*Says Nigeria’s elite must ensure the resource does not remain stranded at the level of potential
“Nigeria is a nation of great people and talent. Indeed, our human capital is the greatest gift and resource that we have, not our crude oil or solid minerals, or land.
“Posterity calls on us the Nigerian elite, the intellectual, business and religious leadership which have the responsibility, and we are called upon to work to ensure that this resource does not remain stranded at the level of potential, but that it is instead harnessed and exploited for the good of the country.’’
Below is the full text of the VP’s address:
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, THE VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE INVESTITURE CEREMONY FOR THE 2017 LAUREATES OF THE NIGERIAN NATIONAL ORDER OF MERIT (NNOM), ON THURSDAY, 7TH DECEMBER, 2017
I am delighted to be here at this morning’s session of the occasion of the conferment of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) Award on two distinguished Nigerians.
The Nigerian National Order of Merit is the highest and most prestigious award bestowed by Nigeria on its citizens for creative, intellectual and academic contributions that are of national and global importance, and it is being conferred on two distinguished nominees who have been adjudged worthy of the award by the Governing Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award.
Since its inception thirty-eight years ago, the Nigerian National Merit Award has identified and selected 75 awardees. Each one of them has epitomized the finest of Nigeria’s capacity for innovation and creativity.
I am extremely proud to welcome the new Laureates to this prestigious league of citizens.
The two awardees for 2017 are: Professor Adesoji Adediran Adesina, NNOM, who has been given this award for his work in Engineering Technology. His research work over the last three decades has made groundbreaking contributions to the mining, petrochemical, renewable energy, defence, and manufacturing. Prof. Adesina is credited with more than 400 refereed publications, patents and books, and has won several competitive research grants from government and industry sponsors.
I am sure that when we listened to what Prof. Sanni Sambo had to say about Prof. Adediran Adesina’s works, many of us were confused as to what exactly was being said. For example, I would quote from a piece that I read on his work. It says, “the excess water in the ethanol solution facilitates the separation of glycerol by-product from the oily phase while simultaneously improving the purity of the biodiesel.”
But I was relieved to see immediately after that, that this means we could take the waste oil from a local buka or a dodo street seller, to produce biodiesel. So, I am happy that Prof. Adesina interpreted for us some of the very complex things that he has been doing over the years.
We greatly honoured to be here to see a man who has served this nation and served his profession in different capacities. He supervised more than 100 graduate students to completion, including 42 PhD alumni who are now university professors in highly-ranked institutions, executives of the petrochemical processing industries, senior government officials and captains of engineering design & consulting firms across the world.
Mr. Bruce Paul Obomoyema Onobrakpeya, NNOM is a man being recognized for his work in the arts and humanities. He is a man of multiple talents and impressive achievements. A world-renowned artist, painter, and outstanding printmaker, he is also an illustrator of books, art experimentalist and initiator of art forms, philosopher, as well as a poet, author of books, philanthropist, and teacher.
For his work over the last six decades, Onobrakpeya has earned over 30 national and international awards and appointments, including a Silver Medal at the Fifth Triennial in India in 1982, and the SPANFEST Excellence Award – Lifetime Achievement Award in the Art, in 2013. In 2002, he was awarded the MFR (Member of the Order of the Republic of Nigeria) and in 2017, the honorary Doctor of Letters, by both the University of Ibadan and the Delta State University, where a new art gallery has also been dedicated to him.
His works span generations beginning even from the period of our independence, a period which is described by critics of arts as the period of Onobrakpeya’s Mythical Realism which spans the period 1957–62. And his art in this period is said to represent the period of his early development as the artist and this coincided with Nigeria’s Independence.
At that time, the idea of projecting the African personality was of major importance to the artists of that period and it was at this time that the Zaria Arts Society, the forerunner of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), was formed and this was accompanied by the propagation of the concept of “natural synthesis”.
But Onobrakpeya goes beyond that period and in more contemporary times has been an advocate of important social causes and his art has depicted those important social causes and here we see Onobrakpeya focus on several social causes including paintings for divine prayers for help against military dictatorship and political instability.
And in more serious times the focus on the murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa. On the front burner also are the ecological and sociological problems which he also tried to depict in several of his works including Ekugbe (Unity), Nude & Protest and Smoke from the Broken Pipe.
Mr. Onobrakpeya has shown that an artist is not necessarily an entertainer; he is also a social commentator and has continued to contribute to Nigeria’s socio-political life for most of the period of his professional life.
Every winner of the NNOM is unique and on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, and of the people of Nigeria, I congratulate you both on this great achievement. You are not just national treasures; you are now important milestones in the chequered history of Nigeria’s upward trajectory.
Your stories and attainments now inspire the future, it is on the sturdy shoulders of your achievements that the coming generation of Nigerian artists and scientists will stand with confidence and hope. This is the awesome responsibility that you bear.
Therefore for you, there will never be a time in your professional lives where you retire and proceed to bask in the abundance of past accomplishment. This is the tough price of your outstanding feats of intellection and innovation. In any event as the American statesman, Bernard Baruch said “A man can’t retire his experience. He must use it.”
Let me also congratulate your families, friends, associates and well-wishers, who have come to share with you the joy of today’s achievement.
Congratulations are also in order to the members of the Governing Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award, under the Chairmanship of Professor Shekarau Yakubu Aku, and members of the Board’s four Specialized Committees of Assessors and External Assessors for the excellent work they have done. Please keep up the good work.
The Federal Government will study the recommendations contained in the Communiqué of the 10th Annual Forum of NNOM Laureates 2017 and will continue to support, in every way, the development of Nigeria’s research and innovation capacity.
Nigeria is a nation of great people and talent. Indeed, our human capital is the greatest gift and resource that we have, not our crude oil or solid minerals, or land.
Posterity calls on us the Nigerian elite, the intellectual, business and religious leadership which have the responsibility, and we are called upon to work to ensure that this resource does not remain stranded at the level of potential, but that it is instead harnessed and exploited for the good of the country and all its people, posterity will not forgive us for anything less.
I thank you for listening.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President