Away from politics. Let me tell you a story. There is a boy. He was born in Oyo town but his grandmother took him along with her to Ibadan, her hometown, when he was barely a year old. The old woman, who died in 2005, was a petty trader. She sold palm oil, dried fish etc. Practically, she sold everything that brought money. Her only son, the father of the young one, was unable to be educated. Being the first child of that her son, she was prepared to do everything to get him educated. He enrolled him in one of the best private primary schools of that time.
Later, things went down financially for the old woman. The boy had to be enrolled in a public primary school to complete his secondary education. It was time to register for senior secondary school examination. She struggled to register him for one- NECO. Then former governor Lamidi Adesina announced government’s readiness to pay for WAEC. Meanwhile, the boy had no mentor when he was growing up. All he wanted to be was a teacher and rise to become a principal. At another time, he dreamt of becoming a banker, as he thought that was where quick money can be made. He was not lucky. Out of the 9 subjects, he passed only literature-in-English. He sat for SSCE five solid times before he eventually had a ‘C’ in mathematics. As he was awaiting his results, the old woman died, after many months on sick bed.
At that time, he was desirous of going to school as almost all his mates were already in tertiary institutions. A College of Education was the available option, A day to the screening, he obtained application form to study at the then Oyo State College of Education, OYSCOED, (now EACOED). He was admitted. Not done, he applied to study at the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, through JAMB. This was when he was in his final year at OYSCOED. Luckilly, he was offered admission. As a student, he tried his hands on many things, especially writing. He soon became a star on campus. And when he left school, he didn’t bother to look for any unavailable job. The only paid job he did was as a youth corper and later as a personal assistant to a council chairman. In fact, he served with The Nation newspaper. And today, he makes money from writing, media consulting and publishing. THIS IS MY STORY, an abridged version of how I grew up.
I am still far away from where I want to be. While I don’t want to say that I have arrived, there are many people, especially of my age, who have allowed their humble beginning weigh them down. There are many people on the streets, whose destinies have been killed. There are things that can be done to arrest the situation. Have you bothered to ask why people continue to seek admission when those who have gone and graduated before now are still without jobs! Why are those with jobs still complaining?
For long, our various higher institutions of learning have always concentrated efforts on academic, without any emphasis on skill acquisition. More worrisome is the fact that those with first and second class divisions don’t want to stay back in the academics. Those with second class lower and other lower degrees end up becoming job providers, employing those who should have been doing well in the academics.
However, we have many examples within us. These are people whose grass-to-grace stories can motivate us. Waiting at home because there is no job isn’t the option. There are many things we can lay our hands upon. Below are stories that inspire.
Zacch Adedeji Adelabu, who has just been appointed the chairman of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, ATBU, Bauchi Teaching Hospital, was the immediate past finance commissioner in Oyo State. The father of the 40-year old Iwo-Ate born financial expert was a cocoa merchant. He was always following his father, now late, to Oyo, to sell cocoa on market days. He knew education was the only weapon that can liberate him from poverty. He was given admission to study at The Federal Polytechnic, Ede. He came out with a distinction and that earned him a Gani Fawehinmi scholarship. He proceeded to the prestigious OAU where he proved himself again, coming out with a first class. But before then, he had become chartered, at a tender age. He was too intellectually delicious for Procter & Gamble and they poached him and from there, at 32, he was ‘seconded’ to the Oyo State Government, as a finance commissioner. The company didn’t allow his resignation letter. He is one of the most sought-after finance consultants in West Africa today.
Miftah Adediran would be 39 in less than a month. The Oyo-born prince is an alumnus of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomoso and Liverpool Business Schools, United Kingdom. He didn’t allow the fact that his father is connected to ‘spoil’ him; he began Herlow Rudyns Group, an agro-allied and property development company less than 10 years ago and today, he is one of the biggest farmers in the state with 18, 000 hectares of cassava farm and close to 7000 cashew farm.
Akin Alabi is 41-year old. The Ibadan born founder of the first online sport betting portal in Nigeria has been able to carve a niche for himself. Before breaking through, Alabi is a metaphor of many youths’ frustrating attempts at hitting the cut-off mark of the Joint Admission Matriculation Board, (JAMB) examination – for five years, he sat for the exams without hitting the mark thus missing the opportunity of getting a university degree. While university education seemed far away from his grasp, that cold reality couldn’t snuff out his entrepreneurial dream. For the thorough-bred Ibadan businessman, there is more to life than a university education. In an interview, he explained: “I have set up many businesses but they failed too soon. I am happy they didn’t stay too long before they failed as that quickly prepared me for a new chapter. My efforts to get university education failed because JAMB failed me five times. As far as that exam is concerned, I think I got what I deserved. I must have failed JAMB because I wasn’t too serious, not that I wasn’t brilliant. Of course, I’m an average student but I kept meeting myself at the point of 180 and 190. Meanwhile, I had already passed my polytechnic entrance exam and admitted in a polytechnic as I kept struggling with JAMB to see if I could make a direct switch to university. I decided to quit after making five unsuccessful attempts.” Asked how he felt for not having a university education, “I felt pretty normal because I knew I wasn’t going to make any career from either polytechnic or university certificate.”
He went further: ‘As far as pioneering an activity may come with some uphill struggle, it has some gains as Alabi revealed: “I didn’t really spend much to get the deal on the table. I contacted a friend who helped me to develop something very basic almost for free – and with less than N200, 000, we kicked off. Getting to raise the money wasn’t difficult as I had already started saving from the proceeds I gathered from information marketing. Meanwhile, it took lesser amount to start then because it was just coming into the market.” Asked about the cost implications of establishing betting venture today, he reclined in his seat and said, “You should be talking of millions of naira. In short, let me peg it at N100 million.”
Apart from the above, there is Babatunde Saheed (Mr. Sports) of Fresh FM. There is Olawale Hamzat (Top Striker) of Splash and Lagelu FM. The fact is that there are things you can do and make a living while waiting for your ‘dream’ job.
PEN-TA-GUN, Sikiru Akinola’s opinion on political events in Oyo State, is published on Monday. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org