He may be busy with campaigns all over Lagos State, espousing the message of continuity, but the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, is also creatively creating time for other humanitarian projects that reveal his patriotic disposition and showcases his passion for excellence.
One of such programmes is the Flags Project, which he is executing through his non-governmental organization – the La Roche Leadership Foundation. It is a unique initiative that started two years ago but which has reverberated throughout Lagos in the past one month as a state-wide project that seeks to commission the Lagos State Flag and the Nigerian Flag in all public primary and secondary schools in the state. This is aimed at imbibing the culture of patriotism, unity and responsibility in the students towards their state and country as a whole according to Ambode, who since his retirement as the Accountant General/Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance in 2012, has ran a successful Public Finance company, Brandsmith Consulting before venturing into politics.
Since the inception of the project, the focus has been to “catch them young” by instilling patriotic zeal in students, particularly in public schools “so that they can develop a good appreciation for the values of unity and peaceful coexistence in their fatherland.” For someone who is a son of a school teacher and disciplinarian and who has developed himself educationally with a master’s degree in Accounting as well as qualifying as a chartered accountant at 24, the values that education brings are non-negotiable. And this is the reason why Ambode says he is passionate about anything that will put education and patriotic values on the front burner.
And he finds time to be directly involved in this laudable project. As at last week, the Foundation has commissioned flags in 18 schools spread across five Local Government Areas in the state. According to the coordinator of the project, Mrs. Marina Osoba, the Flags Project has previously been through two stages where a total of 11 schools were covered. Now in its third stage, it has reached additional seven schools, some of which include Surulere Secondary School, Surulere and Wahab Folawiyo Senior High School, Ikoyi; Kiniun-Ifa Nursery and Primary school, Gbagada, Agidingbi Nursery and Primary School, Expressway Nursery and Primary School, and Rauf Aregbesola Nursery and Primary School.
In each school visited, the La Roche team was received by enthusiastic teachers and students who expressed gratitude and commendation for this initiative that is hoisting the Nigerian and Lagos flags in strategic locations at places of learning. In each of the school visits, the children are put through the process of hoisting the flags by an expert volunteer, after which an interactive session is held to further intimate them with the needed details. The foundation has also taken the project to the Special Correctional Centre for Boys (SCCB) in Oregun, going a step further to donate household items and accouterments to the boys.
Thankfully, some members of the organized private sector have keyed into the morale of the project, and have shown tremendous support by taking practical steps to partner with the La Roche foundation in commissioning the flags in some of the schools. Toyota Nigeria Limited, CuroTen organization and Laser Pointe Limited, are some of the notable partners in the course of the project.
Asides hoisting the flags in these schools, Osoba explains that the project includes the distribution of instructional fliers that contain descriptive and pictorial information about the flags and other national emblems, which are intended to further teach patriotism, give identity and preach nationhood to the young ones.
Osoba explained that the project would add value to the lives of the school pupils and make them grow into better adults with requisite understanding of their roles in nation building. She stated this while also underlining the importance of targeting these individuals in their formative years.
“We looked at our public schools and found out that there is this paucity, more or less, a lack of relevant information amongst most of these pupils, especially about the world around them and also about values of unity, patriotism and leadership. This project seeks to address that situation by taking a practical step to reverse the ignorant trend”. She added that the founder, Ambode, “initiated the project to explore the inquisitive nature of these kids who are still in their formative years, and make them identify with core nationalistic values that will eventually make them outstanding adults in the future”.
It was James E. Faust that said: “Among the other values children should be taught are respect for others, beginning with the child’s own parents and family; respect for patriotic beliefs and the symbols of faith; respect for law and order; respect for the property of others; respect for authority”, it is with this wise counsel in mind, according to Osoba, that the Flags project has received enthusiastic reception with Lagos public schools.
One of the volunteers for the project stated that the enthusiasm of the pupils they have met so far in the schools already visited, reveals their eagerness to learn new and relevant things, adding that such attitude will keep fueling the foundation’s resolve to continue with the project and cover all Lagos schools.
“The Flags Project will continue its resolve to educate all pupils in every Lagos public schools and achieve its aim of better pupils with enriched minds and brains,” she stated, adding that the La Roche Leadership Foundation is a non-governmental organization based in Lagos, with a vision to help raise generations of responsible, hardworking, focused and well educated leaders, equipped and ready to make a positive impact in all spheres of life.