One of the 14,771 graduands of the National Open University of Nigeria – NOUN, Joshua Sopeju, has demonstrated uncommon abilities. Sopeju stood out among his fellow graduants as he bagged a degree in Computer Science at the ceremony which held in Abuja.
Sopeju who lives with cerebral palsy – a disability resulting from damage to the brain before, during or shortly after birth and outwardly manifested by muscular in-coordination and speech disturbances –for about 30years finished as a computer scientist.
This uncommon feat has since wowed his siblings, parents and other relatives who have been filled with joy. Her excited elder sister, MrsMojolaSopeju-Mufutau, who could not contain her happiness, revealed on social media that her brother’s condition was due to poor medical handling.
Recounting how her brother has struggled against all odds to attain this joyous feat, MrsMojola wrote, “For 30 years, you lived with cerebral palsy. Yet, you didn’t give up. Yours was a case of prolonged labour. As an infant, it took you almost a whole day to utter your first cry. I remember how we, your siblings, took turns to carry you on our backs to church and school. Our backs ached as you grew older. But we carried you all the same. We took turns to bath you, clean you up and get you set for the day.
“I remember why our youngest brother, Samuel, was made to write the Common Entrance Examination. Both of you moved on to secondary school. I remember when reality set in and Samuel gained admission into the university. You were alone, afterwards; staying indoors for 14 years. But you were strong. Now see how you have made of us proud!” she added.
Although Sopejucompleted the four-year Computer Science course in eight years;he, however, said he felt fulfilled and proud of his achievement. Speaking in an interview with a news correspondent, he attributed his success to God and good parenting.
“I was born with cerebral palsy, which affected my psycho-motor faculty. But it did not affect my intelligence. I gained admission into the National Open University of Nigeria in 2010. I chose the course because I had a passion for computers. As a young boy, I liked to play computer games. Also, because of my condition, my parents advised me to study something that I would be able to handle conveniently,” he said.
Meanwhile, he stated that studying computer science was daunting, especially as an individual who isphysically challenged. Even though he found himself facing different challenges, the greatest of them was his inability to walk well.
According to Sopeju, “the greatest challenge was movement. It prevented me from having access to my facilitators. I was not able to ask them questions about the things I didn’t understand. As a result, I had to depend on my course outlines and on personal research. In addition to this, there was no time. At a point, I felt like giving up.”
Sopeju’s determination to complete his education at NOUN despite the numerous challenges was at the end not in vain. He expressed hisgratefulnessfor not being a victim of discrimination while at the institution; acknowledging the invaluable roles played by his dad, Pastor Victor Sopeju, a former National Youth Coordinator of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, and his mum, Mrs. Grace Sopeju, in attaining the success.
Urging youths with disabilities to seek higher education,Sopeju enjoined them to pursue a career and leave the future to God. He specializes in computer programming, hoping to establish a firm someday where he will impact knowledge and practical skills to others.
“Parents should not give up on such children because of their special needs. They should encourage and support them in every way possible. My parents never gave up on me. If you add up all the money they spent on me to graduate from school, it is enough to finance the education of three or four children up to the university. That is what I call sacrifice,” he submitted.