Celebrating UNILAG’s Best Graduating Students

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The University of Lagos recently produced three overall best graduating students with a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.97 out of a possible 5.0 at its 2016/2017 convocation ceremonies. They attributed their success to hard work, perseverance and self-discipline. Funmi Ogundare reports

It was celebration all the way recently at the University of Lagos (UNILAG’s) 2016/2017 convocation ceremonies, as the names of the three best graduating students that made a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.97 were called out to the admiration of parents and guests.

They are Mr. Emmanuel Oludare Babawale of the Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry; Jude Jeffery Matthew of the same faculty; and Bosun Abass Roy-Layinde of the Faculty of Engineering.

The trio, who were the cynosure of all eyes, got a thunderous applause and cheers as they mounted the podium to receive their prizes worth over N800,000, including the alumni association prize of N150,000 to the overall best graduating first degree student.

They were among the 245 first class graduands the institution produced. A breakdown of the total number of graduating students showed that out of 12,638, 6, 816 representing 53.9 per cent bagged first degrees or diplomas, while 5,822 representing 46.1 per cent bagged postgraduate degrees.

A total of 1,892 graduands finished in the second class upper division; 2,959 second class lower division; 1,227 made a third class; and 93 got pass; while 400 have degrees or diplomas that were not classified.

Explaining how he was able to achieve the feat, Babawale, 24 said, “I think I switched from hard work to smart work. When you know the rules that govern a particular discipline, you hinge them on hard work, perseverance and self-discipline. With that, you will get to the top of that discipline.”

He also recalled some of the challenges he faced when he was about to sit for his final examination in 400 level. “I was more in the hospital than in the classroom, I had abdominal abscess and I had to undergo a minor surgery in my final year. However, I had to look above the setbacks and be myself. To make up, I was reading in the hospital and I had to free myself from the shackles of physical instability which made my success expedient.

I was in hospital for four weeks and after that I was going for check-ups every day. I was admitted at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) for the first three weeks and after that I was taken to the health centre on campus.”

Babawale, who attributed his success to God, his parents and lecturers, said he aspires to be an academic “because I really like the camaderie among the academics.”

He advised other students saying, “if they actually have a thousand tips for success, you must be self-disciplined. The problem is that we know how to be successful but we really do not know how to put the effective knowledge into action. So if they are self-disciplined, Even if they fail they will still attach self-discipline to their perseverance and definitively, they will get to the top.”

On his part, Matthew, 21, who attributed his success to his beautician mother, said he believes that as humans, people should keep on moving forward and always strive for more.

“When I was a child, I had always believed in this saying, ‘good better best, I shall never rest, until I achieve the best’. Even if you achieve the best, there should be something more. I have always read some books and that was what prepared me for what I have become so far.”

Asked what he did differently that made him stand out, he said, “I had a mentor in school, Mr. Adebola Williams, who always says we should always believe in ourselves, know ourselves and our limit so that we overcome it and use it to our advantage. I am not one who could read for hours, at most three or four hours and I take a break.”

On his social life on campus, he said, “I won’t actually say I am an introvert, I enjoy socialising with people when I can and being in a gathering of friends. It is something that is really special to me. I also love staying alone reading novels and playing games with friends.”

According to him, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and become a genetic engineer.

For 21-year-old Roy-Layinde, from the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, who also bagged several awards in acknowledgement of his feat, “I had a whole lot of distractions on campus, but I kept my stand. Sincerely it wasn’t by my power, it was all grace but I was disciplined, focused and determined. The journey was very rough but it all came out great eventually.”

He said though he planned on finishing with a first class, he never held the goal desperately. “I wasn’t competing with anybody, I didn’t want to be first in class; if I solve a problem I share the solutions, if people don’t understand I teach them. I didn’t hold it too tight because I believe your grades are like eggs, you are actually preventing them from falling but if you hold desperately tight, you will break them yourselves.”

When asked what motivated him to attain the overall CGPA, he said: “Well, I actually knew what I was gunning for. In my third year, my CGPA was way good and the expectation from people was just too much, I didn’t want to let myself down and a whole lot of people believed in me. I put in extra efforts, avoided so many things like parties and the likes, placed my priorities right and did some unusual things.”

Roy-Layinde didn’t let his first class dreams hinder his social life. He partied at his free time and is in a healthy relationship. “I attended parties, balled with friends but all these happened when I had the time for it. Engineering takes a whole lot of your time; so, studying engineering would reduce your social game but if you are social, you are social. I have a very beautiful girlfriend. We started dating in my fourth year. She is studying Law. I was able to balance my relationship with my academics.

He said he hates reading in the night, but prefers to spend most of his reading hours in the library and advised younger scholars not to get moved by the lies of the social media and fine yahoo boys with Mercedes.

“Those things don’t last. Face your studies and work super hard. My philosophy about God is ‘He multiplies not adds’ if you have zero, he multiples with 5. So, without your personal work, you will still end up with God’s favour, even though he has helped you. So, your biggest fan is yourself, don’t look down on anybody no matter what and if you don’t understand anything, don’t be proud always ask.”

The three-day convocation ceremonies, which kicked-off with the investiture of the new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, also witnessed the award of the overall best researcher to Dr. Bolanle Mutiat Ibrahim, whose thesis was titled ‘Phytochemical Investigation and Antiproliferative Activity of the Leaves of Markhamia Tomentosa (Benth.) K. Schum. Ex Engl (Bignoniacceae).’

Ibrahim specialises in Phamacognosy, the study of medicinal drugs derived from plants or other natural sources. She said the study is aimed at addressing the issue of cancer care in the country and boosting traditional medicine practice.

“I worked on medicinal plants that are used by traditional medicine practitioners to treat cancer. I screened some of these medicinal plants and I was able to identify the most active one,” she said while identifying the uniqueness to her ability to establish that the plant is not toxic to consumption over a period of time.

“I was able to isolate some of the chemical constituents from the plant and identify which of the constituent was responsible for the anti-cancer activity of the plant,” Ibrahim, who is a lecturer in the Faculty of Pharmacy, said. She appealed to the state and federal governments to generously invest in that field for the benefit of the economy.

As part of its culture of celebrating academics that have rendered meritorious services to the academic community and the country, the institution also conferred Emeritus Professorship on Professor Mabel Modupe Ogunlesi, formerly of the Department of Chemistry and the former Deputy Vice -Chancellor (Academics and Research) from 2007 to 2012.

Apart from her, four other professors were also honoured with distinguished professorship. They were Professors Herbert Coker of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry; Ayodeji Olukoju of the Department of History and Strategic Studies; Takao Osipitan of the Department of Public Law; and Onatolu Odukoya of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology/Biology.

In his remarks, Ogundipe expressed his desire to chart a new course for the institution, adding that it will witness a new direction driven by passion for excellence.

He highlighted his six-dimensional ‘UNILAG agenda 2017 to 2022’, saying, “we shall focus our energies on uncompromising academic standards and excellent research output, networking globally, strategising locally and consolidating nationally, improving university finances by innovative fund-raising activities, infrastructural development and entrepreneurship orientation, leadership that is transformational, transparent and transactional, accountability in academic, administration, finance and all university polices and greater than the best.

He expressed the institution’s commitment to repositioning research and scholarship as part of its new agenda, adding that it is also poised to develop its students by honing their skills through entrepreneurship training that will be introduced as part of the curriculum.

“Our efforts are geared towards enriching our students’ learning experience and building future leaders that are able to improve the socio-economic space of the country. We are keen to paying adequate attention to their development.

Ogundipe congratulated the graduating students on the completion of their studies, saying, “I would like to remind you that this elevation puts on you the responsibility to be great ambassadors. You now have on your hands the unending task of promoting the good image of this institution.”

To the honourees, he said: “Your track records of diligence, excellence and service to our dear university and the entire nation in your respective areas of expertise cannot be rewarded enough.”

The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, Dr. Wale Babalakin congratulated the graduands for their clarity of mind and for choosing UNILAG as their first choice.

In his remarks titled ‘Attitude not Necessarily Aptitude’, he said: “Attitude is your determination to succeed. Despite your challenges, don’t ever feel handicapped if you have attitude. Leave here today believing that you will go higher; you must be determined and equipped. Do not allow those that are likely to pull you down to be in your circle of friends. Remain focused to the capacity of an aspiring genius.”

President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the visitor to the institution, said universities in the country have a role to play in driving the economy, adding that human capital development is essential in achieving that.

Buhari, who was represented by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, stressed the need for institutions to take advantage of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) by meeting up with the research mandate.

“Some universities are still unable to access this fund because they have not been able to meet the requirements,” he said, while calling on federal universities especially, to send quarterly reports of how they have been able to ensure the judicious management of such funds to the government through the NUC.”

Buhari congratulated the graduands, saying that education is a key sector in the development of the economy and expressed his administration’s readiness to ensure that the national curriculum meets international demands.