Full Text of Dr. David Oyedepo’s Charge to Landmark University Graduating Students
(The Noble Set 2017)
July 16, 2017
I have a charge, not an address, captioned, “Think Contribution.” If you don’t want to die in frustration, think contribution. If you want to make real mark in life, think contribution. You will never be remember for what you have, you will be remembered for what you add. Think contribution. Living for survival makes a slave, live for others. Only those who live for others become leaders. Think contribution. We have about 4 million graduates walking the streets of Nigeria, looking for means of life, think contribution.
The idea of Agro-preneurship came to be because it’s one thing to get to the market and another thing to find what you are looking for. The jobs are not there. That is why from the outset, we caught this light to raise job creators, not job seekers. The cheapest way to be a job creator is to engage in Agro-preneurship, getting involved in what will remain relevant for life. No matter the development and heights anyone will scale, food will remain ever relevant.
There is not going to be any laboratory in this life that will prepare food in form of tablets to be taken and one will feel fed. Food will be relevant as long as life remains. Think of an area of your life where you will remain relevant and Agro-preneurship is one cheap way to remain relevant in your adventure in life, particularly now that the white collar job is going as the population is growing.
So much money is spent on importing food. Think solution, think contribution. Think contribution and your life will never lose meaning. If you are asked today what did the Chancellor say, “Think contribution so you don’t die in frustration.” Think relevance, get committed to adding values and you find your life continue to grow from one level of glory to another.
It’s important, having heard all the lectures, to let you have this as conclusion that you are going forth to a world that is in dire need of contributors. You are going to a world that is full of possessors but lack contributors. Think contribution, your generation will rise tomorrow to bless you. Don’t think of going back to the laps of your parents. That will be living a failed life. You have been given the best of education; now translate it to making contributions and your life will never lack meaning.
It’s important to appreciate this fact that, “The less possessive we are, the more contributive we become.” In most cases, highly possessive people are never known to be contributive. They want it all for themselves and it’s never enough, so they want more and more. I made a discovery sometimes back, that people don’t lack what they give; they only lack what they keep. Think contribution.
The young will need food, the old will need food. Even the mad people on the streets need food to stay alive. And they go hunting for food where they can get it. Until life ceases to be, food will remain forever relevant. Find a place for yourself in this open market and take responsibility so you don’t live as a liability.
The reason why we are running this Agro-preneurship programme is to give everybody a taste of agricultural practice. Whether you have B.Sc Computer Science, B. Eng Mechanical Engineering, you will still need food. No matter what you know or don’t know, you still need food. The last thing that will get off anybody’s budget is food. Clothes can get out of it, car can get out of it, and houses may not appear there but food? It remains a life-long essential. The market is for ever open. May be these two testimonies will prop-up your faith:
There was this young lady that served (NYSC) in Kaduna. She suddenly discovered that buying tomatoes in Zaria and coming to sell at Railway Station in Kaduna would give so many profit margins. She went into it. By the time she was done with NYSC, she bought herself a car. She was not looking for a job anymore; she already had an established business. It’s a wide range. You are either farming or you are marketing the farm produce among so many others. You will never lack relevance.
A young man came from the USA, who studied Mechanical Engineering and kept hunting for a job. He was also in Kaduna then. He went everywhere and couldn’t find anything. He then went back to his village to find out how much they are selling Palm oil (he was from Edo State). He came to Kaduna to find out how much it sold for. So he became a palm oil marketer. I was in Kaduna when he bought a house for himself at GRA. He got himself a bail-out from the economic downturn by getting involved in what will never lose value. Get involved.
One of our graduates here has a fish farm and from there he could sponsor himself in school. Get involved. It is full of values that will never get eroded. Get involved. I want to be part of feeding these hungry masses. Get involved. And that way, you are not a liability; you are not a burden but a blessing and an asset. Get involved. You don’t need so much, you just need a genuine interest to be a solution provider and not a concern to anybody. Get involved.
We will be disappointed if after your NYSC, you are hanging about doing nothing. Get committed to being an asset and not a liability (applause). Get committed to being a blessing and not a burden. Get committed to making a mark in life and I know you will. We will keep on emphasizing this University-wide programme of everybody being an agrarian citizen of our great country, because we will always need this forever.
There is nothing ignoble about earning a legitimate income but there is everything ignoble about being a beggar. Being a beggar erodes your human dignity. But we talk about the dignity of labour, Get involved.
Let me close this remark by telling my short story. Before we ever built our first house, I was concerned about the state of health of the people. The only hospital we had then was at Egbe. Most time if they say they have taken you to Egbe, it means you are dead. If you came back, it would be a surprise. Now, suddenly the hospital began to go down because the support they were receiving from the Mission of the Church from abroad stopped. And so there was a vacuum. So people died for free. And I said Lord, if I ever get blessed in my life, I will like to put a little hospital here.
So we started buying the land bit-by-bit. It is that same land that has turned to the University today (applause). Not only that, the hospital of that dream is in place today. When our former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo visited our campus here, he sat down at the Dental Theatre Room and said, “Look, treat me here” (laughter). It’s of that level of standard today. Think contribution.
You don’t need to have anything in your pocket but have a heart to be a contributor and the future will be unlimited. That is the way you make the most of your life. Remember, you will never be remembered for what you have, you will only be remembered for what you add.
To our parents, congratulations today, congratulations for ever. You will never have sorrows over any of these children. They will remain sources of joy to you and your family for ever. No matter how much height you may have scaled, they will scale higher heights than you. No matter what vehicles you may have bought for yourself, they will buy you bigger vehicles. We release them as treasures into your families and an asset to our nation. And you will live to be proud of God’s hand upon them for ever.
Young people, it’s time to work. You are living school to go and prove if you have ever learnt anything, and don’t stop learning. If you stop learning, you start dying. The world is open, go and make the most of the adventure. Thank you and God bless you.