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Inspiring: From Being a Messenger to Becoming a Law Professor at the University

from: 03 . 04 . 19
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A university professor has recounted his inspiring story of his struggle from grass to grace. Olayiwola Oyelami said that he was a messenger at the University of Jos before becoming an academic.

He said he worked as a messenger for several years until he was challenged by a professor to sit for GCE exam A professor of law at the University of Jos (UNIJOS), Olayiwola Oyelami, has recalled his days of being a messenger at the same institution before finally becoming an academic.


Professor Oyelami recounted his struggles in an interview he granted The Nation, in which he said with his primary school leaving certificate, he was only able to get a job as a messenger in UNIJOS.

Legit.ng notes that he recalled that the job of a messenger came with its own peculiar challenges. He said: “It was not easy to work as messenger, I used to clean at least 14 offices every day, except weekends. And you have to clean all these offices before the resumption of officers. So it means I have to leave home by 5:30am to be able to meet up.”

Oyelami said he continued this for several years until one day when one Professor Michael Adekunle confronted him with a challenge. He recalled: “He told me point blank, ‘young man, you are too young for this job, why don’t you find something else to do.’ The Prof told me to go and read, that sitting for GCE exams is not difficult. I asked myself where do I start? I then went back to the same Prof and I asked him to help me get the job of a driver. He told me there was no difference between the messenger I’m doing and driving.


“I was just a primary school leaver, I did not even attend the conventional secondary school because my parents could not just afford to take me to secondary school then. I only attended primary school because that level of education was free in the West, but secondary school was not free. If the primary school were not free, I would not have even gone to school at all, even to buy school uniform was not possible for my parents.

At my final year in primary school, I was wearing my father’s caftan to school, they could not get me the school uniform. So I was one of the beneficiaries of free education of the Western Region then.” Oyelami said he was promoted to a clerical assistant instead of messenger grade 3, adding that the university management stated that anyone that didn’t improve on his academic qualification would remain a clerical assistant till they retired.

The professor said: “So I started reading. I bought some books and began to read. In 1978, I registered for three papers in GCE, and in 1979 I sat for another papers again and I got four out of the five papers I sat for. I failed English language and I was not satisfied, so I enrolled again and I finally got it. That was the result that gave me admission to read Political Science in 1981.”

According to him, after graduating, getting a job became another issue, adding that one of the librarians advised him to go to Ibadan and get a Masters degree in library studies. He added: “It was to last for one year and I was promised that when I come back he would give me a job. I ran to Ibadan do my second degree in library studies and in a record of one year I graduated and ran back to Jos for the promised job. But the same man that promised me the job said I have to wait a while.

“At that point, another Professor advised me to go and read Law. I applied for the admission, and I was given law full time. As soon as I graduated, the university re-employed me and posted me to the Centre for Continuing Education, Jos.”

Professor Yemi Osinbajo, warned youths in the country never to rely on their academic certificates alone to survive. Osinbajo said this in Ibadan on Thursday, November 9, 2017 while speaking at the 10th convocation ceremony of the Lead City University, where 590 students were awarded first degree certificates.

He said: “By talent, a good degree and coming from a very well to do family does not bring success and certainly it does not bring greatness. The most talented people, those who get the best degrees do not necessarily become the most successful in life.”


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