Oyo State Gov. Ajimobi Addresses Crowd for Presidential Inauguration

Address given by Oyo State Gov. Ajimobi at the Presidential Inauguration of Dr. Benjamin Akande, 21st President of Westminster College, Fulton, MO, October 31, 2015

Chairman Oakley, members of the Board of Trustees of Westminster College, members of the faculty, staff and students of Westminster, distinguished guests:

It is an honour and a privilege to be in your midst, very distinguished management and faculty members of the prestigious Westminster College, your great and globally recognized institution, which has over the years, hosted global leaders such as former Presidents Harry Truman, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford of the United States, as well as British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher, who chose it as the veritable platform to address the world.

I am indeed proud of this citadel and I admire its strategic plan, which includes, understandably, “developing leaders for a global community by establishing one of the Country’s most internationally diverse colleges.”

Also, having lived and studied in the United States from 1970 to 1977 (at least 35 years ago), it’s always a great deal of joy for me to be back “home” in the States to further share experiences, compare notes and possibly extend the frontiers of knowledge.

More importantly, my passion for educational development and enhancement, accentuated by the well-deserved appointment of my brother, Benjamin Akande, motivated me to travel for over 14 hours by air, not only to celebrate his inauguration but to felicitate with your college.

Some may even think it silly of me to travel that long just for an inauguration ceremony but as Ludwig Wittgenstein puts it “if people did not do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.” I am also equally here to learn, no matter the shortness of my stay, since “the beautiful thing about learning,” according to B.B. King, “is that no one can take it away from you.”

It may also interest you to note that your 164-year-old institution, which continues to enjoy a sturdy growth, is a shining example which any leader, political for matter, must be ready to associate with. It should be and I am sure it is, a source of inspiration for educational planners and leaders with foresight, who strive to find and implement the best for their own educational entities in their geographical setting.

The oldest university/college in Nigeria, my country, is the great University of Ibadan, which is 67 years old, compared to 164-year-old Westminster. Whereas we have a total of 117 universities/colleges in Nigeria, the United States has 2,618 universities/colleges.

A regular update of the strategy for the establishment, growth and sustenance of colleges in the United States must surely interest a sound planner and leader whose zeal is to strive to provide more college opportunities for the ever-growing population of college-age youths which is between ten and fifteen percent of about one hundred and eighty million total population of Nigeria.

I, as Governor of the pace-setter state in Nigeria (Oyo State), will therefore seize this opportunity of my visit to get acquainted with Westminster’s growth, functional development, expansion and sustenance strategy with a view to adapting and adopting same for my state.


Let me seize the opportunity to intimate this distinguished audience with some vital information about my country and my state – “Benjamin’s place of birth;” after all “Education,” according to Robert Frost, “is the ability to listen to almost everything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”

I am also privileged to be the first governor in the history of the 39-year-old Oyo State to be elected for a 2nd term which commenced 5 months ago.


The country’s name, Nigeria, was coined by Flora Shaw, the partner of Lord Lugard of British origin, the first colonial Governor-General of Nigeria. The name was derived from the Niger River, one of the two major rivers in Nigeria.

Made up of over 250 ethnic groups and dialects, the three largest are Hausa, Fulani, and Yoruba. Initially made of four regions – the Northern, Western, Mid-western and Eastern Region; today it is made up of 36 states, and the Federal capital Territory, Abuja.

Her land mass is 923,768 (356,667 sq.m) with a tropical climate.

Due to its proximity to the Equator, Nigeria experiences a tolerably high temperature throughout the year. She has six climatically determined ecological zones, i.e. coastal forest, mangrove forest, forest-savannah, sudan-savannah, sahel savannah, and montane or upland grass with a population of approximately one hundred and eighty million people.

The society is largely agrarian and the country is a major crude oil exporter with one of the highest oil, gas, and bitumen reserves, quite rich in other mineral reserves.


Oyo State is an inland State in South-Western Nigeria, which covers a land space of 27,249 square kilometres and a population of about 10 million people.

The capital of the State is Ibadan, the most populous city in black Africa with about 3 million friendly and accommodating people.

The State popularly referred to as the “Pace Setter” is one of the 36 States of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It came into existence with the splitting of the former Western State of Nigeria during the State creation exercise in 1976 with 33 Local Government Areas.

Presently the State has 2,004 public schools, 971 nursery/primary schools, 969 public secondary schools including 7 schools of Science and 57 private secondary schools, five Technical Colleges and two Technical Colleges of Education. Oyo State is home to the nation’s premier University in Nigeria – the University of Ibadan, in addition to a State University, two private Universities, and three Polytechnics.

There are in addition these, several centres for University sandwich programmes in the State approved by the National Universities Commission, all producing graduates on a yearly basis for suitable manpower for every sector of the State’s economy, in addition to a centre of the National Open University – a distance learning college.

Agriculture is the main occupation of the people of Oyo State. The climate in the State favours the cultivation of crops like maize, yam, cassava, millet, rice, plantains, cocoa, palm produce, cashew, among others. In fact our state is the largest producer of cassava in the country, along with the largest concentration of agricultural research institutes, including the world renowned American partnered International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). The State’s climatic condition also supports livestock (poultry) farming.

The State has a network of roads, prominently covered by rail and air routes which are constantly being transformed. The State is proud to be a reservoir of both skilled and unskilled labour ready to feed existing and potential industries in the State. May I invite you to visit us in the country to explore and tap from abundant opportunities that are available in the State.

Now to the Inauguration: I am indeed very proud of Benjamin who is being celebrated today on his inauguration as the President of your esteemed College.

On behalf of the people of Nigeria in general and in particular Oyo State, Benjamin’s pace-setter State of birth, I congratulate Benjamin, his family and indeed Westminster on his selection and appointment.

He has demonstrated that he is not only an erudite scholar and intellectual giant, his rich resume portrays him as a goal-getter, a world-class and first-class trail blazer.

Though born in Nigeria, he has enjoyed the American educational system starting from Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, TX. He has taken advantage of the sound and wide scope of the Social Sciences, excelling in Colleges like the prestigious Oklahoma, Oxford, and Harvard Universities.

His very rich intellectual and disciplined family background, no doubt, has also contributed to his success. In fact he is an epitome of the American dream.

Today, I join others to stand on this historic ground on which giant steps of world statement who had bestrode the global terrain of politics, nationalism and bewildering diversities of independent economic management of world affairs, had left remarkable footprints.

I am proud to be associated with Westminster College, this day, through the adroitness of Dr. Benjamin Olayinka Akande who is of Yoruba race of the Western Region of Nigeria, a part of the most populous black nation in Africa. This is another Nigerian who has contributed immensely to building the “good people-good nation” image of Nigeria in the comity of nations.

This is a Nigerian whose dexterity in his callings has clearly demonstrated and provided a much-needed fillip for national pride. This is one Nigerian who has taken an unprecedented stride in entrenching the good virtues of the human race in steadfast commitment to academic excellence blended in diverse and richer pedagogy.

It is this same rare trait that towers the Nigerian Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka above other literary giants in the world. There could have been more than one kind of motivation for our own Dr. Akande to be born a Nigerian, and later on admitted into American citizenry and intellectual community.

I can so vividly conjure up the picture of an adventurous mind in the wilderness of a society that was yearning for global strategies for transformation and strategic vision, for distinct competence, talent management, development and innovation, all of which my State is currently determined to provide via its transformation and repositioning agenda.

In explaining ‘Why I Write’ George Orwell, the English writer, says “putting aside the need to earn a living, there are four great motives for writing.” The first reason is what he calls sheer egoism that is the desire to be talked about; to be remembered after death. The second is “aesthetic enthusiasm” the desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed.

The third is “historical impulse,” the desire to discover facts and store them for posterity. The fourth reason why people write, according to Orwell, is “political purpose” which is the desire to push the world in a certain direction. I am moved to say that the reasons for Benjamin’s movement to and becoming a citizen for “God’s Own Country” may be a combination of the four.

No wonder he had served with distinction as Dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology for fifteen years, contributing significantly to the objective to educate, lead and inspire others to achieve.

Dr. Akande’s acumen as visionary administrator as well as his impressive track record of growing enrollment, fundraising, recruitment of talented faculty and students and introducing innovative programs designed to make students more globally competitive, make him the right choice for this job.

He has not only made history today but has also emerged as a historical object of reference, an ambassador of the intrinsic leadership value of the human race. It makes sense to select for leadership roles, those people who already have shown some indication that they possess at least some of the skills, behaviours and mindsets that are required for improving the organization’s performance.

This is what Westminster College has found in our own Dr. Akande and today we are proud to have one of our stocks as the 21st President of the 164 year old College. Hearty congratulations, more elbow grease!


Having taken the time to establish my mission here today, let me note that my State will explore the possibility of a partnership with your college in some areas including but not limited to human capacity development and curriculum expansion for its state-owned colleges.

We have also concluded our plans to establish a technical university to further create globally relevant college opportunities and programmes which reflect the current and future needs of the state. Areas of interest are technical, information systems, etc.

A faculty filled with highly talented and goal-oriented leaders who have proven and realistic vision, as well as demonstrable leadership qualities will be welcome perhaps in the form of staff exchange programmes, which will surely be highly rewarding and valuable.

In fact, some students’ exchange programmes could be developed in a mutually beneficial scheme.

Again, the issue of institutional funding is equally germane. An insight into practicable and effective fund raising strategy to further open the educational space in my state is desirable and we shall be willing to benefit from your experience.

I have a mission, based on my calling and exposure which have led to all I have come here to do and espouse today. That mission is ignited by the need to educate, enlighten, and inform the people, further corroborated by Thomas Jefferson whose saying: “Enlighten the people generally and tyranny and oppressions of both mind and body will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of the day” is relevant.

I believe I have extensively demonstrated my mission and desire here today and look forward to rewarding opportunities to develop and sustain a lasting relationship with your prestigious college believing that your curiosity and mine has been satisfactorily addressed.

I say good luck to Dr. Akande and I thank you all for listening; I feel highly honoured.


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