Considering his administration’s tradition of completing all inherited programmes and projects of the preceding administrations, it is not surprising that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has taken the ‘One Day Governor’ initiative to a remarkable height.
One of the laudable programmes in the State’s education sector is the “Spelling Bee Competition”, which was pioneered in 2001 by the then First Lady of Lagos State, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, via her New Era Foundation.
Since 2015, the Lagos State Government has taken full charge of the programme, collaborating with numerous partners and stakeholders to further help realize its goals. The Office of Education Quality Assurance, in the State’s Ministry of Education, is saddled with the responsibility of organizing the programme in a bid to enhance its quality.
The annual Spelling Bee Competition comes up among representatives of public junior and senior secondary schools across the 57 Local Government (LGAs) Areas and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state. At this level, the Councils sponsor and coordinate the programme, while emerging winners represent their respective LGAs/LCDAs at the grand finale organized by the state government.
After the emergence of winners at the state level, the winner and runner ups are awarded cash prizes and other prizes such as an all expense paid educational programme to Finland. Most importantly, there is always a remarkable celebration of the winner as the State’s One Day Governor and his/her runner ups as Cabinet Members, performing duties ranging from Deputy Governor, Speaker of the House, Commissioner for Education and Chairman, House Committee on Education.
Essentially, this initiative from inception is to encourage and develop the younger ones to attain their respective dreams and aspirations in life. This is also to deflate the erroneous notion that public schools’ students are not upright with their studies and as such could not compete favourably with their private schools’ counterparts. Also, the programme has greatly helped in exposing winners to leadership culture, thereby preparing them for a future role in nation building.
Unarguably, the younger generation are the nation’s future and it is important they get acquainted with the necessary leadership mentorship and guidance, which is the main objective of the initiative. Winners are often taken through a systematic one month training routine on poise, finesse, carriage, public speaking and mannerism. This is to not only to get them ready to face the world as a temporary Governor and Cabinet members of the state, but also to prepare them adequately to face life’s challenges.
At the end of the mentorship, they embark on courtesy visits to selected state public offices, where they interact directly with the Heads of various government’s institutions. Usually, the One Day Governor and his/her cabinet members visit the Governor, his deputy, First Lady, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Ministry of Education and Office of the Head of Service. However, during this year’s event, the winner visited the Office of the Chief Judge of the State.
In this year’s edition, the ‘One-Day’ Governor of Lagos State, Miss Gloria Eniola Ajala, visited the Lagos State Judiciary where she acknowledged the efforts in the timely delivery of Justice, despite the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest on the Judiciary’s operations.
Miss Ajala, in her interaction with the State Chief Judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba, commended the State Judiciary for its efforts at making justice available to the populace and ensuring fair dispensation of justice for all regardless of status, religion or creed.
The ‘One-Day’ Governor, who was accompanied by other Runners-up in the competition during the visit, charged the Judiciary to uphold its integrity in the dispensation of justice, saying “Let integrity continue to be your watchword as you go about attending to numerous cases in the State”.
Earlier, the Hon. Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, while welcoming the delegation to the Judiciary, applauded the originator of the ‘One-Day’ Governor describing it as a very laudable initiative that had stood the test of time.
Alogba extolled Ajala for demonstrating rare eloquence, determination among her peers and for standing out in the midst of others, imploring her and other winners of the Spelling Bee competition not to be complacent with the recognition accorded them by the government, but rather remain steadfast and aim for greater accomplishments in life.
The visitation to key government officials, according to the Director-General, Office of Education Quality Assurance (OEQA), Mrs. Abiola Seriki-Ayeni, was informed by the need to motivate winners of the Spelling Bee and also encourage other students in public schools to aspire for excellence in their academic pursuits.
Members of the cabinet of the ‘One-Day’ Governor, who is a student of Lafiaji Senior High School, Lagos Island, include Miss Grace Ikhariale of TinCan Island Senior High School; Tolu Oluwatosin Akinbodewa of Iworo Ajido Senior Secondary School, Badagry; Miss Eunice Adedotun of Agbede Senior School, Ikorodu and Master Ekene Ezeunala of Meiran Community High School.
During a courtesy visit to the state house of assembly, the Speaker RT. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa represented by the Chairman Committee on Education, Hon. Sanni Okanlawon while welcoming the One-Day Governor and her cabinet said their emergence as winners at the competition resonates that they have put in a lot of effort, diligence and hard work in their studies.
“This occasion is evident that the government has the great interest of the youth at heart”, he said. While stressing that records have it that most of the winners of spelling Bees are doing well in the society.
In this regard, the Speaker expressed his gratitude to the government for continuing the laudable initiative which is aimed at grooming future leaders.
Also at a courtesy visit to the Office of the State Chief Judge, the Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Kazeem Alogba, commended the state government for upholding the vision of ensuring quality service delivery of education through the Spelling Bee Competition.
Hon. Justice Alogba opined that this is an avenue to encourage younger generations to act in their best behavior, which will in turn eradicate menace and other social vices in the society.
Alogba advised the One-Day Governor and her cabinet to remain diligent and focused in the pursuit of their career, while also urging the government to continue prioritizing quality and accessible education for the youth.
Similarly, the State’s Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okanola, noted that the Spelling Bee competition is organized among the state’s public schools to enhance the standard of education in the State.
This, according to him, “will encourage students to remain focused, hardworking and determined in the pursuit of their education and life’s career”. Muri-Okunola urged them to imbibe all the values and guidance given by Mr. Governor.
In her remarks, Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo, said the event is a symbol of possibilities and a testament to hard work, persistence and patience. She implored the winners to keep the ministry updated on their progress in life and always remember this day as very important in whatever they do.
While advising the youth to stay focused, diligent and responsible, the One Day Governor urged the government to improve the welfare of teachers and civil servants so they could continue to give their best in the service of the people.
No doubt, young people play a crucial role in the prospect for development and should be included in all National Development Plans and Programmes. This is why the Lagos State Government must be commended for keeping faith with the One Day Governor’s tradition since 2000.
Ogunrinde is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.