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NaijaYouth
NaijaYouth

NaijaYouth (42)

Published in: NaijaYouth
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Ejiks1

 

From selling tobacco at bus parks to drinking oil & smoking gas at one of the world's biggest oil & gas giants!

 

Humans love catharsis – that situation which draws pity and fear from you. Pity, for the sad experience, and fear, because somewhere deep down you’re terrified that the same thing may happen to you or a loved one. Far above this love for catharsis, is a dislike for tragedy. Almost everyone loves a good story – the kind of story that leaves your heart bursting with happiness even though it might have started on a sad note. Such a story falls neatly in the ‘from grass to grace’ category. But even grasses may be a luxury in some desperate times when the earth around you boils and vegetations cannot thrive. It can be likened to the scorch of the sun, unrelenting in the sky and no matter where you turn to for shelter, the excruciating bites of the heat follow. Then, suddenly you’re transported onto a calm scenery, where a cool breeze caresses your skin and the wet, titillating scent of nature is inhaled with your every breath. Imagine for a moment, the exhilarating feeling! That was the exact feeling for Collins Ezeocha!

  

Collins Ezeocha grew up in the rustic setting of old Maroko, where shanties sat on each other’s shoulders and became a floating abyss when the waters overran the banks and flowed freely through the streets. The demolition of the Maroko area in 1990 led to the relocation of his family to Ajegunle. Collins speaks reminiscently of that period: “Our house was not far from the present location of Eti-Osa Local Govt. I have jokingly referred to my background as poor with a lot of ‘shukushuku’ (thorns).” He fondly remembers playing football and rolling tyres, wearing only his underpants with other kids on the streets and the delights of the banal such as drinking garri with fried pork. There was a sense of communal living – a type of togetherness absent in today’s ‘gated’ lifestyle especially among the elites. The Ezeochas were not wealthy, but they were happy.

  

Then, the vicissitudes of life kicked in and just like the highly famous demand curve in Economics, which is dependent on some near-irrefutable laws, there was indeed a downward-shaped slope. Worse still, the actual situation became more like a scatter-graph. Collins relates:

“My mother died on the 9th of January, 1995. It was a great loss that had a huge impact on my life. It slowed down my academic pursuit; it changed the course of my academic journey. My mother was a petty trader but her income by far surpassed that of my dad. She was determined to give us the best with her limited resources. I recall having at least two textbooks for each of my science subjects. But after her death, this all changed. I had to live with my uncle and my kid brother went to live with our cousin.”

  

 

During this trying time after his mother’s death, an incident remains etched in his memory. After a stern warning from his Biology teacher in high school who had threatened fire and brimstone if he missed a practical class, Collins had had to trek from Pako Aguda to Broad Street, Lagos! His uncle had forgotten to drop his transport fare. For a child who grew up under the sheltered wings of his mother, it was very difficult for Collins to beg or ask people for favours. So, he had braced himself and trekked that long distance. He recalls that emotional experience: “I got to school and started crying. My Vice Principal helped to rally around to get some money for me to return home.”

 

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That strenuous trek was to set the pace for varying challenges he had to face headlong as the years trudged by slowly. After Collins finished his secondary school education, he couldn’t proceed for further studies immediately because first, he had to survive. He took to teaching (mainly home coaching) Physics, Chemistry and Maths. He went to the homes of the elites and the middle class – he noticed the quality of life they had; beautiful homes and lovely children provided with luxury & comfort. This observation sometimes left him depressed as he returned to his space of almost nothing but over time, it motivated him to strive harder to make the most of his situation. He was ready to try his hands on anything just to succeed and he recollects vividly: “Let me quickly add that I also stayed with a friend that was selling tobacco and I did sell tobacco (taba) at Maroko bus stop for almost a year.”

 

While it’s all too common to find young people in need being under immense pressure to crack up & simply find shortcuts out of any undesirable hole, Collins remained resolute & gritty. His humble and disciplined upbringing helped him remain focused, against all odds. Collins says:

“I didn't have to look for quick fixes or corrupt practices. As I said earlier, ‘mo ta taba ati ogogoro’ (I sold tobacco and gin) at Maroko Bus Stop. And there were times when my employer had to introduce me as a graduate to some of the families whose children I taught just to make them feel more comfortable with me. They would look at me with suspicion but after the teaching, they would be so impressed that I often got some additional goodwill compensation. Aside those cases, I can't remember getting involved in any corrupt shortcuts.”

 

For a period of two years, Collins worked hard to eke out a living. Then, there came a rare opportunity for him to advance with his biggest aspiration – to get an education. The vice principal of the secondary school he attended had introduced him to some old students for their assistance. However, these persons were only interested in assisting him if  & only if he accepted to study medicine in the university. Given the duration of a medical course and his peculiar circumstances, it didn't quite cut the mustard for him; he would possibly not survive such a marathon without firm financial assurances. Instinctively, he knew he was cut out for just one specific area: Engineering. His main reason for this choice was his strong numerical ability and love for the “core” science subjects. He did not have any guidance or mentoring on this and took the decision solely based on his academic prowess in subjects such as physics & mathematics. Collins had heard that the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) was an institution which promoted practical & applied knowledge; and this provided further impetus & a firm assurance of self-empowerment even without the prospect of a paid job after his studies. In no time, his tertiary education adventure kicked off at YABATECH. “The entrance form fee was paid for by my immediate senior at Methodist Boys High School whom I ran into on Marina road. Mohammed Usman, if you get to read this, I say thank you.”

 

A year passed by and while in a mechanical workshop with more than 100 students gathered around a Lathe machine and with him barely able to see the practical instructions being shown, Collins decided to leave the workshop for the library. On the pages of a book, he learnt what was being taught in the practical class and in the examination, he scored 86 (the highest mark) without any practical or operational knowledge. Collins realised it was time to do something bizarre – “My worst fears stared me in the face. The practical knowledge I had sought was not what I was getting. I took a decision to leave engineering and embark on another course in the university. I bought a GCE form and registered for a few social-science subjects. I also bought a JAMB form to apply to study accounting at the prestigious University of Lagos. It was a tough decision and I didn't discuss it with anyone. I didn't know as of that time that engineering in Nigeria was driven mainly by the industry you eventually got employed into.”

 

Collins like a diligent farmer did not abandon his tilled crops close to the harvest. He chose to complete his National Diploma in Engineering while he also prepared for his new exploration into the social-science world. Collins recounts proudly: “I left YABATECH as the best engineering student at ND level and months later, got admitted into the University of Lagos on merit to study accounting. Again, the fear of not being able to defend my certificate (practical wise) came into my mind. However, I was determined to give it my best efforts.”

 

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As an Akokite (a UNILAG student), the struggle was unrelenting. Everything on campus was expensive as the general belief, especially among  commodity vendors, was that only rich folks attended UNILAG. This was before private universities took that award away. Would you blame them? Everything on campus supported & cemented that belief; there were rich students, the Yahoo boys & the aristo-babes in Moremi & Fagunwa. So, many folks were either from rich homes or were doing something, albeit illegit, to maintain a lifestyle garnished with luxury.  So, surviving on campus while aiming to top a class filled with some of the most intelligent students out there (many of them with already well-established social-science foundation) with no much financial assistance from anybody was quite daunting. 

 

To survive, Collins continued with teaching but this time around, within the university environment in Akoka. I was taking Distance Learning Institute (DLI) students, LASU part-time students and private students. I was also on a number of scholarships that no doubt were life-savers.” When he was asked about the strategies he used in maintaining excellence in his studies, this was his inspiring response: “Start with the end in mind. The drive for me was to make a First Class ab initio. The strategy was simple – STUDY, STUDY and STUDY. I tried in most cases to be ahead of the class – I solved lots of questions and went the extra mile. Prioritise your time. Yes, catch some fun but let your primary objective be to leave the school with the best you can.” Indeed, Ejiks (as he was fondly called by his classmates & admirers) became a hot property on campus in no time as his reputation as one of the academic giants in UNILAG soared tremendously. The name of the engineer-turned-accountant phenomenon rang a bell in Newest Hall, Marierie, King Jaja, MTH, Amina, Faculty of Business Admin, even all the way to the Faculty of Engineering where the top dogs there were too glad that he had  swiftly made that switch while entering UNILAG (one less competitor!). At the end of the very first semester of his first year, he was already on First-Class. This, he maintained till the very end; blasting a few records along the way.

 

Ejiks is, indeed, one of a kind. This was someone who did sciences all through his days in high school. He went to YABATECH & beat everyone to pick up the top award in Engineering. He woke up, had a whim & decided to "cross-carpet" to the other side. After a year or two, he was  not only ahead of the pack in his new field, he was teaching people who had done those same subjects all their lives. He had a singular belief which he held onto: he believed if he attained success in his academics, he would be on a path to success in life. “Absolutely, it makes life’s journey easy especially if you are not leaving straight to run your company. Getting good grades gives you an invite to most job tests. It makes it easier for someone to want to refer you. It is an immediate assessment of your capability without trying you out. It bridges the gap between an elite and a rural guy. In my case, God granted me favour by blessing the work of my hand. Do your bit and let God do the rest.”

 

Now, to the pressing question on most minds – how did that boy who once sold tobacco at bus parks end up in an IOC (international oil company)? Collins Ezeocha’s response: “Na God! I applied to the IOC via Naijahotjobs during my NYSC in Minna. I was lucky to be among the few that were eventually employed after the rigorous employment process.” According to Collins, his strategy for sustaining excellence and uniqueness in his workplace is simple: “Try to be the best at what you do. Go the extra mile, have a self-propelling drive/passion for excellence. Let your work speak for you and then leave the rest to God.”

 

Ejiks4

  

It is noteworthy that after all the rigours this young man has passed through, he has retained a boisterous spirit, one which radiates through his lively responses. If Collins Ezeocha had a chance to rewrite his life’s history, what are the things he would change and those he would prefer remained the same? Maybe I should start with hoping I was born into an elite or middle class home (hahahaha). On a more serious note, I think my life actually revolved this way because of my background. I would prefer the discipline, godly instructions from my parents, strong value system, drive for excellence and self-starter traits remained the same.”

 

For the struggling youths and entry-level staff entering the corporate world in Nigeria, he had this advice: “Be focused. Let the end guide your behaviour, inculcate a penchant for excellence, create an enviable brand for yourself. Ask yourself what you would want to be remembered for. Lastly, don’t lose hope. My God who did it for me, will do much more for you.”

 

Collins Ezeocha is happily married to his beautiful wife, Diana, whom he met at UNILAG and they are blessed with two beautiful daughters & a lovely son.

 

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Developed Exclusively for LeVitateNaija by: Ife Watson & Isaac Audu-Usman

 

 

       

 

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The Illusions of the First Year in College - Part One

 

Illusions of the first yr in school

 

By Isaac Audu-Usman

 

 

The excitement that builds up in our minds immediately after those five or six years of being condemned to putting on bland, unsavory uniforms almost every single day of the week can be so exhilarating that most students who are just on the verge of blowing a goodbye kiss to high school, often find themselves basking in the euphoria of unfettered joy. Whew!! What a relief! You just can’t imagine that hot molten magma that is bubbling down below, filled with the knowledge that you don’t have to frantically rush to make the 8am cut-off for resumption, no more school lashes, no more assorted blend of school chores and punishment, and the big one: the fact that you are now considered ripe enough to venture into the next level, the adventure of being finally set free to attend the university! Over the moon!

 

Then, depending on your academic clout, as well as your fate in the draw of luck, you find yourself in the university even before you have barely recovered fully from the escapades of after-high-school loafing! ‘It can’t get any better’, you whisper mischievously to yourself. Now you can brandish your new identity: ‘I am a student of Engineering at the prestigious University of Lagos’. Congratulations! What a great achievement! More power to your elbow indeed. You just can’t help falling in love with the ambience and sophistication of your new world: the campus environment. It seems your life has just been well scripted by some invisible being, who watches attentively from some mysterious ivory tower of elephant tusk, to the finest of details. Your level has changed astronomically to the point that you are the envy and hottest gist among your high school mates.

 

You are an Akokite! What could be better at this point of your life? Life couldn’t be sweeter and you couldn’t care less about relishing and enjoying every bit of it along the way. After all, you have worked extremely hard to get here. So, it’s time for you to just puff it out and give yourself the treat of a lifetime. The babes are noticing for sure. They can’t help asking you to take and send those selfies. And why not please? Who cares after all? It’s your life. You are the architect of your own reality. Your conscious efforts, actions and decisions brought you to this bliss of Lagoon heaven that is finely dotted and punctuated by loads of endless opportunities to make the next few years the best of your life…

 

Your matriculation party was the bomb! It was just so tight that your peeps and goons just couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks. Your matric pictures flooded the Facebook sphere. It garnered the most active discussions on Twitter among your friends. BBM DPs were awash with your colourful matric pictures. Instagram even brought them far more to life by adding that exotic gloss that only those very few suavely designed Apps can possibly pull off, to make you look like those superstars you see on HELLO! Magazine, on E! Online or on MTV with the verve and poise that would be simply unrivalled any day….

 

Then, the classes begin. Fun time is here! Or so you had thought at the very outset. Then, you were blown out of the water by the seismic shocks of disappointment and disbelief in what the system was capable of actually offering vis-à-vis the very high lofty expectations you had surreptitiously bellied inside, up until this very currency of time. The classrooms are just a complete joke! The buildings are not only grossly dilapidated but feistily cursed with a plethora of meandering crevices crisscrossing every nook and cranny of the walls which have somewhat conspired to provide the perfect indoor sanctuary for all sorts of assorted insects and crawlers in the zoological kingdom to fester with sheer aplomb. Worse still, the classes are just plain stuffy with two hundred pairs of ever active nostrils snorting out, without restriction, an avalanche of carbon emissions capable of snowballing the indoor temperature levels upwards in leaps and bounds! It is pointless complaining that there are no fans, let alone air conditioners, as there is just no power to propel them in the first instance. What about having generators? Hmmm…that’s like looking for a polar bear in the Sahara!

 

 It’s time to shelve the truckload of uncontrollable issues in the classroom environment and just find a way to enjoy the reason you are here in the first place. Ah, the lectures! Unfortunately, there is very little joy to be found in that space too. The lectures are just plain bland. In fact, the lecturers are some bunch of old fools who lack, in every sense of the word, the creativity and imaginative power of modern day education where fun is just supposed to be deeply embedded as an integral part of the total experience.

 

Well, it’s time to drift away and find something more fun to do in this heat. You raise your head up and out of the blue, your aerial satellite frantically picks up an unusual signal from outer space. Wow! What a site! That babe is cute. I bet you didn’t notice her all this while. Well, the class won’t be that bad after all with such a paragon of beauty who will be here to save the day for the next couple of years. Wow, her smile is so charming that it could easily freeze time! Damn, she is voluptuous. Just check out her onshore-offshore dichotomized features. Whew! The already hot temperature in the classroom may just have increased by another 5-7 degrees! You think about it again. Yeah, this may just be the reason you are here. To find her and make her your own! Damn those boring lectures. Damn that lecturer; that epitome of staleness. You are intelligent. You are smart. You did it in high school. So, what’s the biggie? You will do it again. You can study and assimilate and blast those exams. For now, you have finally found a new hobby: a new adventure with loads of fun hidden along its mysterious path. Something really close and surreal, yet feels magically out of this world. This is it. You will hunt her into any hole there is on this planet and break all the China walls on your path to finally decoding the password to her heart!

 

 

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Ladi Delano is a 35-year old Nigerian entrepreneur, who made his first million as a liquor entrepreneur while living in China.

In 2004, At the age of 24, he founded Solidarnosc Asia, a  Chinese alcoholic beverage company that made Solid XS, a premium brand of vodka.

Solid XS eventually had a 50% market share and went on to become a mainstream liqour brand and was being distributed in over 30 cities, pulling in $20 million in annual revenue.

Delano then sold the company to a rival liquor company for over $15 million, and put his funds into his next venture – a real estate investment holding company with a focus in mainland China.

Today, He is the co-founder and CEO of Bakrie Delano Africa (BDA) – a $1 billion joint venture with the Bakrie Group of Indonesia.

Thus far, the Indonesian Conglomerate has provided over $900 million worth of funding for investment in Nigeria, and Bakrie Delano Africa identifies opportunities for investment in mining, agriculture, oil & gas, and executes the investment processes.

He was on Forbes’ list of the youngest millionaires to watch in Africa in 2012 and is the youngest Nigerian billionaire.

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I thought I had found the right person for me...someone I could spend forever with. It was so beautiful & euphoric that I thought this was it. It was like all the stars in the universe had conspired to smile at me at the same time. I was basking in the very joy & bliss of knowing that, indeed, true love wasn't  banished to just the fairy-tales on the pages of novels or the scripts of Hollywood movies. But after a year of dating, I had to break up with him. I couldn’t believe that what had started so well could end so fast...and so painfully.

 

Many of us have been through such a similar experience...either as the villain or the victim. For one thing, a breakup could be painful even for the person who initiated it. You may think for a minute this person was in your life and you had beautiful plans for the future and then the next minute, they are gone.

However, a breakup no matter how painful could, sometimes, be a good thing. If you aren't happy with someone you are dating, you probably won't be happy when you are married to them anyway.  In a situation like that, breaking up could just be the best for all parties involved.

 

A breakup doesn't necessarily make you a failure and not all courtships end in a marriage. If you or your partner has serious misgivings, the  best decision may well be to move on. If that happens, the fact that the relationship failed doesn't in any way mean that you have failed or that you're a failure in life. Far from that. You can move on. There are always better days ahead... HOW???

 

1.ACKNOWLEDGE THE PAIN NO MATTER HOW EXCRUCIATING IT MAY BE: Sometimes, the best way out of pain is to go through it, not finding a frantic escape route out of it. Acknowledging the bitter reality of what you are feeling is usually the first step to healing. Admission, not denial. Not withdrawal either; just pure admission that the pain is there & it is tearing you into shreds. It is okay to cry (yes peeps, it is!)...let it all out and more often than not, you will feel better afterwards.

 

2. ASSOCIATE WITH PEOPLE WHO TRULY & HONESTLY CARE ABOUT YOU: This may not be easy, but soon you'll realize how spending time with close friends &  loved ones can help build you up, especially when you're trying to get through a very tough period of your life. You tend to have a better frame of mind and gradually forget what has happened, as you are magically distracted instead by positive & fun-filled activities that keep your mind away from the traumatic feelings that lurk around following a painful breakup.

 

3. LEARN FROM WHAT HAPPENED : Examine yourself and look for areas you need to grow. Are there things you would like to do differently in your next relationship? Life is tough. It's tough because there is no script out there that best prepares you for what lies ahead. So, you have got to pick up the pieces each time life's test throws you into a state of psychological disaster. It's is the exact lessons you pick up from those very bitter & painful situations that help mold your own script that unwittingly forms the compass that guides you through life. So, the more you fall, the more lessons you pick up along the way, & the richer or more robust your own script becomes to better prepare you for the storms that lie ahead. These storms are sometimes inexorable or inevitable & those are the little things that make life truly beautiful & wonderful.

 

While it is true that ending a relationship might be difficult,  you can grow and learn from it. Start your healing process today.

 

By: Kindness Okoli

 

Edited By: Isaac Audu-Usman

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fearresponse

The body can act inappropriately to the strains and toils of everyday living and adrenalin production may be unnecessarily initiated in response to a minor stressor. A chain reaction is then set in motion: one starts to sweat, feel sick and suffer palpitations and the whole stress response takes over, resulting in anxiety. You may wonder, what is this anxiety we talk about?

 

Well, anxiety is a reaction to stress that has both psychological and physical features. The feeling is thought to arise in the amygdala, a brain region that governs many intense emotional responses. As neurotransmitters carry the impulse to the sympathetic nervous system, heart and breathing rates increase, muscles tense, and blood flow is diverted from the abdominal organs to the brain. In the short term, anxiety prepares us to confront a crisis by putting the body on alert. But its physical effects can be counterproductive, causing light-headedness, nausea, diarrhea, and frequent urination. And when it persists, anxiety can take a toll on our mental and physical health.

 

Anxiety Disorders and their Symptoms

 

DISORDER: Generalized anxiety disorder.


SYMPTOMS: Exaggerated worry about health, safety, money, and other aspects of daily life that lasts for six months or more. It is often accompanied by muscle pain, fatigue, headaches, nausea, breathlessness, and insomnia.

DISORDER: Phobias


SYMPTOMS: Irrational fear of specific things or situations, such as spiders (arachnophobia), being in crowds (agoraphobia), or being in enclosed spaces (claustrophobia).

DISORDER: Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)


SYMPTOMS: Overwhelming self-consciousness in ordinary social encounters, heightened by a sense of being watched and judged by others and a fear of embarrassment.

 

DISORDER: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)


SYMPTOMS: Reliving an intense physical or emotional threat or injury (for example, childhood abuse, combat, or an earthquake) in vivid dreams, flashbacks, or tormented memories. Other symptoms include difficulty sleeping or concentrating, angry outbursts, emotional withdrawal, and a heightened startle response.

DISORDER: Obsessive/compulsive disorder (OCD)


SYMPTOMS: Obsessive thoughts, such as an irrational fear of contamination, accompanied by compulsive acts, such as repetitive hand washing, that are undertaken to alleviate the anxiety generated by the thoughts.

DISORDER: Panic disorder


SYMPTOMS: Recurrent episodes of unprovoked feelings of terror or impending doom, accompanied by rapid heartbeat, sweating, dizziness, or weakness.

Sources from which relief can be obtained to help the individual control anxiety are correct breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, stress management, regular exercise and diet. In theory, anxiety management is relatively simple and easy to do, and can be carried out by everyone. Nevertheless, to achieve success and sustain recovery requires a great deal of commitment and effort on the part of the sufferer.

 

So are you a sufferer of anxiety? There you have it! Maybe a little bit of breathing exercise or a change in diet could go a long way in helping you. Spread the word. Help someone today.

 

By: Kindness Okoli

Published in: NaijaYouth
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0 to 100 level

(Read part 3 here)

RELATIONSHIP

Another issue to settle is that of relationship. When I say relationship I mean issues such as dating – having a boyfriend or girlfriend or none, bla-bla-bla. Believe me, it’s a good thing to be in a relationship. It is even better, if it is the right kind of relationship. I have heard painful and hurtful stories and I have experienced such too. We all have our pasts, yes, we do.

However, it is good to consider this issue as regards the following: What kind of relationship do you want to build? When do you want to start one? Why do you want a boyfriend or girlfriend? How intimate do you want to be with each other?

While on camp during my NYSC programme, I went for a course that had to do with reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. There, I met a young man who seemed to have this air of hurt and bitterness around him. An issue was raised on dating which finally led him to open up to me. He sounded so hurt and pissed during that session that he had to leave the classroom. When I later joined him outside, he told me of his experience.

He met a lady while on campus. Later on, he got to know that this lady was in another relationship with a guy who happened to be outside the country at that time. Somehow and to my amazement, he began dating this lady with full knowledge that she had some other guy outside the country (extreme case of folly).

Sex was introduced into the relationship and it became something they did regularly. Some years had passed when this other guy returned home. The lady then immediately ended their relationship and continued with her friend from abroad. In his disappointment and anger, mixed with frustration and feeling of betrayal, the young man who had never taken hemp in his life, started taking such. He took it in a bid to relieve himself of the pain and hurt. Then, he started having mental problems. I am sure it took a measure of mercy from God to still keep him sane. I remember, he said to me, “I cannot give my heart to any girl again”. But that wasn’t the solution. He simply needed to address his folly.

The truth is, issues like this spring up from time to time, from person to person and from place to place. Waiting to get into the higher institution before settling this issue is like postponing the evil day. For most of us, if we could turn back the hands of time, we would have approached relationships in a different way. Therefore, I am happy and glad you are reading this.

As I said earlier, being in a relationship can be one of the best things to happen to you; if you are careful not to follow the wrong path. I asked some questions earlier to which I will suggest some guidelines:

What kind of relationship do you want to build? Short bliss or long-lasting, blissful relationship? The truth is, why pursue any relationship at all if it’s not going to be a meaningful one that would last long enough to be blissful any time, any day, anywhere?

When do you want to start one? The question may depend on various factors such as the mental and emotional maturity of the person or persons involved, parental consent, spiritual consent, etc.

When to start a relationship is not solely a matter of what level one is at in the university. I know men and women in 200 level whose ages sound twenty-eight, etc. They probably have jobs or something as a means of earning a living and financing the relationship. But frankly, I agree with those in the school of maturity. Not age, not level but mental maturity, financial maturity, spiritual maturity, etc.

Why do you want to keep a relationship? Most certainly, humans are basically relational beings. From time to time, we meet people, we make friends, and we have our family who we relate with. However, we were created with ability to have feelings and fall in love. We cannot question the way we are designed instead we should appreciate it and celebrate it rightly. One such way of expressing that is when we choose to date a person. Remember I said celebrate it rightly. Most people have made the mistake that falling in love with someone justifies having sex. No, it doesn’t. You don’t need to fall a victim of the consequences before you believe it.

How far do you want to go intimate with each other? I have shared a pathetic story on ‘how far’ with you already. Basically, I do not for any reason concur with sex before marriage. The chances of break-ups once sex is introduced are high likewise the degree of hurt attached to it. Are there no genuine ways of expressing your love to each other rather than having sex? These are issues; issues that need to be settled before you fly into higher institution!

However, if you find yourself in a relationship and it is one you would really like to keep, be very careful not to allow your academics suffer. Learn how to be balanced. Always make up extra studying hours for every time you spend with that person so nothing loses out.

I cannot overemphasise the importance of understanding the area of relationships as one climbs up into the higher institution. I will not deny the fact that this area of life has the potential to make or mar one’s academic pursuit.

By Folaranmi ‘Kunle Omoyeni

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LevitateNaija-Diary

 

Fire!

 

"Yeh! Who dey for room B3 o? Fire dey burn o!"

It was Kemi screaming, her eyes wide with despair. She couldn't contain the horror, as she jumped and threw her hands up in the air. We rushed down to her side to see what her object of alarm was. It was a raging inferno, blazing thick yellow, its dark smoke blurring our vision.

 

"Dele, no be your room be this? See as he tanda dey look. Where key make we open door na?" Segun nudged me in the ribs, jolting me out of my bewilderment. I searched my pockets frantically but couldn't find the key. Keys are mysterious companions; they vanish when you need them the most. It may have fallen when I was rushing down.

 

"Ah, I no find am o," I lamented. My hands had begun to shake, and my legs seemed like they would give way under my weight anytime soon.

"We go break the door be that. This fire mad. E fit catch wire and spread to all rooms," Segun noted. He stepped back to gather speed, accelerated towards the door and kicked it with the sole of his foot. The door merely creaked, as if mocking his assault on it. Other male occupants of St. Michaels soon joined Segun to force the door open. Some used their butts, others their feet. I stood back, too dazed to make any physical efforts.

 

I imagined what was happening behind the door. How many of my personal belongings had caught fire? What was happening to the newly bought black suit I was yet to wear? Had my certificates and credentials begun to bow to the whims of the cheerful blaze, smouldering bit by bit, never to be seen again? These questions made me shiver, just like the probable answers filled me with terror.

 

At last, the door gave way. The room was glowing like a live coal. I rushed in to see and probably save what was left of my properties. The hot and suffocating air that welcomed me threw me back, hurling me into violent cough fits. I bent over to aid my breathing.

"Water! Water!"

"Detergent! Detergent!"

"Omi! Water!"

"Omo! Omo! Soap!"

 

People shouted as they ran helter-skelter, seeking things they could quench the fire with. There were clangs of metal buckets. Soapy water whizzed through the air like missiles, splashing, sizzling. In thirty minutes' time, the fire had been brought under control, even though the smoke still saturated the room.

 

I went in to see the remains of my belongings. My new suit was gone; all that was left of it was a mass of sooty rag. My bed had been halved too, as though the fire was displeased that I should enjoy such comfort alone. My books had been reduced to ashes, flaky reminders of erstwhile embodiments of knowledge. Flames had licked the tip of my best shoe, transforming it into an eyesore, leaving other parts of it intact but useless.

 

I wanted to weep, to wail and throw myself on the ground, but even that required energy- one that had deserted me. So, I buried my head in my palm and thought of the cruelty of life. My parents had just paid through their nose the exorbitant sum of money that was the school fees of a medical student in EKSU, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of naira. Was I to go back to them that I had yet another unplanned expense for them?

"How e take happen sef?" Segun asked, facing Ade, my roommate.

"Me sef no know o. E still dey do me like dream," Ade replied.

 

I felt like walking up to Ade and dealing him a resounding slap. How would he say he did not know? Was he not the one who bought candles, despite my protests, and insisted that they would be his source of light for night studies?

 

That unfortunate night, I had left the room in the early evening for Pastor Gabriel's apartment. He and I had some issues to thrash out on whether or not Christianity could claim exclusivity to God. It had been so much an absorbing debate that it extended into the late hours of the night. If not for Kemi's alarm, we might as well have continued into the early hours of the morning.

 

Therefore, Ade was the only one who could have done something to start the fire in the room. After thorough interrogation, Ade admitted he had lit a candle to read that night. Because the candle was long and well-positioned, he hadn't seen any reason to put it off while leaving to get a loaf of bread down the street. But the table was plastic, and a part of my big mattress (a flammable material) was directly under it. Combining the stated factors, one could easily deduce the cause of the fire by common logic.

 

Now, apart from the damage done to our personal belongings, the room also suffered a major disaster. The PVC ceilings had shrunk, and the wall paintings had lost their lustre. We would need to refurbish the whole room- ceiling, painting and all. Our caretaker was never going to take the matter lightly, and we would consider ourselves lucky if he didn't send us packing even after renovations had been made.

 

Coursemates, church members and friends came to sympathise with Ade and me. They consoled us that 'afflictions would not rise up the second time'; that it was the will of God that such should happen, and that we should be thankful that it didn't get any worse. It didn't matter that none of them thought to help us with some cash, nor did they seem to reckon that we now had no clothes to wear to class the next day. Yet,  we appreciated them for those kind words, words that could have borne greater potency had they been supported with kind acts.

 

Of course, we could not use our room that night because the smoke still hung around like a looming shadow, daring us to sleep over and risk asphyxiation. As I woke up with cramped muscles the next day, having spent the night on a small bed shared with a not-so-slim Segun, I saw the dark silhouette of a lady walking leisurely into my burnt room. I jumped up from bed, ran out of Segun's room and waited for the lady at my door.

 

She came out holding the sooty rag of my newly bought suit away from her body, as if it was a bag of shit.

"What do you want to do with that?" I asked, eyeing what she held, trying hard to calm my nerves.

"Oh, this rag? Em, I want to be using it to mop ni jare. I doubt you still have any use for it," she said, almost with contempt.

I swallowed hard and stepped aside, holding my peace.

 

By Dele Davids.

Published in: NaijaYouth
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0 to 100 level

 
(Read part 2 here)

BELIEVE!

 

Someone once said: “No external discouragement can discourage a man who is not internally discouraged.” Along the road as your desires soar and your hard work intensifies, there may be feelings of fear or doubt. Here is the antidote – believe in your dreams. Don’t give in to internal discouragement. Frankly, this is much easier to write or say than to do but it is indeed needful and it is the truth.

 

We were in the lecture room back in my sophomore days and as we awaited a lecturer, a fellow student said something that I overheard. In his words, (which I have to translate from Yoruba) he said: “I am getting fed up of school. I would rather go into football and earn some big money.”

 

Well, I knew this young man desired to further his education (he had only said that as a pacifier, so to say) but he was gradually allowing external discouragements to get at him. You see why I made mention of challenges and uncertainties one would face on the academic route? When the storms of uncertainties blow, only the strong conviction of one’s mind which I term BELIEF can withstand such storms. Personally, I have had it really hard along this journey but I just continued to believe.

 

One way by which I kept my belief strong was telling myself that – “other people studied this course and came out fine; they didn’t have two heads. Why should mine be an exception?” So, I reminded myself that I was not the first person to excel or succeed in that field and will not be the last. I sustained my belief through statements like that. And of course, with God on one’s side, success will come through.

 

Persons may come and tell you – 100 Level is hundred times more difficult than O’levels. Say to yourself: “I am not the only one in 100 level, and I will not be the first to scale 100 Level. People have passed through successfully, I can and will too.”

Just keep your BELIEF strong! Remember, “no external discouragement can discourage a man who is not internally discouraged.”

 

 

By Folaranmi 'Kunle Omoyeni

 

Published in: NaijaYouth
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apply smartly

Tough as it is to painstakingly go through school – especially adding that university degree to your CV, it doesn't get any easier afterwards. Though arguably, many would agree that getting a job in the labour market is more difficult than acquiring a degree. Those on the receiving end would say the employers have made the recruiting processes scary, while those on the flip side would allude that potential employees are not just up to scratch. Of course there are grey areas to both views as none is totally true or false.

Truth be told, in the face of so much doubt surrounding the credibility and strength of a degree acquired from a Nigerian university, employers cannot be totally blamed for making a horror out of their recruitment process and by the way, they are not actually obliged to make it any easier. Having gotten that out the way, you do not need to wait till employers tone down the difficulty of recruitment processes, rather, you need to adjust accordingly and apply smartly.

So you need a job now! Here are some steps you can take to circumvent the broken recruitment processes you are likely to go through as you plan getting that job.

First off, you should stop dumping your information into automated systems in the name of applications. Many a time, those systems are just there to prove to the world that they do not hire based on favouritism, rather that there is a certain level of transparency in the process. These automated recruiting systems are usually found on the websites of top organisations and they very often possess search algorithms which they use to select candidates.

These algorithms are used in searching out applicants who have words like 'first class', 'U.S.A', 'U.K' in the data they left behind. So, good luck with that if you studied in a Nigerian institution and did not attain such a grade.

There are other means of getting across to potential employers or those who recruit on their behalf. Search and research, for addresses and contacts of companies [preferably the headquarters] you wish to apply to. You can also get personal by contacting the recruiter via phone or even one-on-one.

You should also attempt to re-write your CV and/or cover letter if you have one of the very popular ones, written with guidance from some templates containing many cliché phrases like; 'passionate hard worker', 'self motivated', 'result driven', 'dedicated professional', etc.

You would do well to do away with all the 'zombie language'. They are boring to read and it is best believed they will be found in the documents provided by the other 999 of 1000 applicants.

You should make your CV/ cover letter sound like 'you' and not another anonymous robot. Write it so it can be read in your voice. Make use of the word "I."

Quick example: "I started out as a sales intern at XYZ Company before switching to ABC company as a fulltime sales representative. I have also functioned as a product manager."

As shown in the case in point stated above, try to be as explicit as possible – show relevant job experiences, but do it in the most succinct manner.

Social media is also now a very strong tool which aids job search. Not all companies/recruiters are ready or willing to deal with the multitude of applications that come in as a result of posting vacancies on job search sites or setting up automated systems on their websites. Hence, many who are saddled with the task of filling positions take to their Facebook or Twitter accounts to announce. Believe it or not, people have gotten good jobs by scrolling through social media. It is not just a waste of time after all.

You should also try out other social media networks - LinkedIn to be precise. This one is expressly made for this purpose; employing and getting employed. It affords you the chance of advertising yourself - putting up a somewhat detailed CV which can be constantly updated. There are also premium packages which would cost some money but come with special privileges; like a narrowed down advanced search which helps you get to your targets even faster, knowing and viewing accounts of those who have previously viewed your page. If they are in your industry, it might be because they were considering hiring your services. You might as well contact and convince them you are their man.

It is largely unknown but true that many job-seekers especially at entry level, are not ready for prime time just yet. Some are just unprepared while some others are somewhat unwilling to go through the rigours of today’s recruitment processes – which usually starts out with an application. Good luck as you commence or continue your job hunt!

By Paterson Mgbeoji.

Published in: NaijaYouth
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0 to 100 level

(Read Part 1 here)

2. WORKING HARD

While in the 200 level, at university, I had an acronym on all my notes that read ‘WHGS.’ Some of my friends didn’t bother to ask what it meant but few curious ones did. Somehow, I believe you also are wondering what it means.

           

WHGS stands for: Working Hard Guarantees Success. You also have to settle this issue thoroughly before climbing the next rung on the academic ladder. 

Some years back, while preparing for my U.M.E, my coach told us that if we were to excel in the examination, we ought to know before that day all things being equal. So most nights, I set my alarm for twelve-fifteen a.m. I usually woke up at midnight just to spend two hours and thirty minutes studying. At the end of the exam, I knew I had already passed. Now, that aspect of working hard had become a part of me such that the acronym on my notes was only a reminder of what guaranteed success.

For me, the opposite of hard work is laziness. I often tell children, even in my articles to hate laziness. If working hard would guarantee success then being lazy only guarantees failure. Frankly, you must make up your mind to be hard working in every area of life. Forget shortcuts, they are decoys; a way of postponing failure.

Let me tell you this: every one of the truly successful students I met in school and I have met even in life generally have been people who made up their minds to be very hard working before they ever began their university education. Is that surprising to you? They had trashed out this matter and made up their minds before beginning 100 level.

One of the joys I get from writing this series is the hope that a young man or woman reading this somewhere will get into the higher institution already knowing who you are and what is expected of you to produce good results.

My dear young ones, I already see you succeeding! You see, between O’Levels and 100 level, the issue of working hard must have been crucially settled in your minds.

By Folaranmi ‘Kunle Omoyeni.

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