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Name: Ogbu, Collins Chikwado
Campus: Abuja Campus (First Class), Director General’s Prize for First Class Students; Chief Adegboyega Awomolo S.A.N., Prize for the Third Best Student in Corporate Practice.
University: Enugu State University of Science and Technology (Second Class Upper Division); First student from ESUT to make a first class at the NLS
About: My name is Ogbu Collins Chikwado. I attended Enugu State University of Science and Technology. I am a firm believer that where there is faith coupled with hard work, miracles abound by the grace of God. A true triumph comes through struggles, just don’t expect it to be easy, but trust me, it will be worth it. I love God, family, art, music, football, history and good people. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chasing the dream
I am Ogbu Collins Chikwado, a law graduate from the Enugu State Univerwsity of Science and Technology. I was one of the 24 students that graduated with a first class from the Nigerian Law School and also the 3rd Overall Best Student in Corporate Law Practice.
I had the dream to make a first class from the Nigerian Law School during my university days. I also wanted a first class in the University. I’ve always wanted to be the best I can be, however, I settled for a 2.1 in the university because at the time I entered ESUT nobody had ever gotten more than 2.1 grade in the law faculty since its inception over 30 years ago. Hence, it was easy to think that nobody can get a first class and that 2.1 is the best grade anybody can get. In 2014, Nwajiaku Pamela Nnenna made a first class from ESUT law faculty, being the first ever to make that grade. Also in my set, the class of 2015, Nwodo Gabriel Nnamdi, bagged a first class becoming the second person ever to make the grade. These two people really taught me a truly great lesson by their courage, to chase a first class in an institution where everyone believed it to be an unachievable feat, the belief they had was something out of the ordinary. Yes, it was extraordinary, and that’s the kind of believe needed to achieve a great dream, thank God I learnt that lesson.
I also came to law school, and the story also came to me that no ESUT student has ever had a first class in the Nigerian Law School. This was contrary to what I had thought, but then, the dream I had and the lesson I had learnt from my university made me know that anything was possible with hard work and the grace of God, and also, that the fact that it has never been done doesn’t mean it can’t be done, after all, Nwajiaku Pamela did what has never been done by making a first class in ESUT, so I can do likewise in the Nigerian Law School.
The dream of making a first class in law school, for me, was more than just a wish, it was a goal I was willing to chase till the end with hard work and diligence. At the same time, it was a goal that I believed I can’t achieve without the grace of God, no matter how hard I plan to work.
CHASING THE DREAM
After all the bustles and hustles, I finally gathered enough money to pay my school fees, all thanks to my family and a few friends, and then the next thing on my mind was making sure that I make the most of my stay in law school and come out a first class.
At the start, all I had was the passion and enthusiasm, but not much of a guide or strategy. I always prayed to God to direct my steps and guide me in my studies, relationships, life in law school and beyond it, I thank God for answering those prayers. God didn’t just answer my prayers, but also gave me the kind of people I needed in my life to achieve that dream, some of which included two of my seniors, Ogoor Maryam Martins, and Jerome Igbokwe (Cass), these two folks really mentored and encouraged me throughout my stay in Law School, I cannot really thank them enough. Then, I also had very helpful friends in the Nigerian Law School, a lot of them, but I will not forget to mention my reading partner, Johnpaul Okafor, the companionship he offered was priceless.
Within a short time I devised a reading plan, an effective method of listening in class, a means of balancing my relationship with friends against my studies in such a way that neither was suffering any form of neglect, and most importantly a daily plan that involved a time for prayers and study of the bible in order to maintain a good spiritual life. Also, I didn’t neglect recreational activities, however, I tuned them down to the barest minimum in order to avoid any form of interference with my ultimate goal.
The first and most important strategy for me was praying to God about my goal, and believing that God is able to grant me success. I needed to have an unwavering faith in God to be able to lay hold of the goal that I set out to achieve and prayed for, but faith comes by hearing and hearing from the word of God, hence, I needed to constantly feed my faith my reading the word of God.
The second strategy was to avoid distractions, both during classes and afterwards. To achieve this goal, I had to first of all get rid of the distractions that I could have had during classes, I avoided sitting in the same place with my friends during classes, and it was helpful for me and my friends too. I also ensured that I sat around persons who were more interested in listening to the lecturers than any side discussions during classes. After classes, I tried to avoid going out of the school premises unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. I also cut down my extracurricular activities, such that as much as I liked playing video games and watching football I was bent on not letting it interfere with my studies, but at the same time, a little recreational activity is necessary, just a little. I only played video game for not more than an hour whenever I was very sure I had completed my task for the day, and I only watched a single match every weekend, usually the most interesting. I had to also deal with other youthful distractions such as girls, parties, and so on.
The third strategy was to have a reading plan and daily goals. I started reading in my first week at the Law School, and also making my notes daily to avoid pilling up the workload. I had to divide the methods of reading into three phases, the first was “the 20 weeks of lectures phase”, the second was “the externship phase” and the third was “the revision phase”. In the first phase, I had to read the topic for the day before each class, and then revise the notes I jotted down during classes before going ahead to make my notes on the topic using a textbook, statute, and class jottings as my “source materials”, then some notes such as “adaeze note” and “Gabriella’s notes” and the Law School course plan as my guide. I usually completed the notes on the topic for the day within 5 hours or less, but on some occasions when am not able to complete the note before the end of the day, I used the weekend to complete the notes. My daily goals were usually to read the topic before class, reread it after class then make notes on the day’s topic. During the second phase, I made sure I read a whole course (and practiced drafts) from week 3 to 20 within a week or a little bit more than week, after reading each course I gave myself a mock exam using law school past questions and marked it myself along with the law school marking scheme, this was in addition to the regular MCQ tests I took every week. In the third phase, most of what I did was reading a course from week 3 to week 20 within two days, whilst using my weekends to draft documents.
The fourth strategy was to have a daily plan to be able to accommodate all the things I needed to do. My daily plan was to wake up around 4:00 AM every morning, have my daily prayer devotion and Bible study for about 30 minutes or so, then I start reading the topic for the day, before 7:00 AM I usually complete the pre-class reading and I do my pre-class assignments, if any, for 30 minutes or thereabout and then go for lectures. I use the afternoon break from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM to revise my jottings from the class and relax a bit. After the final lectures, which is held from 3:00PM to 4:00PM, I took out 1 hour to relax, I sometimes slept or visited friends, but I had to go to the library or stay in my room to make my notes from about 5:00PM to 10:00PM. After the latter, I played a little video games with my laptop, listened to music, gist with friends or simply slept if too tired.
The fifth strategy was to rejoice in hope and celebrate little victories. The Biblical instruction is given that we should “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulations and steadfast in prayers”, and that’s exactly what I always did. A dream like making a first class in law school meets a lot of adversaries such as fear, doubt, distractions, and I won’t forget to mention the herculean workload you will need to not just read, but also have an in-depth understanding of. All these things can weigh you down if care is not taken, hence you will need to look beyond the struggles and look to the goal you hope to achieve and be happy that it will be worth it in the end. Yes, let the hope keep you joyful, be happy that you are not working in vain, because you have already prayed and you already believe in faith that God has answered your prayers, what else could be more comforting? So, when working for the goals, don’t do it with worries, doubts or bitterness, do it with joy, because there is something about joy, it gives you strength to do more. Also, another important thing is to celebrate your little victories, yes, and the little ones. When I first started reading in the first week, I hadn’t grasped even enough to pass the Bar Finals, let alone get a first class, but what thing I kept on telling myself was that although I do not yet know so much, but I know something, no matter how little, and a little each day for 9 months will be just enough to achieve my dream. Every single day I met my daily goal 100 percent or even 70percent, I slept happy and joyful, because I knew that although a day’s reading cannot guarantee a first class, but it’s a step in the right direction, and a great journey is summed up by little steps taken in the right directions.
The sixth strategy was to find encouragement both in my friends, the word of God and the stories of persons who had achieved the goal of making a first class in law school. I needed my friends, I had to realize that early, and most of them didn’t give me anything short of their best support, I thank God for giving me those kind of friends. I also found encouragement in God’s promises in the Bible, I read the promises of God in the Bible and listened to some preachers, these two things strengthened my faith. I also read a few success stories from persons who made first class in previous years, although the details of their stories weren’t all identical, there were common grounds which I recognized, these common grounds are the presence of believe, diligence, hard work, persistence even against the odds they faced and prayer.
Just as every other person that went to the Nigerian Law School, I had some challenges. Some of these challenges are general while some are peculiar to some persons, but every challenge is an opportunity to overcome.
One of the challenges I had was lack of finance. Having lost my parents early in life, I had to look to older siblings, relatives or I sometimes work to have some money to run my affairs in life. The law school situation was particularly more challenging because it demands a lot of money and I had so little. I didn’t have money to buy text books, I just managed to squeeze N5,700 to buy Ogbuanya’s text book on corporate law practice, I almost starved after that decision, but I thank God for his grace, and I also thank God that the sacrifice was enough to get me the prize of the 3rd overall best student in corporate law practice. I couldn’t buy any other text book, I had to borrow some from a friend who was called to bar the previous year. The text books that I didn’t have, I made sure I made notes on the topics with the ones in the library, fortunately, the library wasn’t short of good and recent textbooks and statutes. Also, the lack of finance affected my feeding, I had to settle for meagre meals per day, but thankfully, I later found a restaurant where the food was relatively cheap and where I was “credit worthy” too, that really saved my situation.
Another challenge was protecting my mind from fear. I didn’t want fear to get into my head, but occasionally, it grips me, but not for too long. I try to tell myself that am not doing this alone, that God is with me, and wherever I have a misstep, His grace can sustain me. I must confess, fear was in the air, you just have to constantly feed your faith lest you become overcome by that fear. At every corner, the most rampant topic was how hard it is to pass bar finals, let alone get a first class.
Another challenge I also had was my health situation, I had inguinal hernia and also developed an ulcer. I was sometimes unable to meet my set goals because of these health situations. But thankfully, I had a surgical operation just after my bar finals to remedy the inguinal hernia, I also consistently treated the ulcer to the extent that it doesn’t reoccur for now or ever.
I thank God for giving me the strength to deal with these challenges and more.
After all the hard work and diligence and as a result of the grace of God, when the exams came up I felt prepared for it and the feelings were accurate as reflected in the final results. I was actually preparing for the most difficult, toughest, and trickiest exams law school will ever set, I knew that a bar final exam has the potentials to be all that. However, when the exams came up, it was a far cry from what I had expected in terms of being the difficult, tough or tricky, it looked pretty easy to me, such that I wondered why. But then, I realized that its only seemed easy to me because of all the efforts I gave to it day in day out, all the prayers I prayed over it, all the prayers my friends and family prayed for me and most importantly, the grace of God that was released by those prayers, all the encouragement I got from friends and mentors, and all the faith I struggled to put in God.
After writing my exams, I knew that I will make a first class, I was just waiting for the next month so that it will be official. On the day the results were released, I was trying to check mine through my phone, but I kept on getting error messages on my browser, I just decided to leave it until my sister gets back. Not long after I made that decision, a friend of mine, Ibe Terry, called me on the phone, he just said to me; “Just tell me you got a first class, that’s all I want to hear”, I told him that I haven’t checked it, then he offered to help me check it, I gave him my exam number to do so. A few minutes later, he called me and told me; “Congratulations, you have made us proud, you got a first class”….
There I stood, having a tidal wave of joy surging up against me, it was inexplicable, it was much better than a beautiful feeling, it was a kind of joy I had never felt before. I had earlier said I was rejoicing in hope throughout the process of achieving the dream, now the hope was rejoicing in me, because it has been fulfilled. I stood there wondering whether I was daydreaming, but clearly, I wasn’t, my dream came to life, that was what happened to me, and oh my, it felt out of the ordinary.
I had just had a surgery, and I was in pains, but when the news came to me, I jumped up and down, I was fired up with strength, no wonder it was said in the Bible that “the joy of the Lord is my strength”. Joy brings a whole new dimension, achieving a dream is a great thing, but the joy that comes from achieving a dream is even greater.
I had always believed I would make that dream come true, but not entirely by my own strength but through Christ who strengthens me. The joy is what I have, all glory undisputedly belongs to God.
If you already have a goal to make a great result from the Nigerian Law School, just remember; “Don’t focus on the efforts, focus on the goal.” and most importantly, work hard, pray and believe.