Having emerged the overall best graduating students at \Lagos State University (LASU) with a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.88, the duo of Ridwan Ola-Gbadamosi of the Faculty of Engineering and Nneka Enumah of the Faculty of Science attributed their achievement to hard work, focus, inquisitiveness and sheer determination. Funmi Ogundare reports
It was celebration all the way recently at the 23rd convocation ceremony of Lagos State University (LASU), as Mr. Ridwan Ola-Gbadamosi, 22, of the Faculty of Engineering and Miss Nneka Enumah, 23, of the Faculty of Science, were called to the podium to receive their prizes for emerging the overall best graduating students with a CGPA of 4.88.
The duo were among the 57 graduands that bagged first class out of a total of 14,369 students that graduated from the institution and rewarded for their efforts, brilliance and outstanding performance in their various disciplines.
They received a cash prize of N500,000 from the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, among other school and alumni prizes.
They recounted how they were able to succeed and win the hearts of many through zest, passion, inquisitiveness and sheer determination.
In his valedictory speech, Gbadamosi, whose mother died when he was only 12 years old, said he had to assist his father financially by investing the cash prize he received at the Federal Government College, Ijanikin, where he finished as the best graduating student.
“My story is that of zest, passion, inquisitiveness and sheer determination. It typifies passion for success, a recipe in every degree award recipient in this hall that I have been chosen to represent today. Paying the tuition fee of N284,750 as LASU Engineering students as at 2013 was a big task mindful of the fact that two of my younger siblings were getting ready for tertiary education and my dedicated father had the onerous responsibility to shoulder all of the financial demands from all of us.
“Eventually, my father was able to pay the full tuition, while I had to take charge of other associated expenses. In order to assist him financially, I decided to invest the cash prize I received at my secondary school speech and prize- giving day in the production of 150 broilers, which I successfully raised from day old chicks till maturity during the 2013 ASUU strike.
“I remember using bandage to wrap their broken legs and a sipping straw to administer drugs on one of the birds not because I cared about the health, but because I was desperate about making the desired profit. The return on the investment was used to cater for my personal and academic needs,” he said.
Gbadamosi, who is also a recipient of Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, MTN Foundation and federal government scholarships and other grants, appealed to the government to provide continuous funding to ensure that workshops and laboratories in tertiary institutions in the country measure up in standard to what obtains in advanced climes.
“Engineering is my profession and because I love the profession passionately, I also implore the government to provide funds to support students’ industrial and technical visits on a weekly basis while also creating an environment that would attract more of foreign investors and collaborators in the field of engineering. This would ensure that the country has the right manpower to drive its industries and in the long run improve the gross domestic product capacity of the country, while reducing unemployment simultaneously.
“Equally, Nigeria will experience youths’ application of information and other technological means to solve humanity problems rather than using existing ones for cyber bullying and other crimes,” he said.
On her part, Enumah, the second of a family of four, expressed excitement about her success, saying that though from a poor background and being in the Faculty of Science does not come easy, but with focus, hard work and consistency, one would achieve one’s aims.
“Being in the Faculty of Sciences is not an easy thing, you have to study hard because the lecturers will really task you and set limit such that you will feel such limits are not attainable except you put in your best. For me, it is about consistency and focus, with that, you can meet your targets.”
On her challenges while in school, she said “I had the challenge of finance, I come from a humble background so it wasn’t easy for me. I had no boyfriend in school because I was able to drive them away by studying.”
Enumah, who has her eyes on academics, said “I will like to get a master’s degree in a top notch institution and a doctorate degree in Mathematics.”
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun, who expressed excitement about the achievement of the graduands, said: “Our worthy graduands, today is about you all. It is to celebrate your achievement. We are very proud of you. I join the visitor of our university, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Chancellor and the Pro-Chancellor in congratulating you all.
“The world without doubt has become more competitive, but you have also been equipped to meet the challenges ahead. Do not exercise self-doubt. It shall be well with you.”
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode advised the students not to be daunted by societal challenges, but to go out and make a positive difference, saying, “the world out there is highly competitive and you will face challenges. This institution has equipped you to surmount those challenges and I pray you surmount them. The university looks up to you, your family looks up to you. Do not disappoint them. Go out there and make us proud.”
Also speaking, the Chancellor, Justice George Oguntade said: “The future belongs to the creative, smart and intelligent. Opportunities abound in all spheres of the economy, it is therefore up to you to look inward and create your own blue sea, as Nigeria is going through transformational period. Be the light to darkness and path to greatness of our nation by contributing your quota to the development of LASU, inspire hope and love and be involved in taking it to greater heights.”
In his convocation lecture at the two-day event, the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo stressed the need for the country to redesign its education curriculum so as to boost schemes that are scheduled to drive the visions at large, adding that science and technology will boost skills if introduced into the university curriculum.
In his paper titled, ‘Towards Achieving a Working Robotics as a Veritable Tool for Development’, Osinbajo said Africa must form research innovation by collaborating with various faculties.
“Competent education must assist in increasing earnings, reduce issues of poverty and GDP will be 70 per cent reduced if properly managed and emulated. A nation that does not educate its citizenry is not assisting its development hence its sustainable developmental goals will be at risk.”
The vice-president, who also harped on quality teaching in institutions, boosting the confidence of teachers and ensuring a conducive learning environment, said these would go a long way for the functionality and workability of STEM education.
He stated that research and knowledge production are mainly the required skills by Africa Centre of Excellence (ACE), adding that they must be by nature extended to the faculties and students.
“African Centre of Excellence programmes sponsored by World Bank focused majorly on Engineering, Science and development. Designated centres for the programme include UNILAG, OAU and a host of other institutions in Nigeria and Africa. They are primarily meant for research collaboration.”