Orowale Samuel Kolapo: I did not quit [Nigerian Voices]

by Orowale Samuel Kolapo

I was at home on that day in February 2011, lost in my thoughts as usual. I didn’t go to the football field that day like I always did. I was a failure. It wasn’t news anymore.

I left secondary school 10 years ago with flying and colorful results, made my O’levels at the first sitting, sat for JAMB exams 5 times and always scored over 200 score in all the sittings but the Universities Post UME exams always let me down.

I also dropped out from a Polytechnic in 2009 for reasons best known to me. The following year, I did a pre-degree programme at OAU Ile Ife but it didn’t work out. I was duped by a man who promised to get me admission into the school. The total money my dad paid into his account was over a hundred thousand Naira.

There I was, seeing all my younger ones almost through with secondary school and I didn’t want them to come meet me at home struggling. It’s not that I wished them bad, I just couldn’t bear the frustration.

I really couldn’t think of a better way out that day until dad came back from work and told me about the Nigerian Navy and asked me if I was interested. Why wouldn’t I be interested? My case then was – “quarter bread is better than none”.

“Let me give it a try” was my reply to him. The next day I got the form and filled it online.

Then the military journey started.

I have never forseen the military kind of life before. I used to be a bit stubborn and my actions whenever I am angry made my neighbours suggest the military to my parents. Each time they said it to my face, I would always laugh it off.

323, Artillery Regiment was the recruitment centre in Akure, Ondo State. It was another experience being in the midst of military personnel. We were treated like thieves, sat on the floor, were flogged, served punishments and were being controlled by the recruitment officers.

I passed every stage of the recruitment exercise with a little bit of ease and luck because at every stage people got dropped. The place was filled with young boys and girls same as older guys, married men and women. Everyone was different.

The Medicals nearly had me dropped because of my blood pressure. I did the blood pressure checkup again and I got lucky for the second time. I scaled through other stages successfully.

At the end of the recruitment exercise on May 22nd, 2011, eighty eight (88) of us passed from over 500 applicants that came for the exercise.

That wasn’t the end. The list was cut down to 25 people. The 25 people were to go for basic Training in PortHarcourt.

I hoped and believed that I will make it. I had that strong believe after the exercise.

I still sat for JAMB the next month after that exercise. In my 5th jamb, I had 222 which was my highest score in all my sittings. My heart wasn’t dissuaded. I had already set my eyes on joining the navy even though I didn’t have a clue what the navy was or what they did.

Everyday after the recruitment, I checked the Nigerian Navy website for the shortlisted applicants because I had no one to inform me of the list when it came out.

Then, it happened that day in July, I was surfing through the net as usual and I discovered that the names had been posted online. A kind of strange fear gripped me then. I was sweating in my palms and I was so afraid to fail again even though it would be my first time in the Navy. I didn’t want to welcome failure home again and so I didn’t want to check it alone. I waited till everyone was around then I started scrolling down from page 1 – ‘Abia State’.

I saw names. A lot. Some states had only twenty names. I was afraid. I got to Ondo State and I used my five senses to check the list. From number 1-10 my name was nowhere to be seen. Then I moved to the next page and saw – ‘Orowale Samuel Kolapo’ staring at me in the face and occupying the number 18th spot. Twenty five names all together were shortlisted from Ondo state.

I knew I was way over the age to be excited about things like that but I didn’t mind. I had finally kissed failure goodbye and so I had jumped for joy! I even went ahead to hug my dad for the first time since I grew up to that age. I was overwhelmed with joy.

It wasn’t a dream come true but an escape route to forget my troubles and gnawing frustrations.

I was to report at the Nigerian Navy Basic Training School, Onne, Port Harcourt on September 2nd, 2011.

I reported at training school. I broke a leg in training but I didn’t quit. After eight months, I passed out and I have celebrated 5 years in active service now. I am a success.

This is my story…


This entry was submitted as part of the Nigerian Voices competition organized by YNaija.com.

We publish, un-edited, Nigerians telling the stories of their everyday lives. Read all the narratives daily on the Nigerian Voices vertical. You can also contribute your own story titled ‘Nigerian Voices’ to [email protected].

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