National Development: Applying Creative Spirit of No Struggle, No Success, by Yusuf Lawal, PhD

National Development: Applying Creative Spirit of No Struggle, No Success, by Yusuf Lawal, PhD
Dr. Yusuf Lawal
National Development: Applying Creative Spirit of No Struggle, No Success, by Yusuf Lawal, PhD

The motto of most old post primary schools in the Northern Region of Nigeria is rendered in Arabic; Man jada Wajada, which is simply translated to No Struggle No Success or He who strives shall succeed or Anyone who does things seriously will succeed. Irrespective of the literal translation that is given to this Arabic sentence, the simple message in it is that effort leads to success.

The adoption of this motto can be described as most appropriate for human existence in life. From the very first man that was created by God; Adam to the very latest one that has just been born into the world, it has been, it is and it will continue to be a life of struggle for man. Some say “Ile Aiye Ogun” literally meaning a world of war. It does then mean that we are all warriors in this world and only those who are well prepared in the struggle will survive and succeed.

The Government Secondary School Ilorin through its predecessors, namely Ilorin Middle School and Provisional Secondary School was established in 1914, which makes it one of the oldest schools not only in the Northern part of Nigeria, but also in the West Africa sub-region. As in the case of Katsina College, now Barewa College, Zaria, Government College Bida and other old schools in the same category, the motto Man jada Wajada was adopted as the school motto for GSS Ilorin.

Over the years, GSS Ilorin has produced many personalities who have gone ahead to play significant part in National Development and Nation Building. They are too numerous to mention here, just as their indelible marks on the sand of time can never be erased because of their unique roles in virtually all areas and sectors of human endeavours across the globe. These achievements could not have been recorded if the old boys, whom we are all proud of had not strove in their struggle while in school, and even well after they had passed out. Many of them had cut their teeth in GSS Ilorin, and the string of successes attached to their names long after school have some bearings and inputs from the spirit of struggle which  they had embraced as students of the Great GSS Ilorin. It is therefore easy to establish the nexus between their struggles and their successes.

Conceptual Clarifications

In order to have some understanding of the postulation in this paper, it would be most appropriate to define and clarify some key concepts in the topic as follow:

Struggle: In the context of this delivery, struggle is clarified as efforts, strive, labour, sweat or work. We assume struggle to be anything we do as human beings to achieve results.

Success: In this presentation, we assume success as achievement, accomplishment or fulfilment that is derived from effort exerted to get positive result.

Nation Development:  Nation Development is clarified as the state,  stage, level or status of achievement of a country in terms of human and infrastructural growth.

Taking a bearing from these simple and short clarifications, this presentation is therefore focused on the need for old boys of GSS Ilorin, and possibly the present students too to interrogate and internalise the spirit of the motto of the school for us to re-examine and double our efforts at imbibing the spirit of No Struggle No Success to guide our participation and involvement in  national development.

Applying the Spirit of No Struggle No Success to National Development

In my opinion, the most important ingredient for national development is the human capital resource.  This is further categorised into two namely; LEADERSHIP and FOLLOWERSHIP. Both leadership and followership have a symbiotic relationship as one cannot do without the other. Leaders emerge from among the people, and they are only able to lead for as long as the followers allow them to so do. This is not restricted to democratic governments, as autocratic, military, monarchy and all forms of government are sustained by the wishes of the people directly or indirectly. No leader is singly sustained in his leadership position simply because of the barrel of guns. The gun bearers are also among the people and when they decide to drop their arms and weapons to join the people, the leader become impotent. The summary of this postulation is that every one of us is very important in National Development.

How can one apply the spirit of No Struggle No Success to National Development? Nigeria as a Nation, a State and a Country has come of age, and by coincidence, the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates occurred in 1914, which is the same year that our alma mater was established. There is therefore a nexus between the birth and growth of Nigeria and GSS Ilorin. Between 1914 and now, our great country has gone through different levels and stages of political and economic developments. There is no doubt about it that the country’s founding fathers and the succeeding leadership including the present one have struggled to play some roles leading to our present state of affairs and development. With our levels of education, knowledge, understanding, intelligence and exposure among others, we acknowledge that some modest successes have been achieved so far, but as the giant of Africa and unarguably, the biggest black nation in the universe, we strongly believe that we could have achieved more than our present level of development. Unfortunately, we are still struggling with a lot of challenges and, therefore, this is where the need for all Nigerians to borrow and apply the spirit of our school motto to our efforts at National Development.

We have had a lot of stories of personal sacrifices and deprivations of some of the old boys of GSS Ilorin to the development of the school, their towns, their states, Nigeria and even world affairs. For example how many of us know that during the Second World War (WWII) in 1942, when GSS, then known as Ilorin Middle School was converted to a Military Transit Camp, some students of the school who were temporarily relocated to Oke-suna Primary School had to be accommodated at the Ori-okoh private residence of Alhaji Yahaya Madawaki who was then the Headmaster of the school. Alhaji Yahaya’s residence served as temporary hostel for the students during the war which ended in 1945. This act of the Headmaster was a personal sacrifice and self deprivation aimed at ensuring that the studies of the students were not truncated. One of the students who benefited from this self denial included a former Principal of GSS Ilorin, Alhaji Abdulrahim Adebayo. This is an effort towards national development. Looking inwards, how many of the 2002 set of GSS Ilorin can confidently beat their chests and say that they have contributed to the development of their alma mater; GSS Ilorin, their community, their states and their country. National development can be as simple as it can be as difficult. A citizen who ensures that he maintains and contributes to peaceful co-existence in his neighbourhood,  those who ensure that they perform their civic obligations like paying their taxes, voting at elections, obeying laws and orders and those who pay the supreme price defending the nation, are all contributing in different ways to national development. Members of the 2002 set of GSS who have come together to put up this and other events are contributing in no small measure to national discourse and invariably to National Development. I therefore commend your initiative which is another form of struggle and I identify with your success which is the corollary of your efforts.

It is therefore incumbent on all of us, particularly both old and present students of GSS Ilorin to imbibe the spirit of the motto of our alma mater and translate same to our conduct in nation building and national development.

Every human being strives in life, including those who struggle in the negative. While success may be relative in terms of interpretation, there is no other interpretation that can be impugned to a prayer for one to be successful in this world and in the hereafter. Is it possible for armed robber who struggles to deprive others of their belongings to say Amen to a prayer that “may his struggle give him a deserving success in this world and in the hereafter”?. Maybe not because his struggle is in the negative. May Allah reward the struggle of those who put this event together with success. Amen.

The Art and Act of giving back to the society has become a global phenomenon, just as philanthropic gestures are no more the exclusive preserve of the rich. Everyone is encouraged to give back to the society from whatever he has. At different times, my children and grandchildren have come home with requests from different organisations asking them to give support to the needy, to environment, to sports and to other worthy courses. They have had to give from their barely sufficient allowances to these courses, thereby imbibing, embracing and enjoying the culture of giving back to the society early in life. While on vacation, I have also had to attach them to workplaces where they also learn how to struggle in life. One or two of them had to work in restaurants to wash dishes and serve clients, in order for them to appreciate dignity of labour and different circumstances in life.

What one considers as little may be magnificent to others. A drop here and there can become enormous in developmental efforts. No one should therefore be left behind in the journey towards Nation Development. As classmates of the 2002 set, there is no way that you can all be on the same pedestal, especially in terms of resources and opportunities available to each of you, but as classmates, I would advise you continue to see yourselves as equals, not minding the current status of each of you, as only God determines everyone’s destiny. Carry each other along, do not set unrealistic targets for anyone. Let those who have cover for those who may not have today. Remember with nostalgia those times that you spent together as adolescents and let the spirit of Man jada Wajada continue to spur you to partake in community development and Nation building. Remember that  development starts and ends with the individual. Whether we are using the the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda and its predecessors, or the Human Development Index (HDI) to measure and categorise the performance of countries, the critical and common denominator of such measurement and consideration is the human being. As we all know , it is a collection of individuals that makes a nation, and it is the development of a collection of individuals that translate to National Development. If one is therefore able to help develop a classmate, a family member, a friend, or any random person that comes across us for help,  we would have contributed to national development just as those who are able to help develop multitudes of people. Our struggle in the different sectors of food, agriculture, economy, education, health, housing, environment and infrastructure among many others can only be successful when the human beings have been developed. While it is a known fact that the Almighty God has put a soul in every animal including the human being, He has further emphasised that it is only the human being that he has bestowed with the kind of privileges that we enjoin. This is why we are able to organise ourselves in the way we live around the world. Have we come across countries, states, nations, governments and other formal arrangements that are populated and governed by animals only? This, therefore is a pointer to the fact that human being is the centre point of consideration in National Developments. We must all struggle to develop our fellow human beings, even if it is only to ensure that everyone has the basic needs of life that confers dignity on him including food, clothing and shelter. We would have been considered successful when no one is left behind in our developmental strides as a nation.


The choice of the topic for this celebration is apt as we are about going to general elections in the country early in 2023. It is hoped that we would identify those who are struggling positively to make a success of our developmental efforts and give them our mandate to take our country to a greater height, while we compliment their efforts by playing our parts in our various ways.

I thank the 2002 set  for this opportunity to share with you the celebration of the anniversary of your twenty (20) years of graduation from the prestigious GSS Ilorin, and I urge to continue to plough back to the school from the resources that God has graciously endowed you with. Indeed, he who strives shall succeed. Let us all continue to live the spirit our school’s motto and spread same around the globe through us, our family and our friends. Let everyone sweeps his corner and in no time, the whole place would be clean and our existence shall be better for it.

*Dr.Yusuf Lawal, fsi, FNIM is Director of Advancement Office and Senior Research Fellow University of Abuja. He deliver this paper at 20th Anniversary Celebration of the GSS Ilorin 2002 Set.

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