BIFOBA President: Kingsley Iniobong Essien
My dear distinguished fellow Executive Council Members and fellow Old Boys of Birch Freeman High School Old Boys Association (BIFOBA).
It gives me the greatest honour to address you today as the Global President of our great Association – BIFOBA. I address you with the greatest sense of humility and with a total and complete submission to the will of God.
Let me acknowledge and thank the Immediate Past Global President, Mr. Feyi Dinyo for his selfless service to this Association in the past four years and for lifting the Bar in terms of service to our Association. He, along with other members of his Executive Council which I had the privilege to be a part of, worked tirelessly to ensure that this Association is placed on a firm footing. I am proud of my bosom friend and indeed I am also proud of the contributions made by all the past presidents and the Executive Councils of the Association. Of course, my thanks also go to all our members who have remained committed to the cause and ideals of the Association. Through the selfless commitment of all of us, Great Old Boys, we have ensured that our Alma Mater, which was being tagged an abandoned property, is revamped and all of us are now proud to tell anybody loud and clear that we attended Birch Freeman High School, Surulere. I promise to contribute my quota in maintaining the standard which has been ably set in ensuring that the labour of our heroes past is not in vain.
GLOBAL PRESIDENT’S THEM OF THE YEAR
Distinguished fellow Old Boys, my Theme for the service year 2016/2018 shall be “STRENGTHEN THE PRIDE”. In order to strengthen our pride which we achieved through serious and concerted efforts and to maintain the prestige and patriotism of the good stories of our past achievements, we must continue to be accountable for our actions with unswayed integrity. We must re – examine our commitment to the cause and ideals of the Association. Our participation and attendance at general meetings in the last few months had dropped significantly. Our financial position which determines greatly our ability to embark on projects that will raise the standard of our Alma Mater is nothing to write home about as members shy away from paying their dues which was deliberately brought low to encourage payment. In order to effectively execute our plans and strengthen the pride, our attitude must come with extra effort as plan is a function of attitude.
We cannot therefore afford to expect that things would go according to plan when we do not make the concerted effort to ensure that we implement and fund the plan. I therefore enjoin all members of this great Association to join me and my executive towards writing another success story. The success of this Administration would be another success story of our great Association and not the success of an individual. By the Grace of God we shall have another success story of moving this Association forward to a greater height.
How do we achieve this success story that will strengthen our pride? I believe that although we have an Executive Council, all members of this Association are integral part of the Global President’s team. Attaining the Association’s goals is therefore our collective responsibility. Having goals and making plans to achieve them are two key steps to being successful. Every member has his important role to play and by working together, our Association will be able to meet its full potential and strengthen the pride. This Global President belongs to everybody and needs the support of all members of this Association.
You will recall that in November 2015, we gave to ourselves a brand new Constitution and Bye – Laws. We shall strive to administer the Association in accordance with the provisions of our Constitution. I sincerely believe that if we lay strong structures, there will be foundation for the coming Administrations to build upon. Everybody will know what to expect and there will be certainty and the Association will become a place where equity, fairness and justice shall prevail with emphasis on proper accountability of our lean resources. There is need for us to follow the best practices obtainable in the running of an International Association. The Executive Council decisions shall be our compass while members at our General Meetings shall have the opportunity to ratify Executive Council decisions.
Based on our projections and plans for 2016 – 2017 service year, a proposed budget is hereby attached for your deliberation and approval.
Membership due for the year 2016/2017 service year (May 2016 to April 2017) will remain at N12, 000.00 (Twelve Thousand Naira) Only. I have deliberately resisted the urge to push for an increase despite the fact that I know, just as I am aware that you all know that given the present circumstances, the sum of N12, 000.00 per member as dues, is grossly inadequate for the execution of all the responsibilities of this Association. However, with prudent management, I believe that we shall make some impact.
I therefore call on members to please pay their dues promptly so as to give the new Administration something to take off with. I must add that in the course of the service year, we shall call upon and encourage members whom the Lord has lifted higher, to please reciprocate the gesture by giving something back to the Association. I want to say therefore that whereas the minimum dues for the service year is N12, 000.00, members are at liberty to “donate” much more than N12, 000.00. I trust that most of us will honour this call. I thank you in advance as you do so.
Executive Council meetings shall continue to hold as usual on the second Thursday of the month while General Meetings will hold as usual on every second Sunday of every month. Members are encouraged to sponsor General Meetings. General Meetings venue remains the school compound (Our Auditorium). Early attendance at General Meetings shall be emphasised and encouraged as time management is very crucial and sacrosanct during conduct of all meetings. Meeting shall commerce at 3.30pm prompt. Our General Meeting shall henceforth be conducted in a formal and businesslike manner.
Invitation of speakers to our General Meetings is also very key for the purpose of knowledge acquisition. In the absence of external speakers, members would be encouraged to handle topics in their areas of specialization.
Every member must familiarise himself with the use of social media and must be internet compliant with functional e-mails. Minutes of Meetings shall be sent to members e-mail addresses prior to meetings while few copies would be printed in order to save the cost of printing and to enable shortest possible time to be spent on reading of Minutes at meetings.
This is the most important core project of this Administration and shall be given adequate attention. We shall go outside the box to encourage and identify all our old boys. I believe in the saying that, the more, the merrier. We shall take the attraction and sustainability of our members as our watchword. We shall encourage sets to scout for their set members and membership strength shall be rewarded.
Welfare of members shall be given proper attention. Visit to elder members by set members and report of their state of health during General Meetings shall be encouraged. Members are encouraged to attend and play various roles of assistance whenever we are invited to social engagements by members. My Administration will also introduce a welfare scheme to be known as BIFOBA WELFARE SCHEME. The BIFOBA Welfare Scheme shall be a total concept, which is intended to bring about the desirable state of existence involving the physical, mental, moral and emotional well being of every member of the Association. The aim and objective of the scheme shall, amongst others, be to provide financial, moral and other relief to members in case of emergency.
I have discovered that for members to be motivated to contribute their quota in the affairs of BIFOBA, there is the need to assure them that they will be supported when the occasion arises.
The introduction of the welfare scheme is therefore expected to bring about a sense of belonging towards the Association.
Members will be celebrated during the month of their birth at the general meeting. Such celebration shall be encouraged with cutting of cakes, taking of photographs and the presentation of birthday cards. This celebration will ensure a spirit of conviviality, brotherhood, and unity.
The Lord has been Gracious unto us. Miraculously, we have made tremendous progress towards the execution of this project. However, we are yet to attain the standard of the Auditorium of our dream. The completion of this Auditorium up to the standard we have set for ourselves is now our collective responsibility. We must dig deep into our collective ingenuity and figure out ways to raise fund to complete this project.
The Auditorium Building and management committee shall be reorganized and reinvigorated to hit the ground running and to ensure that this project is completed and managed to the Glory of God and for the benefit of our Alma Mater, the students, members of the Association and of course mankind.
STANDING AND OTHER COMMITTEES
Under and by virtue of Article XV Sections 1 and 2, of our Constitution and Bye – Laws, your Association is entitled to seven standing committees. The Global President is also empowered to set up other committees as may be required for the effective running of the Association and for the adequate attainment of the Associations Aims and Objectives.
The Standing Committees are:
(1) Academic Committee
(2) Physical and Environmental Committee
(3) Welfare Committee
(4) Sports Committee
(5) Social/Publicity Committee
(6) Auditorium Building and Management Committee and
(7) Web – Site Management Committee
All these Committees and those yet to be formed require committed and dedicated members who will help to realize the aims and objectives of the Association through the effective performance of the duties of each Committee. I hereby call for voluntary membership of the Committees. Remember that during the introductory part of this Address, I assured you that we will all serve together. We will all succeed together and God will take all the Glory. If you ever loved this Association, this is the time to prove it. Be an active and a responsible member of a Committee and contribute your quota towards the realization of the Aims and Objectives of this Association.
I want to thank all active sets for their efforts in keeping the hope aims and objectives of BIFOBA alive. I also want to use this medium to encourage non active sets to emulate the active sets and not to be left behind.
However, I have observed that some members erroneously prefer to limit their services to their sets. They find it convenient to attend their sets meetings and activities but would have nothing to do with the National Body. For these kind of members, let me remind them that without the parent, there can be no child. The parents and the children must co – habit together and in constant harmony. The children are expected to under study their parents and to imbibe the fine ideals that their parents have to offer. When the children grow up, they are expected to team up with their parents and together they form a formidable team and serve better.
In this instance the National Body is the parent while the sets are the children. There must be a synergy to work together. I liken the relationship to that of a pair of scissors. The two pairs must come together before it can cut whatever is there to be cut. Each pair will bring its sharpness and join it with the sharpness of the other pair and cutting will be done easily and smoothly. BIFOBA can only achieve its aim and objectives if we learn to behave like a pair of scissors. Please take note that the National General Meeting holds on the second Sunday of every month. Do not fix your set meetings for that day. Encourage your set members to attend the National General Meeting and to participate in the activities of the National Body.
My Dear Fellow Guild Members, I salute the courage and commitment of some of our members who have remained committed to the discharge of the oath of allegiance that we each took upon our admittance to this privileged group. However, I regret to say that some of our members have not shown enough commitment to the Aim and Objectives of BIFOBA which we swore to up - hold and defend. There is a saying that to whom much is given, much is expected. Really, much is expected of us as a group. I urge you to please put yourselves together and walk your oath. This is the only way we can say thank you to God for making it possible for us to have been selected to be members of this special group. I will be calling upon you individually and as a group from time to time. When I do, please answer my call.
MEMBERS IN DIASPORA
My Dear Members of the North American and United Kingdom Chapters, I salute your courage and commitment especially in the last two years to the ideals of our great Association. You have proven without doubt that you were trained for Duty and for God. Your contributions towards our school are well noted and documented. I assure you that when the roll is called, you will be given your proper place and recognition.
I will however advise that you do not rest on your oars. Let each emerging executive be determined to improve upon the achievement of the past executive. Let the spirit of brotherly love completely overwhelm the bad spirit of envy and divisiveness. Bear in mind at all times that together, we achieve more. I urge you to key into my theme for the year which is – strengthen the pride. I believe that we have every reason to be proud of our past as an Association and that we should strengthen the resolve to achieve even more so that we can have a proud past and a hopeful and bright future.
In conclusion, I salute the courage and the dogged commitment of all members of this great Association all over the world for the sacrifice made in the past to keep the Association’s flag flying. I am using this opportunity to assure you all that I will contribute my quota to the success of this great Association.
I therefore crave the indulgence and cooperation of all members towards this success. Let us all pledge, commit, cooperate, donate our time, write a cheque and improve our Alma Mater. Let us not renege in our commitment to growing this Association to better the lot of our Alma Mater and our students who are future Old Boys and who need us most. Let us keep on inviting new members to help position this Association for success and keep working to make our Alma Mater a better school. Let us set a bar below which Birch Freeman High School must never sink. Let us have the ability to respond to the unexpected in order to show the strongman in us. Let us ignore what gets us claps and do what our conscience tells us is right. Let us ask ourselves “why do we try hard to fit in when we were born to stand out”.
Let us bear in mind that we cannot change the past but that the choices we make today can change the future. Let’s learn not to throw in the towel when we are challenged rather, let us use the towel to wipe the sweat off our faces.
I also respect the verse in the Holy Bible (Matthew 7:12) that says “do unto others what you would have them do to you.”
But in all, I take to Jack Welch’s famous word: “Leadership is not a popularity contest, so lead.”
Let me therefore appreciate all of us for agreeing to come on board with me on this demanding journey. A journey of a thousand years, they say, begins with a first step. Let the journey begin.
Above all, I wish to thank the Almighty God, the miracle worker for granting me the opportunity to serve this Association in the position of a Global President. I know that he shall not forsake all of us as we sacrifice our time and other resources to serve and lift the standard of our Alma Mater.
God bless you all.
Yours in Service
Barrister Kingsley Iniobong Essien
Global President, 2016/2018 Service Year.