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ALL-ROUND LIFTING FOR FATHERS

(Being the Keynote Address delivered by Dr. Akintola, Benson Oke, FCArb, the Honourable Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions as the Guest Speaker at the 2017 Father’s Day Celebration by Dansol High School on Saturday, June 17, 2017)
PROTOCOL.
1. As we celebrate Father’s Day this year, I am glad to be in the midst of men who have been blessed with the joy of Fatherhood and who have confidently taken on the responsibilities associated with Fatherhood.
2. Let us therefore begin by saying thank you to the Almighty. In His wisdom and by His Grace, He has spared our lives to celebrate the 2017 Father’s Day. For the life, health, sustenance and the children that He has given us, we say thank you to God.
3. Today, I invite you all to reflect on the heavy burden of responsibilities that fathers are called to bear. I know that you all are familiar with these responsibilities. Yet, it serves us well to reflect on these things for the purpose of encouraging one another and for the purpose of examining our devotion to the sacred tasks committed into our hands by our Maker.
4. For fathers who acknowledge the existence and Lordship of God over all things, it is their primary and fundamental duty to teach their children the way of God. More importantly, it is their responsibility to teach by words and conduct that it is important to fear God. As a Commissioner for the Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions in Lagos State, I am aware of the enormous challenges facing the government and the society at every level of the society. Given my vantage position, I can confidently state that the lack of a strong commitment to Godly values and the lack of a clear moral compass are responsible for many of the ills in our society. I hope, most fervently, that all of us will resolve to re-commit ourselves to instilling Godly principles and values in our children.
5. The second most important responsibility of fathers is to provide for the upkeep of our children. Although our society is now drifting towards a situation where both the father and the mother are expected to bring income into the home, we all know that, at the end of the day, the ultimate responsibility lies with the Father.
6. I dare say that this is a duty we ought to embrace with joy and enthusiasm. We should not shy away from it. In fact, we should be proud that we have been found worthy of that trust. As we do this, however, it may help to also briefly reflect on the consequences of not discharging this trust. Appreciating the consequences of not discharging this trust will enable us to better appreciate the magnitude and importance of the trust given to us.
7. When fathers fail to provide, children become wayward as they become responsible for their own upkeep. When children become responsible for their own upkeep from a young age, they feel justified in their hearts to engage in any action without regard to morality, Godliness or societal norms. When young children become hardened in this manner, their rebellion begins a gradual, insidious atrophy of the fundamental social values that hold the society together. Finally, when these fundamental social values are destroyed, things literally fall apart, the centre fails to hold and the myriad of alarming occurrences confront us: terrorism, prostitution, abandonment of the aged, disregard for education, endemic corruption, and a vicious cycle of imbalances in the society.
8. In appreciation of the enormity of this responsibility, we need to encourage one another to keep at the daunting task of taking charge and of going beyond the call of duty in fulfilling the responsibilities of Fatherhood.
9. Now, I will be the first to admit that the times are hard. These are tough times for our nation. Money which has always been scarce, has now become figuratively unavailable and available money has dramatically lost value. Those who maintain children in European and American schools are lamenting and school fees in Nigeria have become astoundingly high. Add to all these, the ever rising cost of living and the seeming lack of effective response from our economic managers.
10. Should we throw our hands up in the air and give up? Should we, on the basis of tough times, abdicate our duties? Should we begin to take it out on our wives? Should we tell our young children to go fend for themselves? Should we abandon our love for God and His ways? Should we lose hope that things will turn out well? What shall we do?
11. What we shall do is not to give up. As we have all heard over and over again, tough times don’t last, but tough people do! James Sama wrote an article reflecting on this truth. He wrote:
“Lest we forget – the challenges persist. So, persist we must as well.
As we overcome each obstacle life brings our way, one day at time, we develop and grow with each victory. We learn new lessons both about the world and ourselves. We discover who our friends are, who loves us for who we really are, and who will be by our side as we walk the dark road to the bright lights – where many more, undoubtedly, will be waiting for us.
We develop the character to handle the success waiting to reward our perseverance. Character never developed by those who are handed or born into success. Character that gives us depth. Appreciation. A brighter perspective when we do make it, because we earned our position in the world.
We trudge through the cold winters of life armed with nothing but our backpack full of dreams that will burst open come springtime – if we can make it there. If we choose to lay down in the snow and give up all hope, that backpack will remain forever sealed and we will never know what it held.
To live a life of fulfillment and happiness, we must pledge to ourselves to continue digging deeper until the treasure is uncovered. Until we can let out a sigh of relief and reap what we have sowed.”
12. Indeed, there is a treasure load of wisdom in those words. How shall we discover the joys if we don’t endure the pains? Dear fathers, please do not give up.
13. In addition to not giving up, what else shall we do in difficult times such as these. In times like these, we must also re-commit to the importance of mentoring. We can never over-emphasise the value of mentoring in the society. Philosophers talk about the tabula rasa; the “idea that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that therefore all knowledge comes from experience or perception.” In the 7th century, the Persian philosopher Avicenna argued that the “…human intellect at birth resembled a tabula rasa, a pure potentiality that is actualized through education and comes to know,” and that knowledge is attained through “…empirical familiarity with objects in this world from which one abstracts universal concepts…”
14. In other words, the minds of our children and youths are impressionable such that parents, in particular, have a unique and valuable opportunity to positively impress these fertile minds with ideas for true values of integrity and true greatness. In reality however, what we have is the abdication by parents of this most sacred God-mandated duty. And, since nature abhors a vacuum, other competing and less noble ideas peddled on the Social Media and the streets gain firm roots in these minds and our societies become less cohesive, less honourable and less assured of a glorious future.
15. In an article titled, The Importance of Positive Role Models, the following germane observations were made:
“Many boys today do not know what it means to be a man because they don’t have a man in their lives. Sadly, children will go to bed tonight without saying goodnight to their father because he just isn’t there. These children live with a woman and more than likely, they are taught by a woman at school. Where do they see and interact with positive male role models? Or, if they are a boy, how do they learn what it means to be a man? Television? Movies? On the street? Even in homes where the father is present, research shows that the average father spends less than 10 minutes a day one-on-one with his child. In our society, emotional and spiritual fatherlessness is becoming the norm. Many of today’s fathers did not have positive role models to show them what it meant to be a father, so they are not there to show their children what it means to be a father.”
The writer then concluded that since every child needs someone who is absolutely crazy about him or her. The father of the home should be that person.
16. Let me admit that many of us are guilty of the phenomenon described in that article. Yet, in the midst of the challenges of our work, we must strive to achieve a balance and the balance must tilt to the side of the interest of our families while not abandoning the responsibility to provide for their upkeep.
17. It is my sincere hope that this address will leave you with two important lessons: (a) the need to resolve to never give up on facing the economic challenges of fatherhood; and (b) the need to resolve to be role models to our children. As I conclude, permit me to challenge you to envision a bright future that is available to our society and families if all of us as fathers resolve to never give up.
18. Dr. Robert Schuller, the author of the classic book, Tough Times Don’t Last, has a number of profound quotes that will stand us in good stead as we trudge on in the challenge of fatherhood:
a. “Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”
b. “Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.”
c. “Let your imagination release your imprisoned possibilities.”
d. “I’d rather attempt to do something and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.”
e. “Goals are not only absolutely necessary to motivate us. They are essential to really keep us alive.”
f. “Yes, you can be a dreamer and a doer too, if you will remove one word from your vocabulary : impossible.”
g. “Always look at what you have left. Never look at what you have lost.”
h. “Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.”
i. “The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking.”
j. “Build a dream and the dream will build you.”
k. “Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”
l. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to make difference between them.”
m. “Tough times never last. Tough people do.”
19. Once again, it is my great pleasure to attend this Father’s Day celebration. I am delighted that Dansol High School has been holding these celebrations for quite a while. This is an initiative that should be warmly commended and encouraged.
20. I wish all of you the blessings of Fatherhood and the Grace to witness the accomplishments of your children. I assure you that if we live by the principles of wisdom and if we fully depend on God, all-round lifting awaits us even after the storm of the present economic challenges.
21. Happy Father’s Day. Thank you for your attention. God bless.
Dr. Akintola, Benson Oke, FCArb
(The Honourable Commissioner, Lagos State
Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions.)
Saturday, June 17, 2017

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