#MyBarFinalsTestimony is brought to you by the MCQ APP in conjunction with Ekaete Hunter.
Name: ALABI Rejoice Oluwadamilare
Campus: Kano Campus (First Class), Director General’s Prize for First Class Students.
University: Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (Second Class Honours, Upper Division)
About: Rejoice Alabi hails from Masifa/Ejigbo in Osun State. He had his primary education and Junior Secondary education in New Hope Nursery/Primary School and New Hope Model College, Ifetedo, Ife South LGA, Osun State. He completed his secondary school education in Progress College ( now Progress Intellectual College), Okeigbo, Ondo State. He attended Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and the Nigerian Law School (Kano). He served as the Secretariat Coordinator and Assistant General Coordinator of the Deeper Life Campus Fellowship in OAU and NLS Kano respectively.
Rejoice has two books to his credits- The Wicked Aunt (2004) and My Book of Nigerian Puzzles (2016). He is the convener of BIBOGA Initiatives- a creative national awareness group which organizes annual Independence Day Puzzle, Art & Poetry Competition and Independence Lecture for secondary school students in Nigeria. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The summary of my story can be found in the words of Apostle Paul in Romans 9:16 – ‘So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.’ The implication is that it is not enough to will (desire success) and run (work hard for it). If God doesn’t show you mercy, you will be limited.
I graduated from OAU in April 2015 after spending 5 + x years, the “x” being a euphemism for the extra-time occasioned by irregularities in the school calendar. I was just about 0.2 points above the 2:1 threshold and I realized that I had what I had because I did not set any goal as an undergraduate. I adopted the laissez-faire attitude in my academics and it yielded its dividends. In short, I did not take my destiny in my hands. However, I still thank God for mercy because in retrospect, I can’t say I even deserved what I got.
It was on this template that I began to rewrite my destiny. Graduating in April (months before law school) afforded me adequate time for reflection on where I was coming from, where I was and where I was going. Thus, as early as July 2015, I wrote down my vision for the Law School and started praying and working towards it. I wasn’t reading any materials but I “rendezvoused” with excellent minds who had gone ahead of me. I began to perch on their shoulders so I could see with the eyes of faith the herculean possibility of having a First Class in the Nigerian Law School. I told every one who came my way during that period that if I could have a 2:1 in Ife, God could help me to make a First Class in Law School. I reasoned that it’d be better to let people know you aimed high but missed it rather than missing it and not having the privilege of people knowing you actually aimed for more.
I think God decided to test my resolve as I did not get to apply and resume at the Law School until four (4) weeks had passed after official resumption. In other words, when I resumed at Kano on December 1st 2015, my confidence had plummeted. God was in essence saying, “you won’t have this First Class strictly by your own desire and design but by My making and mercies”. Catching up wasn’t even on my checklist at the time, I just wanted to acclimatize and see if I could eat from the crumbs of other available grades. First Class was certainly on the exclusive menu and it was off my reach, or so I thought. But the word of God kept coming to me that good success is the children’s bread (Joshua 1:8, Matthew 15: 21-28). Tobi Amoo Esq was invited a week after I resumed by the DDG and I mustered a little faith after hearing him speak on how he made a First Class. I jotted the nuggets of his testimony and the tips he shared at the back of my Property Practice note and they turned out to be a charging point for me whenever my resolve went down. In fact, I took a bolder step by writing my name directly above his name and I put in bracket “First Class NLS Kano 2015/2016 set”. I told myself I would tear that sheet if I did not get a First Class so that no one will discover!
Like I said in my opening statement, mine was not a “willeth or runneth” success because all through First Term, Second Term and Externship, I was not reading as I ought to. I had a lot of spaces in my notes that I could not fill up. I did not have most of my textbooks until the 20th week of lectures and I even engaged in other time-burning interests. Mentally, I had given up the First Class dream and it was reflecting in my attitude. I was again doing laissez-faire until mercy came to my rescue. That was during Third Term!
Meanwhile, during the lecture weeks, I tried to always read before every class so I could at least understand the lectures. I used the library often and I attended profitable discussion groups and tutorials organized by my fellowship. I also had some of my colleagues explain some of the intricacies of the courses. Again, before we left for externship, I ensured I photocopied all the lecture slides that had been given by lecturers and I also got 2009-2015 past questions. You could have the key to success in your “sokoto” and oblivious of it, get on a bus to Sokoto in search for it. That was my situation until the Bar Finals loomed in the horizon. I will get to that soon.
Let me also say that I did not trifle with my spiritual life and my relationship with God throughout the law school year. I dedicated Fridays for personal fastings and prayers. Some of my colleagues may remember that I often told them that for me I prefer to have a testimony of coming out with a Pass and still be able to say that I did not miss weekly services than to have a First Class and when asked how I did it, to say that I was too busy studying to have time for God. And I praise God He reversed the algorithm. My testimony is that of dedication to God’s service and distinction of good success. I remember going for Bible Study immediately after Property Law Practice Exam when Criminal Litigation was just some hours away. God did not disappoint me, I can say. On the morning of Criminal Litigation, God led me to read exactly what came out in 1(b) of charges. I had this experience throughout the exam. My roommate Adenola and I would just touch on almost all the questions that would later show up in the exam.
I was not born with a silver spoon, so I had some tough moments. I remember eating cabin biscuit and pap for a whole week before the commencement of Second Term. The food equation was sometimes 0-1-0. The odds were many but I told myself that people outside won’t ask me the type of food I ate or whether my accommodation was comfortable or whether I bought all the recommended texts, but they will only be interested in what I come out with.
Third-Term: The Game-Changer
All along I did not live a regimented life, I was simply living each day as it came because I realized that if I reduced my daily activities into a to-do list or a time-table I would be under pressure to perform and may lose out on spontaneous and interesting moments that my to-do did not envisage. Even though I sometimes made and used them, I wouldn’t feel bad if at the end of the day, I couldn’t tick any as done. But upon resuming for Third Term, pressure and despair was rising because I realized my level of preparation wasn’t near average. Infact, the first Past question I attempted, I got about 38 over 80 which cannot earn a First Class. That was how I discovered the key sitting calmly in my pockets. I suddenly had the burden and set a goal of solving all the Bar Finals PQs from 2009-2015 under exam conditions. Thus began the most mentally exerting weeks of my life. I would sit at spot for hours writing mock exams until my hands and head would be pounding. I would also carefully mark and crosscheck the answers and extract authorities from the old marking schemes, notes and texts. That process fueled my confidence-tank as I perfected virtually all my drafts, covered the entire syllabus and had authorities simmering in my head. Naturally speaking, the time frame was short but God gave me speed and a retentive memory. My roommate once overheard me praying that “God, let me not major on the minor and let me not minor on the major”. God answered that and many other prayers by leading me in the process of preparation.
Interestingly, I was not impressed with the MCQ exam as I made notable mistakes. However, that led me back to the drawing board and I resolved that I needed to get at least 60 over 80 in all my courses so that no matter how bad, my MCQ would not be less than 10 over 20. That decision turned out to be a divine strategy and propeller in the build up to the bar finals. I remember excitedly telling my pastor two Sundays to bar finals that “yesterday, I read for the longest period in my life at a stretch”. That was for 16 hours! God just enabled me divinely and “blessed my hustlings’. I recall being close to my Bible to extract promises on success which I prayed with, quoted over and over again and held on to. See Isaiah 50:7, Psalm 18:29, Daniel 1:20, 11:32, Deuteronomy 28:13. God also deftly removed every form of distractions. Between June and July, my two phones just stopped working. The third one also got spoilt in a rain exactly 4 weeks to exam because I was already getting addicted to the “snake game” on it. God just has a way of interfering in the lives of those who trust Him to work out His best purposes. I usually slept around 10/11pm and woke up around 5/6am before and during exams. I knew my prime-time and did not allow intimidation to make me panic. Little is much when God is in it…
Conclusively, I’d like to acknowledge the people who God used one way or the other to be destiny helpers. My family, for their daily and special prayers and financial support; my lecturers, for discharging their duties to the best off their abilities and for always motivating and giving useful hints; my pastors for their spiritual, prayer and financial supports and the DLCF family. I also thank my friends and colleagues Elizabeth Egbaaibon (for the Afolayan and for believing in my ability at the brink of giving up), Fola Olusunle (for the MCQ Past questions), Alex Etsename (my prayer partner), Adenola Adegbesan (my quintessential roommate and revision expert), Eniola Ololade (for the discussions before and especially during the final moments) and a host of others whom time and space will fail me to mention. I must not forget to thank Reginald Aziza Esq for the brief words of counsel before the Bar Part II programme and for believing in my dream. And for all who prayed for me, taught me, corrected me, gave to me, loved and cared through it all, I say “God bless you”.
Remember the long and short of it all, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy”.