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THE PRE-BATTLE ORATION. A speech for the class of 2012
In ancient times kings and army Generals gave strong and motivational speeches to their soldiers before riding into the battle field. At the end of the oration the army roars with confidence and fearlessness ready to face any hurdle or obstacle in their way. According to Greek mythology, Hector the great Trojan hero gave such an address to his warriors before they advanced to the war ground, to fight against the enormous and eminent Greek army that had the mighty hand and support of the legendary war lord, Achilles. Achilles was a daring warrior that brought agonizing death to any man who risked challenging him. In the context of my speech Achilles represents any trouble or challenge life might throw at us.
Today I address you my noble class of 2012 not just as graduates but as a mighty army about to embark on a fierce journey into the grand battle field called, the world. This war zone is not an easy one. It is very aggressive and can either make you or break you. The choices you make and the decisions you take may decide your fate on this arena. You should know the right time to strike, when to back down and when to be courageous enough to tell Achilles you are also a fearless warrior. The strength of a soldier not only depends on his own physical abilities but also on the rigid and harsh trainings and grooming he receives by his commanders on the training camp. We the potent AUN war lords of 2012 are proud to say we have been positively bruised and kitted up on our training camp called The American University of Nigeria. Our General by name Margie Ensign has shown us how to be true honourable warriors in life. She is what management scholars would call a ‘transformational leader’. The way she leads inspires students to want to be like her and become even better leaders. Her leadership style shows us that size in a soldier doesn’t always have to be the deciding factor in a war zone. You can be physically small but still make colossal impacts in life. She has a great vision for this university and her good plans have prompted her to make certain decisions and changes to move the institution forward. We all can testify to that by her progress so far. I came to this great institution in the spring of 2008. And I can confidently say without fear or favour that she is the best thing that has happened to AUN thus far. Now tell me, with such a General disciplining us in camp why should we be afraid of going to the battle field of life? On this camp we also have commanders who have woken most of us up from our slumber. They have constantly reminded us that school is meant for the serious minded and only those who are ready for the challenges would survive. These commanders include persons like the following professors; Bill Hansen, Adi Bongo, Brown, Hyman and Kwaku to mention but a few. I can assure you that if you are taking any course with any of these commanders be certain that you will make a compulsory scale of preference in your different activities whether you are an Economist or not. This is because these gallant AUN commanders will use their whips called the pen and give you red scars called an F if you play with your work. Taking courses with all AUN professors not just the above mentioned will teach you how to manage your time and do all the bulk of work given to you on time or else get a big red scare, the dreaded F.
One of my role models is a very serious commander who drilled me in and out during my last semester, fall 2011. He is a man popularly known everywhere he stepped as a hard worker and a ‘no nonsense personality’. He has a lot of accolades and achievements attached to his name as a result of his continuous hard work. He is by name Prof Joe Johnson. This man has shown me that if you are a hardworking soldier there will be a great reward waiting for you at the end of the combat. I am sure because after all the training and enormous work we had to do in class I came out with one of my most precious and cherished As in AUN. He never accepts late submission and doesn’t give second chances. Using his words ‘in life there are no second chances’ meaning we only have that one time to do the right thing. And he gives a large immensity of work. We always had to submit something each class meeting for the whole semester. Now that is a beneficial brutality. These really taught us hard work, time management, zeal and prudence. Once again I ask this question. What shall we fear in the battle field of life with such motivational commanders who constantly drilled us for four good years?
So my fellow class of 2012 we have had the best president and instructors who have taught us and mentored us during our schooling period. It is now left for each of us to utilize all the lessons we’ve attained as a result of being affiliated with them. Even the Bible says ‘bring your children up in the way of the Lord so that when they grow they will not depart from it’. And the way of the Lord can only build up a person and make that individual stronger. Our school parents have brought us up in the right way. And now that we’re ready to go into the world let’s try our very best not to depart from the lessons we’ve learnt from them. If we do this we will be promoting the name of our beloved alma mater and will elevate our own names as well. Nigeria and the world are in dire need of strong and fearless warriors to fight the excessively agonising battles causing endless pain today. Class of 2012 I ask you are you ready to bravely face these battles and crush the enemy?
I am privileged to have parents who have raised me to be a fearless warrior. Parents who are very selfless and who will deprive themselves of the good things life has to offer just so I can be the best I can be. Mr and Mrs Ali only God will be able to repay your goodness to me. I know many of us also have such parents but even if there are some of us without such supportive parents. I tell you, you have no excuse not to be great and fearless warriors because you have passed through AUN, an institution with good, caring and loving, instructors who have groomed us all throughout our schooling duration. Please let us not let these good people down but let us make them proud by shining the light on this world currently covered by dark clouds. Don’t forget warriors are respected and become legendary by constantly winning their battles and defeating their enemies. Nelson Mandela is a perfect example of a good warrior and a legend who has written his name in the history books. He was courageous enough to face the oppressors of his people. And after all the pain and suffering he came out victorious by defeating the great enemy called apartheid. Beloved AUN warriors which enemies will you be remembered for defeating? Is it poverty or corruption, lack of power supply or religious crisis? These enemies may look too big. You might even think you can’t challenge them but as Barrack Obama said ‘yes we can’.
Concisely, I’ll like to refer back to the story of Achilles. This notable man of battle had a little weakness, his heel. All attacks directed to his body couldn’t bring him down. But a younger and weaker man named Paris fired an arrow which was directed by the sun god Apollo, and it found the heel of Achilles and that killed him. This shows us that no matter how strongly our challenges present themselves we can overcome them if only we can allow God to direct and show us their weak points. Then we can bring them crumbling down.
As a final point, you and I have different names but I assure you, your name doesn’t have to be Paris to bring down the mighty Achilles. Having said all these, go into the world darling AUN warriors and gallantly face and defeat whatever life flings at you. Make sure you write your names on the hot sands of this war arena. Vanquish the battle field, rule it, and make it your own. So that when you drop one foot on the ground your enemies won’t wait for you to drop the other before they vanish, because they know they are on your terrain. For these reasons, go forth and conquer! Thank you.