all.