SSS 3, Christ’s School, I was a truant, or I should rather say I selected the classes I attended, only the core subjects classes.
I had already chosen what I wanted to become, so going to those classes that weren’t relevant looked stressful and it was like a waste of time, and as at that time, we felt like we were on top of the world, we were not subjected to anybody’s opinion, we ruled like kings, but I had this comfort of mastery in those core subjects, so I was hot, a hot truant, I could talk about “The Tempest” at any point in time, or teach you ‘The Pre Colonial Rule’, off-hand.
The school advised us to take all exams we could afford at that time, after they had sponsored our WASSCE, so I took NECO and JAMB.
Like everyone else, I wanted to go to the best of schools, I was targeting OAU, she had her fame all over our heads then, and I was very interested in Political Science, every one was saying I should go for Law but, it never striked a chord in my head to ever study Law, so I wanted to be a smart Political Scientist.
The best student in the class then, Oyindamola Chima Olajide, also had the same notion, so, we did have a common goal.
We had this book where we wrote our findings on the course, and we were so motivated about studying Political Science in OAU.
JAMB was during our WAEC, infact, I think it was a day after our English Language paper, I was preparing for both simultaneously, the day came, and I attempted the exam with all attack I had, it was the time of Paper and Pencil Test, it was different from other exams I had done before that time, thankfully, I had over 200, so I was gathering new arms and ammunition supplies for another war, the Post JAMB.
I took the form to study Political Science in OAU, also to study Mass Communications in AAUA, I went to Ife, did the exam.
Sadly, I had 198, and the cut of was supposedly 200, so people told me to forget my OAU dream, I turned to Akungba, I wrote my exam and I had 50% and the cut off was 40%, so I had the hope that I had been admitted, I was expectant like a nine month old pregnant woman, and jumped the edge of my seat to check the first list when I heard that it had been released, my name wasn’t there, I retained hope as I was waiting for the supplementary list.
One evening, my Dad listened to the radio jingle of University of Nigeria, Nsukka in programme affiliation with College of Education, Ikere, and he suggested that I take the form, I rejected outrightly.
Like, what’s that? Part of the end primary school was in Ikere, early secondary school Ikere, now tertiary, Ikere too? “No!!! I won’t do that.”
He didn’t argue with me, he just said, “okay”.
Few weeks after, he called me and told me it’s rare to have over 200 in Jamb at first attempt, and he told me about how unserious I was, he advised me to utilize the score now and still try the UNN, I reluctantly accepted because the supplementary list of AAUA had been released and yours and truly didn’t get the admission even after beating the cut off by 10%.
So, I settled for the school, men!!!
It was a kind of school that had this communal society, the kind of school that lecturers would get mad at students for not greeting them as they both were going on their respective routes, a kind of school where a lecturer would rather send you out of his class than you attend his class with a trouser as a lady, so many wowing things happened in the school, I was coming from Christ’s School, Ado Ekiti, so, I had the big school mentality, I just started settling in to the communal system of the University.
I told one of my friends that time, that I had secured admission, she asked which school and I said University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ikere Campus and she hissed and said “and you said you have got admission.”
She told me she’d never attend that kind of school in her life, about three friends told me that.
I have always not been the front seat student, so I found myself to be the back seat or at best, middle seat crew.
So, I was just there, enduring and trying to flow with the flow, by second semester my body and soul was already in the school and I had made friends at that time, so, I stopped complaining, and I started enjoying the whole thing, it was so long and tiring, I was having the image of the activities I had in the few days I spent in OAU when I went for my Post JAMB.
At the end I graduated with a strong Second Class Honours, Lower Division.
I realised that many of the students that attended or graduated from the school settled for the place as a last chance, so, they always do not want to identify with the school, whenever there’s a talk, they say, University of Nigeria, Nsukka and they’d stop there.
Fast forward, NYSC camp, if was the tradition, all my friends that we finished from the same school were saying Nsukka, Nsukka, me, I was just there, whenever anyone asked me, I’d say University of Nigeria, Nsukka, but if you ask further like, “Wow, how come, you are Yoruba? ” or any other related question, I’d just tell them the truth that’s it’s in programme affiliation with a College of Education in my state, I was not comfortable with the lie of saying I went to Nsukka, main campus. I have never been there.
I got to my PPA, Ministry of Youths and Sports,
it was like a reality show, you people should come and see accent in my PPA, when the Director of Admin, Mr. Yomi Bajela and Supplies (now a Permanent Secretary) met us and asked our details, with all sense of self respect and pride, I said University of Nigeria, Nsukka, he asked the same question others would ask, and I said it was in programme affiliation with College of Education, Ikere Ekiti, and whenever there was a need for an introduction, I’d say what I had to say.
I use(d) my normal accent, because I didn’t have the accent in my volition, we’re all bound to have that dialect, obviously because of background and growing up, the best I could do was to personally develop myself to be better, which I did, and still do, but the last thing I’d do is to try and speak like Boris Johnson.
I was just there, as simple as I could be, I made friends with those I could, especially those in my movies collection network, I supplied them with movies and they did too, also, I’d sit beside my very good friend, Gabriel B Ogunlolu and I’d try to understand what he was doing always on the system, writing codes, programming and stuffs.
A new Permanent Secretary was appointed to the Ministry and he called all Corps Members into his office, he wanted to meet us all, he said.
We went there, to his large office that looked like a paradise, and started introducing ourselves, when it got to my turn, he first made a laugh out of me, I was having a very long beard, and I wore a Polo shirt, Jean trouser and a Palm slippers, he said my beards didn’t rhyme with my face and everyone laughed.
I introduced myself, my name, state, university and what I studied.
When I mentioned my school, and the affiliation part, he came at me again, he said : “so poor of you.”
When everyone left, he told some of us to stay back, he said he was interested in what we studied, about 15 of us, and I was the only one that didn’t attend a conventional university apparently, others mentioned thier school and you’d even readjust your seat.
He started asking everyone questions about our field of study, and nobody got his answer correctly until he got me and told me to discuss concord and tell him the rules of concord, I laughed inside like someone that got a credit alert, I said to myself that concord, from Christ’s School.
I was thinking he was going to ask about syntax analysis, transcriptions or even ask me to talk about Chomsky or Halliday.
I started schooling him on concord and everything I knew about it and the people in the office were forced to say that, this boy that didn’t attend a conventional university is that one that knows all these, even the insatiable PS was impressed.
Then, and there, I told myself, I reaffirmed again, that if anyone asks my school, I’d tell them University of Nigeria, Nsukka in programme affiliation with College of Education, Ikere Ekiti, I was so proud of myself, I got out of the office and one the Corps Members said, “scholar, so na pretend you dey pretend for us.”
To end this. I’m going to talk about something very personal.
2019, I took a step, I decided I was going to go to school again, to study my passion in school.
I wanted to finally study what I have been practicing for a few years in school, I thought to myself that it wouldn’t be bad to have a University Certification on Public Relations.
However, two things stood between us, the English Proficiency Test and Departmental Test at the Communications and Language Arts Department.
I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t know it would be that difficult.
When I got to DLC, I got cold, I saw the number of people there, and I started knowing that, there was problem, I couldn’t just count people, and the great school people were just trooping in, “Hey!!! Girl, it’s been a while, wow, it’s nice you came to UI too. Great Ife!!!”
I was just there, there was no one from my school, after about 20 minutes someone walked up to me and I recognized him from my school, but I couldn’t place his department, we shook hands, exchanged contacts and talked, he left and we got into premises, we got on the line and I was listening to different kinds of Queen Elizabeth’s accent, I was shrinking smaller and smaller on the line, as we were going into the hall, most them knew one another from their undergraduate schools, they got along easily, I was trying hard just to find someone I know on the line, I got in, and went to my designated computer, I was shivering, I was very scared, plus it was fully air conditioned DLC hall, I received instructions and the system opened up perfectly, my name, PGS number, and everything was there, and I saw 59:59 and I started checking the questions.
I checked 1 – 10 and behold, yours and truly didn’t know the answer to just one, I checked the time and saw it was on a winged chariot, my breathing changed and started thinking of the Garri I drank and the nights I slept on a empty stomach after taking this PG form, but just calmed myself down and started answering the questions, carefully, I made sure I was careful, patient, strategic and smart with it, I finished before time and I went over it again.
Immediately my time ran out, I made sure it was submitted, so I left, and started calling my loved ones that I have burnt money.
I remember calling my friend Ifeoluwa.
I was so scared that, I couldn’t get over the cold I was feeling I couldn’t get over the shock of how the questions were not the same thing we saw in the past questions treated.
I took a cab, and went to UI, main campus, and took a tricycle to Faculty of Arts, I saw a lot of people I saw at the exam centre, they were still speaking their refined English.
They were all busy reading so many things I have never heard of in my life, it was there I got to know that there is a What’s App platform and I was not there, they all had materials, I just sighed, went out and sat outside, I saw some kids selling fanmilk, one advertised and the other brought the fanmilk, I was about buying but the one that advertised face was very sad and he said he called me first, I thought they were selling together, so, I bought from the one that advertised and drank the yougourt, and calmed my soul down, I cannot come and kill myself for UI.
After like 2 hours, we were called in, about 300 of us and I heard the Department cannot accommodate more than 60, my heart was just beating bass drum so hard and fast like quick march.
I entered the hall and I found myself a back seat, the lecturers came and told us to settle down, and we were given the answer scripts and later the question paper was shared, it was a half of an A4 paper, two questions, 1hour, 15 minutes.
Me that I thought the EPT was hard, I saw the questions and almost started crying, I have been reading, communicatuons, communication theory and stuff, that was what who I had in the department told me, she said that was what they asked in her time.
I saw the two questions and turned over to other page to see if the correct questions were there and the one I saw was a mistake, no!!! I found nothing.
While I was doing that, people had started writing, pages were getting full, the persons beside me both sides were writing, again, I calmed myself down, and saw that the first question was not as difficult as I thought at the beginning, I studied the question and I saw an apostrophe, and, I saw the game they were trying to play, ‘understanding the question’, I started writing, it was an essay, I finished and tried to understand the other one, it was to carry out a research like, a whole research at the point.
It was at that time, my heart started praying for Reverend Dr Movi Sanya Ayoola he was my undergraduate project supervisor and truly truly I say unto you, he drilled me.
He’s not the go and bind your project kind of supervisor, I wrote my Chapter 2 almost 5 times, he’d say “you think this you wrote makes sense, right?”
He’d use his red pen to give it two slashes, go and write another one.
From Emperical Studies, to Conceptual Framework to Theoretical Framework, I worked with Orthographic Depth Hypothesis, Frost 2005 on “An Analysis of Facebook on the Vocabulary Development of Senior Secondary School Students in Ado Local Government.”
Back to the exam hall, the memories of the times I went to see Dr Ayoola at the office started flowing, it was like I was reading my project, and I started using the process he taught me to carry out the research, I made sure that I didn’t miss any step in research writing.
I finished and left, I called my friend Fatoba Olusola Peter that I have wasted money, I explained what happened to him as I didn’t do the exam the way I wanted and I told him how many people started writing and solving the exam, he just told me to calm down.
I went to see a friend, I explained how difficult the two exams were, and how I wasn’t sure of what I did.
I started praying, five days later, I was at Adedotun’s, a friend called me, “Emmanuel, have you seen your result?” I said “No, what about you?” I asked what she scored, she told me to go and check mine first.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I had a scored that would fall into the grade of B, then I checked the name it was my name, I called Dotun, told me to help me check it, I could be dreaming, he said the same thing.
I almost got mad in excitement, it was the least I was expecting, at
most I told myself, 40, but I had more.
Three months later, the second result came and I heard people saying they scored 1,2,311,12,6, 0 on the What’s App group, I sent someone to check, I had close to grade B, I almost got mad again, I couldn’t believe it, I sent another person, the person said the same thing, she said I’m the first person she checked for that scored a high score.
I GOT THE ADMISSION!!!
Then I thought to myself, you can really be the something you’ve always wanted to be in the nothing you are, that is the lesson I knew about life but the situation made me understand it more.
There is nothing unachievable, no matter what background you have or the rock bottom you are experiencing.
I once heard rock bottom cam be a solid foundation, and now, I have not only heard, I have experienced it.
It’s a win for me, a very great win that I am really grateful for.
Also, it’s a start to a new journey.
I am not saying these to prove I have won, or something.
That same 2019, I lost three foreign scholarships just because I graduated with 2.2, I wrote applications to attend two international conferences, I lost both.
There was one I already started seeing myself in UK, I started watching YouTube videos of how to speak and behave over there, I was already practicing how I’d sit in the plane.
And I’d check the mail, I was already accustomed to it, I’d skip all their grammer and go to the REJECTED part.
Same 2019, I lost about $100 on forex, I know it’s small, but put it in my account, as a jobless young man, you’d know it’s not a small money.
You have to keep reminding why you started what you are doing, if you fail, keep failing, but don’t stop trying.
One day, you’ll win.
As I said, this is just a start, God willing, more will come.
Emmanuel Oluwapelumi Falode, Esq.
NB: This story was written January 2020; the reason why a lot of references were made to 2018 and 2019.
2020 shocked all of us, and I had my fair share.
I hope I get the strength to share the lessons of 2020 with you, soon, I hope.