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Aminat Yusuf: An Ode to Genius from LASU by Olatunji Ololade

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For several years, Nigeria has feted and fooled with undeserving celebs. Many a male and female of ill repute has been tooled with renown. Thus the social space pulses with ornamented sap heads in glitter and gold.

Occasionally, we hear of an individual or two, who asserts his or her right to renown. Society enjoys the emergence of one, two, three or four genii or more, who put up brilliant performances in the humanities, arts, academia, sports, science and tech, to mention a few.

These are the ones we should really celebrate but the most they get, usually, is half a page of news mention, grudgingly doled out to them by a hesitant press.

Consequently, we know too little of them. They do not enjoy appreciable renown, like the glitter gang.

Let this be the moment we choose to acknowledge the finer breed of Nigerianness, like Aminat Imoitesemeh Yusuf, who graduated with a perfect Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 5.00 (First Class Honours) from the Lagos State University (LASU)’s Faculty of Law.

The Vice-Chancellor (VC), Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, gladly pronounced Amina as “LASU’s best-graduating student in history.”

It is indeed fulfilling to acknowledge her emergence as the overall best-graduating student in LASU’s 40-year history. Moved by her achievement, the traditional ruler of Iba Kingdom, Oba Adeshina Suleiman Ashade, the Oniba Ekun of Iba, hosted Yusuf and her parents on Sunday, June 18, to celebrate her exploit.

The monarch, whose kingdom is one of LASU’s host communities presented Aminat with a cheque of N2 million in the presence of her family, her school’s management and other traditional chiefs.

According to him, Aminat’s feat was being celebrated to encourage his own children and serve as an inspiration to young people in the kingdom that hard work truly pays.

The Oniba’s cash gift to Aminat follows the N500,000 awarded to her by the University Management on Wednesday, June 14, being the first of the windfall to greet her extraordinary performance.

Her parents’ joy was perceptible on their faces. While her mother beamed brilliantly, her father, Ibrahim Yusuf, a multiple award-winning journalist with The Nation, maintained a calm, fulfilled mien.

Nothing is as gratifying as seeing his graduate daughter manifest with appreciable grandeur that surpasses his at her age; add that to her infectious humility, piety and predilection for excellence, and you have a perfect picture of a well-groomed child.

If Ibrahim is a pride of the Yusuf clan, his daughter, Aminat, becomes the prodigious heroine whose exceptional feat restyles the paradigm of accomplishment of his lineage. Aminat, like Poe’s true genius, shuddered at the probability of validating incompleteness via a mediocre performance. Thus she committed to the attainment of excellence in full measure.

She preferred silent striving to careless tripe and dulled her sense of entitlement to embrace a culture of disciplined enterprise and taqwa as counselled by her Islamic faith. The Arabic word taqwa means “forbearance, fear and abstinence.” It is also explained as “God-consciousness, piety, fear of Allah, love for Allah, and self-restraint.”

Self-restraint and tact have, so far, served as her shield against the debauchery pervasive of the university campus, larger society and social media.

It is heartening to see a contemporary Nigerian female manifest with traits and glory worth emulation by her peers and younger ones.

Amina dared to be the exception in an age teeming with the likes of Anto, a Big Brother Naija (BBN) inmate notable for her twaddle of being a “grown ass woman” who has “f..ked a lot of niggas” but wanted no one to “take it personally” because she and her fellow inmates in the DSTV/Multichoice degenerate show were simply “having a good time.”

In an age when hordes of young Nigerian (and African) females are wildly corrupted and misled into toxic femininity, Amina affects the wisdom of the ancients, which admonishes moderate assertiveness, progressive consciousness, and a disciplined pursuit of personal goals.

Swathed in her hijab, she cut a portrait of glowing modesty and respectable grooming. While some may dismiss this as an errant validation of her presumed propriety, testimonials from her tutors and peers erase all doubts about her character.

This is the kind of youth that our daughters should emulate. Not the degenerate, drug-addicted, sexually perverse, celebrity junkies ‘flexing’ their regressive savvy on both traditional and new media.

En route to her glory, Aminat flaunted no cleavage. She bared no flesh as a function of her femininity. The only thing nude about her was her assertive decency. Thus we may declare her brand of femininity ennobling.

As she ventures into the larger society, she must understand that unlike the archaic kore (maiden) whose ample graces are utilitarian, the model Muslimah must stay graciously clothed in her will, perspicacity, propriety and brilliance.

Her outward and innate beauty should constitute her votive palette from which she aspires to a more splendorous portrait. She must strive heroically shrouded in cultured femininity and uncompromising decency.

Unlike the confused, contemporary vixen, sculpted through decadence and gobs of imported, reckless awareness, her character must be such that invites the strolling spectator to admire her in her mould.

She should never seek to be vixen but virtuous; she must never seek to be toxic but humane.

Right now, stardom falls upon her and shines through her; she must be wary of its flicker lest it torches her modesty. This is neither to secularise her persona nor ritualise it but to identify it as an exemplary bust worthy of emulation by hordes of misguided teens aspiring to become tinsel town’s glitter mob.

Right now, Aminat is the diva to beat. But she clearly has a long journey ahead of her. If you ask her, she would tell you of her wish to be acknowledged as an accomplished female, attorney, woman, Muslimah.

Unlike the misguided BBN inmate, she does not intend to “f..k a lot of niggas” or strip and twerk on TikTok for acclaim. Rather, she has set on the path to self-actualisation the old-fashioned way, by dint of passion and honest endeavour. She would make a tough attorney someday. A successful one, hopefully.

Ibrahim Yusuf’s loins has certainly borne no strange fruit. From the bold patina of Aminat’s growth, this is understandable.

She has certainly grown from the starry-eyed girl, whose admission to LASU’s Faculty of Law elicited indescribable passion from her father, a few years ago. Ibrahim enthused with joy, regaling his colleagues with the promise reposed in his daughter. Thus he worked tirelessly to support her despite his struggles as a journalist. Those struggles have paid off now.

There is no gainsaying Nigeria teems with uncelebrated genii across various fields of endeavour. Beyond the university campuses, there are many more gems in education, journalism, public health, and law enforcement but society reserves honour for a curious breed, it would seem.

How easy it was for Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to physically show up at celebrity wannabe, Hilda Baci’s contrived and wholly inconsequential cookathon, and ignore a glorious attainment like Aminat Yusuf’s. A terse acknowledgement is never enough.

And if the state could host winners of BBN’s toxic reality, irrespective of the nature of the publicity stunt, Lagos, the Centre of Excellence could oblige more salutary glance to outstanding citizenry across all fields of endeavour.

Olatunji Ololade is a columnist with the Nation Newspaper

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