… Donates N1 million, Solar power generator
… Establishes Ben Kalu N100,000 annual cash prize for best performing student
… To establish Legislative Research Institute
By Emeh James Anyalekwa, Ogochukwu Isioma
CALABAR — Member representing Bende Federal Constituency at the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, was on Friday, conferred with an Award of Excellence by the prestigious University of Calabar, Cross River State.
Ben Kalu, Esq., a 1998 law graduate of the university, was honoured with the “Distinguished Alumnus Award” of the UNICAL faculty of law.
The event which held at the Venetian Mall, Calabar, attracted several dignitaries including the Vice Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Prof. Enefiok Essien, who was chairman of the occasion.
Also in attendance were the Dean of UNICAL faculty of law, Prof. Michael Okom, staff of the faculty and members of the Law Students’ Society.
Speaking at the event, Hon. Benjamin Kalu said he was happy to be back to the institution after 21 years, while thanking the faculty for finding him worthy of being decorated.
He thereafter announced the donation of N1 million, of which a cheque was issued immediately.
Hon. Ben Kalu also announced an annual N100,000 cash prize for best performing student of Constitutional Law, Jurisprudence and Evidence tagged: “‘Hon Benjamin Okezie Kalu Scholar Prize”.
According to him, “this prize will be given at the annual event of the faculty, towards the end of every year.”
The lawmaker also pledged to donate a solar generator to the faculty, with a promise to sponsor the establishment of a Legislative Research Institute, which will engage both lecturers and students in the act of drafting “well researched” bills for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
This, according to him, will be funded by his office in partnership with other international agencies.
Recalling the role he played in the Sudan/Dafor crisis, working with the United Nations in 2003, Hon. Benjamin Kalu said his passion for people made him what he is today.
While dedicating the Award to the UNICAL law class ‘98, the Abia State born politician ascribed his successes to Almighty God and lecturers in the faculty of law.
“This recognition would not have been possible if these lecturers failed to form my character, while I was here (as a student)”, he said.
Our correspondent who covered the event, reports that Kalu stole the show as he was the center of attraction throughout the event. He was given a standing ovation after his speech, while the crowd cheered loudly.
The lawmaker was accompanied by his colleague at the House of Representatives, Hon. Kabir Tukura representing Zuru/Fakai/Sakaba/D/Wasagu Federal Constituency, who donated the sum of N200,000.
Also with him was Chief Ikenna Ariwodo, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and CEO of Japan based Allied, NIHON Ltd.
Earlier on Friday, Benjamin Kalu hosted the UNICAL faculty of law to a lunch at the Transcorp hotel, Calabar.
At the dinner were the then students of class ‘98, the Dean of the faculty of Law and lecturers in the faculty.
The luncheon held ahead of the Award conferment on the distinguished lawmaker and founder of Silk Partners LLP, a modern and dynamic law firm located at the heart of Lagos State, Nigeria.
BEN KALU’s “THANK YOU” SPEECH:
“It is such a delight to be back within the four walls of this great institution after 21 years. I am indeed humbled by the recognition from my faculty, especially the Dean of Law, Professor Michael Okom and the Law Students Association. I would specifically like to thank the lecturers who taught me during my time here.
This recognition today would not have been possible were if these lecturers failed to form my character while here. I am particularly thrilled to be accompanied by my old friends, the UNICAL Faculty of Law Class of ’98 who have joined me in solidarity.
This award belongs to the Class of ’98, AKA The Golden Ones.
In 1992/93, like many of you here today, I came to the law faculty of our great institution with hopes of a better life and in pursuit of a bright future for myself and my family.
As a starry-eyed teenager anxious about my future, I was determined to apply myself to study our statutes, the common law and equity, the principles of law, the philosophies and the application of logic. I was determined to be successful; to be the best legal practitioner Nigeria had ever seen. So, like a lot of the students here, I bent my head most nights and pored through text, lecture notes and handouts. Like the Bible commanded, I studied to show myself approved. This was my recipe for success – or so I thought.
But you see, something was missing – the People Element.
Popular consensus in the definition of law acknowledge that law exists to serve the people. So I find it quite interesting how oftentimes we conveniently reduce the whole concept of law to a mere series of sections, sub sections, principles and procedures to be internalized and regurgitated in exams and practice; how easy it is for us to recognize the text of the law, but forget the faces of THE PEOPLE who the law serve.
William Godwin said, “Law is made for man and not man for the law.”
Which means, man does not serve the law, the law serves man. I therefore thought to myself; if the law exists to serve the People, then People must be very important. It means that People are at the centre of everything. This epiphany led me to concede that all of the work I was putting in was nearly meaningless until my knowledge, talents and abilities were utilized for the development of other people.
This understanding began to redefine what success meant to me. It sparked a passion for the people in me and that was when my life took off. At the age of 23, I became a student representative of this University. My passion for the people also led me to work for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Australia, where I led a team to assist in the Sudan/Dafor crisis.
And when I returned to Nigeria in 2003, my desire to serve set me up to become the youngest Local Government Chairman of the oldest and largest undivided Local government area in Nigeria at age 31, Senior Special Adviser on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, as well as the Senior Special Adviser to the Executive Governor of Abia State on Millennium Development Goals and International Relations at age 35.
Today, this passion for the people has led me into the hallowed chambers of the House of Representatives, where I now make laws and represent my Constituency, the culmination of the extension of goodwill from the Benjamin Kalu Foundation for 17 years.
Looking back at the journey so far; from my days as an audacious malabite studying law in this university, to establishing Silk Partners LLP, a thriving law firm in Lekki, Lagos, and further up to my current position as a lawmaker in the National Assembly, I realise that all of the things which may be considered my greatest achievements to date have been as a result of my passion for THE PEOPLE.
The young scholars of this esteemed faculty of law are part of the People dear to my heart. Therefore, I am happy to announce the commencement of the annual Hon. Benjamin Okezle Kalu Prize for the best performing students in Constitutional Law, Jurisprudence and Evidence. This prize will be given at the annual homecoming event of the faculty.
In addition, the Dean of the faculty, Prof. Michael Okom had requested for a solar energy generator to power the classrooms allocated to law students for the provision of light and a more conducive atmosphere during lectures and exams. I wish to state that on behalf of my class ‘98, I will provide this.
I have also decided to sponsor the establishment of the Benjamin Kalu Legislative Institute to partner with the Faculty of Law, University of Calabar for legislative related research work, which will engage both lecturers and students in the act of drafting well researched bills for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This will be funded by my office in partnership with other international agencies.
As I look around this room today, I see the faces of ambitious and courageous young men and women eager to take on the world. I also know that not everyone here today will have a career as a lawyer. Some, like me, will find themselves drawn to the wodd of politics or business. Others will devote themselves to education, or philanthropy, or the arts. The possibilities are endless. But the education you are acquiring here today will help you excel in any field and at ANY profession.
As rightly expressed by Oliver Wendell Holmes “In what other profession does one plunge so deep into the stream of life, to shore in its passions, its bottles, its despair and its triumphs?”
That is the beauty of law and I encourage you to take it seriously.
You may not realize it yet, but by the time you graduate here you would have acquired the necessary skillset to change the world. The world is in need of more people like you. So, I encourage you to walk through life with a sense of wonder. Be sensitive to the pain of others, when you find yourself in a position to lead, serve with love.
Whatever path you decide to toe in life, let PEOPLE be at the centre of your endeavours for therein lies true success.
I am for the people, I believe in the people and so should you.
Thank you and God bless you.”