“If a man is diligent in his work, if he builds the best house, if he is the best teacher or the best in other professions, let him build his abode at the bottom of the sea or high in the sky or in a jungle, man will beat a path to him for patronage and honour.”
These are the words of Theodore Roosevelt, which so succinctly describe the grand performance of Mrs. Victoria Bola Kolawole, Principal of Ojodu Junior Secondary School, Ojodu, Lagos when she was adequately celebrated recently for her meritorious service to the profession after her heart.
It was indeed a momentous gathering of eminent Lagosians as men and women graced the reception put together for this illustrious educationist, by the Deputy Leader, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Lola Akande.
Aside the fact that the reception was in recognition of excellence and to honour Mrs. Kolawole, chief host of the event, Akande hinted that it was also to encourage other teachers understand that they are in a noble profession; hence, should put in their best into whatever they do, knowing that nothing done in good spirit and faith goes unrewarded because, “a teacher can change the destiny of a child forever.”
In her welcome address, Akande hinted that her decision to pay tribute to Kolawole’s outstanding achievements is firstly to align with, “the vision of the current Lagos State Administration which has painstakingly ensured that education attains and retains topical relevance on its agenda. Secondly, because I am an educationist myself who understands the considerable effort and dedication educating a child demands and lastly, because I am a mother who has countless times, entrusted her own children to the care of other educators.”
Her words, “Theodore Roosevelt once said ‘far and away, the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing’. There are few endeavours more worthy than educating others. In fact, it has been said that the progress of a nation can be no swifter than its progress in education. The human mind is a fundamental resource.”
While describing the Awardee as an exemplary teacher, Akande expressed hope that she will continue to soar high in more achievements. She also noted that the award provides a chance for others to aspire and emulate her.
“This is a chance to showcase the achievement of one, in the hopes that it inspires others. It is an opportunity to remind the media and the public at large of the values, virtues and the worth of the teacher,” said Akande.
“I daresay that no one of us has made it to where we are solely by our own efforts; we are where we are because at some point, a parent or teacher sat down beside us to give an explanation or held up a light to illuminate our path.”
Enumerating the honouree’s achievements, the lawmaker noted that “the recipient of this award today has consistently proven her mettle as an exemplary educator, earning herself and her school several awards from her peers, the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government of Nigeria. Some of these are: 1st prize in the Hon. Lola Akande Annual Public Speaking Competition in 2012, Award for Best Junior School, Education District VI merit award in 2013, Overall Best Principal, Junior School Category, Education District VI in 2013 and the Nigerian Union of Teachers, Award for Best Junior School Principal, Lagos State in 2013.”
The latest of her awards is the Prestigious Federal Ministry of Education, President’s Teachers and Schools, Excellence Award as the Best School, Junior Secondary Category, in Nigeria for 2013. While the honour came with a plague and the sum of N200, 000 from Hon. Akande, she added that a well-meaning Nigerian also generously donated the sum of N500, 000 to support this good course.
The Chairman of the occasion, Hon. Kolawole Taiwo, who happens to be the oldest lawmaker at the Lagos State House of Assembly expressed delight at the opportunity to be a part of the honouree’s success story, urging her to keep the flag flying as she continues to leave enviable footprints on the sand of time. In her goodwill message, the Special Guest of Honour and First Lady of Lagos State, Dame Emmanuella Abimbola Fashola congratulated Mrs. Kolawole on her dedication to duty, which has today earned her outstanding award of excellence. She also seized the opportunity to charge everyone present to be passionate and committed in their choice profession, knowing that their efforts would one day be celebrated.
In her tribute, Fashola noted, “Your passion in life gives birth to your vision and your vision in turn gives birth to your mission; even as your mission determines your destiny. Whatever your passion is, go after it with diligence, faith, courage and hope, knowing that it will one day take you to a great destiny. Do whatever you are given to do well. Be passionate and diligent about it. You don’t have to be a doctor or lawyer to excel; you can be great wherever you find yourself.”
Corroborating this, the wife of the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mrs. Mayowa Ikuforiji, who was the Guest of Honour at the event, requested that teachers should be more celebrated because they are the ones that mould the lives and destiny of our children. Her words, “The reward for hard work is more work. Teachers should be more celebrated. We are the most important because when you touch a life, you touch a nation.”
The Guest of Honour, Senator Oluremi Tinubu charged thus, “Every one of us has a role to play in this nation but you have to find your passion and focus on it. Today, we are celebrating passion. We must work to get our nation back on track. As mothers, most times, we go out to look for a lot of good things in life and we forget our children but we must strike a balance and work towards excellence in all areas of our lives and endeavours.”
To the honouree, Sen. Tinubu assured that the current achievement is just the beginning of greater heights if success, both in her life and profession. “I believe this is not the end but the beginning of greatness’ she said.
The former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan described the honouree as a role model and urged her to continue to impact positively on the lives of her wards. “Mrs. Kolawole is a role model. The reward of teachers in not only in material things but also in the lives they impact and reshape, hence I urge her to continue to make a difference.”
Also adding her voice was the Head of Service, Lagos State, Mrs. Josephine Oluseyi Williams urged everyone to learn from Mrs. Kolawole’s example. Said she, “Learn from this, learn to appreciate people while they are still alive. It will inspire many more to also do well.”