Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Barrister Nico Halle’s Education Talk at CCU Convocation Ceremony Theme: KNOWLEDGE AND INTEGRITY

It is definitely with profound gratitude to God that I address you all present here today, on the heels of a very special historic event, spotlighting the great achievements of the Pioneer and graduating Batch of students of the Cameroon Christian University (CCU), christened the Batch of Justice and Peace. On November 08, 2013 at 11.41am, I felt exceedingly blessed receiving a phone call from the CCU Vice Chancellor, Professor Emmanuel Chia, inviting my humble self to be guest speaker during this all-important and uncommon ceremony in the life of this great institution. We all have definitely been looking forward to this great day with a lot of joy, enthusiasm and thankfulness to God Almighty for the milestone. To the VC and staff I say thanks for affording me the honour to be here and speaking. My Dear friends, before I delve into the theme of our discourse today, let us go down memory lane and take a brief look at the conception, establishment and evolution of CCU. The idea for the creation of a Christian University by the PCC was timely conceived by some members of the Bali Old Boys Association (BOBA). Following persistent calls from Christians and other opinion leaders, the PCC saw the need to establish a University that would be inspired by strong Christian values in order to further forge ahead with what the Church was already accomplishing at the Primary and Secondary School levels. Under the able stewardship of Moderator Emeritus, the Very Rev. Dr. Nyansako-ni-Nku, the Committee for the Establishment of a Christian University (CEPU) was put in place in 2005. As per its Mission Statement, the Cameroon Christian University will pursue unfettered knowledge through teaching and research and provide service to humanity predicated on the core values of Christian faith. In line with the motto of the University: “Scientia – Veritas – Probitas” (Knowledge - Truth - Probity), graduates from CCU are expected to be worthy in learning and character, therefore able to make a difference for the betterment of society in terms of dedication and probity. Cameroon is blessed with eight State Universities, a few Private Universities and several other institutions of higher learning which churn out tens of thousands of graduates every year. Yet, this beloved Nation – Cameroon, Land of Promise and Glory, Africa in Miniature, is plagued by all forms of Moral Decadence, bringing our Nation to its knees. We are often tempted to put to question the quality of education acquired through some of our institutions of learning. It was C.S. Lewis who stated that “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather making man a clever devil”. Dear friends, the PCC is conscious of the above and encourages quality education at a higher level - anchored on a strong foundation of solid Christian values by which some of us have been nurtured. Against this backdrop, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Festus Asana, Moderator of the PCC, Proprietor and Chancellor of CCU, following in the footsteps of his predecessor, unconditionally gave his blessings and CCU effectively opened its doors and received its pioneer students, you are, on October 16, 2010. The vision was that CCU, as a model of a University, a reference in Cameroon and beyond, will produce, in its pursuit of excellence and the search for the truth, the much needed genuine intellectual for our society. This is in line with the common belief that the heart of education is the education of the heart. To some the realization of this dream might have come late, but in the words of the Rt. Rev. Dr. Festus Asana: “What is worth doing is worth doing well”. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: On the heels of the above, I have chosen as our theme for discourse: KNOWLEDGE AND INTEGRITY. I have made it simple, devoid of any legal jargon or terminology, for the understanding of all to avoid any insinuations, innuendoes, misapprehensions or subterfuges. Dear friends, in talking about knowledge and integrity, I take into account your time and experiences while here and the individual paths you shall trot as you leave CCU today. Knowledge is information we gather and accumulate as we go through life. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is what is left when all is forgotten. Knowledge is obtained from various sources, including but not limited to schooling/education, personal and shared experiences, information disseminated via public media and the press/media, etc. I would like us to note that having knowledge about something does not mean intelligence. Analogously, being knowledgeable does not indeed mean wisdom. To put it laconically, knowledge represents nothing without the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). There are many in Society whom we call learned, whereas they are a disaster in their lives and professions. It is common knowledge to find high profile members of our society and church who have accumulated academic degrees and achieved fame in academia, but who are an embarrassment and disgrace. Why? Religious knowledge and moral education have been thrown to the dogs. Despicable. My beloved brothers and sisters, a good number of us have passed through institutions in Cameroon and abroad, yet these institutions seem not to have passed through us. Dear pioneer graduates, I have no iota of doubt on my mind that you have not only passed through CCU, but CCU - a Christian citadel of learning - has also passed through you. I am firmly convinced that the knowledge you have acquired here has been backed by morality, making you veritable agents of change that are much needed to transform society. You are therefore expected to play a pivotal role in contributing to Nation-building and making a difference wherever you find yourself, by your moral probity and dedication to work. Each of you should be a beacon of change. I know that you are graduating today on the basis of the efforts you put in during your stay here and not by “Sexually Transmissible Marks” or other unorthodox means as it is the case with some of our Institutions of Higher Learning. Note that false knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance. It is quintessential to know that having now gained knowledge you must be able to positively impact society. Do you know that what you are is God’s gift to you, and what you make of yourself is your gift to God? You are blessed to be graduating from a citadel of learning with emphasis on university education with a moral core aimed at producing enlightened Christian graduates. Through your lives and work, you are expected to bear witness to the Gospel wherever you may be. You receive today a great commission, namely: to transform society. (Matthew 28:18-20). As you go into the world from here, you are expected to be role models to your peers by your behavior, in your homes, professions, within the church, the Nation, avoiding adhering to the standards of the world. (Romans 12:2). The challenges ahead of you are uncommon and undoubtedly enormous. As recommended by Abraham Lincoln, you should pick up weeds and plant flowers wherever you find yourselves. To be able to do so, you must not at any point in time compromise your integrity. Integrity is adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character. Integrity also means: - Honesty, Humility, Love, Patriotism, Transparency and Accountability, Peace, Kindness, Faithfulness, Self-control, etc. Do not be fooled that building integrity will be devoid of opposition as you seek not to conform. You shall be persecuted because society seems to be content and comfortable in the moral squalor and decadence that it has created. St Paul in 2 Tim. 3:12 says: Everyone who wants to live a godly life in union with Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Be this as it may, do not fear such resistance by society as good will always triumph over evil. Some of my most enjoyable and pleasant moments in my life are when I am aware that I am being persecuted for the sake of the truth. In such situations I remain uncompromisingly steadfast. Each time you are persecuted for the sake of Christ, rejoice and be glad for your reward is in heaven. (Matt.5:10-12). Do not be a people-pleaser. To cower in the face of such opposition will portray a lack of integrity. It is said that the hottest place in hell is reserved for those who sat on the fence and watched evil prevail. Martin Luther King has said, “All it takes for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing”. Dearly beloved, one of the daunting challenges you shall surely face is the worrying morose economic situation of our country and the world at large. The prevalent hardship in society today has caused many young people, men and women, to engage in dubious means to make fast money. Acts such as bribery, corruption, embezzlement, homosexuality, promiscuity, blackmail, occultism, conflict, chaos, anarchy, hypocrisy, bootlicking, etc. are legion in our society; even the Church is not vindicated. Do not get infected by the “get-rich-quick” virus. Be reminded that it is not because some people are faulting with impunity that makes it right. They might not be many but the impact of their act is devastating. Chinua Achebe aptly puts it in the Arrow of God “Lunatics may be outnumbered but they own the place”. You are expected to be CCU Ambassadors with a mandate to transform society. Your respect for the hierarchy of the Church and State Institutions should be without reserve. Romans 13. Some of you may want to get rich at all cost even if it means shaking hands with the devil. The general trend in society today is to measure success in terms of huge bank accounts, the type of mansions we have, the brand of cars we drive, etc. No and No. What would it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Matt 16:26. Suffice it to say, that your integrity is worth far more than Billions of CFA. Nobody is against honest wealth though. That begs the question why we must seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness and all other things shall be added unto us. (Matthew 6:33). My dear friends, we are not oblivious of the reverses you faced and still face here: Lack of adequate and befitting infrastructure for conducive learning, enrolment problems, scarce financial resources, inadequate teaching staff, etc. It is however often said that nothing good comes easy. No cross, no crown. Victory comes only after adversity. It is even good that the beginning is tough in order for us not to lie on our laurels. We are however, happy and thankful to God that our Church authorities are doing their utmost to reverse the trend. As you graduate you will certainly face a litany of challenges every day of your life; but at no point in time, and under no circumstances, should you trade off your integrity either for fast gain or transient pleasure. Yes, nobody is perfect and none of us can brandish perfection. This, however, does not in any way mean that we should allow evil to engulf society. Your responsibility is to effect positive change wherever you are, decrying slogans like “Who well”, “If you go to Rome do what the Romans do”, “Heaven helps those who help themselves”, “nobody is perfect’’, etc. Also do well to transform the plethora of obstacles you will encounter in your way into stepping stones towards attaining your goal. As you start a new journey, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, who is the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2). Always remember that God is bigger than all our problems, present and future. Yet, I like to heartily congratulate and encourage all of you graduating today as pioneer batch of CCU, for having been diligently focused on your studies despite the several upheavals characteristic of such beginnings. We are also all conscious of the fact that the zeal/enthusiasm/euphoria that gripped PCC Christians upon the announcement of the creation of CCU has considerably waned. As if it is not enough, the Medical Department has been suspended by Government for want of infrastructure, equipment and teaching staff. Who are those responsible for the meltdown? Are some of us not directly or remotely responsible for this saddening nosedive? We should be ashamed of ourselves if we are. Why have pledges that were made during meetings organized by the CCU Fund Raising Committee in Yaounde, Douala and Buea not been met? My clarion call is that those who have been making significant contributions towards the growth of CCU should not tire as God will always bless and replenish them. Excellency the Governor, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I however take the liberty to doff my hat to stakeholders who have put hands on deck in the realization of this dream. Permit me acknowledge with gratitude while extending glowing tribute and congratulations to the following sterling personalities: -The Rt. Rev. Dr. Festus Asana, soft spoken, emblematic and efficient Moderator of the PCC, who came on board with the “Vision of Change”, with special emphasis on transparency and accountability, which vision has gone a long way in making the resources of the Church healthier though this is hurting to embezzlers; -The Very Rev. Dr. Nyansako-ni-Nku, Moderator Emeritus, who cogently embraced the idea of a Christian University and effectively laid a firm foundation for the take-off of CCU before the end of his mandate; -The Rev. Abwenzoh William, Synod Clerk of the PCC for his steady and compelling stewardship; -Mrs. Ines Nsame Mbongo, PCC Financial Secretary, for the great feat she is accomplishing by aggressively blocking all illegal outlets of the Church’s resources, which austerity measures are nevertheless resisted by pilferers; -The Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Anyambod, Secretary Committee of the Ministry, for the spiritual input and accomplishment within the various Departments of the PCC; -The 46th Synod of Justice and Peace that held in Kumba from 17th to 19th Nov, 2013 and took far-reaching immediate, short-term measures to salvage CCU; -Our venerated fathers, landlords, HRH Senator Dr. Ganyonga III of Bali, and HRH Senator Nfon Victor Mukete of Kumba for providing land for CCU, including an enabling and peaceful environment for studies; -The Committee for the Establishment of a Christian University (CEPU), for all its efforts to enable CCU see the light of day; -The celebrated CCU Pro-Chancellor (Prof. Mrs. Dorothy Limunga Njeuma), who has recently been immortalised at UB; -The determined Vice Chancellor (Professor Emmanuel Chia); -The hardworking and unassuming CCU Registrar (Prof. Paul Mbangwana); the devoted teaching staff and all other stakeholders, who are indefatigably working in synergy for the upswing of CCU; -The dynamic Vice Chancellor of UB (Prof. Nalova Lyonga), for guardianship and mentorship of CCU in their academic programmes; -Some Christians of the PCC who are making enormous sacrifices to ensure that CCU stands on its feet; -All the students and parents whose sacrifices have enabled CCU to get to this point; -Deserved gratitude to the Minister of Public Works – H.E. Patrice Amba Salla - for gracefully tarring the road from Njenka-Bali to CPC/CCU campus; -Very special thumps up to the Administration of the North West Region led by the dynamic Governor, H.E. Adolphe Lele Lafrique, for the Peace that reigns in the Region; -The Minister for Higher Education H.E. Jacques Fame Ndongo; -The Prime Minister and Head of government, H.E. Philemon Yang; -The Head of State H.E. Paul Biya, for the support and peace that CCU in particular enjoys and the Nation in general; -Above all to the Almighty God who has continued to sustain CCU. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: I am very positive and optimistic about the future of CCU, as Jeremiah 29:11 reassures us that God’s plans for us are for our prosperity and not for disaster. Dear graduates, please bear in mind that you are all graduating today thanks for the most part to the generosity of your parents/sponsors. Before you leave here today, it is important that you formally recognize with gratitude the various roles these persons have played in your success story. As such, I would request that you please give your parents, guardians and family members who are here today to accompany you through this last phase of your time here a standing ovation. This is probably your most pleasurable experience this far. Equally, put your hands together for your eminent Professors and Lecturers who through their devotion and commitment ensured that the burning of your midnight candles was not in vain. I have regrettably with hindsight noted that man is an ingrate, always taking kindness for granted. On a more serious note, I exhort all of us to continue promoting Peace, Justice and Dialogue whenever we are assailed by conflict. Peace has no price. It is the most precious asset for each nation. Some of us promote conflict to make financial and political capital of it. I am sure you know some of the conflict mongers in the Region. Let us all learn from the Historic 2006 Green Tree Peace Accord between Cameroon and Nigeria, brokered by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Without dialogue and peace, tens of millions of Cameroonians and Nigerians would have already perished in a senseless war. President Paul Biya and former Nigerian President - Olusegun Obasanjo patriotically shelved their pride, ego and self-interest for the safety of their people and property. Wasn’t this a great feat for the good of Cameroon, Africa and the entire world to copy? An award was prepared to be given to these Statesmen during the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Cameroon Armed forces in Bamenda some four years ago but was shamelessly torpedoed by some evil forces of darkness of the Region. Yet, on the heels of what we currently are experiencing one might ask what the global church is doing about the killing and permanent maiming of God’s people all over the world. Is the church helpless in the face of this horrendous carnage and molestation of God’s people? You know the answer. I strongly urge the PCC to urgently take a firm stand against the terrorist gangs whose violent and devilish activities are destabilizing and destroying the peace of the world at large, Africa and Cameroon in particular. Continuous fervent prayers are equally recommended at this trying moment. Finally, away from Convocation proper, 2014 is another crucial year in the life of the PCC, as we are renewing leadership at all echelons. Our integrity is being put to test in the way we choose our leaders. A litmus test indeed. Nobody or group of persons should toy with the image of our Church - PCC. Let us pray that God should guide the Clergy and Laity to choose a Moderator, Synod Clerk and other leaders of our Church, who are spiritually-worthy and equipped to continue the excellent task being executed by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Festus Asana and his team. We do not deserve less. Make no mistake. I call on the entire PCC to be vigilant. There are already cases of widespread electioneering witnessing an unprecedented crescendo in the PCC. What used to be benign is now malignant. Despicable. Never in the life of the PCC - during elections - have we experienced such filthy blackmail, witch-hunting, vote-buying/selling, masquerade, disgusting influence peddling, threat of life, sugar-coated campaign sermons, media campaigns, image-cleansing, hypocrisy, make-believe, manipulations, inordinate, vaulting and unbridled quest for power, etc. - a charade indeed. I bet you if we allow riggers or the morally-compromised to get to power then all about the PCC will be rigged, the image sullied and we shall all be held responsible. God forbid. It has been said that if you do not stand for something you will fall for anything. Someone has also said that truth without love is brutality, love without truth is hypocrisy. The Governor of the North West Region; Distinguished ladies and gentlemen; Dear graduates; Thank you all for your big dose of patience and attention, as I pray our awesome Lord to bless and take us safely back to our various homes. SHALOM. Barrister Nico Halle International legal consultant

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