“Ours is a country that puts too much emphasis on paper qualification, and it is bad enough, to put it mildly, that today we have many certificated graduates who are said to be intellectually challenged, half-baked and unemployable. I think it is high time we disabused ourselves of the notion of “go to school, get good grades and you will secure a good job.”

A cursory look at the above heading could easily provoke an average Arsenal fan, who might well instantly launch into a hot argument: “Femi, are you sick in the head? Who told you Arsenal is being relegated? That’s arrant nonsense! You…” So, let me quickly make myself clear before any Arsenal enthusiast begin to take issue with me for daring to run down Arsenal. I understand these are not the best of times for the “Gunners”. And I don’t want to be seen as gloating over it.

Now, I would like to clarify here that the use of “arsenal” in this piece does not refer to Arsenal Football Club. Far from it! Let me sound this caveat emptor of sorts:  “This piece is strictly for people who desire to become real standouts in life, actively involved in making this world a better place.”  The arsenal I am talking about here is the intellectual arsenal which the Maker gifted you and I.

First and foremost, let us consider these operative words, “intellectual” and “arsenal”. The word, intellectual, is derived from “intellect”, which means “a faculty of reasoning, knowing and thinking”.  “Arsenal” is used to describe a store or collection of weapons.

Put together, intellectual arsenal is what I call the storehouse of our intellect. You can call it the mind – you are right; it is the centre of intellectual activity. Our intellectual arsenal is our greatest asset. It is more powerful than nuclear weapons or Alfred Nobel’s dynamite. Without it, we are reduced to mere animals crawling around on all fours. The use of intellectual arsenal is the propelling force behind all inventions, discoveries and great achievements that we see around us today. Suffice to say that the most powerful weapon on earth is the human mind – our intellectual arsenal!

Sad to say, today not a few people are relegating their intellectual arsenal to the background. The situation is worse than what it was when Prof. William James of Harvard University said that compared to what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our mental resources.

Ironically, our education system, which is supposed to promote the effective use of our intellectual arsenal, has largely discouraged a lot of Nigerian students from pursuing this noble feat of mental excellence; hence, the disuse and depreciation of this priceless treasure. This has, in no small measure, posed a great danger to our society as sustainable development is eluding us. If only we can take a cue from developed countries by creating an enabling environment and value systems that encourage proper use of the human mind for our national development.

Ours is a country that put too much emphasis on paper qualification, and it is bad enough, to put it mildly, that today we have many certificated graduates who are said to be intellectually challenged, half-baked and unemployable. I think it is high time we disabused ourselves of the notion of “go to school, get good grades and you will secure a good job”. In a society where too much emphasis is being placed on “upper class” or “second class upper”, as the case may be, as a prerequisite for employment, many students strive to get it by hook or by crook. And in their desperate bid to acquire this “essential commodity”, as it were, in their credentials, many end up relegating their intellectual potential to the dustbin of irrelevance.

Tragic it is that education for certification is increasingly becoming the order of the day in our society. Many students are only interested in getting the paper that stands as a marked testimony that they are educated just to secure a job, ignoring their mental or intellectual development. Is it not true that education is the knowledge of how to use the whole of one’s self? We are only educated when we know how to make a tool of every faculty – how to open it, how to keep it sharp, and how to apply it to all practical purposes. The faculty of reasoning, knowing and thinking is too precious a possession to be left dormant or in abeyance. Whoever said the mind is a terrible thing to waste said it well! The reason is not far-fetched: the power we need for a productive life is in the storehouse of our own mind. Never underestimate your mind power.

The pursuit of knowledge is crucial to a healthy mind, and we must be in a constant state of learning to achieve lasting success. As we become involved in continuing education – not just schooling – we increase our knowledge base, broaden our intellectual horizon and increase our options in life. Contrary to the long-imposed view, our economic security does not lie in a job; it lies in our own power to produce – to think, to learn, to adapt. That’s intellectual arsenal! The power of the brain is where the power of a man or woman lies. Formal education may earn one a living, it is self-education – self-development – that will make one a fortune.

In the words of Galileo Galilei, the Italian astronomer and physicist, I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use. They are given to us for us to use for the betterment of our world. There is no limit to what we can achieve with our intellectual arsenal.

Olakunle Soriyan is one individual who has made – and is still making – the most of his intellectual arsenal. Despite the fact that he left the university with a Third class, after spending more than ten years in school – today he is a philosopher, trainer, consultant of high pedigree, a personal Advisor and coach to many high net worth individuals and organizations, promoting originality as a critical pathway to purposefulness. He is an acclaimed inventor with numerous products and services in the kitty. He is the Principal Transformation Strategist of the Olakunle Soriyan Company. It was in 2009 that I got to know him when came to UNAD for his Zero to Hero initiative. Last Saturday, I had the fortune of listening to him at the Career Fair organised by Pastor Kingsley Okonkwo of David Christian Centre. I hope to share with you my note later.

Epictetus, the Greek philosopher was right when he said only the educated are free. Thomas Jefferson, the immortal author of the American Declaration of Independence, painted a clearer picture when he said only an informed people can really be free. In this modern world, information is the commodity of kings. Those with the information and the means to communicate it have what the king used to have – unlimited power. As John Kenneth Galbraith wrote, “money is what fueled the industrial society. But in the informational society, the fuel, the power is knowledge.”

To make our lives sublime; to stand out in a world that is trying to make us mediocre, we must make the most of our intellectual arsenal. I like to call it the weapon of massive delivery. With it, you and I can deliver the future. So let’s stop relegating it, and release its full potential for our benefit, and for the betterment of our world.

Please Stand.Out.And.Reign!

‘Femi Asu


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