Felix Ikem, Nsukka
Former governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, has said that it is a crime for any government to owe pensioners who once sacrificed their lives to serve the nation.
Shekarau said this in Nsukka during the maiden alumni home-coming/reunion of the School of Postgraduate Studies of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, while presenting a lecture titled “Nation-Building: the Role of Human Development and Good Governance.”
He said to encourage national development, pensioners who sacrifice a good part of their lives to serve their fatherland should be accorded respect and paid their pension regularly.
“To me, it is a crime for (any) government, be it Federal or state to owe pensioners who served their fatherland with their strength and youthful energy.
“It’s unfortunate that some of these senior citizens die because they are owned arrears of pension for many months.
“That was why as soon as l assumed office as governor of Kano State, I cleared all arears owed (by the past governments) and throughout my administration, no pensioner was owed; the record is there for anybody to verify,” he said.
Shekarau who was also a former Minister of Education said for national development to thrive, there must be adequate security, quality education, social justice and patriotism.
“It’s impossible to get required national development and good governance in absence of security of lives and property, quality education as well as patriotism.
“Education plays a vital role in national development. No nation can rise above its level of education.
“Corruption and economic mismanagement are enemies of national development and good governance,” he said.
He urged politicians to always put the interest of the country first by being patriotic and avoiding corruption in all its ramifications.
He noted that it was as result of sacrifice and patriotism that made it possible for the country’s forefathers to secure independence.
“Our problem today is that majority of our politicians and leaders put their own interest first and lack (the) patriotism that drives national development,” he said.
While declaring the event open, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Benjamin Chukwuma Ozumba, who was represented on the occasion by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration, Prof. Charles Igwe, said: “The mission of our postgraduate school is to produce high-level manpower for leadership position.
“Over the years, the school’s teeming alumni might not know the whereabouts of one another because after graduation, the chain of unity is broken and everybody goes their ways. This home-coming and reunion event also presents the ‘Super Lions and Lionesses’ the opportunity to rediscover themselves as they return to reunite.
“I am aware that the urgent needs of the school include a new and befitting building, the remodeling of the existing one and modern computer facilities.
“It is my hope that our guest would consider helping us with the remodeling of this historic building or the completion of the new building which has been stalled due to paucity of funds.
In his remark, the Local Organising Committee Chairman (of the event), Prof. Florence Orabueze, said: “Today, we are celebrating the alumni who graduated from our postgraduate school; we gladly welcome them back to the ‘den,’ which many of them left many decades ago.
“As an academic community, we decided to organise this lecture delivered by the erudite, scholarly, humane, and detribalised former governor of Kano State and former Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, who has educated us on the role of human development and governance in the national building.
“We should draw attention to the critical situation of the postgraduate school which was donated to the university 40 years ago by late Chief Augustine Ilodibe. We are seeking for the renovation and extension of the building; the present structure is not befitting of a school that has produced over 100,000 ‘Lions and Lionesses.’”
Earlier in her welcome address, the Dean of Postgraduate School, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof. Mrs Patience Osadebe, said that the school organised the home-coming to interface with the alumni of the postgraduate school, recalling how it had produced distinguished Nigerians at top positions in various fields of human endeavour.
Prof. Mrs Osadebe also called on the alumni to assist the school to remodel the postgraduate building built 40 years ago.
The dean appealed to the general public, donor agencies, philanthropists and the alumni association to support the school’s computer laboratory, procure official vehicles, complete it’s new building stalled over 10 years ago due to lack of funds.