A cross section of graduating Class of 2017 with the Executive Director, Mrs. F.K Abdul-Razaq (Middle on third line), during the 13th annual graduation ceremony of Bridge House College at Muson Centre, Lagos..recen

With landmark achievements that have continued to define the products of Bridge House College, the 2017 set at their graduation ceremony was charged to go and change the narrative on the African continent. Peace Obi who was at the event, reports

In the words of William Shakespeare, “some are born great, some achieve greatness, while some have greatness thrust upon them.” And for every speech, presentation or charge made at the graduation ceremony for the 2017 set of Bridge House College, there is a common conclusion – that a class of great men and women who have what it takes to be the face of Africa in the international space has been raised and released by BHC. And as though reading from a master script, all agreed that Nigeria through the foremost sixth form college has produced another league of great leaders – the world changers. Parents, old students and speakers, sharing their ‘Bridge’ experiences enthused that every contact with BHC leaves no one in doubt of being truly a home of knowledge that is committed to building a nation and her pride.

Convinced that the graduates are well kitted with the necessary knowledge, experience and capacity to excel as students, leaders and as well as to serve as great voices of change for Africa, that will translate the ‘Africa of our dream’ to a realisable dream; at the graduation ceremony, they were told to “go and continue to fly the flag and bridge the gap wherever you find yourself.” And that having been placed on the pedestal of leadership, Nigeria, Africa and the world depends on them to provide genuine leadership and solution to the myriad of problems confronting them.

Nigeria’s best export
Congratulating the outgoing students, the chairperson for the day’s event, Dr. Taibat Lawanson told the graduates that coming from the ‘Bridge’ where the ordinary is transformed to extraordinary, that nothing short of greatness has nature, man and God made them to be and that they are Nigeria’s best export to the world.”

Speaking against the backdrop of BHC’s training renowned for being far beyond academics, the Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Lagos called on the youths to rise as a formidable force that will drive ‘The Africa We Want’ agenda as endorsed by the United Nations. Stating that the young adults possess the capacity to make Africa realise her dreams of becoming ‘an integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent driven by her own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena,’ the chairperson said, “I say that you are those citizens! You are the best of Nigeria and you are our exports to the world. I see your profiles that you have been accepted in very good institutions. I congratulate you for that, but beyond that I want to charge you that you are our representatives to the world. Go out there and show the best of Africa.”

Rewrite the narrative
Calling on the students to recognise the important role and place of the youths in both national development and global integration, Lawanson urged them to work with that sense of responsibility and give Africa a quality of representation wherever they may find themselves. Restating that the youths have been armed with the capacity and privilege to rewrite the African narrative, the university Don said they could achieve that by sustaining excellent performance, good character, right attitude and by bringing to bear a combination of right principles they have learnt from home and school. And according to her, their successes would pave the way for more opportunities for Africa as well as facilitate the continent’s stepping up on the ladder of progress. “You need to reach beyond yourselves because you are representing more than yourselves; more than your families, more than your college. For the women amongst you, you are representing so many women that don’t have the opportunity that you have. And by doing well, you pave the way for more to come in. For the men amongst you, you are representing the good of Africa, the good of Nigeria and it is your responsibility to change that narrative by excelling. You need to be open to learn, open to new opportunities, open to new experiences, open to new cultures, so that you can take these things which are blessings in and of themselves and change our continent. I congratulate you and I challenge you to go out there, show leadership. It is interesting that the theme of today’s celebration is ‘Crossing the Bridge of Challenges’. And by crossing over to this next stage in your life, you take over the responsibility to represent Africa in its greatness, to build a future we can all be proud of,” Lawanson advised.

Nigeria, Africa depends on you
The Guest of Honour and CEO, Omojuwa Foundation, Mr. Japheth Omojuwa, delivering his speech on the theme, ‘Crossing the Bridge of Challenges’, took the graduates through some essential life lessons and tips to success. And speaking on the premise of their background, Omojuwa called on the youths to rise up to the challenge of quality leadership in the country. Stating that as pronounced as the problems confronting the country might be, the Guest of Honour disclosed that good governance and quality leadership remain the antidote. “We have big problems in Nigeria and Africa. And we are not lacking in the number of people that know about these problems. We are also not lacking in the number of people complaining about these problems. The reason why you are different, why you are called out, why you are different and not the norm is because you are the ones that are going to solve these problems.”

Speaking further, Omojuwa said, “I believe that a lot of you will leave Nigeria very soon to go to your universities. That is beautiful! It is okay to go anywhere and thrive but never forget home; never forget where you come from, never forget the fact that there are things you need to solve. If those of us who are privileged, who are educated differently don’t solve them, who will? And if you don’t solve them, who are the people that will solve them? And we need to start solving them from today,” he said.

Preparing their minds for some of the challenges, the Guest of Honour told the youths to prepare to solve the problem that will be created by some children who are denied access to education in the country. Putting the current figure of out of school children to about 14 million, he reminded them, “it is your generation that has to solve the problems those kids are going to create, if somebody doesn’t get them into school. So, from now, from today, from your school, start thinking of the solution – how to reform them and put in place adult education that is productive, criminal justice system.”

Life has started already, no delay
Taking cognisance of the route and path they had travelled in to arrive at their present destination – coming from a sixth form college where success is better defined by students’ brilliant performances, the privilege and opportunities it offers, Omojuwa urged the celebrants to nudge higher and to thread the path to greatness with every sense of responsibility and hard work. “We can’t wait! We have too many things to deal with and these things are not rocket science.” Adding that people have solved similar problems in the past and that all they needed to do is ask what people did differently to achieve results, adopt some of the solutions, tweak and “make them work for our people. You are not going to school because of yourself, your future family and children, you are going to school because of this country and this continent. You are called out and set out for Africa and of course for the world.”

The most powerful generation
Describing the present crop of students to be the best and most powerful generation ever, the Guest of Honour said that learning has been made a lot easier with the help of technology. And that students’ success or otherwise depends how positively, they can employ and deploy technology to their studies. “This is one generation that will go into class, really and truly could possibly know more than their lecturers. Now, it just depends on how many times they go to the internet to search and the kinds of things they look for. Because in your lecturers’ own time, they had to walk miles or get on buses to the libraries to read two, three or four books and then go back home.” Speaking further, Omojuwa said that the youths need to understand that the essence of power is not with the title of the office occupied but the ability to make things happen; to bring about functional leadership. “And you already have that power with the privileges as I already mentioned,” he said.

Keep your child on radar
Calling on parents to pay adequate attention to their children’s welfare while in tertiary institutions, the Special Guest of Honour, Prof. Peter Okebukola warned that failure in their supervisory role over their children may not augur well for both the children and their parents. According to him, in spite of the distance or the geographical location of their children’s school, parents should endeavour to keep their children under their radar.

Speaking from experience, the Pro-Chancellor, Crawford University, told parents that beyond providing for their children’s needs, they should speak with them regularly as well as get other means of checking on the children including paying them an impromptu visit. “Please ensure that on weekly basis, you ask about their welfare and monitor them. But I tell you that 99 per cent of the time, they are not telling you the truth. Get a friend of your son or somebody who lives with or near him and discreetly ask about the welfare of your son or daughter. You must get another means of checking on your child and keep praying for them,” he said.
Speaking to the students, the Pro-Chancellor told the students to prepare for the changes that will be coming their way in the area of curriculum and its delivery, social life among others. “You are going to be meeting the good, the bad and the ugly. But here are three filters that will enable you filter things that will be coming from these sources and everything you have in the university environment.

“Let all the religious principles and tenets you have been taught be the first filter. You need to have a filter that filters off all the bad elements. The second is your family background (home training). Remember the son of whom you are. All of the things your wonderful parents taught you will come into play. And the third is what you have learnt in this Bridge House College. You have been taught well, so be great ambassadors of this college,” Okebukola said.

Travel the bridge over and again
Standing with his son, Ifeanyi Nwachukwu who could be described as the artiste of the day, Mr. Gambo Michael Nwachukwu whose son (Ifeanyi) apart from his good music presentation also won a number of laurels for his academic performance, said that the college at a point became the solution to his fears over harmonising his children’s talents and their academics. Accompanied to the podium was also his daughter, alumni of BHC. Narrating how each of his three children presented his family with some peculiar challenges, Nwachukwu said that BHC turned up to be the perfect solution to their individual needs. According to him, just like a refining instrument, BHC reformed, reshaped and presented to him at different times, children who have remained focused after completing their studies at BHC with excellent results and have subsequently maintained same in their further studies.

“Each child presented me and my wife some peculiar challenge. And of course, I know the old way, the way my mother and father raised me. And when I wanted to apply my old way, BHC did not allow me to do so. BHC keep saying ‘communicate, communicate, communicate’. And by communication, I followed the first one through Nottingham University and she did very well. And I saw that most of the things that were taught here were what she applied. The first year was very easy for her because of the background from BHC.

“Then, of course, the second one, Nonso being a socialite, somehow, BHC managed to keep him focused in his education. But the amazing thing is that BHC did not take away his social life from him, instead they presented him a platform to marry the baggage he has along with his education and come out to be the best. And he told me the same thing my daughter told me that ‘it would have been tough for me in the first year, but BHC prepared us in the presentation, how to study and many more’. I said that God that people’s man is now telling me that he is focused.

“And of course, this gentleman standing beside me here – my singer, my artiste presented something different from the first two and I didn’t know how to go about it. It has been a running battle through the year. But I thank the BHC family. I know I am speaking for some of the fathers here. In the past three months, I have noticed that BHC has done a proper marriage between the baggage he carries and his education. I can see a changed man standing with me and now the young man is telling me that he wants to be a lawyer. But I think he is going to be a singing lawyer. And you know he is not alone, Faz is already there as a singing lawyer.”

Nwachukwu concluded by saying that those who have travelled through the Bridge House College, the transforming experience academically, morally and socially that leaves the children so fit to face the world would make any parent to want to go the ‘Bridge’ over and again.

Also sharing her experience as a parent, Mrs. Toyin Bawala, whose daughter graduated three years ago, said that it has been a very satisfying experience. According to Bawala, the quality of instruction and dedication of staff, the quality of education in the college cannot be compared to any. “In fact, the school is far well above others. And staff are devoted and committed; the environment is conducive for learning. BHC has maintained a reputation of excellence, success and these are shown by the results of their students both far and near. I will enjoin them to keep the flag flying wherever you find yourself because this is just the beginning of the journey.”

Thanking God for thus far in the journey, the Executive Director, BHC, Rasaq said that the college has in its thirteen years of existence through dedication of teaching and non-teaching staff, turned out exemplary scholars who have taken their place in all walks of life and professions in various corners of the globe. According to her, “Our over 28 partner universities in the UK and more recently in the USA and Canada, have admitted and graduated some of the most knowledgeable and intellectually competent scholars from among our former students.

Reaffirming the College’s outstanding performance, the Executive Director said, “2016 has been our most remarkable year, not only did one of our students score 98 per cent (Distinction), in all external examination, but four amongst them received the British Council Recognition and Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards for the best performance in Physics, Business and Economics.

In a chat with THISDAY, the Best Graduating Student and the Deputy College Ambassador, Oluwalana Daniel who attributed his success to God said the feat would not have been possible without his parents’ support as well as his friends. The talented saxophonist who played to the admiration of guests disclosed that he has been playing saxophone for seven years now. According to him, it wasn’t difficult for him to combine his studies (accelerated A Level programme), his role as the assistant college ambassador because playing saxophone has been part of his life.

Talking about his time at BHC, Daniel said, “Bridge House College is where everything about you receive some refining touch. Your academics are nurtured along with your talent. I have some friends who can play guitar, piano and saxophone as well, yet doing excellently well in their studies. Among them also, are some creative minds, writers and great speakers I met here at the Bridge House.

“I want to say that BHC is the most prominent and best sixth form college in Nigeria. I will recommend Bridge House to anyone and everyone that intends going through university education especially for those going outside the shores of this country. It is a place where you learn a lot of things that will make your first year in the university a work over.”

In his words to the Nigerian youths, Daniel said, “whatever card you are dealt with, you have to use them properly. It doesn’t matter if your parents are rich or not. Just continue to work hard. I have some friends who are from not so well to do families but they worked hard and were able to secure scholarship,” he counselled.