Monday, 20 July 2020


Can I Still Get My Law School Bursary Arrears from My State Government?

(By Sylvester Udemezue)

I have just read an encouraging news report in the Vanguard Newspaper of July 20, 2020 (click HERE to read it), to the effect that “Governor Ugwuanyi Approves N24.6m Bursary For 246 Enugu Law School Students.” I thank God and I thank Governor Ugwuanyi!  An investment in Education is the best! That Governor is doing very well. Let’s call a spade by its real name. However, this bursary payment should have started when I was in school oooo, or before then. I believe it would have if Mr. Ugwuanyi (who loves education) was the Governor then. Chai! I had nearly died of hunger and starvation, and all sorts of lack, then. I had gone through hell. Honestly! Never thought I could beat it! (story for another day). Imagine if I had got even if it was one kobo from my state government, then. The suffering would have been pretty less excruciating. 

Before I forget, I humbly urge all Local and State Governments, and the Government of the Federation, to please take education and all issues relating to student bursary payment, very seriously. There are many people that are currently in conditions close to, similar to, or even worse than, what I had found myself in, then, due to no fault of mine. These ones could be lifted out of student-poverty, if their governments could approve bursaries for them, however huge or little; half of a loaf of bread is better than none. I had no one then to lift me out of my circumstance-imposed student-poverty; I had bathed and swum in it until it became a part of me and I got used to it; I even got helplessly happy with it, and courageously fought my way through and made the best out of it.  In the end, I overcame because I RemainedFocused, having opted to be guided by the “winners never quit” mantra. Today, it’s all history.

All glory to God and Mr.  Bonny Ozobialu (from Anambra State) who had happily and cheerfully paid my law school fees. I thank Mr Chukwudi (a little guy then) who had invited me to Pandogeri (in Niger) and given me N5,000.  I thank my poor parents for having stood by me to support in their little ways, to counsel me, and to assure me I could do it. I thank especially my mother who, at the worst of the moments, was forced to approach a physically-challenged guy to borrow N1,500. Yes, and Mr. Obele Nwa Isaiah had happily lent my great mum the N1,500. I thank my beloved and ever-loving younger ones who had kept urging me on; even till today, they remain great pillars of support. I thank those classmates, other friends and acquaintances, who had “dashed” or bought me food, ties or shirts, and sometimes money. I thank those ones that would give me N300 (three hundred naira) or N400 (four hundred naira) and then would say to me, “Udems, take this one for your weekend.” Little did they know that I would have gone without food-for-the-weekend if not for their money-for-the-weekend gift. I thank Akwa-Best Restaurant and Oto-Obong Shop (both located within the precincts of Nigerian Law School, Bwari, Abuja, and whose owners and managers are all from Akwa Ibom State) who each and both had insisted on helping me to keep eating when it became obvious I might no longer cope. By the way, Akwa-best Restaurant was to give my visitors on my call to Bar Day a big treat as if I had paid a dime for it. Mrs. and Mrs Cosmas Udoh (owners of Akwa-Best Restaurant), with my younger brother (who had managed to be there), were to accompany me into the Call to the Bar hall, because my parents, on account of lack, could not come to Abuja for that all-important induction ceremony.


I thank my then well-to-do relatives (including those resident close to the Law School, Bwari, Abuja) who had abandoned me, despite my repeated entreaties and cry-for-help, and due to no fault of mine; they made me stronger because, sometimes, as I came to learn, pain strengthens the soul, and acts as the condiment that gives success its very enjoyable and nourishing flavor. Disappointment in life is an opportunity; succeeding takes a lot of patience and commitment, and comes with a lot of disappointments and pain, along the way. Precept, study, advice, and example would never, and could never have taught me so well as disappointments and pain did. Iron sharpeneth iron! But, don’t get me wrong; today, I love them all (all my relatives), and I readily and happily render any assistance I am capable of, to any one — relatives, friends and all. It is my belief that no one has ever become poor by giving! On the contrary, one gets more joy out of giving joy to others; it is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest. Besides, giving liberates the soul of the giver.  Finally, aAlbert Einstein said, it is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. 


I thank my uneducated dad whose brains are full of true education, and who had insisted he had not done anything wrong that would live after him, to adversely affect his children. Daddy, thank you so much for having trained your children in the way they should go (the right path), so that when they grow up, they will not turn away from it. (Proverbs 22:7). Thank you, Peter Eze, Principal Partner of Eze, Dimude, Eze & Co who had (during the close of my Law Firm Attachment/Externship in his Law Firm)  offered me a position and a living place, with instructions to start at the Firm within four days from the finish of my Bar Part 2 (Law School) exams. Your engagement had kept me afloat until I departed for my NYSC program. Sir, you won`t believe I am still using the fine Wig and Gown that you had graciously bought for me – an indication of how much I appreciate them. I thank you, Hon Chuka Utazi (now a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic) for having assisted me with the money I used to travel to Abuja for my call-up letter, and to OSUN State, to start at the Ede NYSC orientation camp. Thank you, Senator!  Special thanks to you, my Uka, for having always stood by me, even from then, believing in me, as I have always believed in you, and we both in each other, till death do us path -- that is, if even death is capable of separating a strong union that the double forces of God Almighty and the gods of our land have put together.  I did not marry the one I could live with; I married the one I could not live without. To be loved by the person you love is everything. He is the happiest who finds a true friend in his wife, as I in you. Thank you!

But, come to think of it, can I still apply for my bursary as a form of Bursary Arrears? I think I need to consult with my lawyers for legal advice on whether bursary from my State Government is a RIGHT or a mere PRIVILEGE! I pray it’s the former, so that I would demand it with interest of so many years; interest at prevailing bank rate! I might even be able to ask for general damages and special damages from my State for having withheld my bursary and allowed me to go through the valley of death, even though I feared no evil.  What about damages for the damage caused me by the emotional trauma arising from persistent lack. Lol. Indeed, Enugu State, get set for the legal battle; because you owe me big money, in arrears. Chai! Title of the suit: Udems (as claimant) versus Attorney-General (AG), Enugu State (as Defendant)! My lawyers, here I come! But, wait a minute, is bursary not a mere privilege? My lawyers, please say no to this; tell me it’s a right; my right!


Meanwhile, I thank God I had chosen education; it has me, as I have been made by it, against all odds. There’s Godu ooooo (thanks to Mama Jonathan). Oluwa, e Seun ooo! Chukwu, daalu oooo! Saanu, Da Allah!  Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change yourself, your country and the world. A good education replaces an empty mind with an open mind.  As Benjamin Franklin put it, an investment in education pays the greatest dividend. To William Butler Yeats, “education is not just the filling of the pail; it is the lighting of a fire.” A country without good and quality education is bereft of good life. Said John Dewey: “education is not just a preparation for life; it is life itself.”  


My advice to all: get an education, even if the heavens would fall; you’d be happy you did, as I am today. And to those who are going through what I went through, I advise you to keep moving. Don’t quit. Don’t get discouraged. If you get discouraged by disappointments or misfortunes, you would die never knowing what a great person you might have been if you had persevered a little longer; if there is no possibility of disappointments, then victory is meaningless. Just a little more persistence, a little more diligent effort, and what seems (to you) a hopeless situation would turn to a glorious success. Again, I say, cheer up! Do not cry; do not despair! But, if you have started, wipe your tears and get back to work; there is no short cut to anywhere worth going to. Victory is not far off! And victory is sweet. If I could conquer, you too can. I exhort you in Marthin Luther King Jr`s words:  "You are veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive."  

RemainFocused and embrace the Power of Positivity!

Sylvester Udemezue (udems)
Legal Practitioner,
Nigerian Law School.
(20 July 2020)

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