“I got inspired and returning to my room I discovered that I could do what I had imagined; that God had place inside of me something far greater.”
Joe Effiong, Uyo
In the biblical account, God has most times used both humans and non-humans to reveal Himself or his purpose and mission. God used a single pebble to defeat Goliath and the entire Philistine army; God used donkey to drum the message deeper into Balaam brain; God used the snake to inflict punishment on the Israelites and a fiery serpent to bring succour to them.
Thus, it didn’t sound quite out of place listening to the best graduating student of the 2015/2016 academic session at the recent convocation ceremony of the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Miss Sonia Utibe Inim, narrated in her valedictory address how God used an ant to boost the motivation she needed to drive her academic pursuit to excellence.
“On the road to my academic success, I faced many distractions, campus challenges and never ending peer pressure. I could remember one morning, I sat there full of thought saying it was time to give up and the time to press no further. As I laid my head on my study desk, I gazed upon an ant, I looked closer, the ant was trying to push a grain of rice over a platform. The ant pushed and kept on trying until it came to a stop.
“At that point I whispered to myself ‘Push some more, you are almost there.’ As if the ant was listening to me, it returned and gave a final push and the grain of rice was finally over the platform. Then I realised that I must not give up; that I must give a final push. I must give my best to excel.
“This ceremony would not have been possible today without our creator who saw us through this journey. As graduands, we acknowledge God’s faithfulness and mercies towards us. It was God alone who saw us through this journey. We will admit that not all who started with us are here today. But we are among the chosen few and we are grateful. We began this race without knowing what to expect; we face different challenges along the way and in spite of the rough times, we drew divine inspiration to propel us,” she said.
The 22-year-old Inim, from Uyo Local Government Area, who read Accounting Education and came out with a CGPA of 4.78 to emerge the best among the 32 students that bagged First Class, recalled how, on her matriculation, her uncle advised her to study hard and be focused.
“He encouraged me that I could be a better person. I got inspired and returning to my room I discovered that I could do what I had imagined; that God had place inside of me something far greater. Then my academic restructuring started. I set higher goals; I raised my desires. I lifted my passions and created new plans. I was determined to put in my best and see where my best could take me to. Having set higher goals, I set my priorities right because there was a goal to be achieved. Time management was essential and so I improved on my time management skill and I made good use of all the resources available to me.”tc
While thanking her parents and all her teachers from primary school till date, for their efforts in moulding her life, Inim, now a student of the Institute of Chartered Account of Nigeria (ICAN), commended the effort of government and its commitment to the education sector.
“However, I believe that more can be done. I therefore appeal that the budgetary allocation to the education sector be reviewed upwards and that academic excellence be rewarded like other celebrities.”
She also had words for her fellow graduands. “We have reached the height of this mountain and are about to embark on our life’s journey as winners. We are humbled by the fact that there are higher mountains to climb and longer flights to make. However, we know that with God’s help, we shall rise above the storm of mediocrity and scale through the hurdles. Through us, hope shall be revived, excellence be exalted and the impossible shall be made possible. As we leave today, let us remember that excellence is a journey and no one should be caught static. You do not have to be in competition with anyone, you must not be the first but be the best you can in all you do. No height is too far to attain and no depth is too deep to reach,” said Inim.
On a lighter note, who knows, maybe, Inim took more than just a passing interest in the rice-pushing ant because according to her profile, she loves fried rice and salad as well as purple and pink as her favourite food and colours respectively. Apart from that, cooking is one of her hobbies even as she serves in the hospitality department of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Uyo.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented at the 24th convocation of UNIUYO by Mr. Ibrahim Yakasai, Director, Corporate Communications, National Universities Commission (NUC) charged the new graduates not to look onto those leaders that have in one way or the other failed the country, but should emulate those who are honest and work hard in their professions, businesses and in government to make Nigeria a proud home for all.
While calling on the enlightened Nigerians to desist from making misleading utterances that would create fears and ills of the country as no nation can develop where hate-filled speeches are daily occurrences, the president warned that as the 2019 general elections approaches, universities as great thinkers should guide their communities to enable them make informed decisions about who to vote for and why.
“Our elites must stop misleading our people, they must refrain from speaking ill of this nation and spreading hate, they must refrain from spreading fear in the society. The development and progress we all clamour for can never thrive in a hate-filled and divisive society.
“At this point, I want to be very clear and unequivocal; the Federal Government will never condone or tolerate incendiary remarks from any person or group of persons, which are meant to harass, intimidate, cause fear and spread hate, no matter how highly place such person is.
“Law enforcement agencies should fish out people who make inciting statements, instigate civil disobedience, broadcast haste speeches or stir up strife, riot and rebellion and bring them to book.
“The federal government is also not in support of farmers-herders conflict and killings. Government is doing and will continue to do its best to ensure that peace is maintained and security of lives is guaranteed in our country. We should continue to live together as brothers and sisters”, he said.
The president commended Dr. Etukudo Jimmy of the Department of Human Physiology, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences of the university, whose research breakthrough discovered herbal drug for the cure of gastric ulcer and has been granted a patent in this regard.
“The Federal Government share in the glory of this achievement as the funding for the researches was a government-mediated research facility from the World Bank. But there are still more to be done to take the invention to the market shelves at a price affordable by the consumers who need the invention most”, he added.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Enefiok Essien had lamented the none re- lease of take-off grant to the institution 27 years after it was taken over by the federal government as a state owned institution in 1991.
Prof. Essien however noted that, the none release of the fund, has not negatively affected the institution in terms of provision of infrastructure; commending donor agencies like Niger Delta Development Commission, the Akwa Ibom state government, Exxon Mobil and some federal government agencies for their aids to the school.
“I should add that the university has never had a take-off grant since its creation as a federal university and is therefore in dire need of funds for befitting physical structures,” he said.
The VC explained that 4,539 students graduated from the university, adding that the school was happy to return what is the world best practice of convoking a set of graduating students as against combined convocation which is now common among Nigerian universities.
The VC, who said the university is ranked among the first 20 in the country has all its courses accredited, noting that such has made the NUC to approve the running of a Bachelor of Education in education technology in the institution.
“We intend to do more, to continually improve teaching, research and service delivery and thereby improve our raking both nationally and internationally”.