Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Joseph Chibueze is a first-year student of the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri, Imo State. Like many youngsters, he is determined to fulfil his aspiration in education, not minding his disability.
In medical parlance, he is suffering from congenital recurvatum, an ailment from birth, which has turned him to a cripple. Now 24, Joseph cannot walk or stand without crutches.
Besides his disability, Joseph is the product of a broken marriage as his parents divorced supposedly because of his predicament.
While his father swore never to have anything to do with him again, his mother took care of Joseph and his four siblings.
But as a school teacher, her meagre income was not enough to provide three square meals, let alone fund their education.
The situation notwithstanding, Joseph was determined to acquire higher education, after he successfully completed secondary school. He recently gained admission to study Business Administration at the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede.
Our correspondent met him during the institution’s matriculation recently, where he was seated quietly at the front row.
Narrating his story, he said: “After secondary school, in 2013, I wanted to forward my education but my father refused, saying there was no money. I wanted to learn a skill, since I was good with my hands, he also refused to fund my training. So, I started feeling bad, like it was my fault that I’ve got congenital recurvatum.
“I gradually locked myself up, felt defeated. In 2015/2016; my younger brother and I were sent out of the house, we had to go and live with our mum who is a government teacher, you know how government owes. We managed and she sent me to learn computer software engineering.
“I did but couldn’t complete my course because my boss travelled outside the state, closing down his office. So, in 2019 I took the UTME and got admitted to Nekede.
“I wanted to forfeit it but my mother managed to raise money for me to be here. I met my dad and told him that I got admitted in Nekede, he gave me only N3,000, which was not even enough to convey my luggage from Aba to Nekede.”
Although Joseph had doubts that he would finish his tertiary education, he also had a plan B in mind and that was to have managerial skills and be self-reliant.
He said: “But due to the rejection I got while looking for something to do plus how Nigeria is, I don’t really think it’s going to work out. So, I also plan to be an entrepreneur; to launch and assume complete responsibility for the outcome of an organisation’s efforts.
“Entrepreneurs handle the financial, decision-making, strategic planning, and managerial operations of today’s most dynamic organisations.
“I intend to probably open a business, eatery, boutique or IT-related business, since I’ve got an idea of how information technology works.”
However, something remarkable happened at the matriculation. As Joseph sat quietly watching the proceedings of the event, the rector, Mike Arimanwa, called four students to come forward to the podium.
The quartet came out without having inkling of what the rector had in mind, but the rector insisted that it must be five before he made his pronouncement.
At this point, the rector spotted Joseph where he was seating and called him up to join the other four new students. The rector announced an academic board scholarship for the five students.
The rector explained that the scholarship was a way of giving gratitude to God and his alma mater for making him the first alumnus of the school to become rector.
Unknown to the rector, he was giving a new lease of life to a deprived student who found himself in the institution as a matter of luck, but now providence has smiled on him.
Joseph could not find words enough to express his thanks to the rector but only managed to say: “May God bless the rector and Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, for this awesome scholarship. I promise to do my best and not to disappoint the confidence they repose in me.
“I will also seize this opportunity to thank my mother especially for defying all odds to bring me to where I am now, just as I will also appeal to members of the public and my state governor and President Buhari to help me realise my dreams.”