Hidden Processors of Success beyond ICT Knowledge and Skills [By President Olusegun Obasanjo]

[Digital Business Africa] – Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, special guest of ICT University, delivered a poignant message to ICT University graduate students gathered at the Palais des Congrès in Yaoundé on July 31, 2021, for the 6th official ceremony of graduation from this academic institution specialized in ICT training.

Digital Business Africa offers you the entire speech of the one who is well known in Cameroon for his involvement in the resolution of the border dispute which opposed Nigeria to Cameroon between 1993 and 2006 on the Bakassi peninsula rich in oil and natural gas and which resulted in the signing of the Greentree Agreement (official treaty of June 12, 2006, in the United States which resolved this border dispute).

His commencement speech is entitled “Processors of Success beyond ICT Knowledge and Skills

Cameroun : Les cinq sages conseils du président Olesegun Obasanjo aux jeunes diplômés de l’ ICT University
31 Juillet 2021. Palais des Congrès de Yaoundé. President Olesegun Obasanjo and Pr Victor Mbarika.
  • “The Founder and President, Board of Trustees, Professor Victor Mbarika
  • Members of the Board of Trustees
  • The Vice-Chancellor Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Anyambod Anya
  • Members of Senate
  • Members of Diplomatic Corps
  • Staff and students of ICT University, Cameroon
  • Graduating Students
  • Family and friends
  • Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me begin by thanking the President of the Republic of Cameroon and my dear brother, H.E Paul Biya, and all the state officials who received me when I arrived from Zanzibar yesterday for the warm reception and the arrangements made for my visit.

Let me also thank the President of the University, Professor Victor Mbarika, who has been relentless in trying to bring me here for the last three years or so. I have always wanted to come and see with my eyes the great work that is being done here and of which he spoke so much on all the occasions he visited me in Abeokuta. Unfortunately, there was always one constraint or the other and I couldn’t come. So you can imagine my pleasure and delight at being able to join you today to celebrate with you on the joyous occasion of the 2021 Graduation Ceremony.

I wish to especially thank the University management for the honour of my recognition to be conferred during this ceremony as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of the University. I assure you that this is a responsibility that I take very seriously.

It is also my delight to note that you will be commissioning this afternoon, the new ICT University building. Being the Proprietor/Chief Promoter of the first private university of science and technology in Nigeria- the Bells University of Technology, which is six years older than this university, I can appreciate the import of this new addition to the physical facilities of the university.

My dear graduating students, after four or more years (depending on the course of study) of lectures, practicals, tutorials, internship, tests and more tests, you are now ready to be admitted to various degrees. Your family and friends have congregated today to rejoice with you. You are now a changed person from when you were admitted first as an undergraduate, in terms of knowledge and skills in your different ICT courses.

Cameroun : Les cinq sages conseils du président Olesegun Obasanjo aux jeunes diplômés de l’ ICT University
Le président Olusegun Obasanjo au palais des Congrès à Yaoundé. Discours aux diplômés de la ICT University

The  ICT  University  Cameroon offers training in several programmes including Information Technology, Software Engineering, Telecommunications, Accounting and Business Management. I am confident that in these programmes, you had the benefit of quality training in the fundamentals, current status and future directions of ICT. Hardware and software segments did not escape your gaze in each of the ICT courses. This training has positioned you to be a major player in the 5th Industrial Revolution and made you arrowheads for the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063.

Your training has underscored the fact that artificial intelligence is all around us, from self-driving cars and drones to virtual assistants and software that can guide you when moving from one city to another in Cameroon. Digital fabrication technologies are interacting with the biological world on a daily basis. Engineers, designers, and architects are combining computational design, additive manufacturing, materials engineering, and synthetic biology to pioneer a symbiosis between microorganisms, our bodies, the products we consume, and even the buildings we inhabit.

In soccer, for which Cameroon is famous, you have what is called “the most valuable player”. This country has such globally-renowned valuable players like Roger Milla (present at this ceremony), Samuel Eto’o and Patrick M’Boma.

Dear graduands, I foresee you emerging in the coming months and years in the elite list of valuable players in driving the wheels of the Fifth Industrial Revolution and among the architects of the Sixth. If you sustain, indeed elevate your current tempo of quality, I also foresee this University, in the not-too-distant future, on the list of top 10 universities in the world in ICT, rubbing shoulders with M.I.T and Caltech.

President, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I was given the liberty of choosing the topic of this commencement speech. I was quick to select a topic that will lead me to reflect with you on what in computer lingo can be called the “processor of successor”. Hence the title of my address is “The Hidden Processors of Success Beyond ICT Knowledge and Skills”.

Let us set the stage for the use of the processor analogy. For an ICT-driven gadget such as a phone, a clock, a car, laptop or desktop, to successfully operate, the processor should be functional. You can have all the high-end hardware and software in the device like the phones almost all of you are holding in your hands or pockets as I speak, but without a functioning processor, you have a literally dead device in your hand.

Over the years, you have acquired the high-end hardware and software of your courses. You have been taught the latest in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, big data science, current and emerging programming languages. You know the ABC of operating systems and all the razzmatazz of multithreading. So, you are good to go into the world. Or are you?

To be truly kitted for the world you are walking into, you need to activate/strengthen what I have labelled “processor for success”. There are several components to this processor. What I intend doing in this address is to focus on a handful, which can be taken to be among the top ranking. If you permit further analogy, these components can be likened to the variables with the highest canonical loadings or Eigenvalues in a multiple regression model. I am sure you can all relate to this concept in your research and statistics class.

The first, and not necessarily in order of merit, of the components of the processor for success, is humility. Yes, you now have a degree in ICT and related disciplines, perhaps the first in your family. Should this be basis for swollen headedness? Surely not. Rather, it should make you sober and meek knowing that the knowledge you have acquired is made possible by those who know better or those who have acquired before you.

Humility is a quality of not thinking that you are better than others. It is a lack of arrogance and a lack of pride. It is submission but not subservience. It comes with wisdom as pride comes with disgrace. Humility brings honour along its trail. I entreat you to clothe yourself with humility towards one another. There are several habits of humble people I want you to cultivate or embrace as you go along in life. Humble people have an accurate view of themselves, acknowledge their mistakes and limitations, are open to other viewpoints and ideas, keep their accomplishments and abilities in perspective, and appreciate the value of all things, including other people.

Humility is letting others go first, speaking well of others and congratulating them for a job well done – giving credit where credit is due, acknowledging, both your shortcomings and strengths.

The second component of the “processor for success” is the ability to take advantage of opportunities. Opportunities exist everywhere – in business, politics, education, family, agriculture, engineering, accounting, telecommunications, development planning, public health and in several other areas. Did you notice that my list includes all the programmes offered in this university for which you are receiving a degree today?

A question that immediately arises is “how do you prepare yourself to take advantage of opportunities?” The first is through education. You must be curious to learn and to know. You must be mentally and morally prepared. You must see an opportunity for learning in all situations.

The second is to draw on your innate ability to scan the environment and be sharp-eyed enough to detect opportunities. You must be able to “smell” opportunities from far off, like a dog with an acute sense of smell.

While I was in office as President of Nigeria, my government provided an ambient environment that enabled a number of the billionaires in Nigeria today to make their money. While the ambient environment was provided for all, those who saw opportunities in this environment took advantage and are now celebrated today in their successful endeavour. Most of them are also sources of blessing to others.

My dear graduating students, you are familiar with the maxim: “opportunity knocks but once”. In other words, you may never have a second chance. In your quest to achieve success in life, I encourage you to be deft in the assessment of opportunities around you and to take full advantage of them.

When you fail, try, try again. It is not all roses. If you read, watch TV, listen to the radio, converse with friends and walk around your city or village you will be amazed at the opportunities that pop up for you as an ICT graduate. I want to be able to visit this university in a year or two, as a Distinguished Visiting Professor, to learn that at least 50% of the graduating class of 2021 took my advice and are now gainful employers of people in their small, medium or large-scale businesses.

31 juillet 2021. Palais des Congrès de Yaoundé.
31 juillet 2021. Campus de l’ICT University de Yaoundé. Le président Olusegun Obasanjo et le Pr Jacques Fame Ndongo, ministre d’Etat, ministre des Enseignements secondaires, visitent les installations.

The third component of the “processor for success” is the development and strengthening of 21st-century skills. These include collaboration and teamwork; creativity and imagination; critical thinking; and problem-solving. We now live in a world that is inundated with motley challenges including climate change, violent extremism, raging pandemic and political conflicts of unimaginable proportion in all regions of the world. You need these skills to be able to contribute in your individual and collective ways to dowse the tension the world is experiencing.

The world needs team players, critical thinkers and problem solvers. You have to stand up to be counted among the ranks of persons with these attributes. Most of the causes of disputes, conflicts and violent confrontations in the world today are poor management or mismanagement of diversity and neglect of real and perceived injustice. What will be your contributions to reversing the situation?

The fourth component from my own point of view is commitment. This goes with remaining focused and determined. You can hardly achieve much with wavering and unsteady attention to any cause or project. The ride may be rough and tough, commitment will keep you on course and enhance your competence and performance. Whatever you have to do, do it with all your heart, body, mind and soul. There should be no half-measure or half-heartedness. There must be faithfulness and loyalty to the cause, the assignment, the project or the work in hand. Let it be said that if you give him a task and he accepts to do it, he will not fail and if he does; it will not be because he has not deployed his best endeavour, and you give the task will not be able to do better no matter how hard you try. That is commitment with responsibility. Take responsibility and it will all be well.

31 juillet 2021.Campus de l'ICT University de Yaoundé. Le président Olusegun Obasanjo et le Pr Jacques Fame Ndongo, ministre d'Etat, ministre des Enseignements secondaires, visitent les installations.
31 juillet 2021.Campus de l’ICT University de Yaoundé. Le président Olusegun Obasanjo et le Pr Jacques Fame Ndongo, ministre d’Etat, ministre des Enseignements secondaires, visitent les installations.

Let me end with the fifth component which is prayers. For success in life, you have to be prayerful and remain close to God. When at a crossroad, go to God in prayers and if possible engage in fasting as well. But meditate in the Word of God. When in need of guidance to make choices in life, go to God in prayers. When you encounter failures and/or disappointment, go to God in prayers. Give Him thanks always and He will meet you at the point of your need.

These are my five highs of the “processor for success”. They are by no means exhaustive.

President, graduating students, ladies and gentlemen, in this address, I identified five components in what I labelled “processor for success”. I should reiterate that there are other components but I only selected five for the purpose of this commencement lecture.

In concluding my use of the analogy of the processor, as you are aware, processors run on different clock speeds. It is my prayer that in applying these components you run on higher rating of Gigahertz in order to assure you greater successes in life.

My final words to you are that as you go forth, always remember the following:

Your communities need you. Cameroon needs you. The world needs you. You have been prepared for the task ahead and the time to prove it is now. There will be challenges but you have all it takes to deliver. Go out there and make us proud.

Once again, I thank the Founder and President, Board of Trustees, Professor Victor Mbarika for inviting me to this ceremony and I wish you all a very successful celebration.”

Olusegun Obasanjo

Yaounde, July 31, 2021

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Cameroun : Les cinq sages conseils du président Olusegun Obasanjo aux jeunes diplômés de l’ ICT University

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