I’ll try to keep this short – but its going to be very hard. So forgive me if this is disjointed. I have to eliminate so many things.
I joined ECU in 1995/6 and was there for 6 years. I was privileged to function in Drama, Follow Up School, Organising and Shekinah Business Units. I have asked myself the most important things I got in ECU, and came up with one answer – in ECU, I grew up. And that’s not a cliché.
I attended a pretty tough secondary school so I was okay on that score, and I was born again before Great Ife, but I did my real growing up in ECU. My enduring friendships are mostly from there; I got jobs through ECU people and have returned the favour, I learnt real Christianity there, got roots, made mistakes, participated in some great things, and when I left, it was with many memories – and a fiancée. We’re married today, blessed with a daughter, and I couldn’t be happier.
Oh, there were tough days during my stay in Ife, and there were hard nights. There was fun aplenty and brethren that cared, fantastic ‘egbons’ and ‘aburos’ – and towards the end I started to link up with Alumni, and it was a case of different generations, but the same spirit. I have learned so much from them. Now I relate with students and alumni. It’s a tough balance as each generation is different, but once we get down to the basics of what ECU means to us, we get along just fine.
What made this happen? Well, first, ECU’s commitment to service. At all levels you are responsible for someone. After a blissful year 1 with ECU Drama, I was ‘carried’ as Prayer Sec of my unit. At that time in my life I hadn’t prayed for one hour straight, ever! What were they thinking of? And my 'nutty' predecessor took me straight to Sports Center that night [11pm, what horror!] and told me how he had prayed for me and the Lord would help and lift me. Me? ME? But you know what – I did some of my best praying and became a Cricket Pavilion enthusiast [oh, those 4 pillars that I’d walk round praying…] that tenure. From there to Follow Up School to carry speakers and teach, back as Drama Chief to learn people management and ended up selling photographs and handling computer services [the skill that, with a few extras, I get paid for today].
ECU to me would always be that place where God challenges you, gives you responsibilities to build your strength and not based on your strength. It’s a clear case of ‘He that scattereth and yet increaseth….’. To me, the overwhelming thing we learnt in ECU was that to grow, we must give – our lives to God, our time to principled service, our talents/gifts to help others, our minds to perform to the best we can academically and socially. In a gathering of young people, there would be tensions, issues, discussions. We learnt to get along and focus more on Jesus in the long run.
During the last Reunion we took a small step that to me, would resound to lift the Alumni Body to the next level, what I call the level of organic growth [forgive me biologists]. We agreed to commit a small amount annually, N5000 or equivalent, from each individual pocket, to ECU. After 12-20 years of consistent Reunions based on the efforts of a few brethren per Reunion, I say it’s about time.
What’s this about organic growth? It’s a theory I have about voluntary organizations, that it first starts with willing hearts who give to keep the idea running. After some time if not augmented, the idea dies [unless you’re a Rockefeller or Gates etc]. However, a mission that touches hearts soon generates a wide pool of givers who may give little, but they give consistently, and with good management, the idea gradually catches fire and few years on, we wonder how the world survived without it.
How does this apply to us? Make no mistake – leading in ECU Alumni is cash-intensive. You’ve got to believe in the vision real good. Each Reunion costs well over half a million, a Lagos Chapter meeting in a good venue takes N200k, and in each case, less than half of fifty people give it. Some chapters haven’t met because anyone who shows his head to drive things will drive some cash from his account. Now do you see why it gets hard to convince some to even ‘enter’ miracle bag for Alumni Exco? Come on, we used to like the idea of entering Miracle Bag during student days!
How does an annual due change this? Well, first, we all become equal. No superstars. You can [and should!] give over N5000 if you can afford it, but our responsibility is N5000. If 1000 of us give, that is enough to ensure that we can host Reunion with free bus rides to and from Ife, sponsor one meeting each non-Reunion year in key local chapters [taking pressure off chapter leaders and ensuring continuity], and adequately support the student body, probably get some microfinance going in some years hmm? Can you see what I see….? And you cant say Reunion is for the rich anymore. That’s a bonus.
And this is the challenge before us this year. We are going to do more of this series and send you SMS so everyone knows the account number. Its going out as a footer in all mails. Its not a drive for money: it’s a drive for the next level. Don’t be caught napping. Give. I personally recommend giving 2 years dues in advance and adding a top-up. Better still, tell others. On this mailing list we have 800 Alumni and our phone bank has 750 numbers. Its tiny. If you know someone who is not getting ECU Alumni missives, report it by mail or send us an SMS. Lets appreciate the great things we learnt and did in ECU, and the sacrifices of various brethren who worked for years to keep the Reunion dream alive, by taking it to the next level.
Thanks, and have a wonderful 2010