Muyiwa Fadugba is a graduate of Covenant University and currently on National Service on the platform of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Borno State. In this interview, Fadugba who was former Student Council Chairman, CU Student Council and now the Chairman of the Steering Committee of the University Alumni Association, speaks on his experience at the NYSC, the University Alumni, their unbroken tie with the University, among other issues.
How was your experience at the NYSC orientation camp?
Well at the orientation camp, the experience was not too good particularly when you look at the facilities that were available and many other things that we thought we would enjoy, which we never enjoyed. My colleagues and I that were posted to Borno State had a harrowing experience as we were made to sleep under the tree for three weeks without accommodation
At that point were you disillusioned?
Yes we were. Our unanimous decision at that distressing period was that government should scrap the NYSC programme because the aim was not being achieved. We felt that if the money committed to each Corps member can be redirected in implementing some of the CU custom-built programmes like TTG & EDS, which prepare students for life after school, in all Universities in the country, it will be more meaningful, especially if the monthly allowance of N8, 500 being paid to Corps members and the money expended on kits are given to the students on graduation as take-off grants to start small businesses. But when you take us to places where we cannot even find placement and thereby wasting our potentials, at least for those of us that come from CU who had the mind of going out there to contribute, then it becomes counterproductive and frustrating. However, despite the hiccups, we still participated fully in all the activities and programmes in the camp.
While staying under the tree, as you earlier mentioned, did you have a sense of nostalgia and a feeling of coming back to CU, a place where you were parented in loco and had a readily available accommodation right from the inception of the University?
Greatly, I told myself that the worst situation in CU would not meet me under the tree; the worst situation in CU would not meet me sleeping in the rain. There was a particular night that rain beat us under the tree where we were and I looked back and said, "the CU picture is the ideal picture, the ideal setting of a life that we ought to live outside there, which we did not get outside there in the camp". So my counsel to those who are still passing through Covenant University is to get the ideal picture registered in their hearts so that when they get out there and cannot find it, they should be able to look within and reproduce the picture that they have acquired at CU. We are eager to come back for the alumni meeting and see the pictures again.
Would you say the University actually prepared you for that kind of challenges?
I would say yes. The University is futuristic; it’s raising people that would bring Nigeria to a standard above what it is today. CU has given us an ideal picture of what Nigeria should be. So, by showing us the future and making us see the present, the University has actually armed us with the truth and sharpened us so that we can make impact anywhere we go.
During that camping period, did you still maintain contact with the University authorities either by phone or through other means?
Yes. Even the Chancellor, Dr David Oyedepo, called us and wanted to find out about our welfare and he was so disturbed that such was the case with us at the camp. We also had interactions with other Principal Officers of the University because there were issues that we needed support and counseling from the school and their counsels really worked for us.
How did you feel when the Chancellor called?
Wow! I was not around the first time he called but he later called back and I wanted to be sure that it was not one of our friends that was playing pranks by trying to fake the Chancellor’s voice. We were under a tree when he called and at that point I was seeing myself sitting down before him and at that very moment I forgot all the problems and situation at the camp. In fact that call to me was an inspiration as well as a caution. It made me to realize that even if you want to do something else there’s someone expecting a lot from you. I forgot about my situation and said, ‘since Papa (as the Chancellor is fondly called) has called me it means he is interested in what I am going to do here’. Then, I encouraged my people and said let’s go ahead and participate in whatever they are doing, showing them that we can without defiling ourselves or lowering our standards be part of the process. That was what that call from the Chancellor did, it re-ignited the passion and the strength to forge ahead.
Was there anything striking about CU graduates?
Yes. We were carrying ourselves together to the envy of others because we said to ourselves we may not have been so close in school but there’s a mentality that binds us together, which we must cultivate and cherish. At a point when they were looking for Miss Camp and one of our girls wanted to know if it was healthy for her to participate. After some consultations, we said to her okay you go for Miss Camp but what you are going to wear must be in line with what CU will approve. We affirmed that she will not wear anything contrary to that and she accepted. She went for the contest, never exposed her body nor defiled herself and was absolutely CU compliant and won. Our values, royal carriage and orderliness were speaking eloquently for us. Also the quality of suggestions we made at our different platoons and groups were mostly taken because it was the quality that people were looking at. Indeed, we distinguished ourselves in camp in all ramifications.
What happened after the orientation camp?
Immediately after our orientation camp, the church (Living Faith Church a.k.a Winners Chapel) came to pick us and we had our Corpers’ Fellowship and thereafter, we were posted out to different locations within the state.
Where were you posted for your primary assignment?
I was posted to a local government secretariat and on getting there the environment showed that it was a very lazy environment as everything was in a state of decadence. The moment I realised that I would be working only one hour per week, I knew that I don’t belong there. It’s unacceptable. I mean, I don’t come from a University that condones such a thing. In fact, even if your boss or superior officer is not giving you something to do you engage yourself and so, without hesitation, I opted out.
Did you just opt out or did the Local Government Authorities give the option?
Actually, we were asked if anyone of us was interested in getting rejection letter and I opted for it.
So, where did you go from there?
I had already done an interview with Spring Bank under the platform of Covenant University Endowment Programme and I had that confidence that I would be called eventually. So, right now I am serving with Spring Bank.
While you were here at CU, you served as a Student Council chairman and presently you are the coordinator of the University Alumni. Your classmates, without doubt, looked up to you for inspiration and advice. Do you still carry them along, particularly the ones serving with you?
Yes. They are always in touch with me from their different stations. They call to find out what’s happening and also to relay their problems and seek solutions to them. By God’s grace, during our tenure, we were able to win their heart because we served them well. They had this confidence that if you call on Muyiwa, he will be able to help you out and so, from Lagos, Ogun, Adamawa etc calls keep coming in and they kept asking what to do. Even concerning sundry issues like hair do, some ladies in some States, kept asking Muyiwa should we do our hair? And that showed order and respect. In fact, no one called the school without first calling me and my other colleagues that are coordinators of the Alumni programme. Yes we may be out of school but the leadership role still continues.
What do you hope to achieve during the service year?
I want to be involved in youth financial empowerment. I want to raise kingdom financial youths, who can go about their own profitable businesses; engaging themselves positively and not being liabilities or dependants on people.
Do you regret walking through the sands of Covenant University?
God forbid, I never regretted it and will never regret it. In as much as I spent five years after my secondary school before getting admission, I have never regretted passing through Covenant University. Yes, there were tough times, times when you almost felt like giving up. In fact, all the things I experienced and learnt in four years even if I had spent ten years in America, am not sure I would have gotten them. The beauty of it is that the University was so open to us in terms of counseling and guidance as well as providing the needed support for us to forge ahead and these were great privileges that we have enjoyed. CU has enabled me to meet former Heads of State, Presidents and big people in the society. I have had personal touch with the Chancellor and some people do say they see the Bishop Oyedepo in their dreams, but I see him live. This is a man raised for this dispensation to champion change, coming to CU has made me to meet him, I thank God for it and I am not going to break my connection.
Do you have a word for the Eagles that are still here?
Yes I do. We were released as eagles and the next set will be released as ‘flying eagles’ and the set after them will be released as ‘super eagles.’ I want the students after us to get the ideal picture, try to understand virtues being impacted at CU, the vision and the demand that led to the birth of CU. If they can understand the principles they need to imbibe, if they can understand the culture, life out there will not be able to choke them. If they can only allow the whole essence of CU to sink into them, they can use it to withstand the force out there and will not get contaminated easily. Let the picture be well established and well formed in your heart, you can see it and actually touch it and by the time you get out then you can know what stuff you are made of. Now they may not know what’s in there but let them get out, then the ideal life that we were shown here will now begin to recreate and reproduce. Also, the God factor in CU is not to be taken for granted, here (CU) we have the opportunity to serve God but by the time they get to the office setting, it becomes a different ball game entirely. So, whatever they want to grab from God, they need to grab it in time, and all that they find themselves doing on campus in respect of the place of God in their lives should be a personal thing and not a under-the-canopy thing so that out there they can continue since it is already a lifestyle. These are the things I have for them. I love them and I miss all of them.
Do you have a word for the University?
The University should continue to be dynamic and I will like the University to pride its graduates like it has never done before. Many of us want to come back for our Masters programmes but not all would want to join the academic so that the culture can be transformed and re-injected into the future. Our coming back will also increase passion and positively influence the students on campus, as we will want to live up to expectations. All the students without doubt will be looking up to us. Some outstanding students in the next set too should be allowed to come back for their Masters programme until CU is able to achieve the aim of dressing and grooming many academics. This system also helps in recycling the University’s products and re-grooming them.
Apart from injecting the CU products into the University’s faculty, what other advice do you have for the University?
Well I like to tell the University that nothing is too small to do, as they are breaking grounds, they should also not relent at all. They should continue to be dogged in their pursuits and should not let the accolades of people get into their head because very soon they will also be experiencing criticisms. Yes, it is all applause that they are getting now but if they ignore applause of men, definitely, they will not be moved by their criticisms and that makes them to continue to pursue their goals. I love the University because change is always a constant thing at CU.