I woke up and it was an email from the Vice Chancellor: “On behalf of the University Senate, Faculty, Staff and Students, I write to invite you to deliver the 15th Public Lecture of Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria”. The University Public Lecture is a celebrated ceremony in university systems where scholars present topical issues; a real festival of scholarship. Within seconds, I replied, partly, “I accept”.
I had left FUTO years ago. I could not understand how my professors could vote for me to return in this special way. Every faculty would like to mount that podium for the rarity of UPL: one lecture per two years.
Then, the day came and the lecture was adjudged by the University Orator as “the best in history”. He was not factual because I listened to a better one while in FUTO delivered by former MIT professor, Prof. Joseph Chike Edozien, who is now Asagba of Asaba.
FUTO gave me the Ikenga – the university symbol of strength, valor and excellence. As one of Nigeria’s leading technical universities, alumni and students treasure the university, and Ikenga is revered (a life version welcomes all to FUTO).
Now, the big message: How can you move from overlooked to overbooked, and given an “Ikenga”? The simple answer: you have to audition through everything you do; getting the best jobs happens when there is no job available! Unless people can make a case for you in your absence, your career will not go far, and to get people to do that, you must be predictable.
Audition always – get an “Ikenga”.