Day Education Champions League was launched in PH


Day Education Champions League was launched in PH

 

By Michael Jegede

On March 22, 2024, some Nigerians driven by the desire to promote reading culture and growth of education, gathered at the Unity Hall, Port Harcourt Club for the formal launch of the Education Champions League (ECL), during which the book “On a Platter of Gold: How Jonathan won and lost Nigeria” authored by Bolaji Abdullahi was reviewed.

 

The launch of ECL, an incorporated trustee, said to be committed to championing literacy enhancement, intellectual engagement and community enrichment, came eighth months after the initiation of ‘The August Meeting’ where a group of individuals had assembled with the strong determination to kick-start the process of reviving reading culture in Port Harcourt (PH), River State and Nigeria in general.

 

At the first edition of The August Meeting, meant to be a quarterly affair, the book “Fellow Nigerians, It’s All Politics”, a collection of essays by Simon Kolawole, a renowned journalist, columnist and Chief Executive Officer of The Cable was presented for review in August last year. The second edition which took place in November 2023 featured for review “The Arc of The Possible” a memoir by Waziri Adio, an ace journalist, policy strategist and erstwhile Executive Secretary (ES) of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

In his speech at the unveiling of ECL, the Chairman of the incorporated trustee’s Board, Chief Sody Peterside, said: “On August 7, 2023, we gathered here to inaugurate a unique experience—an experience that reaches back to a time when reading was a cherished joy, something we took great pride in. Today, it is my honor and privilege to announce that after two immensely successful events, the second being held on November 18, 2023, we have raised the bar.

“We embarked on this journey informally as The August Meeting – a group of individuals coming together to revive the beloved but fading culture of reading, spanning across various age groups. Today, I am pleased to announce that we have now established a legal entity entrusted with the noble task of expanding our vision to positively impact the education sector on a broader scale. Hence, today, we officially launch the Education Champions League (ECL).

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“The Education Champions League is dedicated to bridging gaps in quality interpersonal communication and nation-building through the promotion of reading and writing among young people and all generations. By providing platforms for intellectual discourse and debate, the ECL aims to cultivate a culture of critical thinking and civic engagement within our communities. ECL will organize quizzes and debates among secondary schools and promote book writing across different genres.

“As we progress, we call upon all lovers of education to lend their support – support in various forms to keep the momentum going and to propel us forward in our predetermined direction. This endeavor is for our children. This endeavour is for us. This endeavour is for the sake of our country.”

Former Director General (DG) of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, while addressing the gathering as the Chairman of the event, emphasized the transformative power of reading on personal growth, how books can help to refine a person’s values and shape the worldview of an individual.

Dr. Peterside, a public sector turnaround expert, columnist, public affairs analyst and leadership coach, remarked: “I extend a warm welcome to each one of you to the Q1 August Meeting, organized by the August Meeting Organizing Committee in March. As you may be aware, it is a gathering that not only celebrates our unity but also emphasizes the transformative power of knowledge and the profound impact of reading on our lives. Something unique about this edition is the fact that we shall be launching ‘the Port Harcourt Education Champions League’.

“Today, as we embark on a journey of intellectual exploration, I invite you to reflect with me on the timeless importance of reading and the enlightening experience that books offer us. In the complex structure of human existence, reading stands as a thread that interconnects the essence of our understanding, empathy, and growth.

“From the earliest civilizations to the digital age, the act of reading has been a cornerstone of learning, enlightenment, and cultural preservation. It is through reading that we transcend boundaries, traverse landscapes, and encounter ideas that challenge and shape our worldview.

“Consider for a moment the stories that have left an indelible mark on your mind and heart. Whether they were epic tales of heroism, poignant narratives of human struggle, or insightful accounts of historical events, each book has contributed to the rich tapestry of your life.”

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The ex-NIMASA helmsman added: “At the core of our gathering today is the recognition of the transformative power of literature. We are privileged to engage with ‘ON A PLATTER OF GOLD- How Jonathan Won & Lost Nigeria’ by Bolaji Abdullahi, a journalist par excellence, an insider at the time these events took place, and keen student of both history and political power. Our book of the quarter is a book that offers a compelling narrative of political intrigue, leadership dynamics, and the complexities of power in Nigeria.

“Through the lens of this book, we are invited to delve into the life and times of former President Goodluck Jonathan, a figure whose journey from obscurity to the pinnacle of political power is both inspiring and thought-provoking. The narrative unfolds a tale of resilience, ambition, and the myriad challenges faced by leaders in navigating the turbulent waters of politics and governance.”

A member of The August Meeting and ECL’s Board, Kingsley Wenenda Wali, spoke on the planned competition for secondary schools designed primarily to encourage reading and build critical thinking skills among the students. Wali revealed that the said competition to be organized by ECL for secondary school students has a N10 million prize for the winner.

According to him, “We feel that if you have competitions that don’t add value to development, yet come away with 1st prize N150 million, N200 million. Then you have a mathematics competition, where the 1st prize is N500, 000 or much less than that. So we thought that we should create something different and we went out of the way and by the special grace of God, we have a competition that the 1st prize is N10 million.”

Speaking as the writer of the reviewed book, “On a Platter of Gold: How Jonathan won and lost Nigeria”, Bolaji Abdullahi, who served as Minister of Youth and Sports Development under ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, said: “Definitely President Jonathan was not weak nor clueless from my experience. Most important thing I know about him is that he is very patriotic, but as a patriot he is also someone who is careful about how he uses power.

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“He understood the enormity of the powers of the President and he used to say that if he uses 30% of his power as President of Nigeria he will become a dictator. So he’s someone who is careful and who is also reluctant to hurt people. So because of his reluctance to hurt people, it’s possible that some will interpret it to mean that he’s clueless.”

Delighted that the review of his book was part of the event used to launch the ECL, the one-time National Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC), stated that “The most important thing that Jonathan had to teach everybody is love for country. And the care in the use of power. He was very particular, he didn’t want to break the law, he didn’t want to violate the constitution, and didn’t want to do anything that will make him look like a dictator.”

He maintained that Jonathan’s action after he was defeated at the 2015 presidential poll as the incumbent president saved Nigeria from bloodshed with the call he put across to the winner even before the final results were announced.

The students of secondary schools present at the occasion participated in the book review as they displayed their book reading and public speaking knack.

The organizers of the event which equally featured the presentation of two other books – ‘Becoming a News Titan’ by Chioma Ezenwafor and ‘A Thousand Time on Same Road’ by China Acheru, have continued to receive commendations for their efforts at trying to revive the culture of reading believed to be declining.

The ECL’s mission is “to revive and advance the reading culture among young people using academic debates, arts and culture, leadership programs and educational empowerment schemes.” It envisions “a Nigeria where every youth embraces the joy of reading, nurtures intellectual curiosity, and thrives academically. We aspire to cultivate a society where literacy is not only valued but celebrated, paving the way for enlightened leaders, innovative thinkers, and lifelong learners.”

 

Michael Jegede, a journalist, writes from Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja


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