Honoured among several other eminent Nigerians on Saturday, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) has used the occasion of the 90th Anniversary of the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria to make a clarion call for the return of the society to the pursuit of knowledge as an instrument of national survival and security.
The Governor who spoke at the Grand Finale of the celebration with the theme, “Ninety Years and Still Marching On” held at the Multipurpose Hall of the University of Lagos, Akoka, added that any country or people who decide to leave the pursuit of knowledge and go in search of money will invariably discover that those with knowledge will overtake and dominate them.
According to the Governor, it is the choices made by the people that have made the nation dependent on all forms of foreign support and aids.
He commended the founding fathers of the Ansar- Ud- Deen Society for doing well and pursuing knowledge that has endured for decades after the creators have moved on, adding that the ability of the people to move forward is also determined by the choices the people make.
The Governor reiterated that men and women would come and go but the idea they propound survives after them adding that people like late Obafemi Awolowo came up with the idea of free education which has endured well after him.
Explaining that the pursuit of knowledge itself must be from a dynamic standpoint, Governor Fashola noted that people must not be totally locked up in the past stating that when free education came up it was because the prevalent problem of education then was very high illiteracy rate which has changed with the current challenge being the quality rather than access or just ability to read and write.
Governor Fashola also explained that the parameters of knowledge have changed with the internet now becoming a major source from where knowledge is dispensed. Providing an insight into the efforts of the State Government to bring the full advantage of the internet resource to the citizenry, he said those who were observant as they made their way to UNILAG for the event through the Third Mainland Bridge would have noticed cables being inserted by the side of the road.
He explained that the work is about fibre optic cable which the state is partnering with one telecommunication giant to deliver to the whole of Yaba area to connect to the internet links that can connect Lagos from Victoria Island through Oshodi to Portugal in Europe.
“Ordinarily we would have loved to make that link to our State University but common sense said that the greatest number of schools in Lagos are in Yaba , so in a few months time most probably the busiest internet hub in the sub region will be in Yaba where you will have high speed connectivity and fastest access to enable research works”, he stressed.
The Governor who also used the opportunity to reiterate the message of the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA) said in today’s world, the power of data cannot be underestimated as it must be collected and collated to be managed.
He said the registration exercise, which is ongoing and for all those who are resident in the state for at least six months, represents the biggest infrastructure which can be built for the State because it is the basis on which all forms of planning will be based.
According to the Governor, just as the State Government has decided that every adult is entitled to 120 litres of water a day, it is also expanding the Otta -Ikosi -Ishasi Waterworks from four million gallons per day to 10 million gallons per day and considering the Phase Two of Adiyan Waterworks to add 70million gallons per day to the water stock in 2016.
Governor Fashola said all of these represent mere projections or estimations which can only be authenticated when the exact number of residents of the state are determined adding that it is in the best interest of the people to go out and register and also be champions of the undertaking.
While emphasizing once again that the primary purpose of the exercise is generation of data for better services, he noted that it may also assist the state in determining residents who are tax eligible. The Governor, however, stressed that payment of taxes represents one of the means of redistributing wealth and that in the past 14 years Lagos has been better off through taxes.
A positive spin off from the payment of taxes, the Governor said is that 70 percent of the State Budget is financed from incomes that are obtained from taxes, assuring that as it is, if oil is shut down in the country now, Lagos will still survive.
Governor Fashola congratulated the awardees for deserving of the honours given to them by an institution from which everyone should be proud to take honours and also gave kudos to Ansar- Ud- Deen Society for honouring Christians like the industrialist, Chief Bode Emmanuel noting that the spirit of promoting harmonious co-existence has always been the character of Lagos.
Earlier in his welcome address, the President of Ansar- Ud- Deen Society, Alhaji Femi Okunnu (SAN) stated that the society was established with two main objectives which is the propagation of Islam and the spread of education among the Muslim youths.
He added that in order to promote adult education among its members,a library was established and the Society has steadfastly maintained the principles of oneness of the faith as it remains part and parcel of the Lagos Central Mosque.
He also challenged every branch that by the time the society turns a century old, there should have been an Ansar -Ud- Deen School in each branch.
In his address, the Chairman of the occasion and former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Jubrila Ayinla (Rtd) urged everyone to join the Ansar –Ud- Deen Society in its vision and mission by committing to producing a younger generation that will follow the legacies of the founding fathers.
According to him, education is not just about going to school because there is still a lot for parents to impart to the children at home given the fact that the society is made up of the family units and if any family unit starts with a good foundation it would be transferred to the society while reducing the ills that are prevalent in the society.
Awards of Excellence were later presented to Governor Fashola (SAN) by the society alongside Chief Bode Emmanuel and Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN) among others.
Two books titled: “A chronology of Ansar- Ud- Deen Society from 1923 to 2009” and “An African Beacon of Light 1923 to 2013” written by Professor Tajudeen Gbadamosi were reviewed by Professor Akinyeye and Professor Hakeem Danmole who recommended both books for all and sundry.
The two books were later launched by the Governor, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Mr Wale Babalakin (SAN).
Prominent among those who witnessed the event were elder statesman, Senator Habeeb Fasinro, Chief Imam of Lagos, Sheikh Garuba Akinola Ibrahim, Baba Adinni of Lagos, Sheikh Hafeez Abou, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Rahman.A. Bello, former Petroleum Minister, Senator Jubril Aminu and several other religious leaders as well as teeming members of the society.