We’re a Covenant Generation
Redeemed to reign
Learning to lead
We are bound by an oath
Obeying rules to rule
Making Kings of youth
Flying high on covenant wings
Wisdom’s call for change
Inspired on fire
Marching on in grace
God’s own arrow
Shot for glory.
The above words are from Covenant University’s anthem. Some students say them with false pride and tall doubts and others say them with strong conviction. For some, they wonder if they really want “excellence” while others pondered on what it meant to fly on covenant wings.
Before I delve into my memory chest, permit me, dear reader, to remind you of Paul’s admonition in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Simply put, no human is perfect. Let these words be etched at the back of your mind as you take a walk with me down memory lane.
Luscious and well-manicured green grass spread its colours around the university, trees boasted of their healthy mix of yellow and brown leaves and various flowers greeted eyes with their radiance. Covenant University’s environs was a serene world, perhaps the only piece of land with tranquil characteristics in the notoriously chaotic Sango Ota. The buildings dazzled visitors and told tales of great lectures taking place inside of them.
Covenant University has indeed made “kings of youth”. I’m one of those kings. The university restructured my perspective towards life—from negative to positive—and some of the tenets still guide me today. I would touch on these learned principles later.
Getting good university education in Nigeria is hard. After a short stint at University of Port Harcourt (a colossal waste of time), my father suggested Covenant University and thought that would be the best place to get a “good” university education in Nigeria.
Fortunately, I was admitted after going through their rigorous screening. Sometime in September/October, I started my academic sojourn in Covenant University where we were termed the second set.
I had heard, from students in the first set, about the fierceness of the pastors, the double standards of students’ spies and the generousness of some unholy teachers. Also, stories about a group of students who had tried to protest against the university’s authorities lived rent free in the air and, more importantly, stories about how they were silenced with expulsion were whispered in every corner of the university. No one wanted such fate. Like Charlie Marlow in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, I decided to be “loyal to the nightmare of my choice.” However, my loyalty didn’t serve me well most times.
I had collected my matriculation gown and hat, ready for the next day’s matriculation and had begun to walk back to my hostel when someone tapped my back. I discovered it was a beautiful lady. Her cherub face was touched with red blush, her fairness shone bright under Ota’s sun and she rolled gum in her mouth like an expert. She stretched out her hand in greeting and I responded accordingly. Such confidence had the tendency to turn any man on. My mind thought of different things she wanted: maybe she wanted to ask where she could get her graduation gown; or she wanted to know something about the graduation day; perhaps, she just wanted to talk. In the middle of chewing her gum, she spelled out her name and told me with a strange American accent:
“Is there no where one could drink a bottle of cold lager around here?”
On hearing this, my blood raced into that sweet spot that instigates all negative actions. Dylan Thomas spoke about wise men knowing “dark is right” and his words became clear. I could have said no but this kind of boldness, this kind of sassiness, and this kind of all-up-in-your-face attitude I never expected to find in this space. Quickly, I pointed towards the big gate, we walked and talked about the school and other issues.
Outside the university, with my gown now safely tucked in her handbag, we boarded a taxi to the nearest joint. The bottles of lager were served and we drank it to stave off our thirst. As if water wouldn’t have done the trick. She laughed about the ludicrousness of the laws and described how pure survival mode was the only saving grace to save our kind.
After one hour, she ordered the third bottle, I wanted to refuse the offer but, it had been one week since the refreshing taste of lager washed the back of my throat. So, I relaxed and drank that bottle with the support of some pieces of suya.
We returned to school that evening and she presented my matriculation gown to me and reminded me that we had to try again the next day.
My dream of having another cold lager was squashed that evening. The holy nose of one member of the school’s Revolutionary Squad sniffed the booze on my body as I breezed past him. He stopped me. He came close, sniffed around my neck and ears, like a dog. He shook his head and asked for my name. I studied him for a minute and mentioned any name that came to mind. Again, he shook his head and told me to go and sin no more.
As an aside, let’s quickly put into perspective the functions of the above lords. The Revolutionary Squad is a bunch of sea pirates selected solely for the purpose of catching lawbreakers and ensuring that they dance to the full tune of the law. These ones are the protectors of the university and would do anything in their power to make sure that devils are expelled. They hover around the school like angels and shoot arrows of destruction on stubborn culprits. If Covenant University had hell, these ones would be the one who would escort you to hell’s gate. And, their members are usually proud of the job. One of such member comes to mind; his name is simply Ekpeyoung. The canard was that he was an old soldier, who put senselessness over his academic pursuit. No one knows if he ever graduated. What a waste!
Then you have the school’s secret service. These ones are the most dangerous of all. They are the snitches among students. They pretend to enjoy the vagaries of students’ desires but only go to report to members of students’ affairs about evil practices on campus. The problem with these ones is that one couldn’t really tell who they were; it could be your very close friend.
Those two groups contributed to the crashing of dreams and ending of academic sojourns of so many students.
After matriculation, we soon realised that there are levels to living on campus: mobile phones were not allowed, no jeans, no relationships and no missing of church. I’ve written here the top secrets for graduating from the school and I hope, seriously, it helps a student.
My confidence drained from that experience with the Revolutionary Squad member, who had saved me from expulsion by overlooking my human imperfections and giving me another chance.
There was no way to indulge in these excessive behaviours so one had to look for other distractions. I had told myself that it would be nice to have a few female friends and chat about anything apart from school work. Luck presented one but I killed the friendship with a singular text message . She avoided me for months. I went ahead to eliminate every chance to have female friends in mass communication and English classes because of my penchant of writing and passing crazy notes in class.
Plus, my bold friend who I met before matriculation day had decided to return to America. She couldn’t withstand the restrictions. I decided to focus on studies, therefore.
Teachers played a heavy role in adding to the memory. We had a fine literary scholar, he boasted about the number of books he had read and wrote articles about the evils in our society. His goatee was always fresh and he never wore ties like his colleagues. He lasted for two sessions or so before the authorities spat him out for breaking basic dress codes. I remember very good teachers who came and went and always cursed the day they stepped foot in that school.
One teacher would abuse the vice chancellor down to the dean of our college. We knew he would never last. One Friday morning, in his usual bubbly self, he said “awon alakori ti ni kin lo.” That’s all he said and we never saw him again. Teachers came and went; it was a norm.
However, some withstood the test of time because they were able to dance to the sweet tunes of the chancellor and deans. These ones abused students. One teacher told me “she would squeeze my balls” and other days she would describe students as “losers” and “failures”. Psychologically, she wrecked many students. The fear of this lecturer would later make one student beat a drum to shreds during one drama rehearsal. While the student wanted to be on the lecturer’s good side, she still used the opportunity to vent her anger. It’s good to be loved by the teachers as they would be considerate with their marks but going against their wishes usually lead to failure.
Another lecturer, with her American plus British accents, once drove me out of the human development class. She had told me to shave some strands of hair gaining space on my jaw some days before that class, but I had spent my money on other important things. On seeing me on that day, she concluded that I was devilishly rude and banned me from attending three subsequent classes. She also told me to write apology letters to the department and other unknown individuals.
The teacher-student relationship was a strange one. I know lecturers were expelled too for trying to make their way into pants of some female students too.
But, then again, remember romans 3:23
IT IS WELL AND OTHER SOCIAL ABSURDITIES
Covenant University is wrapped around biblical and motivational sayings. However, “it is well” stood out. If you had a toothache plus headache and backache on the same day, a friend was in his right senses to tell you “it is well.”
I realised this the hard way. I had been nominated to represent the handball team for my college. One day, as we played in the inter-college spots, I landed wrongly and sprained my left ankle. The philosophy lecturer at that time, Nwogu, screamed, “It is well.” As if the singular pronunciation of those words would stop the excruciating pain. Even after doctors conformed that I had sprained the ankle dangerously, everyone who visited me rubbed those words on my wound.
The words are used in academic space too. There was a pastor in mass communication who thought prayers would replace hard work. In every prayer meeting, he prayed as if God would drop answers into his head. However, when the results for a particular test came out, he failed. He claimed that everything was well.
That “well” was a delusional space, where one could swim in when things are not going as planned. Any student, teacher or preacher could jump into the space to blur the edges of reality. And most people, who knew how to use it, used it well. These illusions fed into our social coexistence on campus.
Students sought new ways of doing things. Since they couldn’t mix with other sexes, they applied for weekend exeats in generous numbers. Many students used this as an avenue to explore other options of social life. All around Ota, Lagos and far and wide, students of Covenant University were known for their ability to spend huge sums of money on having fun. Our appreciation were sung in unmentionable places but when we returned to school we quickly cursed the demons that pushed some of us into those dark corners.
The restrained life we had led introduced students to improvised way of completing their physical desires too. Once, it was rumoured that a couple of queens, as they were called, were found with different dildos. Those queens.
And, of course, in boys’ hostels, there were telling marks on the slippery floors of the bathroom. No one knew why some boys spent about one hour in the shower.
Every dark corner was used diligently especially when there was any interruption in power. The gap between the cafeteria and that female halls was the scene for quick fingers to feel the succulence of royal breasts and for lips to quickly wipe away the oils of lip-glosses.
The restrained life led students to form all sorts of groups. A six-foot guy comes to mind here. He was very athletic, loved to play basketball and carried himself like a champion. No one knew he had ties with a dangerous group in his former university. He decided to form an extension in Covenant University but his plans didn’t work. He was hurled out with his cohorts.
Almost immediately after the expulsion of that group above, another thirty-two students were poured out of the university. They had attended a party where a covenant university student was stabbed in the head. For being in the picture, their future was punctured.
When rules are not obeyed in this place it leads to ruins. Parents know this and students know this too. So, it’s therefore shocking to see that some parents attempting to sue the university for suspending their children. Logically speaking, no one is above the university’s law.
These are the disadvantages of constricting adults to a regimen, to a particular way of doing things and to a particular way of reasoning. They bring a side that is strange to the outside world and present hellish characteristics in unbelievable proportions. But then again, as we are always reminded, “you applied to the school; the school never applied to you.”
GOOD SIDES OF HEAVEN
Amidst these long stretches of sad tales about the university, there are good sides one must remember. I see my self as the university now. Disciplined, focused and dedicated to achieving tall goals. These features I don’t think I would have got from another university.
In my second year, when I was struggling with CGPA, I read a green book by one of the pastors in the school and it changed me. It was in that university that I developed my reading habits, which would later open many doors for me.
In that same space, I gained friends that have inspired me to pursue goals that I would naturally shy away from.
At the end, a Covenant University graduate is expected to be “mentally resourceful” and “visionary”. I think many eagles are these and many more. “They are”, to borrow the chancellor’s words, “blazing the trail” in their respective fields.
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