By Ikwuka C. Franklin
The 2018 World Cup hosted in Russia saw many teams as underdogs, and others as the major contenders, even though it was difficult to predict the winners. Teams like Argentina with phenomenal Lionel Messi, Portugal with fans acclaimed GOAT (greatest of all time), Cristiano Ronaldo, Spain, Germany, and Brazil were the talk of the town but as the game progressed, these giant teams were seen crashing out by and before the round of 16.
While teams like Belgium with Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, and Croatia with Real Madrid’s Lukas Modric and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and other wonderful performing teams rose up above the underdog team, and the unexpected France with the likes of N’golo Kante, Antoine Griezmann, and Paul Pogba, 20 years after their first and only triumph, made great strides towards the World Cup final after defeating Uruguay 2-0 in the quarterfinal, and finally won the trophy.
All these, took people in the team, personal and team efforts to achieve with determination to rise above underdog. But this is an aside to the story at hand.
In Nigerian Universities today, some schools are regarded the giants while others the underdogs. JAMB statistics on top first choice institutions yearly for the past 5 years has been almost the same with few or no changes.
In the eastern Nigeria, it is either University of Nigeria Nsukka generally, or FUTO once Engineering is the choice. While, University of Ilorin, Unilag, ABU Zaria, University of Ibadan, and OAU Ile-Ife are the giants outside the east.
These choices owe to capabilities, sizes, and past events which marked those universities as excellent. No one wants to be an underdog, no parents will love to see their children not excelling; hence, all wants to send their wards to the best institutions in order to bring out the best in them.
Personally, I chose University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) Medicine and Surgery, but behold JAMB, the almighty carrier changer as christened by we students, I scored 230. Of course it was not possible to secure admission in Medicine and Surgery with that score except you made over 350 in the post-UTME to secure a good average. Another year, I tried the same UNN with a JAMB score of 277; yet I was not admitted to study Electronic Engineering in the first list. I had to change my first choice of institution before the opportunity of changing choice of institution elapsed so as not to accuse my village people should my name fail to appear in the subsequent lists.
Glory be to God, I was admitted in the Electrical Electronic Engineering department of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University(COOU) formerly known as Anambra State University (ANSU).
Before I started my studies in my present school, COOU, I have been on several lecture halls during my first post-UTME examination, and second trial at UNN; same with FUTO during visitations and as a student now. The lecturers are mostly the same, while some are dedicated, some are not, but generally, no lecturer breaks a student’s head to make him understand. The highest they could do is to attend to every question, issue lecture materials, invite you to office in case of further problems, while the rest lies on the student to read, reread, research on the topics treated.
I tend to wonder why students rush to these universities, afterwards loose admission that year, consistently trying with the belief that without that university nothing else stands. Some can stay for years, some gets at the next trial while some at the 5th and others may not get at all hence change or drop out for music, Yahoo Yahoo or other things out of frustration or lack of enthusiasm for education again.
On this regard, I advise every young Nigerian especially those still in secondary schools and their parents to rise above underdog beliefs. Inasmuch as we hope for the best, we can create the best ourselves if opportunity doesn’t come to attach ourselves to the already best. Inasmuch as we want to be a LION/LIONESS, FUTOITE etc, we can create name for any higher institution we find ourselves just like the assumed World Cup underdogs went farther than expected. The lecturers of some believed low ranking institutions were students of these universities at least.
For example, in 2012, The Nigerian undergraduates (christened The NUTA_BOLTS Team) who were then studying for various engineering degrees at the Anambra State University were Nigeria’s sole representative at the annual event whose 2012 series took place in Silverstone Circuit, Northampton, UK. Six other African universities (five from Egypt and one from South Africa) also participated in the competition that drew contestants from 222 universities around the globe. They finally won, writing Nigeria’s name in gold. Yes, students of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University.
Presently, Students of Engineering, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, won Southeast zone CODET competition, and will be representing Southeastern Universities in the national level at Abuja by August this year. The giants competed also, but out of every competition, there must be a winner. Other school has been making giant strides in Nigeria despite position, sought after or not.
Everyone is rising above underdog; in different offices, schools, and competitions to write off any downgrading name.
I encourage the already giants to also keep on improving the efforts of their forebears and never relax on past glory for the competition is not just within us but our counterparts overseas, though, not competition, but efforts to collectively better the world.
In this piece, I want to make us understand that being an underdog is a product of choice, and it takes a choice to rise above it despite where you find yourself. Effort, little effort can make a great change.
Make an effort.