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Over lunch he calmly popped the question: ‘So how are you finding the job?’

‘Not bad’ I replied in between mouthfuls. ‘Everything is still relatively new to me but also very interesting’.

‘Hmmmm’, he murmured, and then added ‘if I may say, I’d add that a lot of the satisfaction comes from the fact that your boss is a very accommodating, well learned individual, who believes strongly in grooming younger officers and equal sharing of information and knowledge. If this were not the case, I’d say you wouldn’t be having so much of a good time on the job as you are having now’.

Take the case of other individuals on the job like you’, he added, ‘they do not seem to be faring as well as you are, due to the fact that their boss is not as accommodating and as open as yours is’.

I was shaking my head vehemently in disagreement as he rounded up his conversation. ‘I strongly disagree I chirped in. My enjoyment of the job is due mostly to the fact that I am passionate about it and more than willing to assist and learn in every task and assignment given to me and not solely because of my well learned, open and knowledge sharing boss’.

Remember the time when you were still in school system’, he quickly cut in trying to defend his position, ‘and when you failed a subject or course, was it not mostly due to the fact that the teacher was not a good one and could not properly pass on the knowledge to the student?’ was this not always the fact?’

Again I was shaking my head before he could finish and quickly spoke up to halt his cutting me off again.

Two years ago, I would have totally agreed with you, but now I hold a different point of view. I think that the individual inability to comprehend a subject has nothing to do with the teacher. Or better put, it has little or nothing to do with the teacher and more and everything to do with the individual.’

I raised my left palm this time to hold off his comments as I proceeded. ‘It all depends on the individual’s initiatives and aptitudes, i.e. one who is ready and willing to learn will learn no matter the situation or circumstances’. Yes in my primary and secondary schooling days, I had always blamed my inability to pass mathematics on the mathematics teacher, and for a while, I got away with this notion’.

But every so often, life seems to bring us face to face with our fears at a point where there is no running away. I was promised a job after my service year that required a credit pass in O’Level mathematics and also an in-depth knowledge of the subject at that fundamental level to succeed on the job. Here, I met my waterloo’.

However, over the course of time, I got someone who was known to be the best tutor there can ever be on the subject. His track record of success and success for the kids he tutored was impeccable, yet even he could not help me. And, unheard of in his history, he pronounced me a hopeless case (not his exact words)’.

It was at that point that I realized that it wasn’t the teachers, or their methods, neither was it the environment – for I had blamed everything under the sun but myself. It was just me, I and myself. And that nobody but I could help myself. I did not get the job eventually, but today I and a proud owner of a distinction in O’Level mathematics all through my singular effort – not a small feat if you knew my history’.

By this time, my lunch mate was quietly listening to me as I proceeded on. ‘So do not tell me about people who do not succeed at a job or on an endeavor due to the unsupportive stance of someone else in their path. If the true desire is to succeed, then succeed you shall no matter the odds’.

‘I cannot really blame you for this attitude’ I added ‘because as I see it, it is a fundamental attitudinal problem of Nigerians. We are always looking for scapegoats to bear the blames for our continual failures and inability to subject ourselves to the rigors required for success and the government has become a ready scapegoat to  blame’.

So tell me now for example, who is to blame for the mass failure of our children in the O’Level examinations? The government for not providing the enabling environment for pupils and not paying teachers enough to motivate them to teach the children better?’

‘Have we however forgotten that no matter how much you teach a child, but that when that same child goes home, and has no one to caution him from watching the television all day and no guidance to see that he does his homework, that he will end up retaining nothing of the knowledge?

Or on the other hand, the child who has no one to fend for him and so spends all day after school hawking one item or the other, while the parents go about producing more of them with never a thought given to their welfare? Who really is to blame here, the government or the people? And if you say the government? Who really is the government?’

Thus, a lunch for two came to an abrupt end.