The Graduation that brought Samonda to a standstill - by Funso Popoola
|Graduands in a photo session during 2016 CBN-EDC graduation ceremony
“We have never seen this type of crawling traffic in this area before; what’s going on?” That was the question a motorist caught in the traffic jam of 10th February, 2016 at Samonda. Samonda is a small community sandwiched between the ever busy Sango and Nigeria's premier University, the University of Ibadan (popularly called UI). The almost two kilometre-stretch of a smooth and nicely asphalted road between these two popular spots in Ibadan is a motorist’s delight on an ordinary day, perhaps to test the speeding capability of their vehicles after escaping the traffic jam of UI gate or that of Sango bus stop, depending on the direction of approach. Samonda is the contrast of the noisy Sango bus stop and UI gate buzzing. Not a few wondered what caused the "go slow".
February 10, 2016 was a special Wednesday in Samonda, Ibadan. Early in the morning, before the community woke up, their peaceful landscape became the operational base for a large retinue of combined Security enforcement agencies. Police vehicles were strategically positioned, same for the Nigeria Civil Defence trucks, the Oyo State Traffic Control agency and the Nigeria Peace Corps.
The primary direction of human traffic in Ibadan on that fateful day was Samonda. Vehicles were moving at the snail's speed, unusually large volume of human traffic was witnessed as people were alighting from commercial buses, taxis and motor-cycles. Everybody, delectably dressed, were heading not just the same direction but actually the same venue. The question on the lips of passers-by and motorists who were going to their places of work and business was the same - " What is happening at Samonda?"
The trigger for the Samonda miracle "go-slow" actually started about a year earlier when the Central Bank Entrepreneurship Development Centre, South West moved into the old Oyo State Women Training and Skill Development Centre like the proverbial thief in the night. Just a few, if any, noticed that the fire of a quiet, yet remarkable revolution, has been stoked within the landscape of Samonda, Ibadan, Oyo State and the South-West as a whole. The breeding nursery of the next generation of CEOs has been set up and, in a noiseless manner, the great campaign for entrepreneurial revolution took off March 2015.
Within the space of twelve months, more than 1,500 young and old people have been trained in entrepreneurship. Some of the "eagles " were ready to fly. To witness the release of these "eagle" newly trained start-up and expanding business owners, dignitaries gathered from across the South West geo-political zone and beyond. Nigeria’s President Emeritus, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, Executive Governors of all the South West States, many first class traditional rulers, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and many important people that were either present in person or were ably represented. No wonder the unprecedented and heavy presence of security personnel.
Samonda , Ibadan stool still in honour of the first set of graduates of CBN-EDC, South West; about 400 in all. Expectedly, there were goodwill messages from the South-West State Governments, special addresses by the Chief Guest of Honour, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR) and the host Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. One major side attraction was a master piece performance by the drama crew of Lead City University. By the time they finished their ten-minute playlet, the message was clear to all: “Don’t assume entrepreneurship knowledge; learn it.” The activities of the day were equally spiced with a few testimonies from the graduates.
It’s a major landmark, albeit a pointer to what should be expected in the nearest future as the Centre continues its giant stride in contributing to the diversification of the Nigerian economy – a task that Nigeria must do now.