“The answer is simple; I am worried about the self-defeatist attitude in some of our youth. They believe ‘long leg’ is everything?”
One of my favourite teachers at the Kano State College of Arts and Sciences, popularly called CAS, was Ahmad Gambo. Those days were beautiful because the Kano State government at the time had succeeded in bringing the best to teach at the College. In the Arts and Social Sciences you had such brilliant minds like Said Dukawa, Zakariya M. Zakari, and Ado Mukhtar Bichi.
Despite the hectic nature of the IJMB programme, you would never want to miss your lectures. For certainly, apart from the lesson you take from these lecturers, you also learn one or two things about life.
Towards the end of the IJMB programme, many of the students were worried about getting admission into university, not because they would fail in the exam, but simply for the fear of what in Nigeria is called ‘long leg’. As students expressed those fears, Malam Ahmad, in his philosophical way, said something that has remained with me till this day. All you need to do is to make sure you get the best result in the final exam, he told us. Should your application be thrown into the dustbin, if the result is good enough, the paper will shout from the dustbin to remind the admission officer that you have forgotten a qualified candidate, and so he must find a place for you, he added.
In essence, what Malam Ahmad was teaching us was that we should remain confident and understand that favouritism has a limit. Many of the students listened. To date, I couldn’t remember one student who had 10 points and above in the final IJMB who couldn’t secure admission into the university. Of course some got it much harder than others, but at the end, those who passed the exam well proved that their results could not be dumped in the dustbin.
For those who may not be aware, the IJMB is a post-secondary school programme conducted by the Institute of Education at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Students normally take a combination of courses that will lead them into a degree programme. For instance if you want to study medicine, your combination will be chemistry, physics and biology. If you get a good result, you can be admitted into the second year in the university. It is equivalent to what is called high school or college depending on the system.
About three years ago, I attended a rigorous job interview. Instead of the traditional single interview panel that you find in many organisations, in this occasion you attend four different panels. In the first panel, you develop a module, from teaching to assessment and present it to the entire staff of the department. You then move to another panel to discuss your research. In fact even students have to evaluate your ability, so you attend a student panel and teach them for half an hour, and then finally, you attend the main interview.
Each member of these panels will give you a score and the total result as well as your performance in the final interview decides whether you get the job or not.
The professor chairing the interview sessions, a brilliant and jovial person, noticed that many of the candidates were worried, and he said something interesting which has remained with me to date, “each and every one of you is qualified to get this job, that is why you have been shortlisted”, and suddenly all the faces started smiling. He then continued, “So you are not competing with the person next to you” he added, “you are simply competing against yourself, all you need is to prove that you are the best candidate for the job.”
Why am I narrating these boring stories to you? The answer is simple. I am worried about the self-defeatist attitude in some of our youth. They believe ‘long leg’ is everything? I disagree. Yes ‘long leg’ is a reality. Perhaps those unlucky youth who lost their lives or got injured in the Nigerian immigration interview were there because they don’t have a ‘long leg’. But understand that favouritism has a limit, if you do your homework, one day your chance will come.
I conclude with one of my favourite quotes attributed to Dale Carnegie, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy”.
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