It was the 1995/96 academic session. I was filled with dread as the countdown began after finishing the final papers for the promotional exams in my alma mata, Mayflower School Ikenne. There were various postulations as to what the cut off mark would be with mathematics and English been the key criteria for promotion.
I had no trouble with other subjects…but mathematics, was my terror by day and night. I prayed and hoped feverishly that the cut off mark would be dropped to 38% then I think..it would put me 1% ahead of that cut off point…but alas! When the result came out…I missed the bus to the next class….SS2.
I was dejected, filled with dread, angry, sad and fear of what my Father would say. I recall a friend, Segun (Odo) coming to meet me on the staircase of our hostel and asking me if I made it through…he simply told me not to be discouraged but to be put in more effort or something like that. The journey home to meet my dad was the most difficult and agonising journey I ever made in my life. I met my elder Brother at home and told him the situation, he simply shook his head and said, our Dad won’t be too pleased…and he won’t know how he would react. I remember vividly when my Dad got home that evening from work and he met me on the passage. I gave him my result, he took one look at it and said, “lo ba Iya e” meaning (go and meet your mother). That was the only thing he told me and I was enroute to Ibadan the next day. He didn’t tell me anything afterwards.
I resumed school the next session and learnt that my cousin also repeated his class, and that his Dad told him, there is no big deal about it, just study hard and improve on your scores. Interestingly, my cousin and I are always at loggerheads because, he’s about 5 months older than me and always want to prove that he is older and my senior…and I always call his bluff as you can imagine. (The butting of heads almost became a family issue until his Dad gave us the marching orders…story for another day lol).
Fast forward to when I gained admission to the university and I think I was in 300l or gotten to 400l when I and my dad where having some random conversation…must be around 2003 or 2004. And he made reference to that incident of me repeating a class and how I turned out to be…he said he noticed the determination with which I faced my studies and how it tided me through every level from SS1 till I entered the university. (There is a story around how I got into University and the interesting role he ended up playing…) And he was proud of where I had gotten to and what had been achieved, unrelenting in pursuit, silent perseverance and focused to get to the finished line. Sadly he passed away, Nov 30th 2005 before I could finish my final year project. Adieu Olubiyi Aderibigbe.
What is the reason behind all my story…
Today, I clock 40. The famed 4th floor…and I must say…looking back over the years, it has been God all the way. That story in particular was a watershed moment for me, the lessons, experiences, the failings, the success had been God preparing and moulding me to be who I am today. It’s not been all rosy as you can deduce from my short story, but I have every cause to be glad and to rejoice…above all to celebrate and dance in victory because….it has been God, orchestrating, purposing, leading and guiding me through it all.
I remember the lyrics of Kurt Carr’s song, “I almost let go”;
I almost let go.
I felt like I just couldn’t take life anymore.
My problems held me bound
Depression weighed me down.
But God held me close, so I wouldn’t let go.
God’s mercy kept me, so I wouldn’t let go
The song epitomises what my journey has been in the last 40 years…betrayals, feeling lonely, disappointments, small victories, progress and what have you. But God’s mercies has kept me close, I have clung to it and all I can say is that I have emerged victorious, not on my merit, but on the conviction of whom I have come to believe and trust, who has also upheld me…God. And I must not forget my family and friends as well…who have believed in me and seen me through the thick and thin, my Mum especially and all my brothers and sisters…by blood, Christ and friendship. And to my Wife and two lovely Kids…I say thank you!
I am not there yet, but very well on the road there. Is it crystal clear…not absolutely, but deeply convinced that I have a role to play in God’s service of nation building and SME nurturing to become giant enterprises taking territories and nations. I have begun already in the little way I can but I am also convinced that I am situate where God wants me to be, to partake in the action and not be a spectator nor a commentator. The full unravelling, will be in progression as the day unfolds. I believe in Nigeria, and in the greatness that is set to manifest and make us the envy of nations. (The remnant that made it to the promise land on my mind). I believe in the destiny of this nation and I know I will play a crucial role in the very immediate future of Nigeria.
Let me put a pause here…the truth is, today is victory and celebrating the victory of today and giving God all the honour due for today. To Him alone, all my praise is due and gratitude. Words, can’t express it neither would writing. But from the bottom of my heart, Lord I am grateful.
Happy 40th Birthday to me!