Babalakin: Nigerian Intelligentsias are Endangered Species

  • Gives 13 best UNILAG students N150,000 each

The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN), has described the Nigerian Intelligentsia as “an endangered species.”

The lawyer, who spoke during the 49th Convocation Ceremony of UNILAG, also gave a N150,000 cash gift to each of the 11 best graduating students from the Faculty of Law and two of their counterparts from the Distant Learning Institute.

Defining the intelligentsia as “The people in a society who are highly educated and often concern themselves with ideas and new development”, Babalakin said: “The Nigerian intelligentsia have largely lost out in the battle for Nigeria.

Today I’m making a clarion call to you all that it is not sufficient to earn a living. It is not sufficient to be well paid. It is more important to participate in the development of your country. For having the courage to pursue a subsequent degree, you have already shown clearly that you intend to be part of the intelligentsia, but it shouldn’t end there.

We hope we’ll see UNILAG graduates actively participating in all aspects of government and the civil society; and generally found in places where we are seeking to enhance our nation.

“An endangered species is the type of animal that will soon disappear from the world. We have to stop this. Not by running away; not by saying that governance is for those who cannot do better. Governance is for us all. Let us participate. Let us contribute, so that at the end of the day, we will create a great nation. I have no doubt in my mind that UNILAG is at the fore front of making this happen. Be determined. Be ready to turn every stumbling block into a stepping stone for the attainment of a greater height. It is important for you to be change agents in the society. The society can only develop if we have a united elite determined to protect the gains of the society. If you look round at all the societies that have sustained their growth, it has happened because of the selfless interest of the elite. The dictionary describes the elite as a body of people who are interested in developing the society with the knowledge they have. That is who I want you to be because fortune will fade away rapidly, generations of good people have passed on anonymously, but those who live for long are the ones who live in the minds of people and those who commit their efforts to changing the society.

“To lawyers, you have been endowed with a special training. A training that allows you, if well-absorbed, to participate in every part of the society with unusual distinction. Don’t allow anybody to categorise you. Don’t let them tell you that because you are a lawyer, you can’t be an administrator, an infrastructure developer or an outstanding engineer. You have been trained to have an open mind to be able to absorb information, distill it and use it properly.

“I want you to know that diligence is the mother of goodluck. As you go out there, do not be discouraged. Do not be intimidated. Do not allow those who will tell you that things are impossible to be in your circle of friends. You need those who believe that whatever the challenge is, there must be a way out.

That is the sort of association you should keep. As tough as things are, apparently, a lot of successes are still emerging. They are emerging because they have defied the odds. If they had the attitude that things were tough and they were not able to push forward, things will get tougher. Do not be inundated by suggestions that you are handicapped because of a challenging background, inadequate finances and so many other issues that becloud our ability to aspire. Please remain focused and know that there is no limit to the capacity of an aspiring genius. You constitute a part of the elite of the society and I urge you to be guiding lights of the policies of the elite. No society thrives unless the elite jealously guard the values of the society, protect it and propagate it. You must challenge yourselves to leave every place better than you met it. I have taken that pledge.

“It is good to have aptitude like you do but it is more important to have attitude, which will help us all to achieve this objective. Attitude is your determination to succeed. The preponderance of great people are those who have attitude, not necessarily aptitude. It becomes a double whammy, if you can combine both, but you should never feel handicapped because you don’t have aptitude if you have attitude. When Margaret Thatcher was in secondary school, her school report said she was ‘dull but determined’. When she went to the Bar, she was told to work under Lord Lawson, then Sir Lawson, who told her he wasn’t sure she was “coping”, and she said to him, “I will prove to you that I can cope”. Years later, she was prime minister and among those considering the elevation of Lord Lawson. She was so determined, resolute to make up for whatever deficiencies she had and she emerged as one of the greatest leaders. I want you to leave here today believing that you are destined to lead. The only place that is crowded is the lower walks of life. The higher you go, the easier it becomes, but you must be determined to get yourself out of the crowd. I look forward to hearing great things about you all.”