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Odebiyi’s bold step: Why politicians must prioritize education

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By Olubunmi Omoogun

It has become a habit of most non partisan individuals in the country to view modern day politicians as people who lack principles and decorum unlike the politicians of old who avowed unshakeable self-devotion to the people’s cause. Even after they’ve left us, the undying love people have for these politicians of old is still evident due to their legacies, principles, moral compass, decorum and the vital roles they played in the struggle for a better Nigeria.

The late Sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, an exceptional politician during his time, made great, never forgotten impacts, as he prioritized free education, while harnessing and aggregating available resources of Western region for the development of the region. All these Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Awolowo did, with clinical precision.

Chief Awolowo knew that education, education and education can only be the long lasting gift you can give to someone. The former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, also stressed the importance of education, when he said that ‘education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’.

Sen. Tolu Odebiyi, a progeny of his late father, Chief J.A.O Odebiyi, his father also an ally of the late Sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and others like Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Hon. Akin Deko, Hon. Ayodele Okusoga, Chief Anthony Enahoro, S.O. Ighodaro Esq, Balarabe Musa, Chief Bola Ige and co who had social welfare as their number one priority.

Carefully treading along that focused path and understanding that education is the future of Africa, an outstanding and impactful gesture that deserves huge appreciation is the presentations of scholarship awards of One Hundred Thousand Naira N100,000 and brand new laptops to 53 Ogun West Undergraduate students in various tertiary institutions in Nigeria. A scholarship programme that will continue till their graduation from school. This means that their tuition fees from Year 1 through to Year 4 will be taken care of by Sen. Tolu Odebiyi, Senator representing Ogun West Senatorial District in the National Assembly. An unprecedented feat in the history of that Senatorial District.

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Imagine the joy of the parent of an academically gifted but economically disadvantaged student the moment tuition fee ceases to be a stumbling block to their child’s academic or career goals. An emotional moment it was when these 53 students stepped forward to receive their scholarship awards from Sen. Tolu Odebiyi.

Indeed, this great gesture lifted the spirit of the parents and reinforced their belief that Nigeria can still re-enact the system of free education of old.

According to one of the students who received scholarship award and a brand new laptop, Olasode Ajibola, “As a recipient of Senator Tolu Odebiyi scholarship, I will like to show my sincere appreciation for the invaluable support and contribution towards making our academic dreams a reality. By awarding me this scholarship, you have reduced my financial burden, which helps me to focus more on the most important aspect of school learning. Your generosity towards humanity has inspired me to also help others and give back to the community. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me”.

Bamgbose Abraham Abidemi, another beneficiary, thanked the Senator for the rare opportunity and for the impact of this scholarship on their academic growth and development.

Ayinde Grace, a proud student of University of Lagos, commended Senator Odebiyi for being a great philanthropist and lover of youths. “I really thank God in your life sir, because without Him it is impossible for you to do this great and uplifting job you are doing in Ogun West. Your love for education, youths and human capital is extraordinary. Most especially this undergraduate scholarship which has helped me navigate my academic worries”. Miss Ayinde said.

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Adejumoke Adejobi-Osu from Imeko in Ogun West said, “If you know about Ogun West Senatorial District, the most marginalized and neglected zone in Ogun State, you will understand why an educational empowerment or job creation Sen. Odebiyi is bringing would mean so much to us”.

While staying true to that passion of building future leaders and remembering the yesteryears when good governance and sterling leadership qualities was sacrosanct, Sen. Odebiyi at the scholarship presentation to the 53 students in Ilaro, Ogun State said, “Education plays a major role in shaping the future of the youths, thereby making them to became better citizens who would be useful to themselves and the society”.

No doubt, the future of any young person is education.

According to the Senator who agrees with Goldman Sachs that countries of the world will be shaped by young educated people like the 53 students who just received scholarship awards, notes that “It is important for the youths especially the beneficiaries to go into the future with a new hope, a new vision, a new mind, a new approach and a new idea to enable them to contribute their quota to the socio-economic development of the state and nation at large”.

Odebiyi said, he will continue to build a mass of educated youths with morals, knowledge, expertise and mentality to move this great country forward.

Today, he goes down in history books as a Senator who defied all the odds to bring clean and hygienic water to the good people of a rustic town called Moro, a town located in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, after 150 years of unavailability of portable water. The cause of this was linked to the huge presence of limestone deposits that prevented water from coming out of the ground irrespective of how deep the ground is dug.

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Another history was made in April 2021, when his novel Bill to establish the National Institute for Border Studies in Imeko, Ogun State to provide for teaching, research, instruction and training of students in border management that will strengthen the capacity, unlock the skills and potentials of the youths, was passed by the 9th Senate of the federal republic of Nigeria for the good of all Nigerians. The Institute, once established will be the first of its kind in Africa.

His projects such as the construction and equipping of ICT Centre, provision of 30 KVA sound proof generators, renovation and equipping of girls and boys resident hostels and provision of toilets facilities, renovation and furnishing of classrooms in Egbado College, Ilaro, (one of the legacy schools in Yewa land), as well as facilitation of employment opportunities for constituent members in various departments and agencies of government, facilitation of COVID-19 household government grants to his constituents to cushion the negative impacts of the pandemic, empowerment support programmes for women and youths, water projects and provision of electricity transformers that cut across the five (5) Local Government Areas in Ogun West won him the Voice Hero of the year Award and the Distinguished Legislative and Grassroots Leadership Award for burning the midnight oil to impact positively in the lives of the people and in recognition of his giant strides in education, growth and development of his Constituency. Sen. Odebiyi, just like the Omoluabi (well-bred) politicians of old, is making sure Ogun West is not left behind in the long road to sustainable economic and infrastructure development.

Olubunmi Omoogun writes from Abuja.

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