Happy Holidays people!
I would apologise for not writing in a while but seeing as I don’t plan on writing anytime soon (its Christmas yo!) I won’t.
I do have a couple of posts lined up (some from guests, others from my archives) so I’ll be putting them up from time to time.
Meanwhile, you should check out The 12 Days Of Christmas project that the good people of TheNakedConvos have going on. You should also check out 19th Street because throughout this month, people are writing about their highs and lows of 2011. I have entries in both projects :)
I don’t know how to introduce this story you’re about to read so I’ll just let you get to it. All I can say is that it inspired me a great deal.
I didn’t graduate from the university.
I’m not telling you this to elicit pity or sympathy. Or to make you feel I am a hero. Or whatever emotions this story might stir up in you. I’m doing it for selfish reasons; for me. I believe by telling a lot of people, it will set me free. Although I tell myself that I’m not ashamed of it, but deep down, I am. Only my immediate family, my closest friends, my pastor and a handful of people know it. I’m always embarrassed to talk about it. Even all the girls I have been intimately involved with over the years don’t know.
I got into Ogun State University (now Olabisi Onabanjo University) in 1999 for a diploma in law programme. My plan was to get good grades so I would be chosen for the law degree programme & achieve my dream of becoming a lawyer. I had a shaky start. My first semester results weren’t good; 1 B, 2 Ds & Cs (I think). But I was determined to improve & I did.
In November 2001, we had our final exams. The last paper was Land Law. I had prepared well, and my good was it sweet! It was so sweet that I requested for extra sheets! Everything was going well until a few minutes to end when I realized my answer booklet wasn’t perforated & I wouldn’t be able to attach the extra sheets to it. The invigilator had already started calling people to tidy up their work & prepare to submit when I went to him to ask if he had the instrument I could use to insert holes in the booklet. He said no, and told me to use my pen to pierce holes in them. While I was trying to do this, time had run out & he snatched the paper from me. I started pleading with him to let me tie it up, when a friend & classmate of mine, Jide who had finished about 30 minutes before the end of the paper was walking past, saw what was happening, came into the exam hall and started pleading with the invigilator on my behalf. After a few minutes, the invigilator realized Jide had already submitted and started harassing him for being in the hall. Jide & I started pleading with him, this time on Jide’s behalf. Unfortunately, the Lecturer in charge of the course, Mr. Olowookere walked in and the invigilator told him what had happened. Mr. Olowookere asked Jide for his name, and he didn’t want to tell him, knowing the consequences, but Mr. Oloowokere noticed there was a purse in Jide’s hand, snatched it & discovered his I.D card inside. We all went outside now and a small crowd had gathered. I was no longer pleading to be allowed to tie my paper, but for Jide. While all this was playing out, someone in the crowd who felt we were being unjustly treated said in yoruba that the lecturer should be shot. That comment was the nail in our coffin. And we didn’t even know about it until the next year when results came out.
I went back to my hall that day feeling depressed and not believing what had happened. Later in the evening, I went to see my neighbour, Uncle Tope, a lecturer who had a good relationship with the Programme coordinator, Mr. Adegbite and told him everything that occurred. He went to see Mr. Adegbite the next day and told me not to worry, but that I might not be able to get admission into the law degree programme because of the incident. I prayed to God about the situation and travelled to Lagos for the break.
I travelled to school a couple of times during the break to process my admission into another faculty. Eventually got admitted into the department of philosophy.
We resumed in June, 2002 and a few days after I got into school I went to see Jide. He told me our results were out, he had checked his & he aced all his papers except Land Law where he had an F. That news sent shock waves through my spine. I immediately made my way to campus to check mine. It would have been my best result throughout the diploma programme if not for land law; I scored 38. I almost broke down on campus, but I got myself together & went back to my hall.
Fortunately, Uncle Tope was at home. After narrating what happened, he told me he would be heading to campus in a few minutes and that I should go with him to see the coordinator. When we got to the coordinator’s office, I was asked to stay outside while they discussed. After the discussion, uncle T told me about the allegation against us, that we threatened the lecturer and so on. That was how my nightmare began.
In the faculty of law, there was a rule that if you’d only a single carry over at the end of your programme, the failed course would be waived, but in our case we were denied this privilege. We decided to appeal to the faculty board, knowing that we were innocent of the allegation.
Our appeal was heard at the next meeting of the faculty board a few weeks later. Jide came to my place the next day & told me the faculty board’s decision. Our appeal had been denied! He said a friend of his dad’s who was a lecturer in the faculty told him to retake the paper, even though the exam was just a few days away. I couldn’t retake it because I felt I would fail, since there was no time to prepare & we had already missed continuous assessment. It would also mean I would have an extra year, plus things were tight at home. How was I going to come up with the school fees? And I didn’t do anything wrong!
After Jide left, I went to my friend, Gboyega’s place, told him & Franco, another close friend the decision of the faculty board, and broke down in tears. That day I indulged in a habit I’d hitherto detested; I smoked weed. And that began my 9 year addiction to marijuana.
I continued attending lectures & sitting for exams in philosophy, with the help of the sub dean of the faculty of arts, Mr. Odunlami, albeit without a matric no., since I had not completed my registration, while I continued battling against the decision of the faculty board of law. Appeal after appeal was rejected, but I kept on believing that God would do it. I got a project supervisor in 400 level, got my project topic approved and even submitted my proposal along with chapters 1 & 2. But before we started 400 level first semester exams, Dr. Mrs. Ogunsanya, then Director of the Guidance & Counselling Centre who had taken up my case told me to stop my activities in Philosophy and concentrate my efforts on getting my diploma in law result, since there was no way I would graduate without it. That was in 2005.
In 2006, with the help of Dr. Mrs. Ogunsanya, I got a favourable decision from the faculty board. I was elated! Little did I know that it wasn’t the end of my ordeal.
Mr. Lami, who was then the coordinator of the diploma in law programme kept on posting us, giving us stories & refusing to release the result even after the dean spoke with him. In 2009, a new coordinator was appointed. But he said he didn’t know about the case. And after he was briefed by lecturers present at that time, said he couldn’t find the records.
In 2010, 9 years after the incident occurred, I decided to move on with my life and forget about OSU.
I can’t say I would be more successful now if I had graduated. In a way, I feel what happened was meant to happen for a reason, that I was meant to go through that road. And it was because of what happened & while it was still happening that I got the idea to start a business as a newspaper vendor in 2005. And it’s that idea that has evolved into Barows 21 Media Services (please, check out our website, Barows 21 There’s something there for everyone :D), and has given me 5 years of sales experience, which in turn got me a job with Standard Chartered Bank! (In the final analysis, I give God all the Glory because that was a miracle. How else would you explain my getting a job that required I have a NYSC certificate with a Secondary School Certificate?)
I’m not saying I won’t get my law degree. But not now. All I’m concerned about at the moment is growing my business. Most people get a degree because they eventually want to get a job with it, or because society expects them to, and not because of the knowledge they hope to acquire. But I already have a job. Getting a degree, for me is all about personal fulfillment. I’m already educated. And I’m still learning.
My name is Stanley Oyovota (@iskminov) and THIS IS ME.