I am compelled to share My story on this platform to inspire and encourage everyone who reads this that no matter how low you set off in your career, the future is bright and glorious even more than expected. I also wrote this article to express my profound gratitude to my creator, whose faithfulness and unfathomable love towards Me and My family remains far above my comprehension and expression. Indeed, He has made me understand in practical terms Ephesians 3:20 that ‘God can do abundantly above all that we can ask or think. This is what He did by going beyond my imagination.
The journey to the apex of my profession as a Full Professor of Economics will be better appreciated if I can spend a few minutes to take us on a short journey through memory lane. I have received a witness in my spirit to write a book ‘Towards Speedy and Successful Career Advancement: The FGP Model from True Life Testimony’. Thus, this treatise is a step in that direction as I have scribbled it after the chapters that the proposed book will contain.
Evans Before 1994
As a little boy, I saw myself as a lover of God and good morals. I recall that by 1988 I have started attending a Catholic Church in my Hometown (Abavo, Ika South Local Government Area, Delta State, Nigeria), and I was a catechumen, and I eventually got baptised, had 1st Holy Communion and Confirmation in 1991. Everything seems right with me as I was doing well in school and healthy until June 1992 when the devil struck. I was sick, but medical science could not diagnose the type of ailment, which made my parents opt for a traditional solution. I ended up at a traditional healing home, and I was there for three months. At the end of September 1992, I resumed school and based on my past performance, and I was promoted to the next class. I thought it was over until about the same time the following year; specifically, June 1993, the devil struck again, and my parents took me directly to the traditional healing home.
I was there, and on the last day of September 1993, I was soliloquising saying ‘if I had died the previous year, it would have been better instead of putting my innocent mother through this challenge again’. I did not know that my mother was behind me listening. She put her hand on my shoulder and was weeping to ask me in a lamentable voice why on earth I should make that kind of statement. With some courage inside me, I replied to her that they want me dead, but I will not die, but I will live to make her proud. Then and there, we concluded that I should go and learn carpentry from one of her cousins so that I can abandon school for them, which was the reason they wanted to kill me.
The Great Turning Point via Divine Orchestration
On 1st October 1993, my aunty (my mother’s elder sister) visited from Benin. Not knowing the earlier discussion, I had with my mother the previous day and without asking any question, looked at me and then my mother, ‘I am taking this boy to Benin’, she said with assertive voice. It was a divinely orchestrated encounter, I would say. That was it, by 5th October 1993; I relocated to Benin to live with my aunty and her family. It was a turning point in my life! I started following them to a Pentecostal Church (Christ’s Chosen Church of God). With her assistance; I continued my secondary education at Niger College, Benin.
Things were going very fine as everyone loved me to the extent that many of my friends did not know that my aunty was not my biological mother. One night the Almighty God out of His volition visited me at about 11:30 pm 24th January 1994. ‘You are going very far in life, but you cannot get there without me, he said. Amidst sobbing, then what do I do, I replied. ‘Give me your heart’, He added. ‘Then you can have it’, I surrendered. That was how I got Born Again; a great new beginning altogether! As a proof of that, I wrote my Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE), General Certificate Examination (GCE) and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) the following year (1995) and I cleared all my nine (9) subjects with 6As and 3Cs setting a record for the school. The principal and teachers were thrilled that they hosted me when I came to collect my results, and I was exempted from paying any dime as a fee. ‘You must strive to further your education, the principal pleaded! ‘I will, God helping me’, I promised.
Entering Higher Institution and Campus Experience
There was a big issue on the choice of course to study as my nine (9) subjects comprised science and social science subjects. My elder brother wanted me to study Mechanical Engineering, while my uncle wanted Medicine. Thanks Be to God who had taught me on how to hear from Him. My JAMB form was with me for about a month until I got the leading to choose Economics. In the JAMB I did in 1995, I scored 220 with the University of Benin (UNIBEN) as 1st choice and Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU) as 2nd choice. I made efforts to secure admission; I was offered different courses, including: Industrial Mathematics, Geography & Regional Planning, and Mathematics Education. I turned the offers down and decided to take another JAMB the following year. Then I started working; first as a casual staff in Guinness PLC Benin and later I started teaching in lecture centres and private schools around. When the JAMB result came out, I had the same 220 even with a combination of different subjects.
The admission process started again, which was a bit tougher than the previous. 1st and 2nd batches came out; my name was not in any. One afternoon, a Christian Brother came to our house; ‘you are still here, I have entered school’, he said. The following day, we left together to Edo State University (now Ambrose Alli University-AAU, Ekpoma) intending to buy their diploma form. Lo and behold, while on the queue, we learnt that they were still selling yellow form (change of university of 1st choice). That was how I bought it and filled Economics and submitted it the same day. Like a miracle and it was, my name came out in the last batch to study Economics at AAU, and I resumed immediately few weeks to examination. I knew many of the lecturers at the exam hall, but God helped me as I passed all my courses without a single carryover. At the end of year one, I was among the best three (3) in my class. My days on campus were eventful as I was active in fellowship and related Christian bodies. I was a pastor of our campus fellowship for two (2) years, prayer coordinator for Joint Christian Fellowship (JCF) and Secretary-General of our Departmental Fellowship. God was indeed faithful, and I graduated as the 2nd best student in my class with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.33 on a scale of 5.00 in 2002.
NYSC Experience and Resumption in CU
After my last examination in October 2002, there were some delays in processing our results, and we were only deployed for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in September 2003. It was also a divine orchestration. I left for Bayelsa State for my NYSC 8th September 2003; I told my people that I would only stop by at Benin to drop my things because I will get a job before the completion of the NYSC. That was what God did. My NYSC year was glorious with blessings on every side. I was receiving an allowance from the Federal Government, State Government, the ministry I was serving, teaching in a secondary school and a lecture centre, and I was also taking home lessons. Above all, I met my wife there. I was also fervent in the service of God both at Nigerian Christian Corpers Fellowship (NCCF) as a bible study teacher and later as General Coordinator, Yenegoa. More so, I was the Church Secretary and Sunday School Teacher at Yenegoa branch of Christ’s Chosen Church of God.
Then one day, 27th February 2004 after our Community Development Service (CDS), a friend requested me to accompany him to the post office. ‘For what’, I questioned. ‘To post a letter’, he replied. Upon further interaction, I discovered he was going to post his application letter to Covenant University (CU). I did not see the advertisement but copied the address from him, drafted my application letter and posted it the following Monday. By the end of April, I got an email from CU for an interview. I came, and when I got to Canaanland gate, I prayed a simple prayer, ‘Father, please, let me partake of the milk and honey flowing in this land’. It was because I have heard so much about Shiloh while on campus and during my NYSC.
I was interviewed on 28th April 2004, and I went back to Yenegoa, Bayelsa. One evening in May 2004, I got a call that I should come and resume. ‘Ah is it how easy to get a job in Nigeria’, I wondered at the splendour and grandeur of the Almighty God. On the 31st May 2004, I was at CU with others for resumption on 1st June 2004. During documentation on 2nd June, 2004, I was asked about my NYSC certificate. I told the officer that I was still serving. She advised that I should see the Registrar and explain it to him. I did, and he counselled that I could defer my resumption if I was sure that I would be resuming. I went back to Bayelsa State to complete my NYSC. Our passing out parade was 17th August 2004, and I finally resumed 19th August 2004 as Graduate Assistant (GA), Department of Economics & Development Studies, Covenant University.
Glorious Adventures in CU
I resumed, later started the postgraduate (PG) programme and completed my M.Sc and participated at the 1st Convocation Ceremony of CU 28th July 2006. I got converted to Assistant Lecturer (AL), September 2006, got married 30th September 2006 and later started Ph.D January 2007. I got promoted to the position of Lecturer II (LII) in 2008. Our marriage was blessed with a son in 2009. I got two international awards same year: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA)’s Grant for Thesis Writing and Swedish Institute Fellowship as a Guest Ph.D candidate at Lund University, Sweden for six months (September 2009 to March 2010). I returned to complete my Ph.D, which I successfully defended 3rd February 2011. I was promoted to the rank of Lecturer I (LI) in 2011. The following year, I got three (3) postdoctoral awards (two in South Africa and one in Germany). I chose that of Germany, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) due to provision for family members, among other factors. I was away in Germany for a total of 26 months (two years for the fellowship and two months for language course). I returned to CU 5th January 2015 and was promoted to the position of Senior Lecturer (SL) with an effective date as 1st August 2014. In 2016, I applied for the position of Associate Professor (AP) but got the reply that the residency period has changed to three (3) years. I appealed but was advised to wait for the following year, which I did. Little did I know that God had packaged greater glory ahead!
Double Promotion to the Rank of a Full Professor
Indeed, the Year 2017 was one of my strangest years fulfilling ‘My Case is Different’ Prophetic Word of God’s Servant (Bishop David Oyedepo). Within the year, God gave my outreach partner and my hundreds of souls who we are nurturing. At Shiloh 2017, while asking God what I should give as Shiloh Sacrifice, He told me to give in foreign currency because He has made me a global citizen. I obeyed. As if God was in a hurry, Shiloh 2017 ended 10th December, by 12th December, I got an email and a call from outside the country that the research proposal I submitted on behalf of my team was among the very few selected across Africa for funding amounting to Tens of Thousands of Dollars. As if that was not enough, on 15th December, I was invited by Covenant University (CU) Management for the Chancellor’s dinner where I got the greatest shocker of my life. Lo and behold, I was one of the exceptional few who were given double promotion. That was how I left my home as a Senior Lecturer only to return as a Professor. I happen to be the youngest among them. The story was reported online at Covenant University Website and other platforms.
From the foregoing, I want to believe that it was the Hand of God that turned my life around from a potential carpenter in my village to a Professor in a world-class university (CU). It has been by His direction, timely helps and leading all the way. Thus, I have written this little piece with a heart of gratitude to the God of Winners, Jehovah overdo for turning me to a surprise not only to those around me but even to myself. I am still in Shocks of His Awesome Wonders. May His Name be Praised Forever! Amen!
Source: Ajayi (2017) available here