Delivered byChief Folake Solanke, SAN CON

Chief Folake Solanke, SAN CON
At the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Kofo Abayomi Street,
Victorial Island, Lagos at 10a.m.
Please permit me to make a short statement “in limine” before my 10 minutes contribution. I owe a debt of gratitude to the Hallmarks of Labour Foundation for being the first institution to recognize honour and decorate me with its prestigious fellowship in the year 2004. I am profoundly grateful to the Foundation for their early recognition of me. Since then, by divine grace, there has been a floodgate of honours. Praise God. I am truly humbled. Consequently, I wish to assure the Foundation Board of Trustees, that, if I ask questions, it is just because it is the nature of my profession to ask questions! Nothing sinister!
I am delighted to be on the Symposium panel with Ambassador Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari for a very special reason. In 1995, as the Zonta International President, I sought an appointment with the then UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros Ghali. I contacted Professor Gambari and he arranged it. I met with the Secretary General in New York, USA at the UN complex for about one hour. It was an insightful experience. Professor Gambari is a consummate Ambassador and an intellectual of distinction.
All that is protocol!
Now, to my 10 minutes contribution on: “The Challenges of the Youth in Nigeria: Where are the Role Models?” The topic flows from the main Theme of the celebration “id est”: “Restoring a Tolerant and Value–Driven Society in Nigeria”.
Indeed we should all be concerned about the wrong attitudes and orientation of some of our youth. Where are the role models? I answer categorically: they are here in this very hall. We are all present here. All of us are the role models, or should be, the role models. We do not have to go and search for role models anywhere because we represent them.
I will identify only four categories of role models because of time limitation:
School Teachers
University professors and lecturers
Politicians, e.g., legislators.
Parents bring children to this trouble-infected world. Consequently, as parents, we must discharge our primary God-given role to bring up our children so that they can distinguish between what is good and what is bad. Parents must not abandon their parental duty to school teachers. By our own behavior, we should be good examples. For instance, children must not see parents surreptitiously bring into the home loads of “Ghana must go” bags full of filthy money of different currencies in the dead of night! And we should be watchful and ask questions if our children bring in expensive articles or a lot of money. We need to know the source of such items.
Teachers are “in loco parentis” to their pupils. They should build on the moral foundation which has been laid at home. Teachers must be true to their calling by making sure that they inculcate sound societal values in the children. Teachers betray their vocation by failing to train the children to abide by the very best behavorial principles and tested values, and by helping them to commit examination fraud. They must nurture their pupils to be academically sound and of good morality. Parents must support the teachers by attending Parents and Teachers Association in schools and not go to school to assault teachers because of complaints by their children.
Universities professors and lecturers should continue to fortify the academic moral and intellectual infrastructure which has been established by the parents and teachers. University teachers must be on top of their discipline and the subjects they teach. They must NOT exploit or abuse students, especially female students through sexual harassment. Successful examination results should be the only requirement for obtaining their degrees. Further, universities should not devalue the 1st class degree by awarding numerous first class degrees not based on genuine and brilliant examination performance. There has been universal outrage about the 120 “cut-off-point” for university admission and 100 “cut-off-point” for polytechnic admission. The quality of the graduates of some of our universities is abysmal enough. Some graduates are unemployable. Oh ye gods! We must not descend lower but must aim at a higher educational standard for our students. Professors and lecturers must produce knowledgeable and employable graduates by challenging their students to strive to achieve the highest level of scholarship. Nothing cheap.
Politicians rule the country. They must perform their crucial role of governance creditably and by so doing,  they will motivate children to aim high in order to contribute meaningfully to the society. They must not be attracted to politics by the mere love of obscene stolen money, but a determination to render qualitative service to the society. Some years ago, in Abuja, some pupils of a secondary school were taken to the House of Representatives to watch legislative proceedings. But what did they watch? — mayhem, confusion, fisticuffs and missiles by way of chairs and tables, which were hurled through the air across that hallowed chamber! That fiasco was a horrendous example for the youth. I dare say that if the legislators were to have the correct attitude to their calling, some members, male and female, of our House of Representatives would not have converted their hallowed chamber into a pugilistic battlefield by engaging in “Kung Fu” or boxing or “gidigbo gidigbo e ya.” What the students were entertained with was a free-for-all gladiatorial combat and missile throwing by the so-called ‘honourable’ legislators. . .
So as I said, we are all the role models –- we are here: parents, teachers, professors, lecturers and politicians”. I am included. There are other categories, such as churches, mosques, the chiefs.
General Comment
In peroration, we must be aware of:
(a) What children watch on the Internet,
(b) Children spend too much time sitting in front of the computer screen. Parents should ensure that their get enough exercise outside, in the fresh air and read physical books.
(c) Children must regard the Internet as an additional educational facility, not a place to play games. The cut and paste mentality should not be relied upon to write papers! You are just copying other peoples’ input. Children must use their own brains and spend more time in creative thinking, not just staring into their cell phones sending endless text messages on Twitter, playing games, or receiving a relentless bombardment of information. True or false?
I take this opportunity to apologize to the youth on behalf of my generation for the corruption which our youth now observe, and which is consuming the country by the egregious misconduct of some of my generation. I tell the youth to embrace what is good and noble. Some youth are now engaging in hate speech. Those in authority must condemn hate speech in any form, be it political propaganda or, otherwise by anyone.
As parents, we should speak our indigenous languages at home so that our languages do not go into extinction. We have over 200 indigenous languages in Nigeria, we should celebrate this diversity and encourage all children to speak their Mother tongue. A good knowledge of the indigenous language is useful before learning English or any other language. Recently, history was restored to our school curriculum, this is a step in the right direction—if a child has no idea of the past, no idea of the Nigerian history–how do they know where they are going?
I have much more to say, but I pause, because the competent executive secretary, Patricia, has so instructed!
I thank you for your attention.
Dated this ……………… of ………………………2017.
Chief ‘Folake Solanke  SAN, OON, CON
B.A., Dip.Ed., FNIALS, LL.D (h.c) HLF
D.Litt(h.c.), D.Lit.(h.c.), D. Litt.(h.c.)


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