All roads led to Republic of Benin on Saturday, October 15, where Esep-le Berger University, honoured Major Hamzat al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha, along with other notable Nigerians.
Al-Mustapha was honoured with an award of Doctor of Science (Honorary Causa) in Humanities.
Occasion was the annual convocation ceremony and conferment of honours to about 700 graduating students of the university.
No fewer than 2,000 guests, including parents, guardians and top business owners attended the event.
Many of the graduating students are from West Africa.
Aside, al- Mustapha, five other prominent Nigerians were honoured with various categories of awards at the event held at the expansive auditorium of Palais De Congress, Cotonou. Other recipients included a former governor of Kaduna State, Dr. Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Nigerian-born musician, Segun Akinlolu, popularly called Beautiful Nubia, Alhaji Jubril Muhammed and chairman Bauchi State Chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Muhammed Gital.
For al-Mustapha, memories of the event will continue to linger as it was an honour that came outside the country.
President and founder of the university, Prof Germain Ganlonon, who decorated al-Mustapha, said all his (al-Mustapha) activities towards the emancipation of the down trodden were monitored before the university chose to honour him.
Ganlonon said the honour was a clarion call to duty, adding that it was a challenge to him to continue to do more for humanity, assuring that, “whatever anybody does, people are watching and they will reward individuals according to their service to humanity.”
Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Edouard Aho explained the criteria for selecting the six distinguished Nigerians for the honour. He noted that those nominated had a history of commitment and service to humanity, an ideal, he said was the bedrock of the institution.
“Our awardees are people of note, and they have excellent record of achievements in their various disciplines.
The school authorities have found them worthy of these honours and we are glad to see them grace the occasion”, he said, adding that the university had created an enabling environment for students.
Guest lecturer, Comrade Shola Akinbinu, explained the reason for the dwindling standard of education in the African society.
He stressed that good educational standard should be improved upon in order to overcome the challenges posed by the introduction of new technology in the world. Akinbinu, a journalist and public affairs analyst, noted that there was an urgent need to redesign the method of learning, adding that such method, should be tailored towards counseling, coaching and mentoring university students.
He noted that the emerging trend in the world is a knowledge- economy whereby people succeed mainly by developing their natural skills and innate talents.
Speaking shortly after being decorated, al-Mustapha said he was humbled by the honour bestowed on him by the university.
He explained that the honour had only proved that there were still a lot more to be done by him, which he said were mainly to serve humanity and the world at large. He assured the leadership of the university of his commitment to do justice to the award by ensuring a lasting working relationship between the school and the Nigerian Institute of Peace and Social Rehabilitation which he founded.
Speaking on trust, the former CSO advised the school authorities to make trust the bedrock of all their activities.
“I’ll summarise my speech in one word, and that’s on trust, particularly, between the school authorities, its community and Nigeria.”
He continued: “The rail of life is called trust. It’s what will take you to your destiny.
In the absence of trust, nothing will work. No institution can stand; no leader can work successfully.
Trust is actually the link in every affairs of human life.
It brings about unity and its superior to money.
However, it provides opportunities for mankind to transact business both locally and internationally.
Trust brings strong leadership, as well as a forum for learning.”
Explaining the reason he based his speech on trust, al-Mustapha declared, “I urged the university authorities to dwell more on researches centred on trust and how it can be used as a tool to enhance bilateral trade and peaceful relationship between the Republic of Benin and Nigeria.”