During a compelling address at the Veritas University convocation ceremony, Bishop Matthew Kukah, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, surprised many by expressing robust support for the “Japa” trend. In a bold statement, he encouraged young Nigerians facing challenges and frustrations to consider leaving the country for better opportunities without hesitation.
Delivering a powerful speech at the Veritas University convocation ceremony, Bishop Kukah acknowledged the immense challenges and frustrations motivating young Nigerians to leave the country.
He said, “I encourage young people who want to leave Nigeria to please, feel free to leave. The country is big enough. We can assure you that by the time you settle down in the United States of America or wherever you have gone, you will discover that Nigeria needs you.
“And for those you left behind, our hope and prayer is that they will be competing at the same level with you. We have everything that it takes to turn the corner.”
While acknowledging the brain drain created by “Japa,” Bishop Kukah expressed the fervent hope that the right conditions will be established in Nigeria to allow those who remain to thrive and compete favorably with their counterparts abroad. He emphasized the importance of education in achieving this, saying, “We have everything that it takes to turn the corner. Change is not the change we expect from politicians. It is the change that will come with a big intellectual understanding of the complex nature of this country. So every graduate who walks out of the portals of Veritas will be truly equipped mentally and intellectually to conquer Nigeria.”
Addressing the graduates directly, Bishop Kukah urged them to remain focused and contribute positively to their communities.
He reminded them of their alma mater and encouraged them to stay connected and support the institution’s growth, stating, “Do not forget your alma mater because you are standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before you. Do not forget the sacrifices you have made.”
Turning to the educators shaping the next generation, Bishop Kukah acknowledged their sacrifices and the vital role they play.
He dismissed the notion that teachers’ rewards are solely in heaven, highlighting their importance in the here and now.
He shared a personal anecdote, recounting how a pilot delayed a flight to Sokoto to wait for him, revealing that he had recommended the pilot for his job a decade ago.
He said, “Miraculously, the plane continued to wait and when I got to the aircraft, the pilot was waiting at the foot of the plane. I tried to take my seat and he knelt to greet me. I was quite embarrassed because I had never seen this gentleman in my life. But he said, ‘Well, Bishop, I have to kneel and greet you because you are the one who recommended me over 10 years ago for the job as a pilot’.”
Congratulating the university’s management and staff, Bishop Kukah praised Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ichoku Hyacinth’s leadership and commended the university’s progress. He urged regulatory bodies to expand opportunities for institutions like Veritas University, allowing them to contribute more significantly to the education of Nigerian citizens.
Finally, Bishop Kukah addressed parents and guardians, acknowledging their sacrifices and the increasing role of internally generated revenue in university operations.
He expressed gratitude for their support and assured them of the council’s dedication to Veritas University’s continued development. He concluded by urging everyone to contribute to the university’s expansion, highlighting its potential to advance knowledge and education in Nigeria.