It took me 11 years to get my L. L. B. Degree. Yeah. I spent 11 years in the university.
I wanted the arts, my dad refused. He said it was a waste of my intelligence. So I went with law. My first year was hectic, I wanted to change to Arts faculty. I kept dragging up until my third year. Then the school fees was increased by over 100%. We didn't bother paying immediately because it was unexpected so it was decided that I would pay the outstanding when it was time for my clearance.
Fast forward, two years later. I was in my final year and I got a shocker.
"Your studentship has been revoked. You've not been a registered student for two years."
I was stunned. My world crashed. My name was taken off the school record for the two years I didn't pay and nobody bothered to inform me! I was not even warned by the faculty. I didn't just exist. Automatically, I already had two extra years before graduation.
On the last day of exams, while my mates were rejoicing and hugging, I cried. Angry, bitter tears. Before then, I already had carry-overs that I could have done in my final year but I didn't. What's the rush anyway? I'd still be here in two years.
The extra years I spent in school were very dark moments for me. It was a dark period. My parents however never gave up on me. They encouraged, reasoned with me and threatened me when necessary. I didn't have friends, I became a recluse.
Two years passed and I happily marched to the sub-dean's office to get my results. She looked at me and said..
"You failed Commercial law, Family law, Philosophy..." My ears started to ring as she counted up to ten more courses I had to resit.
"B b but ma" I stuttered, "I already passed those."
"I can't find them on my computer, you just have to write them again." I left her office and started hyperventilating. Tears were streaming down my eyes and I couldn't see. My body temperature shot up and it felt like I was having a mini heart attack. I stumbled on my way out and a guy caught me before I hit the ground.
"Hey, are you okay?" He looked into my eyes. I couldn't see him.
"Let me drive you to the health center" he said. He practically carried me into the car because I couldn't move. Drove me to the health center and stayed with me. Then he called my dad. He felt I was just sick, bless his soul. My dad was in my school a few hours later and took me home to recover.
I never met the guy again. I didn't even see his face properly. But I will eternally be grateful to the stranger who came to my aid.
So my dad took me home and I was nursed back to health, not just in my body but my mind and then went back to school to continue the battle.
I almost forgot to mention that somewhere in all that, I had a baby. I went back to school just a week after I had him. I took care of my boy with the help of my aunt and juggled classes. I was never late for a class but guess what? I still failed. When he was eight months old, I had to take him home to my mother. My heart broke into a million pieces but I had to do what I had to do. School was calling.
I was also a devout member of Winner's chapel in my school. I was a member of the choir and oh! how I sang my heart out. I. Sang. My. Heart. Out. I was there through every final year brethren celebration. Every single one. One day, a girl walked up to me and said "Sister Jummy, I admire you a lot. Despite all you're going through, you still laugh. Nobody would know you're going through a lot of challenges." I smiled. If only she knew about the sleepless nights, the bucket of tears that wet my pillows every night. I completely masked my pain behind makeup and smiles.
I sat for my third and fourth extra years. By this time, I had already spent almost ten years. I was in class one day for Company law and a girl approached me. She said "Anti Jummy, shey masters ni e n she ni? (aunty Jummy, are you doing your masters?)" I was ashamed. I didn't have a reply. Masters? In Company law class? I left immediately and cried all the way home.
My case was so bad that we had to solicit the help of the Ebumawe who in turn called people that mattered in OOU to look into my matter with immediate effect. I got to school the next day and I was called into an office. Lecturers and non-teaching staff members were there. Then they started saying a lot of things to me "Okay now that you have gone to the Ebumawe, let him come and clear you now.." God!! I cried till there was no more tears left. I cried the tears of a lifetime within those five years.
By the end of the fourth resit, I went happily to my faculty to clear my results. Sub-dean went.." Ah! You still have five more to clear o." I walked home with my last energy, I couldn't even cry. I landed in the hospital that evening. My blood pressure had shot up. I was not even thirty and I had HBP suddenly. I was stabilized, stayed the night and went home the next day. Summoned courage and went back to sit for what was going to be my last exam in Olabisi Onabanjo University.
I sat for the last time and as usual went to find out my fate. Before then, my mom called and said "Jumoke, we are going to fast for seven days and then I will come and see that woman (sub-dean) myself. She must do the right thing." I did as she said and she came down to my school. My mother knelt down in her office and begged "Please help my daughter, this is her fifth resit."
So after the exams, I went to her again. My heart was pounding in my ears as I waited. She looked at her computer and said "Princess, it looks like I'm the one who has been giving you extra courses oh because I can see you've passed some of them before. However, we can't find one course but I'll waive it for you." And that was it. In my eleventh year, 2016, I was cleared in OOU. A journey that began in 2004/2005.
Some of my mates were already members of the bench when I graduated. It was a day of joy in my household. My father and mother, two of the strongest people I know. They never left me alone.
I got admission into law school in November 2016, wrote my bar finals in August 2017. Guess what... I failed again.
That was how I graduated after 11 years. I held the record for the most extra years by a single student. Then I got into law school.
As usual, my dad was with me. He drove me down to school and made sure I was settled before he left for home. I resumed in November and by December, I was ready to bail. I felt out of place. My mind wouldn't connect. My parents made sure I had every recommended text. They also made sure I had comfort to the best of their ability. But nothing worked.
The lecturers in Lagos campus didn't help much either. Don't get me wrong. They were excellent teachers but the pressure was something else. I was broken, my mental health suffered. I developed anxiety disorder (something I still battle till date). I couldn't afford to fail. I mean, how would I go home with failure after paying almost half a million for fees? I woke up everyday with trepidation.
I had the most wonderful roommates. But nobody truly knew my battle. All they saw was a playful, naughty and cheerful girl. I didn't let anyone see anything. The closer bar finals came, the more I was afraid.
Mind you, I attended lectures. Lagos campus wouldn't even give you the opportunity to miss class anyway. I read to the best of my ability. Bar finals came in August and I was no way near ready. Each day of my papers, I fasted to the examination hall. I had ulcer but I fasted till evening each day for five days. On Corporate law day, I was a hot mess. I looked at the paper and I knew in an instant that I'd failed. This wasn't a matter of negative confession or anything. I knew it right there and then. Everything looked like Greek. But I had to write, so I wrote. I don't know what I wrote but write I did. I got out of the hall and called my mom.
"Mommy, I didn't write it well." I cried.She said to me "Jumoke, don't worry. You have done your best, leave the rest for God. Stop crying, go and get food and eat.
"Results came in in the middle of the night a few months later. People were already posting "Thank God, I made it!" on various school groups. I checked mine and right in front of my name was FAILED! I left all the school groups that instant because I couldn't bear to see other people rejoicing while I cried.
It was in the middle of the night, but I called my parents. All I kept repeating was "I failed! I failed!! The tears this time wasn't just normal tears.
It was the kind that made one short of breath. The type of tears one cried if a loved one dies. Perhaps I died a little that day.It can't be! Another failure? I don't deserve this! Like I said earlier, I knew I failed on Corporate law day but reality hits differently no matter how prepared you think you are.
By morning, my eyes were swollen shut from tears. I was staying with a wonderful friend turned sister at Maryland. She consoled me and urged me to attend a baby naming in the estate just to get things off my mind. My parents were coming around the area so they called and said they would be picking me up. As usual, they consoled me and encouraged me.
Months later, resit form was out. My dad asked me to go get the form, I refused. There's no way I'm setting myself up for failure again, no. My dad, pled, threatened, bullied, used every tactic he knew. I didn't budge.
"Did someone tell these people that I will never make it in life if I'm not a lawyer?" I thought. Because I couldn't understand the obsession.
Days later, he called me and we had a heart to heart talk. That day, he broke my resolve. He got through to me. I cried but agreed to go on one condition.. That it would be the end of anything related to law in my life if I failed. He was like "Okay, just try this once." Few weeks later, I was off to Abuja for my resit.
I spent three months in Abuja and my parents made sure I never lacked. And boy, did I read!! Exams came close and I was reading in my apartment and my heart began to race. It wasn't the usual fast heartbeat, I knew something was wrong. I threw on my jeans and shirt and went to the school clinic. Turned out my blood pressure had shot up again. I was given medication, and had to report to the clinic everyday for a week. It took a week for my blood pressure to get back to normal.
I wrote bar finals and went back home. Few days to the release of results, insomnia and anxiety started again. Mom would say "Go and sleep, it is settled.
"It was 11:30pm when I got through to the website to check my result. And right there, right in front of my name was written "PASSED!" I screamed!! This time I wasn't screaming about failure, it was "I passed!! I passed!!" My parents got out of bed and our house was full of noise that night. Neighbors must have been wondering what was happening but we didn't care. It was a victory. My dad woke more than a dozen people that night to tell them his daughter passed. My two roommates also passed, my joy was full.
Gifts poured in for my call to bar. Both my parents went with me to Abuja. They wouldn't miss it for the world. It was a proud day. I was finally a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
It was a long journey but here I was, I arrived in 2018. Yippee!!
I'm not going to say gibberish or try to sound motivational or anything. But I do hope with all my heart, that someone would read my story and take strength from it. You will arrive.
Written by Jay Princess Adesanya