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Grooming Budding Entrepreneurs

By Dr (Mrs) Uduakobong Samuel Inam


It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to stand before you this day and deliver a keynote speech on the occasion of the first-ever homecoming assembly of the 1967–2022 alumnae of Immaculate Conception Secondary School, Itak. The grand reunion of alumnae anywhere in the world is usually a very special occasion. Despite coming with lots of surprises, thrills, and excitement, it signifies a continuous effort to build a strong and connected network of people united by shared educational backgrounds and principles. This not only portends great benefits for the alma mater but also helps in repositioning the alumnae for global relevance in the world of work and responsibilities. In the words of Tushar Agarwal “An institution’s alumni are a reflection of its past, a representation of its present, and a link to its future”.


Today, our alumnae reunion, tagged “Homecoming 2023,” offers us a rare opportunity to relive the past, rekindle old friendships, and strengthen the cords that bind us for our common good. It equally provides us with a perfect atmosphere to celebrate our pains, gains, and triumphs while honouring the memories of our principals, teachers, classmates, and schoolmates who have gone to the great beyond. Therefore, it is with great pleasure and an overwhelming sense of nostalgia that I’ll be reminiscing about the good old days we spent at our beloved alma mater and also sharing a few thoughts with you on the topic ‘Grooming budding entrepreneurs’.

  1. Return, Reunite and Reflect: A Celebration of our Alma Mater!

The theme for Homecoming 2023 (which is “Return, Reunite, and Reflect”) is apt as it reflects the very essence of homecoming.  However, permit me to add that it is an event that calls for a great celebration and a deep show of gratitude. A celebration of our alma mater, Immaculate Conception Secondary School (ICSS), Itak, founded by the Catholic Mission in January 1967 with an initial student intake of 57 and 3 teachers, closed down after 7 months due to outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War, ICSS Itak has featured prominently in the education sector for the past 56 years.


Fortunate to be consistently managed by competent leadership, our alma mater has maintained an enviable history of academic excellence and a robust catalogue of remarkable state national and international awards in the sciences, music, sports, quiz and essay competitions, to mention but a few. Little wonder its products, the alumnae, have become notable for a plethora of successes in diverse spheres of life all over the world. They have continued to boldly trot the globe undaunted, breaking glass ceilings and leaving on the sands of time a blazing trail of impressive achievements. Indeed, we, the alumnae, are the very embodiments of the totality of the values and principles of our alma mater.


  1. Gratitude! Gratitude! Gratitude!

So, it is with a thankful heart we return today to pay homage to the foremost cradle of our formative years and to eulogize the inspiring ideals of our alma mater. We are grateful to God for the gift of life and the opportunity granted us to return and express our heartfelt gratitude. We are grateful to all the past Principals which include: Rev. Sis Maria Immaculate Offiong; the pioneer Principal (it is pertinent to note that the Catholic Mission named the school after her); Rev. Sis Sylvia Edet, Rev. Sis Juliana Ekerete; Rev. Sis Elizabeth Offiong; Mrs R. M. Geo-Jaja (of blessed memory); Mrs Mary Uwah (of blessed memory); Mrs Christy Inyang (of blessed memory); Lady Brigid Asuquo; Mrs Scholastica Effiong Ekpenyong; and Mrs Imaobong Iyamba (the current Principal).

Dr (Mrs) Uduakobong Samuel Inam and old students of the Immaculate Conception Secondary School Itak.

We are also grateful to all our teachers, past and present, for their inspirational efforts towards us. We are equally grateful to other members of the school management team, past and present (such as the Vice Principals, Compound masters, House Masters and Mistresses, the accountant, the librarian, the matron, utility officers, etc. We are grateful to all our classmates and schoolmates for their companionship and friendship which saw us through the regimented life we found ourselves at the time.

Read Also: ARISE Agenda Will Accelerate A’Ibom Development – Eteidung Edem

At this point, I crave your indulgence to recognise and salute with pride a proudly saluted special crop of alumnae, the 1993 set of ICSS Itak! An interesting assemblage of very intelligent, tirelessly hardworking, highly resourceful and successful women in their own right. A group of pathfinders and trailblazers—this is the constituency I’ve found myself! A fascinating mix of girls-turned-women who individually and collectively possess various capabilities, the 1993 set of ICSS Itak has surprisingly maintained a contagious sense of humour over time. I commend these exceptional women for the supportive roles they’ve played in the lives of each other and without any reservations I publicly recommend their model of alumnae association as worthy of emulation by other sister associations.


  1. Special Tribute to Mrs R. M Geo-Jaja (of blessed memory)

Permit me still to pay special tribute to our principal, Mrs. R.M. Geo-Jaja (of blessed memory), who patiently nurtured, mentored, taught, advised, and chastised us with so much tenacity, consistency, and precision that left us in awe of a woman with extraordinary strength (for her age at the time) and an unprecedented measure of firmness in an African enclave. She laboured so hard in this ‘vineyard’ while she was here, and we are living proofs of her doggedness, astuteness, and strength of leadership. One of her popular options for reprimanding us whenever we erred was her tireless attempts to constantly draw comparisons between us and the leading women in the world at the time in the undying hope that we’d someday metamorphose into the latter.


When she took a walk in the school compound whilst we had our night prep, her frequent cries of “Urgh-urgh! Girls you need to study, times are hard, times are hard” rent the air and fill us with fear and wonder. Some of us never really understood the true meaning of the expression “times are hard, times are hard” until we left the regimented life in secondary school and realized that freedom has a price! To be truly free and liberated women, you must be willing to work hard! How time flies! Today, we return as women to eulogize this amazon, our ‘Princi’ (as she was fondly called) and to celebrate our achievements in diverse spheres of life as well as our numerous contributions towards the advancement of the society we live and work.


  1. Women, Global Development and the A.R.I.S.E Agenda

It is pertinent to note that women play a fundamental role in nation-building. According to the United Nations 2030 Global Agenda for Development, development is in the ‘’last decade of action’’ to achieve the seventeen (17) interconnected Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals collectively represent a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. The delineation of SDG 5 (to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) as well as SDG 8 (to promote sustained, inclusive, and economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all) accentuates the importance of women in global development and brings to the fore the need to continuously develop them for productive employment in the world of work.


Similarly, the ARISE Agenda of the current administration of His Excellency, Governor Umo Eno in Akwa Ibom State, prioritises women’s empowerment as well as entrepreneurial development. A time-tested tool for developing women is entrepreneurship! Grooming budding entrepreneurs is tantamount to achieving SDG 5 and SDG 8 and is equally one of the preliminary steps to achieving the eight lofty goals of Governor Umo Eno’s Blueprint for Economic Consolidation and Expansion.


  1. Grooming Budding Entrepreneurs

The hallmark of entrepreneurship is the ability to create new and useful ideas that solve the problems of people and society. The ability to apply creativity and innovation to solving problems people face every day and exploiting opportunities in our society collectively represent the entrepreneurial code for creating value and maintaining a competitive edge in the marketplace. Creativity and innovation are all-time imperatives for the survival of entrepreneurs in the marketplace.  These tenets entail the optimal functioning of the human mind and the systematic unlocking of the potential inherent in human beings. Therefore, the starting point for grooming women as entrepreneurs is a disruptive mind shift or a complete mind reset!


To develop as an entrepreneur, you must constantly engage in creative thinking and be willing to be consistently innovative. Creativity is the ability to develop new ideas and discover new ways of looking at problems and opportunities, while innovation is the ability to apply creative solutions to those problems and opportunities to enhance or enrich people’s lives (Scarborough, 2013). Rather than relying on what has worked in the past, budding and experienced entrepreneurs must be willing to be prolific thinkers to generate new ideas. They should view problems as opportunities for discovering new ideas and be willing to put failure in the right perspective as an undeniable step in the creative process and an essential part of successful living.


Budding entrepreneurs should be observant of product and market trends. They should avail themselves of the luxury of being creative by reading widely to daily spur their imagination and stimulate creativity. They must equally recognise the creative power of mistakes in the process of generating innovative solutions. Most importantly, they should document their ideas and thoughts in a diary, jotter, or journal. Indeed, the entrepreneurial journey entails a whole lot! It includes subjecting a developed idea to a feasibility analysis and drafting a solid business plan for an idea that has successfully scaled through the feasibility analysis. It includes sourcing funds, launching and managing the business, and maintaining accounting records of all business transactions. Most importantly, it places a demand for modernised and cutting-edge skills in human and material resource management, communications, and marketing.


Despite the aforementioned demands of entrepreneurship, it entails a host of benefits, including the opportunity to make a difference by solving the problems of individuals and society, as well as the opportunity to create your own destiny by doing what you’re passionate about, exploring your potential, reaping profits, and being financially free, stable, and secured. However, it is pertinent to emphasise that, in their quest for impressive profits, integrity in all dealings should be the watchword of entrepreneurs. Indeed, the pursuit of excellence in product design and service delivery must be a major career objective for all budding entrepreneurs.


  1. *Conclusion*

My profound gratitude goes to the organisers of this event for inviting me. I congratulate the outgoing president and executive officers, the chairman and members of the planning committee, as well as the entire alumnae of ICSS Itak, both physically and virtually. To the current students of our alma mater, we urge you to study hard, for, in the very words of our ‘Princi’, “times are hard!”. You may never understand this phrase as we never did, but soon time will tell, and someday you’ll realise that hard work pays.


To the current principal, school management, and teachers, please maintain the standard and keep the flag flying. To the alumnae of ICSS Itak, keep the faith and continue to blaze the trail. To the incoming executives of our international alumnae association, may God grant you the grace to pilot the affairs of this great association, and may this ship not drown during your tenure. To my constituency, the 1993 set of alumnae, may your light continue to shine. See you all permanently at the top!


Thank you for your attention!

God bless us all!


…Being A Keynote Speech by Dr Uduakobong Samuel Inam, FCA, FCTI, FMNE, the Economic Adviser to the Governor, Akwa Ibom State Government, at the 2023 Homecoming of the Immaculate Conception Secondary School (ICSS) Itak alumnae tagged: “Homecoming 2023” with the theme: “Return, Reunite and Reflect” on Friday, October 20, 2023, at The School Compound, ICSS, Itak, Ikono Akwa Ibom State

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