The Lectern: I Am Number One

The lectern

Hello fine boys and girls 😉

So July has come and gone; it’s a month I’m particularly sentimental about. While I hate to see it go, I’m excited about August–this month that has bestowed us with her august presence to end the 3rd quarter in this action-packed 2016.

In this month’s edition of The Lectern, we have Niyi Sodipe talking admonition and raw spirit at us with his piece titled ‘I Am Number One’. While a fresh face in this space, Niyi wastes no time in tackling the long-serving facet of the average Nigerian’s life: my village people have come again! With narrations of personal experiences, he does not just tell, but shows us exactly how this philosophy is–to put it straight–nonsense.

Enjoy the read–it’s funny and flows like wine–and afterwards, I hope you agree that you are Number One. Buoyed then, I hope you will choose with me to step into August like a winner, and by that choice, win!


Chisom Ojukwu

I Am Number One


Whose fault is it when things don’t pan out the way we want them to? As a Nigerian, the answer is obvious; it’s the fault of our enemies in the village! I can give you an example.

I woke up one morning in secondary school, SS-1 to be specific, with the words, I am Number One! I am Number One! playing in my head, over and over. These words gave me a euphoric feeling. I felt great, I knew it was going to be a good day.

I got dressed and was about leaving the house when I checked my wrist-watch and saw I was already a full half-hour late. Ah, my enemies! I dashed off to school, hoping against hope for a lucky break. But when I arrived, a prefect was already standing at the end of the long path that led to the assembly grounds. Enemies 1 – Me nil

The prefect raised his hand which was holding a two-headed whip and yelled at all of us latecomers, “Are you too big to run?!?” That meant, “Run or die!” So, we all ran. Just as I was about to pass the threshold, he dropped his hand and shouted, “STOP!” He pointed at me, “You! You’re number one.”

Six strokes of the koboko later, I said to myself, the enemies are in full force so early in the morning. Enemies 2 – Me nil. But I consoled myself, because as they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn.

The next few hours were the average school day, until around noon when we had Math. Remembering that we would be receiving our test scores on that day, I thought to myself, this is the beginning of my greatness, I am definitely Number One because I knew that I had done particularly well on that test. Our test results were handed out … I scored one out of ten! The enemies again! I will not take it, I resolved.

Immediately after the class, I went to the Math teacher’s office. “Sir, I got all the answers right, but you gave me one over ten. All my neighbors got nine over ten-” I stopped talking just in time, I was about to tell him that all those other neighbors copied their answers from me. The teacher asked for my paper; one look at it and he instantly tossed it back at me. “You cheated!”

“What? Me? Cheat?” Okay, to be honest, I only cheated on the first question, but there was no way he could have known this so I insisted on my complete innocence. My pleas fell on deaf ears however, and dejected, I left his office. Enemies 3 – Me nil.

The rest of the day, sadly, did not fare any better. On my way home, I was chased by a dog; not just any dog, but Clifford, the neighborhood mongrel named after the notorious cannibal of the nineties, Clifford Orji. I don’t recall when or how I started running from the dog; I only remember being Number One in front of my friends as we ran. Enemies 4 – Me nil.

So there you have it: a typical day wrecked from start to finish by my village enemies.

But how true is that? Let us rewind the day very quickly.

I woke up with the words in my head, I am Number One! I am Number One! and so I was euphoric. But what you don’t know is that the euphoria made me a bit forgetful: I’d walk into a room, forget why I was in there, leave, remember, and then go back. As a result, I took longer getting ready for school, and I was late. Whose fault was the lateness, the village enemies’ or mine? Mine! Enemies nil – Me 1.

What about my encounter with the prefect? What you don’t know is that when a prefect says ‘RUN’ in my school, you should really run! But we–SS1 and SS2 students–would always mock-run, which involved a swagger and was a lot slower than even walking. So when the prefect yelled, “are you too big to run?!?” as an intentional insult, I responded with a mock-run.

There’s more: few days earlier, the same prefect was speaking to a girl when I walked by and made an offhand comment. My mischief made the girl laugh and I suppose, ruined his chances with her. So when I neared him while mock-running, he remembered my face and the avenger in him surfaced and he made me Number One in line for thrashing. Whose fault was that, the enemies’ or mine? Mine! Enemies nil – Me 2.

What about the Math class? What you don’t know is that I had studied the entire term’s syllabus ahead of the class. This had the side-effect of making me over-confident, to the extent that I forgot how tricky my Math teacher was. He had decoys in all the answer options, and I unwittingly chose all of them. It was only when I looked into my friend’s paper on the first question that I realized my mistake. Thus the one question I got right. So whose fault was that? The village enemies’ or mine? Mine! Enemies nil – Me 3.

Finally, what about that demon dog, Clifford? What you don’t know is that in a bid to save my day from total disaster and prove I was in fact Number One, I boasted to my friends on the way home that I would walk into Clifford’s compound and he would not chase me. Like I said, I do not remember when I started running; I just remember being Number one in front of my friends as we ran. Now whose fault was that? The village enemies’ or mine? Mine! Enemies nil – Me 4.

Theodore Roosevelt once said “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your problems, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” Most of our problems are caused by our actions or inactions. We might not know it, we might not remember it, but the choice is ours to make. Always.


By Niyi Sodipe

Niyi Sodipe




Niyi is a Software Developer who enjoys binge-watching TV Shows. He believes that asking “why” is the first step in solving a problem.



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