Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, while delivering a speech recently, shared a story of a hardworking junior typist he met while working at the University of Lagos (UNILAG).
In his address, he was talking about the importance of having a good character and used this inspiring story to illustrate his point.
Here is an excerpt:
I was 60 years old in March this year. And I must confess that it was one of the greatest surprises I ever experienced. I just suddenly became 60.
And at the age of 60 I am entitled to give some advice and l will share some of them with you, some you might agree with, others you may not, but I would be most flattered if you remember them and whenever you meet me in life’s journey somewhere down the line you will tell me whether I was right or wrong.
The difference between success and failure, mediocrity or excellence is character. Along with character is the importance of opportunity but perhaps most crucial is the grace of God.
While I was teaching at the University of Lagos as a young lecturer in the department of Public Law in the Faculty of Law, there were 3 typists in the department. The chief typist, senior typist and the junior typist. Because in those days before laptops and personal computers, typists in Universities had to do a lot of work and they were very important because you always needed to type all your materials.
When there was work to do, what l discovered was that the chief typist would disappear. He worked only till 4 pm. The senior typist would be nowhere to be found. But Adereni the junior typist, who only had his school certificate, was remarkably hardworking. Sometimes I would drop him off at his home at 1am.
Years after, I was working as an adviser to the then Attorney-General of the Federation, Hon. Bola Ajibola. And he later became a judge of the World Court. While in the court at The Hague, in the Netherlands, one day he called me and asked if I could recommend a good secretary who is hard work and could do long judgments. I had three options, Chief typist, senior or this junior typist, but the junior typist at a time had only school certificate he didn’t have any other qualification but l choose him. He got to the Hague, and typically worked hard and diligently. Every judge in the court wanted him to work with them. He later moved his family over to the Hague and got degrees and made a good living for himself. One day he remembered me and actually sent me a car.
I just want to say that it was so apparent that all that he had to prove despite the fact that he had no qualifications at all, all he had to prove was diligence and hard work.