‘And the winner is…’ the judge began, eyes roving from one girl to the other. ‘The winner is…’ he paused as the anxiety heightened. ‘Frankly speaking,’ he continued in a matter-of-fact manner. ‘The winner of this campus beauty pageant will walk away with a free spa treatment for the whole session, a cash prize of one million five hundred thousand naira and then the icing on the cake, a mouth-watering, star prize of a brand new 2014 model Toyota Highlander Jeep…’
The audience broke out in ecstasy.
‘And the winner is… no other than the amiable, drop-dead gorgeous… please let’s give a standing ovation to our newest Campus queen; Miss Omolewa Alabi…’
The young lady broke out into tears of joy amidst cheers and embraces from her fans…
Omolewa jerked from her reverie at the sound of her android phone; her large eyeballs glistened at the anonymous caller, the fifteenth in a series of persistent almost broken rings.
‘Everybody just wants to be identified with a celebrity.’ Her smile broadened.
The weather that morning was rather cloudy as the elegant lady drove to school but all that seems meaningless to her as her brand new cosy jeep seems able to survive any kind of storm.
Five minutes to the main campus, a pungent and unpleasant smell diffused within the car despite the air conditioner. As though that was insufficient, a strange sound emanated from the engine region. At the peak of her anxiety, the car eventually halted amazingly close to a road side mechanic shop.
‘Young lady,’ the vehicle mechanic began as he examined the vehicle, ‘just thank your stars there was no accident, the damage is so severe.
‘Impossible!’ she blurted out. ‘This is a brand new car for crying out loud.’
‘I know,’ he concurred; it must be a factory defect then. Your best bet is to return it to the dealer.’
‘I don’t know where it was purchased.’ She frowned. ‘The car was a gift.’
‘Then tell your bobo or whoever, to return the jalopy back to the dealer.’
‘You call this a jalopy?’ her anger soared. ‘Can you even afford it?’
‘Take it easy, young girl. I was only joking.’ He giggled.
‘Please jokes aside, please can I leave it here for the meantime?’
‘So long as you bring something tangible for me when you are coming,’
Angry and frustrated at the same time, she frowned as the Campus shuttle passed by.
‘Why didn’t you stop that bus?’ the astonished man probed.
‘Shuttle buses are meant for the commoners.’ She bragged. ‘I’m a big fish.’
Just then her phone rang. It was another anonymous caller. Reluctantly, she answered it. The expression on her face suddenly contorted like that of a jilted woman.
The somewhat hazy weather gradually gave way to a light shower and before she knew it, the heavens let down a mighty pour.
Bitter and confused, she hopped into the next available Campus shuttle bus.
Sitting face to face with the head of the Students’ Affairs, her blank expression puzzled the middle-aged man.
‘Why are you speechless? You cannot continue to feign ignorance of not patronizing Oluwole?’
‘Oluwole?’ she frowned. ‘I don’t know who you are talking about.’
‘Okay,’ he shrugged. ‘I believe you, but your ignorance does not in any way reduce the magnitude of your punishment. To be blunt with you, Miss Omolewa or do you mind if I address you as Miss Campus?’
She gazed at him indignantly and felt like punching his protruded stomach which can easily pass for a four month old pregnancy.
‘Well, Miss Campus’ he continued, for your information, Oluwole in this context is not a person as you think but rather slang in Nigeria which refers to any forged credential. Your Senior School Certificate Examination result was forged, a criminal act punishable in the court of law. However putting some other things into consideration, your expulsion becomes inevitable.’
She broke down into tears as the pages of her past flicked open before her. What becomes now of her pride? How would she face her parents, her friends and dreadfully, her fellow students?
The annual Student Union week of the University of Nigeria climaxed on the grand finale of the one-week celebration. The school auditorium was filled to the brim as several students who had not fully been involved right from its commencement turned up en-masse alongside students from other neighbouring universities.
The theatre group electrified the audience with an inspiring drama and for the next five minutes, a good number of the students stood to their feet as they clamoured for more. Then to the astonishment and delight of everyone, an unusual spectacle unravelled itself. The vice chancellor came forward and told a rib-breaking joke further taking the programme to a unique dimension.
At the height of the activities, the president of the Student Union Government stepped forward.
‘In the past, most of us had been used to the usual motivational talk, but in this year’s celebration, we are dishing out a different menu which I choose to call, FRANK TALK.’ Please join me as we welcome our guest speaker, Miss Omolewa Alabi.’
A wave of mixed feelings swept across the hall as the ex-campus queen stepped forward to the podium.
‘Good day to you all.’ She released a dry smile. ‘I’m sure most of you might be wondering why a cheat was invited to address you. Well, while it may not be the proper thing to do; on the other hand, at the end of my talk, you would discover how worthwhile it was.’
‘Four years ago, I passed the entrance exams into this prestigious university, but my failure in one of the mandatory subjects threatened my securing the admission. My desperation soared to the point of securing the admission that very year at all cost. My best friend who also shared a similar plight persuaded me to retake the exams the following year, but I was adamant. In the end, I obtained a forged Senior Secondary School Certificate; which I tendered to the university authorities. And now, with just a session away from my graduation, I was handed an expulsion letter…’ she blinked back tears forcing its way from her large eyeballs.
‘The essence of sharing this is to warn you that short-cuts do not pay.’ She continued. ‘There are several negative habits which appear so insignificant at first, but the consequences eventually turns out to be very grave.’
‘Had I known?’ I would have exercised a little patience. The little step which I ignored by not resitting for my exams is costing me so much. And now, I am going back to the basics…’