The Nigerian Army has called on old students of Command Secondary Schools in the country to contribute towards the development of their alma maters.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, who made the appeal at the grand reunion of the Command Secondary School Jos Old Students' Association (COJOSA), stated that the current security challenge in the country has affected other activities of the military, including human capital and infrastructural development.
Buratai, who was represented by the General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Major General Enebong Udoh said, "the past decade has confronted us with a myriad of security challenges. Combating these security challenges and attending to other pressing problems come with huge budgetary demands which cannot be satisfied owing to other equally important competing sectors of our nation's economy.
"It is in the light of this that the Nigerian Army welcomes initiatives that could generate revenue to undertake some pressing financial obligations."
While commending COJOSA for the initiatives put in place to better the school and the students, he said he stated some interventions in Command Secondary School Kaduna and Lagos and soon similar interventions would be undertaken in those of Jos and Ibadan.
Buratai also applauded the association's decision to give a post-humus award to one of its own, late Lt. Col Abu Ali, who he described as a hero per excellence who paid the supreme price in 2016 while fighting for the country during the ongoing Counter Insurgency Operations in the north east.
In his remarks, the President of the association, Mr. Ademola Kasumu, stated that six months into his administration as president, he has made significant progress on all his three pronged pledge of "development of our alma mater; welfare of our members; and branding."
He stated that he has commissioned emissaries on physical visits to the school and the outcome showed that the school is in bad shape and in dire need of urgent attention.
To kick-start any developmental activities and to ensure coordination of efforts to restore the glory of the school, he said again commissioned a professional assessment of the degree of damages of infrastructure in the school "led by one of us who is a professional. Of course his report was similar to that of the first team who visited, except that this time it came with specifications of the work to be done."
Kasumu said henceforth the association will no longer encourage uncoordinated developmental give backs by sets and chapters, which in the past had led to duplication of efforts and the focus of attention on one area of challenge to the school to the detriment of other urgent needs.
He said every set and chapter willing to carry out any project in the school will now be required to pick from the items in the document produced by his administration, except where due consultations with the national executive will lead to other special projects.
In terms of welfare and development of members, he said: "There is no way we can develop our alma mater sufficiently or significantly without first or simultaneously addressing the welfare of our dear members."
The association unveiled the COJOSA Business Ventures, a household items manufacturing and distribution arm of COJOSA; the refurbished COJOSA website and portal; the COJOSA Business Directory; and COJOSA Insurance Package as part of efforts to improve members' welfare.
In his keynote address titled 'The Role of Alumni in the Development of the Nigerian Economy', the Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Dr. Olukayode Pitan, said the role of alumni in the development of the country could be achieved from two focal points- investing in human capital and investing in entrepreneurship.
Pitan, who was represented by Mr. Sunday Afolami, described education as a fundamental enabler of economic development, saying "imagine the possibilities that can be achieved from just investing in the education system. You never know if you are creating a pathway for the next Aliko Dangote or Femi Otedola."
In terms of investing in entrepreneurship, he commended the association for delving into manufacturing, which he described as one of the key sectors and drivers of the economy. He reiterated the bank's support for the manufacturing sector in line with its mission to transform the industrial sector in Nigeria.