“Life will demand a payment. You either pay the price now and play later or play now and pay a higher price later.” – John Maxwell
In Nigeria today, after seventy one years of university education, some employed graduates can still hardly be distinguished from those unemployed in respect of their poor financial condition, which cannot be aided by their employment. So, because this is Nigeria, it was not shocking, as should be expected, when ICIR reported Andrew Bello, a Lagos-based lawyer, who received six hundred and thirty naira (N630) as salary in one of the months he worked for a law firm in Ikoyi instead of his N20, 000 normal pay.
After many years of not seeing the end of the tunnel, yet, we wonder why someone, who, with the unfavorable system of education in Nigeria, toiled for years ranging from four to six and still remains unemployed regardless of his effort. The origin of this wonder is not farfetched: they did not prepare the way for themselves; instead, they depend on the weak and poor system that barely sees to the welfare of her better future.
The saying: heaven helps only those who help themselves seems apt and not less of a truth in Nigeria today, where many graduates are unemployed and many others are already in view to join the congested queue soon, sooner than they saw unemployment hurling at them. The question is what is being done in each of our quarters to avoid being a victim of the country’s puzzling situation. What are we doing to mapping out our excellence and bright tomorrow, which, though, lies in the future but starts now amidst the unfavourable atmosphere of the Nation? What price are you paying upfront?
While I leave out percentage rate of unemployment in Nigeria, as was mentioned in the first series of this opinion piece, to be more precise and glaring to every beholding eye, according to Vanguard online news and as shown in NBS report, “the number of unemployed Nigerians rose by 3.3 million to 20.9 million in the third quarter of 2018 (Q3’18).”
With this worsening number, in spite of the empowerment and employment schemes of the government, I keep wondering how many of us will, sooner or later, make the queue deteriorates and falls apart before others coming behind start falling together in the name of “greatness won with honest toil,” a better future and individual’s effort that is not shortsighted by the dilapidating state of the country. This fact itself is enough is enough reason for a student to take Nigeria serious in whatever way he deem fit.
Of the passages of life, this phase, at the tertiary institution, is the place of destiny, to wisely choose what we desire, nurture it and pay the price now and play later. It is the making of a great man; the determinant of what dreams and wishes will eventually come true. Significantly, extracurricular commitments in school help us, in the future, particularly, after school, in answering spontaneously many questions our academics will never ask us, but the intricacies of life will surely, at one point or the other, demand we answer them. However, there are many of these questions one will leave unanswered because one had learnt nothing outside the classroom.
EXEMPLARY STUDENT LIFESTYLE OF NOTABLE ALUMNI OF UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN
This same ideology of the relevance of skills learnt outside classroom in the dealing with life situations is apparent in the case of Kunle Adebajo.
Kunle was a law student, award winning essayist, sensational campus journalists and a public speaker, who was rusticated by the University of Ibadan Management in 2017 on grounds that still hold little water against his fearless chronicle of consciousness, which drew the attention of the management and the public to the very poor state of hostels on campus, particularly, Mellanby Hall, and the misplaced priority of the University management.
With his suspension for a year, which delayed him from proceeding to law school, all hope was not gone. Before and during his suspension, I guess he was not idle somewhere, regretting his action and giving a hard thought on what page is next on his chapter. In fact, the suspension offered and ushered him more opportunities, all because he paved the way ahead of himself through extracurricular commitments while in school.
What amazes me the most was when the Managing Editor of Saharareporters, ‘Fisayo Soyombo, another significant testimony of the same ideology, in a workshop organized by AfAS Press, said Kunle Adebajo is one the few student journalists he looked forward to working with. With this fact, you can imagine how many opportunities were rushing him, even when he was rusticated by the school management. Currently, he works as an investigative reporter for International Centre for Investigative Reporting.
This week, some of the University of Ibadan alumni, who were very sound in both academics and extracurricular during their undergraduate days, have decided to share with us how they maintain the balance between the two worlds.
In this interview to be recounted in the subsequent paragraphs, they discuss how to deal with challenges that chases student from engaging in extracurricular, which together with academic is a paramount layer for capacity building at this phase of life.
In school, is there really time to engage in and be committed to activities other than academic?
HALEEM OLATUNJI: Of course, there is. It depends on how well people can manage their time and prioritize activities. Students must also study themselves and know what reading time and pattern works for them.
AYEKU KEHINDE YEMI: There is really time to be sound in other aspects, apart from academics. In fact, the adage ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’ seems inapplicable to this generation because it is well possible to be jack of many trades and be a master of all. There are people who have walked down the path and arrived at their desired expectation.
As freshmen, it is understood that the goal is to make a first class both in the first year and sustain it till the end. But life is more than first class and thus, it is expedient to get those trainings and skills first class won’t give you to face life battles.
GBENGA SADIQ: The university is structured in such a way that you have all the time to do whatever you please. With exception to very few departments, most students can afford the time to engage in one or two other activities and still excel in their academics. What matters is how well you learn to manage the time you have, the ability to cut frivolous and time wasting activities, and to get the most out of whatever time is available.
IGBONEKWU VALENTINE: Of course, time exists for other nonacademic activities. The hunger for making impacts in my immediate environment is what drives me. This drive motivates me to multitask in order to achieve my set goals. I always map out innovative ways to maximize time by working to produce results in any set task.
Would you enjoin students not to just focus on their academic, but also live a lifestyle that affects their immediate community, particularly, school?
HALEEM OLATUNJI: Yes. Many student already heard of the saying thus “don’t just pass through the school but also allow the school to pass through you.” So I don’t advise students to be all-academic in their activities. It is better to explore, learn new things, and gather new experiences, because you will need a lot of those knowledge to survive in the outside world.
AYEKU KEHINDE YEMI: Yes, I will. But being alive to the realities of your environment shouldn’t be at the expense of your academics. The latter is the primary reason you are here and if you do not excel in it, there is the likelihood that your engagement in others may not be excellent as well. So, while trying to be active with other extra curricula activities, let your eyes be fixed on your academics as well.
They are very relevant. Two important skills I got are communication (speaking) and writing skills. Currently, I work as a freelance writer for people and particularly The Transverse. There are other people out there like Olatunji Haleem and Kunle Adebajo who are currently working at TheCable and International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) respectively. These are platforms they got not because of their course of study but because of the skills they acquired while in school. Tolu Ogunlesi and Tijani Mayowa are other viable examples. So, the skills you learn while here will definitely pave way for you one way or the other out there.
GBENGA SADIQ: Absolutely! I do say that beyond your academics, the real reason we come to the university is self-discovery. And what better way to discover yourself than to engage in activities that affects your immediate environment?
IGBONEKWU VALENTINE: In as much as I wouldn’t want to advise students to derail from undertaking their primary assignment in school which is to study and graduate with a good grade, I would also be quick to add that a versatile and future-oriented student should identify worthy causes that contribute positively to the student’s personal development and humanity. It is in this noble pursuit that one finds the true essence of life which is living for others.
How relevant now are the skills and lessons you learnt outside classroom while you were an undergraduate?
HALEEM OLATUNJI: The skills are very relevant. In fact, while I read Education Management/Political science in school, I currently work with a reputable online newspaper. It was due to my track record as a campus journalist while I was an undergraduate
AYEKU KEHINDE YEMI: They are very relevant. Two important skills I got are communication (speaking) and writing skills. Currently, I work as a freelance writer for people and particularly The Transverse. Tolu Ogunlesi and Tijani Mayowa, kunle Adbajo and Haleem Olatunji are viable examples of those who got job not because of their course of study but because of the skills they acquired while in school. So, the skills you learn while here will definitely pave way for you one way or the other out there.
GBENGA SADIQ: The most important skill I would say I learnt outside the classroom is resourcefulness – the ability to mobilize resources to achieve a particular goal. My engagements with many organizations meant I had to get a lot of things done, which taught me to be resourceful. This skill was what helped me get my first job before NYSC, and would be very useful for my future career endeavors.
IGBONEKWU VALENTINE: While I was the Sigma chief, I acquired a great deal of money management skill, maximizing little resources to achieve big things which are unprecedented in the club’s history, a great skill of calculated risk and human resources management skill. Thus, the skills and lessons I have acquired from active engagement in extracurricular activities have prepared me adequately to navigate the topography of life.
How challenging was balancing academic with extracurricular activities?
HALEEM OLATUNJI: It was quite challenging but fun. You know you have classes and meetings to attend, tasks to perform, programmes to organise, among others. But you learn a lot, including how to handle pressure and stress. I will say it is a good way of preparing yourself for life outside while on campus.
AYEKU KEHINDE YEMI: To assert it was easy would be to deny the truth. It would take a lot from you. Your rest, your time, your enjoyment, your flexing… But eventually, it would pay. Everything one does is at the expense of something else, but it is wisdom to always make sure the expense isn’t more valuable than the action.
The irony of time and activities in the context of campus experience is that when you are engaged in many things ‘reasonably’, you tend to excel in them all. Note the word ‘reasonably’ because excess of anything is an abuse.
GBENGA SADIQ: I’d say I didn’t fare so well in this area, but that’s all my fault. I didn’t take my academics as seriously as I would have loved, and only tried to catch up late in my final year. But it is not at all difficult to balance academics with extracurricular activities. All that is required is discipline and the ability to account for your time.
IGBONEKWU VALENTINE: In a situation where there are contending interests in one’s pursuits in life, there is a great need to find a middle line among the interests. It was challenging but the major lubrication that oiled the wheel of my locomotive came from the desire to bequeath a worthy legacy to prosperity and make a mark in the sand of time.
In conlusion, my view on this subject, since the first series of this piece, is not turn a blind eyes at the fact that human being cannot be compared in terms of capacity. We are all different in one way or the other, even twins are not exempted from this reality. That truth is the reason behind the Yoruba saying that “what Taiwo can handle, Kehinde might not under the same circumstance,” vice versa.
However, knowing our strength coupled with our reasonability really matters in balancing our academic with extracurricular for the sake of building the desired capacity. In fact, according to Nicole Jackson, both academics and extracurricular “complement each other to develop a well-rounded student with more social skills than one, who concentrates on their books.”
Haleem Olatunji, commonly known as Sir Limo, was a multi-award winning campus Journalist and public speaker.
Ayeku Kehinde Yemi is a former Editor-in-Chief MHPO and once the President of Mellanby Literary and Debating Society.
Gbenga Sadiq is a former President of UI central Literary and Debating Society.
Igbonekwu Valentine is a former Chief of Sigma Club.
Kehinde Amusan is a campus journalist of the University of Ibadan. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org