The below story is that of a physically challenge postgraduate student of the University of Lagos. It narrates the challenging strides of the Master’s degree student. You can receive challenge and motivation from his story. Read on…
Call Oluyemi Michael a study in determination, you will not be out of point. Things have not been rosy for him, but the 36-year-old has refused to give in to the challenges of life. Struck by polio at age five and having lost his first university admission at 18, Michael, whose closest companion are his crutches, today has secured admission to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Lagos.
He says, “I was told that I was a normal child until I fell ill at about five and was taken to a hospital by my
mother. There at the hospital, I received an injection, and since then I have not been the same. In fact, by the time we were through with the hospital, I could no longer walk properly again.
“To compound my problems, my father abandoned me and the responsibility of catering for me fell directly on my mother and my grandmother. But as if that was not enough, my mother passed on the very year I got admission to study at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. Of course, that was how I lost the offer that year and since then, it has been a long narrative of hard times and challenges.”
So, last December when he received another provisional admission letter to undergo a full time master’s in History and Strategic Studies at the University of Lagos, many things, Michael says, have crossed his mind.
The difficult road he walked as an undergraduate at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State; the psychological and physical trauma he passed through in his primary and secondary school days, as well as the financial difficulties he experienced all have conspired to make him consider abandoning the UNILAG admission.
With nobody to provide weekly or monthly allowance, how would he survive in Lagos? How is he going to pay his tuition? How is he going to feed? But Michael, who obtained a Second Class (Upper Division) grade in History and Diplomatic Studies at OOU, on a second thought, says he is not one to be cowed by the hard circumstances of life.
According to him, he is more than ready to battle the race of life with dignity and strength. Though people gave him monetary gifts, especially in his undergraduate days, Michael says he supported the charity with his own little efforts.
The Ojowo, Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State-born native adds, “By nature, I am blessed with a can-do-attitude. In spite of the challenges that I have been experiencing since childhood, I have always told myself that where there is a will, there is a way.
“With this spirit, I have been able to overcome some of the challenges coming my way in life. For example, I was taking secondary school pupils in tutorials and that way, I was augmenting whatever good-spirited Nigerians gave to me.
“Indeed, my case became very bad because I grew up without my father’s support. Initially, my dad started well in life and made good money. But his greatest undoing was that he married many wives and that resulted in a kind of misfortune for him because all of them were involved in one disagreement or another and he eventually lost all his wealth. Because of the hard time he faced, the responsibility of taking care us fell on our mothers.”
Beyond sounding optimistic that he would succeed, how he hopes to cater for his full time master’s education in the next one year, and perhaps go for his doctoral degree, remains difficult to comprehend.
Practically, for the OOU 2011 graduate, he has no immediate survival strategy, not to talk of a plan B. He only hopes that good-spirited Nigerians and corporate organisations will come to his assistance.
He adds, “As we speak, I have only paid the N61, 500 obligatory fee at UNILAG. This fee is non-refundable and does not constitute payment of other fees. I have yet to secure accommodation in the university and since I do not have anybody in Lagos, I am currently shuttling between Ijebu-Igbo and Lagos and you can see my ‘fine’ condition”, he jocularly notes.
Michael, who had his post-primary education at the Japara High School, Ijebu-Igbo, holds the view that street begging for the physically challenged persons is not a good option for them. According to him, that places them at the receiving end of the society and makes them not to have confidence in their ability.
He says, “It is sad, it is distressful. Many of these people, if they have support, will do well in life. Let there be financial provision for them. Let there be special vocational training for them. Some of them can cope with learning skills and I tell you if they acquire these skills, they will not go to the streets to beg.”
Narrating how he faced abusive, hurtful circumstances and how he almost lost his self-esteem while staying with his grandmother in Ibadan, Oyo State, Michael says the experience is not something that he will forget in a hurry.
He explains, “I was abused as a child, a thing that almost destroyed my confidence in my adulthood. I was abused in the sense that my grandmother used to hide me from her landlady because she wanted to be in good relationship with her. In fact, she used to hide me from the landlady because she did not want her to eject her from the house. Perhaps too, the landlady must have expressed dislike for a physically-challenged child like me. So if the woman was around, my grandmother would hurriedly smuggle and hide me in the room.”
However, is there any woman in his life? To this, Michael, who initially hissed with a deep frown on his face, later smiled, saying, “My brother, please can we talk about other things? I do not want to discuss such an issue for now. I will cross that bridge when I am done with my education.”