As I write this article, my leg aches, my hands have wounds and my head hurts. I sustained some injuries 3 days ago, and I long to always look back at the scars. Yes you read that right, I long to always look back at the origin of those scars, the events surrounding it are memorable.
Thursday last week, I travelled back to Ilorin, precisely Federal Government College Ilorin my Alma Mata. I went back after 14yrs, invited as the guest speaker in the school’s 35th Founder’s day Celebration. When I entered the school gate, I felt a bit shocked, the school had not improved since I left it 14yrs ago but had actually deteriorated. I went round the school, recounting the story of my childhood to my colleagues that went with me, also preparing to address the crowd of 800+ students and their teachers. My objective was to ensure that by the time I left Ilorin the students’ passion for academic excellence would have improved visibly. This objective was well achieved by the time we left Ilorin, and even though I have these aches, I am glad I made myself available.
Going back to FGC Ilorin made the proposition of Mrs Oby Ezekwesili make a lot more sense to me. Interested PTAs, Old Boys associations or the private sector need to urgently get interested in these schools. These schools are breaking down, both physically and academically. Why? Because they are not properly funded and because nobody is willing to take responsibility for them. I have decided to take responsibility for academic excellence in FGC Ilorin, if we all do the same for all our secondary schools we can make a lot happen.
At times I wonder if we really have rich people in Nigeria, if our rich people are financially free, or if they have financial intelligence, but that is the topic for another day. My agenda in FGC Ilorin was simple, you can use it as a template for making things to happen in your own Alma Mata.
1. I gave them a rousing and motivational speech for about 1hr 30 mins. The senior boarding house master responded after the speech that he had never seen the students so attentive in their lives, while one of the senior officers in the school commented that he had not seen so much concentration from the teachers. The speech was practical, graphic and interesting. The title was 10%. I shared my story as a student with them, and the events that made me resolve to always be amongst the top 10% anywhere I found myself.
2. I gave the school 2 computers for the computer room. I explained to them how I believed that in other to stay relevant in today’s world, they need to develop computer skills. Rather than talk about it alone, I decided to contribute my own little quota to their computer skills development.
3. I instituted a Deolu Akinyemi Academic Excellence Award, and gave awards to the best 3 students in each set. The top 3 students in each category were announced and celebrated by their contemporaries. They all came forward to receive a handshake and their certificates. I also instituted and Excellence Award for Innovation, Sportsmanship and Leadership, these were given to the best students in other areas apart from academics.
4. I instituted a scholarship award for the overall best student in each class. I gave them my word to uphold this every year by God’s grace.
5. I ordered for brand new executive cars from the best hotel in Kwara State to come and pick the top 11 students and two of their teachers. Together we drove around so their mates could see them, we gave them two minutes to bid farewell to their colleagues, as they went with my team to the Kwara Hotel. At the Kwara hotel, we spent 6hrs together. They had opportunities to interact with myself and my team, asked questions, had buffet lunch, cocktail for dinner and played Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow 101 with me. The game and interaction lasted for 7hrs, and they were all returned back to their hostels by 11pm. They had the time of their lives, and I could see in their eyes, that they were going to remain first third in their class, or die trying. Their teachers who went with us also felt very grateful for the opportunity. They had been equipped to take their financial destinies in their hands and they really felt special.
By the next morning, I had the privilege of meeting one of the parents of the students of FGC Ilorin. She told me that her son told her about my speech the previous day, she mentioned that the son summarized all that happened in one phrase –“It’s very important to face one’s studies”
In case you are wondering what in all this is responsible for my aches, well, it’s quite simple. I decided to participate in the Old boys 50meters dash. Poised to win, and give the race my best, I took off with a great start ahead of all the others, I pushed myself, perhaps a little to hard to fast, and I lost balance and fell with a big thud. I got up, and finished the race, took a look at myself, I was brown all over, with blood flowing from my feet, bruises on my head and blood on both hands. I had secured some mild injuries. I still have the aches, but I’m certain they cannot outlive the joy of seeing those young 11 top students revving to be their best ever.
I might not be able to save all the seashells that got thrown away into dry land, but I can make all the difference to a few, and who knows… the world might join me! All that I did did not cost me up to my monthly salary 2yrs ago while in paid employment, we don’t need to be very rich before we add value.