Just like Mr. Ayodele Dada who achieved the feat of a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 5.00 at the University of Lagos, this year, two female students, Taiwo Bankole, Department of Cell Biology and Genetics and Oyindamola Omotuyi, Department of Systems Engineering recorded the same feat at the institution’s 2015/2016 convocation ceremony. They attributed their successes to their parents. Funmi Ogundare reports
As expected in any graduation ceremony, when a feat is achieved, there is always a thunderous applause and cheers when the names of those that achieved it are mentioned.
So it was at the 2016 convocation ceremony of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), where Miss TaiwoBankole, Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, and OyindamolaOmotuyi of the Department of Systems Engineering, were called to the podium to receive their prizes.
The duo, who were the cynosure of all eyes at the ceremony, were among the 231 first class graduands. They matched the enviable record set by Mr. Ayodele Dada during the 2015 convocation.
They were rewarded with cash prizes and scholarships worth almost N1 million, including the alumni association prize to the overall best graduating first degree student in the institution which was increased from N100,000 to N150,000.
Recalling what it was like when she was admitted into UNILAG, Bankole said: “I failed the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and got in through direct entry. I didn’t want to study the course at first, but I was offered Cell Biology. I wanted to study Medicine, but could not meet the cut-off mark.”
She said she found her course of study interesting, adding, “it is something that talks about our daily lives, it is about reading your books, attending classes, and praying to God and trusting in Him for everything.”
On how she was able to achieve the feat, she said: “My parents have been encouraging me and my course adviser and lecturers and friends that it is possible to have five points in school.”
Asked if she had a boyfriend while in school, Bankole said, “I didn’t want to have a boyfriend in university because I came here to read my books. My favourite quote is that there is time for everything and that was the time to read my books. I also had a social life in school, I watched movies when I don’t have much to do, I go out with my friends if I wanted and also go visiting. My handiwork is fashion designing, so during holidays I go to learn. If am not in school, I go online and look at the latest fashion and sew clothes, but I did overnight reading a lot.”
On her plans for the money, she said, “I will love to further my education in the area of genetics because it is very interesting outside the country.
She advised other students to be diligent in their work and be determined, focused and set their goals and work towards it, adding, “they should be hard working and pray to God for everything that they need. I believe God in everything. Success does not come easily, they should put more effort into their endeavours and attend lectures and be attentive in class.”
On her part, Omotuyi said she was inspired by her father, an engineer, who reads all night and she decided to emulate him.
On how she achieved the feat, she said, “I was not born a genius, but I had to work hard for it. When I was in primary one, I took 11th position in my class and in UNILAG, I had two bad results. A day before the exam of a particular course, I saw my test result where I scored 9/30. Before the test, I had read very well, yet, I got 9/30. When I saw it, I was downcast. I asked God what was going on and I cried. That was in 200level.
“However, I didn’t let it stop me because I don’t believe in falling and not rising again. After crying, I met people who brushed me up on the course to know what the lecturer really wanted and the exam turned out well later. In another course, I had 5/40 in the test and the highest in the class was 10/40, however, at the end, I scored 70 per cent.”
She advised other students to do the needful, adding that getting admission was is particularly hard if every student worked hard for it.
“I read a lot with my classmates, I enjoy learning from everybody irrespective of the level. I am more interested in the knowledge I will get and not CGPA. This is because of the family I come from; my daddy was a scholar who got a scholarship to study in Russia. He is a very strict person in terms of reading. Even at old age, he still reads till day break. I learnt the discipline from him and applied it in school.”
She said after-school lessons also helped her when she was in the secondary school, adding, “that was how I had 315 in UTME and 76 in post-UTME.”
The statistics of the graduating students showed that a total of 12,617 received their degrees, diplomas and certificates; out of this figure, 6,900 (54.7 per cent) were awarded first degrees or diplomas, while 5,717 (45.3 per cent) received postgraduate degrees. Out of the first degree graduands, the Faculty of Engineering led the pack with 46 first class; 1,705 graduated in the second class upper division; 2,972 in the second class lower division; 1,372 in third class; 103 made pass degree, while 517 have degrees or diplomas that are not classified.
A total of 5,420 also received master’s degrees in the various fields across the institution, while a total of 95 students bagged Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in various disciplines.
The three-day convocation ceremonies kicked-off with the unveiling of new names for infrastructures to honour all past vice-chancellors of the institution, who are not serving and who have not been honoured so far for their contributions to the growth of the university.
The conferment of honorary doctorate degrees on the Chancellor of the institution, the Shehu of Borno, AlhajiAbubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-kanemi; a renowned poet, Professor John Pepper Clark; and Professor of Chemical Engineering, Ayodele Francis Ogunye was one of the high points of the ceremonies.
Others that were also honoured were: the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics and Research), Prof.BabajideAlo; Director of the Distance Learning Institute, Prof.OlukayodeAmund; Cecilia Igwilo and Jim Unah as distinguished professors, while Professor Frank Giwa-Osagie was honoured with Emeritus Professorship of the institution.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Governing Council, Prof. Jerry Gana, described the two outstanding graduands as a pride, not just to their parents, but to the university and Nigeria. “I congratulate these two ladies as we are delighted to have them match the strength of men academically. What they have done simply shows that there is still so much zeal for hard work, discipline and dedication among some students.
“I want to task the university not to relent in its drive to produce students with good leadership quality because academics are about character and learning,” he said, adding that this is the only way to take the university and the country to the next desired level.
“I want the university to continue with its excellent work, as the feat obtained by the girls, including Dada in 2015, is a combination of excellence in teaching under a conducive environment. It is equally the combination of the dedication by the students and staff because no matter how much we teach excellently and provide the right environment, if the students are not serious, not much can be achieved.”
Gana, who will complete his tenure this month, appealed to the federal government to provide funding for teaching and research.
Also speaking, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rahaman Ade-Bello stressed the need for institutions to explore alternative funding sources to insulate university education from the fiscal instability of government.
He added that universities in the country should do more than just being training institutions, but should be commissioned to solve the country’s problem through research and development efforts and direct challenges by government.
Ade-Bello, whose tenure will end in November said, “research has been repositioned for effectiveness with the creation of the research office where more multidisciplinary researches are now coming up and attracting bigger and national and international research grants. Researchers are being linked up with research results and end users while patents arising from our researchers should be more prevalent.”
He congratulated the graduands for successfully completing their studies at the institution, saying, “as you go into the real world, it is your responsibility to promote the good image of the university by being excellent individuals in character and service to your society.”
In his remarks, the chancellor thanked the senate and management for the honorary Doctor of Science in PublicAdministration, while appealing to students to maintain peace on campus and pursue their studies with all seriousness.
“The university will continue to provide all needed services and a conducive environment for teaching and learning. You should avoid all forms of violence and social vices to maintain peace within and outside campus.”
The visitor, President Muhammadu Buhari, congratulated the honorees, while expressing concern that some universities have not shown enough commitment towards accessing the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
Buhari, who was represented by the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), AlhajiAbdulrasheedAdamu, said universities should be able to access such funds to further boost their teaching and research.
He said his administration has approved the reconstitution of the governing council of all federal institutions in the country, adding that they must be accountable to the people at all times.