An inmate of a correction centre, Boluwatife Olanusi, outshines other pupils at the just-concluded Spelling Bee competition in Lagos State, SAMUEL AWOYINFA reports
Boluwatife, in Yoruba, literally means, “As God wants it” and the story of a primary six pupil, Boluwatife Olanusi, confirms this as much.
At the tender age of 14, this youngster has seen the rough edges of life. He has not only witnessed the vicissitudes of life at Oshodi, he is at present an inmate of the Special Correctional Centre for Boys, at Oregun, Lagos.
But Providence has a way of throwing up people to limelight, in spite of their inadequacies. Little wonder, Boluwatife is at present the reigning one-day chairman of Onigbongbo Local Council Development Area.
He was bestowed the crown last Friday at the council’s headquarters following the outstanding result he posted at the just concluded Spelling Bee competition in the state. He not only emerged first in Onigbongbo LCDA, he was the overall third best pupil at the primary school category in the state.
For the feat, Boluwatife is to oversee the affairs of the council for one day.
The competition, coordinated by the state Ministry of Education, is a pet project of the wife of the former governor of the state, Mrs. Remi Tinubu.
On the occasion to honour the youngster, Onigbongbo Council Chairman, Mr. Babatunde Oke, also affirms the hands of God in Boluwatife’s success. He says, “Some people wanted to change your destiny but God did not allow them to succeed.”
But speaking to our correspondent, the youngster, born in Ibadan, Oyo State, but trained in Mowe, Ogun State by his grand-mother, admits that he has seen the twist and turns of life.
He says, “I was told my father and my mother separated after a bitter feud, and up till now, I do not know where they are.”
Even my stay with my grandmother did not last, he adds, noting that this prompted his withdrawal from the Redeemer’s Nursery/Primary School, Mowe.
He explains, “I left home and I became a wanderer at Mowe and it was someone who noticed that I was wasting my life that came to my rescue. He took me to an orphanage in Lagos. But after some time, some of us were returned to Ibadan. Of course, they took me to Ibadan because I told them that I hailed from Ibadan.”
However, his journey of life did not end at Ibadan. According to Boluwatife, who says he has been in and out of five different five orphanages in Lagos and Ibadan, he eventually returned to Oshodi to continue with the best way he understood life then.
He says, “We were many at Oshodi and there were quite a lot of bad boys among us, who smoked Marijuana, became alcoholic and even patronised ashawo (sex workers’) joints. But I believe God had a purpose for my life, so He did not allow me to join in all these vices.”
Boluwatife, who says he worked in water producing firm for N6, 200 pay every fortnight, explains that his regular abode at Oshodi was Olomola.
Olomola is one of the dark spots in Oshodi, and its occupants are always experiencing regular raids from security operatives.
At the correctional school, he began to exhibit traits of someone who is ready to learn. The Principal and the Head teacher, Mr. Oluwatoyin Kotun and Mrs. Adebisi Fernandez, respectively noticed his thirst for knowledge.
“Boluwatife never exhibited any bad traits since he was brought in here early last year. He is always ready to learn. He’s just a victim of bad parenting,” Fernandez says.
Kotun also attests to this, saying Boluwatife soon proved that he is ready for knowledge and academic exploits.
According to Kotun, in June 2013, he represented the correctional centre in a Spelling Bee competition tagged Educate the State organised by a Non-Governmental Organisation, Bake for Change, for pupils in correctional centres in the state and came second in the competition.
He had another opportunity to be a part of a summer camp that year where he emerged as one of the outstanding boys at the camp.
He raised the bar of knowledge March this year, when he represented the centre at the Spelling Bee competition for primary schools at the local government level. He came first, and this gave him the opportunity to represent Onigbongbo LCDA at the grand finale of the competition at the state level.
After a stiff competition with other 57 contestants, Boluwatife came third, receiving a trophy and N75, 000.
Kotun states that the centre started preparing him for the competition by getting him past questions on the Spelling Bee competition from 2011 till 2012.
Boluwatife has advice for other youths, “Do not look down on yourself, be focused and you will become what God wants you to be.”
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