Thursday 17 November 2016


The Executive Governor of Abia State, The Vice Chancellor of ABSU, The Provost of college of medicine and health sciences, The Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, The Head of Department of Nursing Sciences, The Parents/Guardians of the inductees, The inductees, Other distinguished dignitaries, Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of the University Graduates of Nursing Science Association (UGONSA) I congratulate the newly graduating sets of the Department of Nursing Science, ABSU. I count it an honour and a privilege to speak to you on this epoch-making event of your 3rd induction/Swearing-in ceremony. Being here on behalf of UGONSA, I wish to make a little remark on the Association before proceeding to the main elements of my speech.

UGONSA is an association of fully qualified nurses with at least first degree in nursing science, registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) under companies and allied matters Act no 1 1990 part C. The association was formerly known as Graduate Nurses Association of Nigeria (GNAN) since the year 1985 when it was formed, until the sixteenth day of May 2014 when it was officially incorporated by the CAC as UGONSA. In a summarized brief, the history, philosophy, aims and objectives, vision and mission of UGONSA are as follow:

HISTORYThe association was formed in the year 1985 in Benin City, old Bendel State i.e. present Edo State, to give graduate nurses a voice and a platform to champion positive changes and reforms in the nursing profession with the mission to promote and continuously enhance qualitative client care. Since then the following persons have served as the National President:

Arch Bishop A.O. Obarisagbon                      1985 to 1988 (Pioneer President)

  Lady Uhiara U, L                                          1988 to 1991

Nur. Segun Bankole                                        1991 to 2002

Nur Bashiru Akande                                        2002 to 2011

Chief (Hon.) Solomon E.O. Egwuenu             2011 till date

UGONSA believes that nursing is a unique, full-fledged and autonomous profession, having its foundation in knowledge and understanding of the nature of man and being driven by the passion to give the best of care to humanity.

Kindly permit me to abridge the aims and objectives of the association as follows:

a.       To uphold the principle of good nursing ethics.

b.      To co-operate with all Nursing and Medical Professional organizations in promoting the ideals of nursing and welfare of nurses.

c.       To advance the professional standard and intellectual growth and development of nurses in Nigeria through continuing professional education and research in the field of nursing.

To enthrone a unified baccalaureate nursing education, as the baseline for practice, which would foster harmonization of schemes of service for nurses and enhance upgrade of post-basic programmes to post-graduate status with compulsory internship training for comprehensive and qualitative clinical expertise.

To re-instill the virtues of nightingale in Nigerian Nurses, such that the patient’s interest shall take pre-eminence at all times and in all situations.

This mission of UGONSA, which I rather refer to as “Nightingalism” is central among the professional virtues UGONSA would like you, the inductees, to imbibe and display perpetually throughout your professional lives. The public image and respectability of the profession is a function of the quality and impact of the services we render to the people. The people have generously entrusted their lives in confidence unto our care and we have a strong duty to reciprocate this gesture by diligently performing the task of health promotion, illness prevention, health restoration and alleviation of suffering, which we unreservedly owe them, efficiently and effectively at all times and in all situations.

Expectations are very high of you without recourse to the fact that you are fresh graduates, who are newcomers to the profession, because of the University route you took to become nurses. By mere learning that you are a graduate nurse people, including other members of the healthcare team would consider you a super nurse. But the fact remains that there is no reason to consider fresh graduates of nursing science, like you, super nurses than to consider fresh graduates of medicine (i.e. House Officers) super Doctors. Notwithstanding this, you must be guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella about four hundred years ago, when he admonished that we should realize we are a city upon a hill—where the eyes of all people are upon. Therefore, no matter the circumstance or the environment you may found yourself in the future always remember that you are the graduate nurse whom the eyes of people are upon.

Good enough, the implementation of our age-long struggle for internship training for the fresh graduates of nursing science that paid off this year shall certainly commence next year and by that you shall be afforded the opportunity of  blending your theoretical know-how with comprehensive clinical and technical know-how  for superlative performance.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to align myself today with the English-American poet, W. H. Auden, to urge that man's only true vocation is the realization of himself or herself. Self-realization is guided by an inner light, or what Auden called a "state of subjective requiredness," and which he described as a kind of inner passion that drives a person to pursue his or her chosen course in life.
 I find this a nice thing to say to young people who are graduating from a good school, like yours, and are preparing to go forth to make their marks in the world. Certainly it is true that a good steersman needs to have a firm sense of where they want to go in life if they are to have any chance of actually getting there. And it is also true that one needs a certain amount of determination, the inner passion Auden speaks of, to meet and surmount the various obstacles and setbacks that are likely to be encountered on life’s journey. But I belief, like Morton Winston, that these requirements, although necessary, are not sufficient. There are several other things that you must bear in mind.

Number one is that you should always bear in mind that your hand is not the only hand on the tiller.There are lots of other boats in the water, and there are fellow passengers in the same boat of Nursing Science you have boarded. Despite the value we place on personal autonomy, for most of us most of the time, we are not the sole masters of our fates, and our ability to achieve our own life goals depends to a large extent on what others around us are doing or not doing. We live in networks of social relationships and as nurses, we work for the most part in a health system whose success requires the coordination of the activity of many other individuals from diverse professions. There will be cases in which you will want to pull the tiller to the left while others are trying to pull it to the right. On these occasions your powers of critical reasoning and persuasion as well as your skill in navigating interpersonal relations will bring you salvation.
 There may also be cases in which you cannot reconcile your own values and convictions with that of those around you. In such cases always remember who you are- “the son or daughter of nightingale”, who must do every possible best for the sake of the patient. But for the most part you will need to have courage of your convictions, and you must be passionate about advocating those values and beliefs that are most important for clients’ care and well being. In doing this, you must be firm, tolerant, assertive, hardworking, altruistic and adaptable to wide range of circumstance in accordance with George Bernard Shaw’s famous cliché that reasonable men adapts themselves to the world while the unreasonable ones insists in trying to adapt the world to themselves. Therefore, let it dwell permanently in your head that UGONSA asserted, on this day, that you are a major determinant of your destiny because your progress in life largely depends upon how reasonable you are.

The second thing to keep in mind is that we are global citizens in a world that has changed dramatically since the start of this century and which will continue to be changing quickly.
The WHO observed that changing trend in health and illness has given the world a number of “firsts” in this millennium. For example, for the first time in history, the population of people aged 60 years and older outnumbers the population of children under the age of five. In other words, being in the older age group has become the “new normal” in the world’s demographic profile.

For the first time in history also, chronic non-communicable diseases have overtaken infectious diseases as the leading cause of mortality worldwide. The burden of these diseases, long associated with affluent societies, has changed places. Today, 80% of premature mortality caused by heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung disease is concentrated in low- and middle-income countries, which have the least capacity to cope. Drug-resistant bacteria and virus easily cross borders. Pollution is trans-national. Climate change is universal. The advertising of unhealthy products is beamed across borders by satellite. Social media propagate rumours like they were facts, clouding medical advice and sometimes undermining health policies. These rapidly evolving changes coupled with increasing complexities of clients’ need means that our generation has more challenges to contend with than any other previous generation.
The implications of this shift, in terms of the demands and costs of health care, are immense but can definitely be resolved by your wisdom in thinking out cost-effective and care-effective strategies at any given time. The better part of the wisdom which you need to steer life’s journey involves knowing how to respond to the rapidly changing seas of modern life.  As said by Morton Winston one needs to cultivate the ability to accept and even embrace change, partly because change is inevitable, but also partly because it often provides opportunities that you can use to advance your goals. In order words, rather than resisting change or being intimidated by it, you need to learn how to adapt to it, how use it, and how to surf and manipulate its restless waves.

The third thing is to avoid getting too wedded to your analogies and abstractions and never contemplate trying to understand the world by means of a single ideology or theory.No matter how detailed the books you read or instructions you received in the university may be, it is certainly not the same as the reality especially in the healthcare settings, which are always more complex and surprising than you think. You must therefore have an open mind to learn new things. Everything does not start with and end with nursing. The world is far more complex than the nursing you have been educated on and you are now being sent forth to confront this complex world from your narrowed nursing point. Because learning is a lifelong process you must be prepared to explore other territories on your own. Don’t pay too much attention to disciplinary boundaries but instead pursue your intellectual interests wherever they lead. Nobody, for example, taught you politics 101 or financial management 101 in the nursing but politics and finance are inevitable aspects of our lives. You must therefore be broad minded as you confront the world. In his book, Tolstoy Isaiah Berlin described two kinds of intellectual styles: the fox, who knows many things, and the hedgehog, who knows one big thing.  I urge you my younger brethren to be like the fox and allow yourself to roam. Don’t be like the hedgehog!

The fourth thing to remember is that success in life is measured not by what you gain from society, but by what you give back.
We have been conditioned in this country to think that success is defined by personal wealth, status, power, or fame. But that is fallacious. UGONSA believes the ultimate measure of a man’s value is the value he has given to other people. If you don’t stick to the passion of delivering values to other people as your guiding stars especially in the healthcare system you are likely to lose your way. It is better to focus on expanding your capacity to serve others and on finding ways to contribute to the betterment of the society. That is why I say today same thing the philosopher, Socrates, said to his young protégées in the olden days to you my dear young graduates that “There is no higher purpose than service to others.” This will seem paradoxical to many of you now, but I believe that if you follow this advice you will find your journey through life more personally satisfying and rewarding.

So as you prepare to leave Abia State University and embark on your life’s journey, I nay to say - think of how to make the best out of yourself, think of how to make the best out of nursing, think of how to make the best out of Nigeria and above all think of how to make the best out of humanity. Never you conceive ABSU as the place where you became the person that you will be for the rest of your lives, because in a short time you will be a different person than you are now and also the world will be a different place than it is now and for you to be among those that shall sing the last success song, you must grow, develop and become more sophisticated to conquer this sophisticated world.

With utmost sense of honour, I am humbled to officially enlist and induct you all as bonafide members of our prestigious Professional Association, the University Graduates of Nursing Science Association (UGONSA). From today onward, your status has changed from associate to full membership of the prestigious UGONSA. It is an enviable achievement to be proud of. Please kindly accept our congratulations once more for this uncommon feat.

UGONSA------make a positive change! Make a Positive Change—UGONSA!!

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