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To you, dear seeker - that amazing grace and strength of will meet at your doorstep.
To God, the Father Almighty, Through Jesus Christ His son, And with the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts, Be praise and glory and blessing and thanksgiving and honour World without end. Amen. To the Uzors and Ndubuisis Our first port of call on planet earth Who lavished us variously with inestimable love and support And made us who we are We're eternally grateful. Jane: mum & dad, Ada, Ekene, Oluoma & Mezu, I love you more than you can ever begin to imagine Cornel: mum & dad, Fr. Jude, Ng, Osy, Emy, Okwy, Buchi, Ada & Nne, You are dearest to my heart! To those who have a hand in ripening this project, Too many to be counted with all the fingers of both hands plus the toes of the legs, Especially Arinze and Christian, who were great at the transcription and typing. The graduating students that featured, Who gave us their time and commitment, and with impact on freshers at heart. Particularly Ejindu Oluchukwu, who waited hours to ensuring that someone out there heard her story and be touched, We are too grateful to say the least. To all and sundry, Especially those who merit our appreciation, Our debt of gratitude we now pay. And to those who think they did too little to mention, We say: â€œYour little was the much we needed to succeed.â€?
I believe it will serve to encourage returning and new students so as to be able to attain even greater heights in their respective endeavors than some of us have. It will also expose the students to various principles that if applied will surely see them through in their academic pursuit. I would say I'm highly impressed by the design of the questionnaire because it touched almost all facets of students' life on campus. Anosike, Chibueze Pharmacy I know this will help somebody somewhere. Ejindu, Oluchukwu Roseline Engineering The project is a nice one since it is aimed at helping the young minds who are struggling to conquer and succeed in the academic race. Ike, Joshua Education This is a laudable project that will harvest the experience of graduates for the benefit and use of undergraduates. It deserves support. Keep it up! Ihemezie, JohnPaul Agricultural Sciences I must confess that this is a beautiful project. I hope this informationâ€Ś goes round to all students so that people would not believe that there is anything special about First Classers. I wish Mr. Cornelius and Miss Jane the best in life. Aguegboh, Stephen Ekene Social Sciences
The worth of Foundations All buildings and architectural pieces that have both stood the test of time and withstood nature's fury have one thing in common: superb foundation. The Amphitheatre Flavius or the Coliseum, one of the legacies of ancient Rome, was built about 2000 years ago. The secret of its longevity is its foundation - 22 feet deep! Even the foundation of the Dubai-located world's tallest building, the Burj al Arab (the Arabian Tower), thrills the imagination and boggles the mind. A compromised foundation most times leaves the building caving in, collapsing and falling apart. Fortification in character and sophistication in learning, which are the hallmarks of higher education, are not found; they are a way of life that is imbibed by consistency in their practice. To eventually arrive at their doorstep on graduation, one has to set out in their direction from Day 1, the very first day on campus. And one's actions and inactions constitute for one a foundation upon which the sterling virtues of character and learning are borne. The way you see yourself and others, the way you relate with friends and course mates, the way you interpret signs and omens, the way you treat your books and course work, the goals you set at inception, your daily routines and convictions, and how hard and smart you work constitute your foundation and inspire the height you will reach. Go for gold! Consult the rabbit if you wish to know the secrets of the underground. This piece is the result of our consultation with those who made it not only First Class but are the bests of their respective faculties, including the overall. They saw it all, and they conquered; you too can. Let the experiences shared herein and the goodwill that inspired this project be unto you a tower of strength as you face the competition and the odds; and may the odds ever be in your favour.
Novum Athenaeum University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria. October 31, 2012. The '012 Best Graduating Student Faculty ofâ€Ś University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Dear Graduand, THAT WE MAY CONQUER â€ŚLIKE YOU DID! To say the least, bagging a First Class is no small feat you have achieved, and we hold this feat to a very high esteem. The reason is not farfetched, as it is academic excellence at its finest, and the dream and envy of an ideal student. If bagging a First Class were solely by means of hard work, then a thousand and one students would have bagged it on a platter of gold, since hard work is the default preoccupation of the ideal student. It is obviously not by means of mere genius, since geniuses outnumber the First Classes on record. What could it be, then? Experience, we thought, would provide the best answer. And there is none more experienced than you are, since there is no other First Class than the one you have. Jane & Cornelius are students of your alma mater UNN who have initiated this platform for having you leave a legacy for freshers and returning students on how to hit the bull's eye of academic excellence First Class. We hereby humbly request that you advance the course of posterity by devoting some time (we do not presume you to have the luxury of it at your disposal) to leaving us candid answers to the attached questions when we come around. And we humbly anticipate your obliging us of this request. Respectfully yours, Uzor, Jane Ndubuisi, Cornelius
Dedication Appreciation Comments Introduction Circular Letter Table of Contents '012 Overall Best '012 Agric Best '012 Arts Best '012 Pharmacy Best '012 Social Sciences Best Amazing Grace Letter to My Sonâ€&#x;s Teacher
i ii iii iv v vi 1 11 19 25 31 39 47
“I don‟t believe I am a genius” The name Ejindu, Oluchukwu Roseline may not ring a bell out there, but one thing is certain: she has found her way to UNN Hall of Fame by emerging her best „012 graduand. Meeting with the best graduating student of UNN for the 2011/2012 session was very revealing as she let it all out; facts about herself and life in general. She doesn‟t believe she‟s a genius and insists that it is not in her nature to give up. Want to know more about how she made it top of her class, Electronics Engineering; her faculty, Engineering; and the Varsity par excellence, UNN? Join us meet the UNN-bred Electronics Engineer who has left us the impression that there is no gender stereotype in emerging the overall best of the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka. +234 803 732 0691, call only for follow up questions and mentorship. May we meet you, please? I am Ejindu, Oluchukwu, a graduate of the Department of Electronic Engineering, UNN. Can you let us into your school history? I attended All Saints Nursery and Primary School, Ekwulobia, after which I proceeded to St. Monica‟s College, Ogbunike, for my Junior Secondary education. Ekwulobia and Ogbunike are in Anambra State. I then moved to St. Cyprian‟s Science School, Nsukka, for my Senior Secondary education. It was UNN afterwards. During your earlier school years were you the best or among the best? Somehow, yes. I was the best in my primary school days, except in Primary Six when I had a setback. I lost my mum that year, which affected me slightly. Then in my junior secondary classes I was not, but was among the best. The challenge was that having to enroll in a boarding school at the age in which I did wasn‟t funny; I wasn‟t concentrating so much and so wasn‟t reading enough to be the best. However, when I entered SSS 1, I was the best in my school all through. So the only time I wasn‟t best was in Primary Six and Junior Secondary School.
Did you gain entrance into the university immediately after SSCE? No. My first JAMB exam was cancelled. In 2006, the year after Post-UME was introduced, JAMB exams written in Nsukka were cancelled, and rumors had it that it was an attack on Nebo who had introduced it. Only two centers‟ results were released that year. It was a mass cancellation in which I was affected. I, however, spent the one year teaching in my alma mater, St. Cyprian‟s, and then gained admission the succeeding year, 2007. When you came on campus, what was life like, a triangular student? When I came in I was just a normal student but it is in my person to always give my best to everything I do; I was determined to give it my best. Although initially I didn‟t set a target as regards the position I was going to take, but I knew I was going to make a first class, I was convinced, and I knew I could do everything within my power to make a first class. But like I said I didn‟t really set the target of being the best in my class or best anywhere, but I knew I will make a first class. That was the mindset I entered school with. What do you think breeds the usual attitudinal indifference of students towards making first class? I had a friend then that could have made a first class if she wanted to, and I kept telling her she could. She eventually ended with a GPA of 4.2…. Once, while we were discussing when we entered initially, I had asked her what she wanted to graduate with, and to my greatest surprise she told me she was OK with a 2.1 (Second Class, Upper Division), that she didn‟t want first class at all. And she was so surprised when I told her I wanted to make a first class. Truth is that, in life you get to have what you bargained for; hardly will you get things that are very exceptional by chance. So it depends on the mindset and the kind of background a person has. A person may have come from a background where her/his brothers, sisters or parents don‟t mind, which could get the person‟s mind off the first class race. On the contrary, someone from a background where the parents or siblings keep telling him or her that he/she could actually be the best would find it much easier. It is not ghosts
that make first class. So, because of such different orientations, some students become indifferent while some remain determined. Do you really think you did what others weren‟t doing to make a first class? Yes, anybody that makes a first class must have been doing what others weren‟t doing. Like? Always reading, being a triangular student for some people, etc. But you must have the mindset of always wanting to be the best in everything; you don‟t make first class by chance at all. But I won‟t say I was doing what others weren‟t doing to become the overall best. I didn‟t work harder than every other person to emerge overall best, but for making a first class, I think everybody that made it did what every other student wasn‟t doing. What was your daily routine like? Naturally, apart from the fact that I wanted a first class, I have not been the very social kind of person. I was either in class, in an academic meeting (like IEEE, BKADD), in church, or in my room sleeping, because I like sleeping. So I rarely waste my time, I am always engaged in something that may not be academics but at least will make me a better person. That‟s my daily routine: class, meetings, library, my room… What is your notion of the proverbial triangular student vis-à-vis making a first class? To make a first class, you mustn‟t be a triangular student. What is meant by triangular student is: class, library and your room. You mustn‟t be a triangular student; there must be other things that should occupy your time. So the question now is, “What other things occupy your time?” Some people think that making a first class requires one not to even go to church. You can engage yourself in doing tutorials for others, going to church, participating in social activities, however, the prudent allotment of time to everything is the required virtue here. You must not fully immerse yourself into any other activity than your studies. In fact, I don‟t believe in the idea of triangular student; one cannot be reading for 24 hours.
Is there a difference between having a first class and becoming a first class? Yes, because some people can actually make a first class but they are not first class, in the sense that they may be easily intimidated. A first classer should believe that nobody is better than him/her you; that the best they can be is be at par with him/her. And that is because first class is the best result anyone can make. When you enter an interview room with a first class result and you‟re really scared even before they start firing the questions at you, then there is a problem. My dad once told me that all those interviewers may not be as good as you‟re; it‟s just that they got there before you. But when you‟re a first classer, you‟re not easily intimidated, even when you don‟t know something, you‟re proud to say you don‟t know it because you know that nobody knows everything. But having a first class is just getting a first class result with or without the mindset of a first class material. What gave you the guts to pursue first class? From the outset, I had always been among the best – from primary school through senior secondary school. And what boosted my morale, especially in Engineering, was when I scored 300 in the Post-UME exam, which made me think that I could possibly be ahead of the guys irrespective of the fact that I am a lady. Both secondary schools I had attended were all girls; I had not competed with guys academically apart from my primary education. So when I wrote Post-UME after much preparation, I was the best in my department and came second at the faculty level. So that was what gave me the confidence that I could actually do well in the midst of guys. And when I eventually started, I also discovered fellow girls who were doing so well that I had asked myself why I shouldn‟t do as much, and even better. And because of my Post-UME score, I entered with some bit of popularity as I was top on our admission list. So people busied themselves with thoughts of what I was up to. What that did for me was that it made me confident that I could actually remain on top. That was what gave me the guts.
Some departments have been branded no-go-areas in this first class thing, what do you think about that? The truth is that no department should be a no-go-area for bagging a first class. Because whatever that is being taught in that department was developed by human beings, and you cannot tell me that no other human being can study what another person developed and be as good as that person that developed it. So, whatever makes a first class student not have a first class in such a department must be a human factor. It is not from the course, it is from human beings. People might just decide that they are not going to graduate a first class and not that the students are not good enough to make first class. And, of course, people make first class in that course in other schools. So what I advice students that find themselves in that kind of department is not to give up, do the best you can so that even if you donâ€&#x;t make a first class at the end of the day you will be satisfied that you gave it your best shot. Again, first class is not the determinant of success; one can always succeed with just having the spirit of success. One in such a department, given hard work and consistency, may make first class in further studies and other things in life. And who knows, God may make a miracle in your own set; it is not impossible. Yes, a friend of mine made a first class in a department that hadnâ€&#x;t one for the past 10 years; he broke the jinx. And they were three of them from that same department that year. There is this thinking that the powers-that-be decide who gets the top grade at the end of the day, do you think your fate was decided that way? My UNN experience was restricted to my department, and there nobody decides your fate; you decide your own fate. I heard in some departments they decide the number of people that make first class, but in my department, the department I know, even if the whole class makes first class they would let them have it. Nine (9) out of the fourteen (14) first class graduates from Faculty of Engineering came from my class. It was even rumored that the senate told them that the number of first class graduates were too much, but they insisted that they were all on merit. However, I always advice people
not to let whatever happens at the level of the powers-that-be to deter them, so that they will be satisfied that they actually gave it their very best. There appears to be a difference between hard work and smart work in the quest, what do you think about that? The simple thing is that for you to make good grades (you can actually be intelligent but not make good grades), you have to work very smart, in the sense that cases abound where some people are very intelligent but don‟t come to class, and even when they come they don‟t care to read the psychology of the lecturer with a view to knowing what he/she actually expects from students. These people may be working hard but they are sure not working smart, and on the exam day they might know what to write but the way to write them might be the problem. I know a friend who was very intelligent, intelligent enough to make a first class, but wasn‟t attending lectures. He instead devoted his time to his text books. Truth be told, he may be more knowledgeable than I am but he sure didn‟t make better grades than I did. Whenever in an organization, look for its aims and figure out how to achieve the best result. This is the difference between working hard and working smart. Do you think your first class and best graduating are a result of hard work or destiny? It is a combination of both, because I know times when my personal efforts couldn‟t have helped me. About four times, for instance, I had scored seventy (70) on the dot; you can imagine if all of them were sixty-nine (69). I may still have made the first class though but surely not the overall best. So, making a first class was a result of hard work, but being the overall best I would say it‟s by grace, or rather the combination of both. Was there a time you felt like giving up? It‟s not in my nature to give up. I had written my common entrance exams two days after my mum‟s death and still came out second best in my school. If it were some other people they would have been crying and not even gone for the exams, but I went and did well. The truth is, whatever that would happen would happen; anything God decides would definitely happen. You just have to always remain at your best.
Is this first class thing an all-genius affair or can an average student work up to it? Of course, I don‟t believe I am a genius. I have never written any exams without been prepared, except in impromptu cases where everyone shared the same fate, though I still do them well. You know a genius may put in little effort and make it, but I always give it my whole effort. So, I don‟t know the class I belong. There is a talk I once heard, which says that intelligent quotients naturally differ, but one could increase hard work for a greater outcome. However, what gives success is IQ plus hard work. So if your IQ is low, increase your hard work and they will balance up. An average student can actually do well, just that he/she will have to increase his/her hard work. What role did your course mates play with a view to making or marring your quest? I don‟t allow people to mar me or mar my effort, but my classmates were actually wonderful. I taught them a lot of times and those tutorials really helped me. We had class discussions and most of my friends were very liberal with sharing what they knew about the various courses even when they knew I was about the best. My interaction with my course mates was more of a positive impact than a negative one. What about the opposite sex, you‟re a lady, the guys were there? The thing there is that ladies are prone to emotional setbacks; we seem to be at the receiving end. But because I knew what I wanted, I didn‟t indulge myself in any unhealthy relationship so that I could be emotionally stable. Since I knew emotional problems could weigh ladies down, I tried to remain emotionally stable all through. And I tried not to be in places nor do things that will increase my vulnerability. For example, I don‟t go for bad parties nor appear in indecent clothing. Yes, your dressing would attract or scare them. When you dress decently and keep away from danger zones, the rest you can handle politely. Are you bookish or an all-rounder? To a reasonable extent, I would say I am not an all-rounder. But I try to know some things that happen around me. I may not be very good at getting
involved in things that happen around me, but at least I know what happens around me. I love reading, even the non-academic books; it makes me happy. How far can an all-rounder go in this quest? One thing with making first class in particular and academics in general is allotting it proper time. You can be an all-rounder and make good grades once you know the time you have to give your studies and give it that much time. We never use up to a considerable part of our brain in our lifetime. So the thing is that you can be an all-rounder, but once it is time for studies, focus your mind on it, and then after you are done you can go ahead with other things. Yes, you can be an all-rounder for as long as you don‟t eat into the time you‟re supposed to be doing your course work. What role has mentors and role models got to play with regards the struggle? I didn‟t have much of a mentor and role models until I got to fourth year. So I would say they didn‟t do much work, but I always admired success. I didn‟t really have someone that was always on me to inquiring how I was doing, except my dad. It was when I started doing well that I saw the need to have a mentor and then I had one. Leave a personal advice to those that are still active in the first class struggle? I would advise them to keep working hard while understanding that everybody will not be the best. There will only be one first position, but let them always give their best to everything they are doing. That‟s my principle. Even if you eventually don‟t make it first class at the end of the day, at least you‟re satisfied that you actually gave it your best. Also hold on to God, be prayerful and morally sound, it will really help. How do you feel being the „012 UNN Best? I feel great but I don‟t allow it get into my head. But I feel happy anytime I remember it; I smile because I know I actually did what I was supposed to do; I just feel happy. After first class and best graduating what next? Other things in life, further studies, get married and keep working hard.
Awarding you a 1stClass and celebrating you as UNN best, in character and in learning, qualifies you for an ambassador of the Nigerian educational system; do you think you can compete favorably with your foreign counterparts, especially those in Europe and the Americas? The plain truth is that we are not of the same standard with them. I know I can compete with them if I find myself in the same academic environment with them. Like when I am going there for my Masters and PhD, I would not be scared of any competition, the only thing is that I will calm down when I get there initially in order to understand the environment and bridge the natural gap that coming from a developing nation affords. I know that once that gap is bridged, they are not more intelligent than we are, and that‟s the simple truth. What I would say is that, I would compete with them under the same environmental condition. I may not be able to compete with them right now but as soon as I get to the same level, maybe when I go for further studies; of course, I can compete with them and possibly be ahead of them. Going by what you have, do you think you are the best student in UNN? When you actually measure it in terms of what God created, no. There maybe people that are better. But as far as the result is concerned, yes I am the best. That doesn‟t change what another person believes, anyway. Did you consciously set the goal of becoming UNN‟s best? No, I didn‟t. It happened by chance, in the sense that what I knew was that I was giving it my best and that was what my best fetched me. So I didn‟t have it in mind that I will be the overall best, I just knew I would keep giving it my best, and that‟s my principle in life. Most times I don‟t set the very high goal, but I do the things that will lead me there. I had some academic setbacks in my third year, and if that was the target I had in mind, it would have deterred me, and I would have started feeling bad because I would have felt somebody somewhere would be doing better. But what I had in mind was to give it my best and whatever my best gives me is what I get. So even when I am failing I know I should still be giving my best and at the end of the day thank God for whatever comes out of it. It will help you to overcome so many challenges. If you say you must be the best in your class, for instance, you will unconsciously start hoarding knowledge, because you
wouldn‟t like somebody else to pass you. Just tell yourself I would give it my best, and at the end of the day you would most likely be the best in class and in a very healthy competition. So even when I go for an interviews, I don‟t tell myself that I must be the one to get the this or that, I will only give it the best I can give it, then if I get it fine, if I don‟t fine. And so when I entered school I didn‟t tell myself that I must be the best in my class, but as time went on the best I gave my studies got me the best in class and ultimately the best in school.
“True Success Never Comes By Chance” Sometimes people feel that “bookwormness” hold the answer to making it top, but Mr. Johnpaul Ihemezie thinks that an all-rounder has got a stake in the juicy pie of distinguished academic excellence. This interaction with the „012 best graduating student of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences who bagged a First Class B. Sc. in Agricultural Economics reveals that he was active in all spheres of student living, secular as well as religious. He made it explicit that success does not come by chance but for prepared minds. In his own words, “Many people have different reasons why they want First Class but what makes the difference is one‟s willingness to pay the price and make the necessary sacrifices it demands.” +234 803 445 8566, please call only for follow up questions and mentorship. May we please know you better than we have heard? My name is Johnpaul Eberechukwu Ihemezie. I hail from Amaimo in Ikeduru L.G.A of Imo State. I graduated from the Department of Agricultural Economics in UNN. So, I am an Agricultural Economist by profession. Do you mind giving us a brief run-down of your school history? I had my primary school education at Central School Abba, in Nwangele L.G.A. of Imo State between 1994 and 2000. My secondary education was at St. Peter Claver Okpala, in Imo State between 2000 and 2006. The following year I got admission to study Agricultural Economics in UNN for my university education between 2007 and 2012. Were you among or the best in your previous school years? By the grace of God, I have been academically favoured right from my primary school till now. While in primary school, I constantly came first in class from primary one to four. I remember crying bitterly in the 3 rd term of primary four for coming third in class. Afterwards, I came first throughout. While in secondary school, I wasn‟t the overall best but was always among the best five, and my WAEC result was the 2 nd best in my set; As and Bs, no C, you know that of my university education already; 1 st class and faculty best. All these were by the special grace of God as I am yet to see anything „special‟ or „secret‟ about my hard work.
Did you gain admission into the university immediately after secondary school? If not, what did you occupy your time with? I left secondary school in 2006 and got admission into UNN in 2007. Between 2006 and 2007, I took computer lessons while preparing for JAMB. Did you consciously set the goal of topping the faculty from the onset or was it a chance occurrence? Well, true success never comes by chance. Though I didn‟t propose in my heart to become the best in my set, however, I determined in my heart to be the best I could in my discipline. As for the first class, I knew I was in for it after the results of my first year courses came out and my G.P.A. was 4.0. So, I decided that with a little more effort first class was within my reach. Being the faculty best, to me, was a product of destiny and a combination of hard work and God‟s grace; because I know other excellent students in my class who were equal to the task as well. So, it was not by mere hard work because I had more hard working students in my class, which is why I said the faculty best is a product of destiny. What gave you the guts to set such a lofty goal? Honestly speaking, the determination to make a first class, and more importantly succeed in this my chosen area of study, was motivated by my decision to exceed expectation and prove to my parents who wanted me to study Medicine and Surgery (owing to my good performance in SSCE) that I can succeed in life as an Agricultural Economist. I think at this point I should tell you how I decided to study Agricultural Economics. My two best subjects in secondary school were Agricultural Science and Economics. So, while going through the JAMB brochure and seeing a course that combined both got me overjoyed and consequently opting for it. But this did not go down well with my parents who thought that Medicine and Surgery was a better option. And after much pressure from my parents, I put Medicine as first choice and Agric. Econs as second choice in JAMB but first choice at heart. As God would have it and destiny taking its course, my POST-UME score was below the cut-off mark for Medicine, and consequently I settled for Agric. Econs. Again, I didn‟t get the much needed psychological support especially from my father and to
prove him wrong, I swore to surprise him by exceeding his expectation from me. What do you think breeds the attitudinal indifference amongst students about making it 1stClass? Naturally, every rational human being would want to succeed and be outstanding. But the question is how many are ready to make the needed sacrifices for it and exercise the prerequisite discipline for success. Many people have different reasons why they want to make first class. But what makes the difference is ones willingness to pay the price and make the necessary sacrifices and discipline needed for it. As I said earlier, success is not by chance but for prepared minds. What was your daily routine like; what makes yours unique paying off in a 1stClass? And what is your notion of the proverbial triangular student? Everyone is unique in their own way. I subscribe to the Socratic dictum, man know thyself. Being unique is all about understanding what works for you as a person, and before you can do that you have to understand yourself first. I was not a triangular student of from classroom to hostel to church. I think I was versatile in my own way, though I am not the clubbing type, which the average student misconstrues as being social. I have a special interest in meeting and making new friends and in politics. I was actively involved in studentsâ€&#x; unionism throughout the course of my studies in UNN. In my second year, for instance, I was in the SUG senate which was eventually dissolved with a corresponding ban on studentsâ€&#x; unionism as a result of the then riot bothering on fees increment. Following the ban, I retired to my faculty where I served a two-term as financial secretary of my faculty association. In my 4th year I contested for the faculty presidency, though lost out but with my political relevance still intact. With this, you can see that you donâ€&#x;t necessarily need to be a bookworm to make first class. However, you have to first understand your ability and what works for you. But never lose focus of your primary purpose here, which is academic excellence.
Do you think there is a difference between having a 1 stClass and becoming a 1stClass? Yes, 1st class in academics is not 1st class in life. You can have 1st class and yet be a failure in life. To have a 1st class and be a 1st class entails developing and putting into active practice what you have learnt in school for your own personal development and the betterment of society. Were you convinced from the start that you‟ll not settle for anything less than a 1st Class? As I answered earlier, I was determined in my 1st year to be the best I can be in my discipline and that paid off in the 1st class I graduated with. Some departments have been branded a no-go-area in the 1stClass thing; what is your take on that? To me, that is not true. I rather think that most students go for courses they don‟t have passion for, probably because society rates those courses high or out of sheer parental pressure, and when they cannot succeed they term the discipline a „no-go-area for 1st class.‟ I believe that if the course you are studying is your passion, you can surmount any obstacle and become successful. Don‟t forget that you can‟t judge success in a discipline only by 1st class, but by what one is able to become by that course. If you were in another department in your faculty, do you think you would still have made it top of the faculty, given that some courses appear to be more challenging than others? As far as the Faculty of Agriculture is concerned, the 5 departments making it up do virtually the same thing from 1 st to 4th year and only separate in final year to specialize. So, I think being in another department wouldn‟t have made much difference in my making a 1st class. However, I must point out here that success is an attitude cultivated by a focused character. If one has the attitude of success and be in the right place, the discipline is inconsequential. People believe that the „powers-that-be‟ decide the fate of students eligible for 1stClass in final year. Do you think anybody decided your fate, and why do you think so?
I subscribe to the biblical position that says, “It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth but of God that showeth mercy.” Also, the race is not for the swift, neither is the battle for the strong, but by the mercy of God. Inasmuch as I believe in being the master of my destiny, I equally believe that God decides my fate and His will for me is that of good and not evil – Jer 29:11. Attention is being drawn to the idea of hard work and smart work in the 1stClass race. What do you think about them, and what bone has smart work got to pick in the quest? There are many secrets to success; hard work and smart work are even not exhaustive. Hard work which entails being diligent and dedicated to your course of action is inevitable for success. Working smart, on the other hand, entails understanding what works for you and doing just those things and not everything that every other person does. In other words, working smart entails understanding self and situation and making good use of them. So, hard work and smart work are both essential ingredients for success. Was your coming out 1stClass a result of hard work or destiny? It was a combination of both. Hard work was the vehicle that brought me to my destination of 1st class, and the journey is still on-going. There could have been a time when you felt like giving up, what happened? How did you scale the wall; what kept you going? After calculating my G.P.A. in 4th year and seeing that I was already in 1st class, I wished the school could just give me my certificate at that point because I was really afraid of final year at the news that it is tough and difficult. I was afraid I would lose out on the 1st class race. But thank God for the encouragement of my bosom friend, Eke Francis (my class rep.), who told me that if I could do it in the past 4 years, I could equally do better with the same zeal in final year. With that encouragement, I got a boost that saw me through. Indeed, a good friend is an asset. Do you think 1stClass is an „all geniuses thing‟ or can an average student make it that top? Honestly speaking, I don‟t see myself as a genius. When you make your passion your profession, with diligent effort crowned by the grace of God,
anyone can make a 1st class. But remember and be ready to pay the price of discipline, diligence, and dedication. What role did your course mates play in making or marring your quest? I had a cordial relationship with my course mates. In my class then we had real workaholics and bookworms who I know studied harder than I did, and when I saw such people every day in night classes, I get motivated to sit up and work. What about friends, especially the opposite sex; what about your family? I had two bosom friends: Eke Francis, my class rep, and Okorie Matthew, my roommate, who is more like a brother to me. They were a great source of inspiration to me. My relationship with the opposite sex is quite cordial; though I liked being around girls, I had my boundary. My family members were and are still a great source of support for me. Either way, I like learning from everybody and everything around me, be it negative or positive there is something to learn from it. Were you „bookish‟ or an „all-rounder‟? What chance has an allrounder in this 1stClass thing, and how involved must one be in the allround thing? I read/study my books but I am not a bookish person. I just see it as my responsibility to do what am supposed to do with regards to my academics. My involvement in students politics (and you know what that entails) have already shown my diverse interest in my activities. I didn‟t leave out my religious activities. I was a cofounder of my faculty fellowship and an active member of NFCS (Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students). But in all these extra curricula activities, never lose sight of your primary purpose/assignment here, which is academic excellence. Anything or activity that hampers your academic success is not in your best interest as far as university education is concerned. Who or what inspired you to commence the pursuit of 1stClass, and what place do you think role models and mentors play in this quest? It was my parents who inspired me to be the best I could in my discipline given that I had something to prove to them, which is that I could be successful outside of Medicine and Surgery. However, in my department and
course of study, my role model is Prof. Eric Eboh, former President of “African Institute of Applied Economics,” and Prof. Kevin Urama, the Executive Director of “African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPSN),” Kenya. I aspire to get to where there are and even make more impact. A role model encourages you to keep on working even when you‟re getting tired and feeling like giving up, because you are yet to achieve even half of what they have achieved, yet you want to be like them, so why give up? Now, leave a very personal advice to students who are walking passionately in the direction of 1stClass. And what have you to say to those who had the quest but have been discouraged? To those who are passionately walking in the 1 st class direction, remember it is not yet over until it is over. Success is a journey not a destination, so keep on keeping on, and I wish you God‟s grace that crowns a man‟s labour. For every disciplined effort, there is a multiple reward. To those who are getting discouraged about making 1st class, remember winners never quit and quitters never win. The only people who never fail are those who never try. Don‟t be discouraged by past failures, rather see the set back as a set up for a better come back. Finally, to all, don‟t forget the place of God in the journey to success. Get close to Him and implore His grace to crown your effort with success. Awarding you a 1stClass, in character and in learning, qualifies you for an ambassador of the Nigerian educational system; do you think you can favorably compete with your foreign counterparts, especially those in Europe and the Americas? I think I have cultivated and am still cultivating the key ingredients to success anywhere in the world, which includes amongst others commitment to excellence, hard work, focus and fear of God. With these and many more, I think I can excel and compete favourably with my foreign counterparts. Yet I believe in the room for improvement; there is still more to learn.
After 1st Class what next? To me, 1st class in undergraduate studies is a good end for another beginning. I know there are more things to learn, so I am going further in my area of interest in my discipline, which is Resource and Environmental Economics, while building on my financial assets, you know what I mean: money thingsâ€Ś
“I only had the mindset of coming out with a first class… If you work towards it you will make it” Unlike many students and graduates, this young man, the best graduating student of the Faculty of Arts, UNN, feels that finishing First Class does not require you to be a bookworm but work towards your goal with determination and enthusiasm. He speaks especially of the need to pay attention to the human – not just the school‟s requirements – in the “no-goarea” departments. In this interaction, Mr. Ezebube Chinedu informs us that he never went for night classes, used only his departmental library and had great friends. +234 703 056 5592, please call only for follow up questions and mentorship. Can you let us into your school history? I had my primary education at Agai Primary School and St. John‟s Model College, both in Onitsha. I had my secondary education at St. Christopher‟s Junior Seminary, 3-3 Onitsha. In your earlier studies, have you been the best or among the bests? Yes, I was among the best students then. For instance, I was the only one who took French Language in the Senior Certificate Examination in my secondary school in 2008. I also have some certificates for being the best in some subjects in my secondary school. I was a head boy during my primary school days and was a social prefect during my secondary school education. Did you gain admission into the university immediately after secondary school? Yes, I did. Did you consciously set the goal of finishing top of the faculty from the onset or was it a chance occurrence? I did not set any such goal. I only had the mindset of coming out with a first class, and had to work towards it. What do you think about students‟ attitudinal indifference towards finishing first class? It depends on the personality. When I was in first year and living in Mbanefo Hall, I once asked a friend what he would like to graduate with, to which his
reply was that he was Ok with a 2.1. And when he asked me in his turn, I told him I wanted a first class. His response was funny: “Chinedu it is not good, you won‟t get a job!” And when I inquired why he thought so, he replied, “Nobody will be ready to take you because they know that in no distant time you will leave them for greener pastures.” But that isn‟t true. If you work towards it you will make it. Although it‟s difficult to come by, if one starts from first year to work towards it, then making it will be easy. What was your daily routine like paying off in First Class? Like every average student, I spent all four years in the hostel. I wake up, rush to class, attend lectures, and make notes. I don‟t fail on the discipline of note making, even if it is just jotting down something; even in GS crowded lecture theatres I did the same. And three times a week I go for fellowship and still read my books. What is your take on the notion of triangular student? Funnily enough, I never went to the main library, I only used my departmental library. Throughout my studies I made use of it and the internet; they helped me a lot. I even never went for night class. I only made use of the hostels‟ reading rooms. So that was it. In all, one mustn‟t be a triangular student to make a First Class; just be yourself and work! Even though you set the goal, were you convinced you were going to make it? Although I was convinced from my first to third year, but during my final year I was not that much convinced because it got to a point when I became tired of both my academics and other things. I could remember calling my friends together to tell them I wanted to defer my admission, to maybe go home and have sometime to myself before I come back to continue. They squarely disagreed with me and pressured me to get on. In that same final year, one academic staff called me to inquire why my results were no longer as good as they used to be, and even suspected I had started chasing after girls. So it wasn‟t such an easy ride.
Some departments are seen as a „no-go-area‟ when it comes to making First Class, what do you think? Yes, it‟s true some are no-go-areas. You just need God‟s grace; your prayers too and your relationship with the lecturers is important. You need to understand your lecturers and also accord them respect so they don‟t have a wrong impression about you. What is more, you read your books, do your assignments, and you‟ll find out that even when they may be reluctant to give you a first class, but because you have fulfilled all the requirements –in character and learning– and you don‟t have a problem with any of them, then you are good to go. Else, even if your performance was great your disrespect or disobedience may mar your effort. There is this common thinking that some courses are more difficult than others. Now, if you were in another department in your faculty, would you have been able to make it top of your faculty? I don‟t know. Each department has its own peculiarities. The only thing I know is that no course is easy. Although we opted for it because we thought it was easy, but within the first year most of my course mates began to contemplate applying for change of course. Some afterwards moved to Mass Communication, Foreign Languages. So it depends on what you want. Now, there is this common thinking that the powers-that-be decide the fate of who comes out first class in final year. Do you think somebody decided your fate? Nobody decided my fate; only God did. Because I remember that I was just at home when my examiner called me to break the good news of my bagging a first class, and I was just like “Wow! God is that you?” I knew I never paid any lecturer to improve my grade or do some other thing to help me. So, it was just God that decided my fate. What do you think about this notion of hard work and smart work? And where has or what has smart work contributed to your first class? Hard work takes first place. One cannot just wake up and bag a first class. It takes a lot. Most times you have to spend all night reading, although I never went for night class since I preferred the hostel reading rooms. And for smart work, I think you need to be smart, being smart in the sense that you know
when to apply wisdom and knowledge. In some courses you need to be smart, smart enough to understand your lecturer especially with regards what they expect from you. Students will do better when they understand what a particular lecturer needs from them. You have to inquire from your predecessors what various lecturers expect. Some lecturers expect continuous and detailed writing, while others prefer researched work, yet some want you to cram and pour out all they gave you. Just carry on immediately you are given the scheme of work. Now, is your first class a result of hard work or destiny? Although hard work is involved, but when I think of those people who spend all their time in the library, those people who spend all their nights in classes, then I discover it is not just the result of hard work. If it were hard work, those people would have also made first class. There must have been times when you felt like giving up, what happened and how did you get going? It was just my friends. They were there to encourage me. Even when we eventually finished and I told them that even 2.1 would be fine for me, they told me it would not go down well with them. When I asked them why, they told me I deserved nothing but a first class following all my struggles, hard work and good results. And their prayers also helped. Is first class an â€žall-geniusesâ€&#x; thing or can an average student follow some routine and still make first class? Anybody can make a first class once one is of good behavior, study hard, and watch oneâ€&#x;s grade from first year. Most times students think that in third year they could make up for all the lapses they had in their earlier years. But you find out that if you are stable enough during the first and second years, the third and fourth years will inevitably yield a high 2.1 if not a first class. So it is very good to start off from day one. I was discussing with the best graduating student of Biological Sciences and told her that the problem with male students in UNN is that they waste a lot of their time. A boy visits a girl, spends a half of his day in her room, spends time in the classroom chatting and discussing, and even accompanies her back to her hostel to accept her offer of food and so on. And when the boy leaves, she has her
table and her book just before her to start reading. Every student should just find time to do quality study and first class is not far way. So, what role did your course mate play in terms of making or marring your quest of becoming a first class? They sure did help me make it. Because I normally organized tutorials for them during exams and you will find out that to teach is to learn twice. My friends contributed, and my family with their prayers. Where you bookish? No, I was not bookish at all. Like I had said, I don‟t go for night class. And even when I was celebrating, my friends that came were like, “So you made it!” It was just God. At times, I go to fellowship (ASF) when I have an exam the following day, and I was a chorister too. Another important thing is to listen to your conscience. Sometimes when I got back exhausted my mind tells me, why don‟t you just read? Whenever my mind told me such things I would just open the book, and even if I did not understand anything, even if it was just one topic or page I looked into it always went a long way. And then by the early hours of the morning, 4.00 or 5.00am, when the mind is very clear, I did more work. Who or what inspired your quest for first class? And what role did mentors play in such inspiration? Nothing inspired it. When you enter school you want to know the possible grades, so when I heard of first class, with the encouragement of my roommate that was already a finalist in Sociology and Anthropology, I decided to choose it. Even the way my lecturers who had first class spoke about it in class enticed me. Ok, now leave a very personal advice to those passionately walking in the direction of first class, including those that were working but have found reason to be discouraged? My advice to them is, even when the G.P seems to be crashing continue, but don‟t end up only on reading terms, also pray. It helps. Just like during final year when you don‟t see your results, it is prayer that can help you. Even during computation, it is prayer. So just pray and continue.
Awarding you a 1stClass, in character and in learning, qualifies you for an ambassador of the Nigerian educational system; do you think you can favorably compete with your foreign counterparts, especially those in Europe and the Americas? Why not? Am I not a student? But in terms of educational qualities, I can rub shoulder with some of them and cannot with some of them. When you have gotten your first degree try to go abroad and try something because we are not very practical down here. But here we are trying when it comes to reading; itâ€&#x;s just that the students need to beef up themselves using the internet. Thank God we have Lionet; you can now download materials and read to be vast not just restrict yourself to what your lecturers afford. So you download those materials, save them and read them at any time. Also try to relate the course you are studying with the real life experience. It helps. So, after first class and best graduating, what is next? That will be determined after service. But for now, I plan to go for my masters with a view to lecturing.
“… I pursue excellence in all my endeavors” During his undergraduate days, he was neither the bookish type nor hoarded knowledge; rather he describes himself as an all-rounder, with the definition of it as being one who manages his time well with regards academics and other activities. In his words, “Being an all-rounder does not imply that you must engage yourself in every activity going on within and outside campus. The point of emphasis here is that one need to discern the type of activity and the amount of time to put into them as one‟s academic work should occupy most of one‟s time should one wish to finish top.” Mr. Anosike Chibueze is the 2011/2012 best graduating student of Pharmacy, who believes that with God‟s backing everything is possible. +234 703 548 5509, please call only for follow up questions and mentorship. May we please know you better than we have heard? I am Anosike Chibueze, a graduate of Pharmacy. I would describe myself as a God-fearing, quiet, humble and hardworking young man. I am always dedicated to anything I set my mind on. In other words, I pursue excellence in all my endeavors. My philosophy of life is that with God‟s backing, everything is possible. And I always devote my time to sharing my knowledge with people. Do you mind giving us a brief run-down of your school history? My school career began way back in 1992 when I was enrolled into nursery/kindergarten school. My performance by my parents‟ standard was average. In 1994, I was admitted into Margaret Primary school, Umuahia, where I was adjudged „above average‟ in overall performance. In 1998/99, I was admitted into Methodist College, Uzuakoli, Abia State, where I did become a dominant force to reckon with, as I came first throughout my stay there. I left the college after my junior school certificate examinations, and joined the Senior Science School, Alayi, in same Abia State. In a twinkle of an eye, I also became dominant finishing with the second best WASSCE result. After 3 years of unsuccessful attempts with JAMB, I finally got admission to study Pharmacy in UNN. Here, my performance from first year to graduation was incredible.
Were you among or the best in your previous school years? I would say, yes. I was among the best, if not the best. Did you enter the university immediately after secondary school? If not, what did you occupy your time with? No, I didnâ€&#x;t. As a matter of fact, I spent 3 years at home writing JAMB. During these years, I was not working per se, but I was deeply engaged with my studies. In fact, I read widely, which really helped me during my undergraduate days. Did you consciously set the goal of topping the faculty from the onset or was it a chance occurrence? I would not say I consciously set the goal of topping my faculty ab initio, but after my first and second years results were released, I began working in that direction. What gave you the guts to set such a lofty goal? I was well aware that I had what it takes to achieving such a lofty goal. In addition, I believed that with Godâ€&#x;s support, I could accomplish it. I had conditioned myself to withstanding stress, especially reading/studying for a long time. Discipline, dedication, devotion and hard work were my watchwords. So I was convinced that with these qualities I could dare any academic achievement. What was your daily routine like and what makes yours unique paying off in the best graduating of your faculty? And what is your take on the notion of the triangular student? Every day, I always start with my morning worship. Usually, I would wake up as early as 3-4am to read before my morning worship, after which I would commence preparation for class. I loved being in class at least 1 hour before lecture time to do some revision. After class, I normally return to my room, take lunch, observe siesta, wake up later in the evening to continue reading (using the hostel reading room) until late into the night (like 11pm, 12am) before going to bed. Every Tuesday I used to attend fellowship, and Sunday is for ministration. I participated in class football and athletics and had joined the class team in several football competitions.
I don‟t believe in the „triangular student‟ ideology. A student should be versatile and should engage in other meaningful activities outside studies, sleeping and eating. To be versatile one has to manage his/her time. Some departments have been branded a no-go-area in letting students finish with 1stClass; what do you think about it? That is true of some departments. This is strictly a human factor, and such practice should not be condoned in our universities. I think the onus is on the school authority to look into it and address it squarely. If you were in another department in your faculty, do you think you would still have made it top of the faculty, given that some courses appear to be more challenging than others? Pharmacy programme is designed in such a way that all the departments run/operate as one. No undergraduate belongs to a particular department. I would say that Pharmacy is an all-encompassing programme. It is commonplace that people believe that the „powers-that-be‟ decide the fate of students eligible to finish as either departmental or faculty bests. Do you think anybody decided your fate, and why? Nobody decided my fate. I worked for it after setting such a goal. Recently, our attention was drawn to the idea of hard work and smart work in the race to making it top. What do you think about them, and what bone has smart work got to pick in the quest? Some individuals can be smart enough to make it to the top, while others work very hard to make it to the same top. Some persons do it the dubious way to get what they want. In the end they are most unlikely to defend their grades when called upon. Was your coming out Best Graduand of your faculty a result of hard work or destiny? I would say that it was a result of hard work. God endowed me with the ability to achieve the feat. There could have been a time when you felt like giving up, what happened? How did you scale the wall – what kept you going? My parents and friends especially infused power into me. They so much encouraged me to keep up the good work. I was privileged to have as
roommates persons who were as serious and dedicated as I was. We really helped each other. Even when I didn‟t feel like studying and opted for sleep, my roommates always woke me up. Do you think this whole „best thing‟ is an „all geniuses‟ affair or can an average student make it that top? Being best is not all about being genius, as an average student can always make it to the top. That is possible only when such a student set such a goal for him/herself, and is fully dedicated to achieving it. What role did your course mates play with respect to making or marring your quest? My course mates greatly influenced me for good. Some of them usually challenged me with questions, while others would politely bring questions that bothered them for my help. I gladly accepted such questions because they compelled me to study even harder. What about friends, especially the opposite sex; what about your family? My friends, especially those in the same class with me, really assisted me in various ways. They always stimulated me to work even harder by bringing problems from various courses for me to help them out. Because most of them depended on my laboratory work report after each practical session, I was compelled to always make sure those reports were ready soon after the practical exercises. In addition, almost 60% of the class usually photocopied my notes and summaries, which entailed I needed to be up to date at all times. My female friends were so wonderful and supportive. They usually instilled in me that competitive spirit I needed and always encouraged me to put in all the hard work I needed to coming out top. I know that many of them will be happy seeing that their wish came through. My family, on the other hand, also did support and encourage me. My parents, especially my beloved mother would not allow me leave home without a word of encouragement and advice. In fact, those pieces of advice were the driving force behind my success in Pharmacy education. My uncles, aunts, cousins, and siblings too, were of immense help to me. I will not
forget my late grandmother who nurtured the spirit of hard work and discipline in me during my teen years. Were you „bookish‟ or an „all-rounder‟? What chance has an allrounder in being the best and how involved must one be in the „allround thing‟? I would say am not bookish but an all-rounder. This is because my pursuit of academic excellence did not hinder my participation in other activities I needed for an integral formation. I was there for sports, seminars and inaugural lectures, attended bible studies, visited friends, engaged in chatting, and many other things that were worth it. Granted, it is not always possible for an all-rounder to emerge best, either at the departmental or faculty level, it only takes someone who is highly organized and disciplined to draw the boundary for each activity and strictly remain within the confines of such boundaries; to be able to emerge best. Being an all-rounder does not imply that you must engage yourself in every activity going on within or outside the campus. The point of emphasis here is that you need to be selective and considerate in the type of activity and the amount of time you put into them. Your academic work should occupy most of your time should you wish to make it top. Who or what inspired you to commencing the pursuit of becoming the best, and what place do you think role models and mentors play in this quest? I should say my uncle inspired me to set such a lofty goal. He always believed in me. He kept telling me that I possess what it takes to be the best in anything I focus my mind on doing. He always supported and encouraged me even financially to achieving my set out academic goal. Amidst his contemporaries, my uncle was and is a genius; hence I decided to follow in his footsteps. Now, leave a very personal advice to students who are walking passionately in the direction of departmental, faculty or UNN best. And what have you to say to those who had the quest but are now being discouraged?
At all times, keep the zeal and desire burning. They should keep working hard and even harder by attending lectures, doing their assignments and studying regularly. They should not allow anything or anybody distract them in the pursuit of their setout goals. They should not be afraid of challenges as it would leave them better students. Above all, they should make friend with the source and giver of wisdom, the Almighty God. For with his support, all things are possible. Awarding you a faculty best, in character and in learning, qualifies you for an ambassador of the Nigerian educational system; do you think you can favorably compete with your foreign counterparts, especially those in Europe and the Americas? Even though the Nigerian educational system is not measuring up with their foreign counterparts, especially the great universities of Europe and the Americas, the Nigerian students are forced to learn in a very hard way unlike their foreign colleagues, who have virtually everything at their disposal. As a Nigerian student, I believe I can measure up with my colleagues in other lands, especially in the theoretical background of my profession. But as regards the practical aspects, those in Europe and the Americas are likely better off. But that notwithstanding, I can confidently compete effectively with my colleagues in any part of the world without fear of intimidation. After best graduating, what next? I want to pursue my postgraduate degree immediately after my internship programme. My primary goal now is to lend a helping hand to incoming students whose goal is to become pharmacists. This I can only achieve if the university authority approve of my appointment as a graduate assistant. If I finally find myself in the academia, I would want to be involved fully in or be in the forefront of research and development of drugs and drug products in Nigeria and beyond.
“Anything that doesn‟t kill you makes you stronger.” Most people think that you can be the best only in one thing, but this young man you are about to meet has proven that wrong after being awarded for excellence in most of the groups he was a member while a student. His believe in “excellence per performance” says it all. Having scaled through many hurdles in life, Mr. Aguegboh Stephen Ekene who finished First Class in Economics and top of the Faculty of the Social Sciences is of the opinion that the essence of knowledge is to better humanity, and once knowledge is not put to such a use, the purpose is defeated, thus every First Classer has the ability to become a blessing or a curse to humanity. +234 803 685 4887, please call only for follow up questions and mentorship. May we please know you better than we have heard? I am Aguegboh, Stephen Ekene, a native of Umueri, Anambra-East Local Government of Anambra State. I was born in Gusau, Zamfara State. I am a devout Christian imbued with true greatness wrapped in simplicity and a strong, unshakable faith in the will of God. My philosophy of life is: Anything that doesn‟t kill you makes you stronger. I am very fluent in Igbo and Hausa languages and averagely fluent in the Yoruba language. I have strong analytical and communication skills and good background knowledge of Microsoft Word, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel and Desktop Publishing. My hobbies are reading, travelling and surfing the Internet. Do you mind giving us a brief run-down of your school history? I started off in Ideal Nursery and Primary School, Gusau, Zamfara State and got my First School Leaving in 1997 (I finished top of the class), and got my West African School Certificate (W.A.S.C.) in 2003. In 2006, I secured admission into The Federal Polytechnic, Kaura Namoda, Zamfara State, where I passed out with a National Diploma in Accountancy (Distinction) and was top of the class. Now, I just graduated from the department of Economics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State. I am also a student member of the Accounting Technician Scheme of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
Were you among or the best in your previous school years? As I earlier mentioned, I graduated as the best during my primary education. By the grace of God, I repeated the same feat during my study in the Federal Polytechnic, Kaura Namoda, Zamfara State. Did you enter the university immediately after secondary school? If not, what did you occupy your time with? Not really. I finished secondary school in 2003. After my secondary education, I had some family issues that prevented my continuing immediately. However, I had to start teaching. And that was the period in my life I had a real setback because after my dad fell sick there was no one to sponsor my education. I then started a small scale business where I was able to save enough money to set the ball rolling for my tertiary education in a polytechnic. Did you consciously set the goal of topping the faculty from the onset or was it a chance occurrence? I would be the greatest liar if I say I did. In fact, I never planned to top my class let alone the faculty at large. The only thing I can say I consciously did was to rely on the habit of academic excellence I already had, because somehow I discovered that my effort naturally gets me to the top. At best, I was just exercising consistency in maintaining good results per semester. So I was very much amazed when I got the news from my head of department that I was the facultyâ€&#x;s best graduating student. What do you think breeds the attitudinal indifference amongst students about making it 1stClass? I am not an idealist, I am a realist. It is utterly impossible for everybody to make a first class. However, it suffices to mention that nobody is destined to be a failure. Academic excellence has a lot to do with students pursuing a course that is in tandem with their purpose on earth. Once this is in place, hard work becomes fun and whatever effort people put into their academics would be presumed to be fun. Personally, I believe a lot of students pursue career paths that are not in line with their purpose and trust me; this affects their approach or disposition to their academics. And given that they see their
bagging a first class as a mirage, they react to it with such attitudinal indifference. What was your daily routine like and what makes yours unique paying off in a 1stClass? And what is your notion of the proverbial triangular student? I was never a bookworm. In fact, I was into a lot of things as a student. I was a businessman (I sold books as an undergraduate); I was also into a lot of extracurricular activities. I was the president of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), Editor-in-Chief of the maiden edition of the Econalyst Magazine, Editor-in-Chief of Economic Press Association (ECOPRESS), Director of Research and Academic Planning in the Policy Analysis and Research Group (PARG), Secretary General of National Economic Student Association (NESA), all in the department of Economics. So I was not a student that lived the so called triangular life. I focused on my academics squarely during exam periods, but I am of the opinion that education is not necessarily schooling. So I ensured I educated myself about life, spirituality, team dynamics, emotional intelligence and other virtues needed to live a broadbased life. Do you think there is a difference between having a 1 stClass and becoming a 1stClass? This is going to be a shocker coming from someone like me: I am not a fan of first class. Yes, I made it to that point, but I always believed that first class could be a distraction. At times, a lot of us with the so called â€žfirst classâ€&#x; are merely students who know how to regurgitate more than others. The essence of knowledge is to better humanity and once knowledge is not put to such a use, the purpose is defeated. Every first classer has the ability to become a blessing or a curse to humanity. So my answer to your question is YES; there is a diametric difference between having a first class and becoming a first class fellow. Were you convinced from the start that youâ€&#x;ll not settle for anything less than a 1st Class? There was no time I planned for anything. I just had a motto, and that is: excellence per performance. A conglomerate of little successes leads to a
huge success; I just wanted to be the best I could in everything I did, even in my extracurricular activities. In most of the groups I was a party to, I got several awards as a result of my outstanding contributions. Some departments have been branded no-go-areas in the 1stClass thing; what do you think about it? Well, I would not deny the fact that I have heard about the no-go area thing. But if I had a passion for a course that falls within the no-go-area departments, I would have still gone for it and given it my best shot. Life is not about grades or G.P for that matter. Wole Soyinka had a third-class in his undergraduate studies, yet he swept the western world off their feet with his acumen. Like I said, it is about doing what you have passion for. If you were in another department in your faculty, do you think you would still have made it top of the faculty, given that some courses appear to be more challenging than others? If I answer in the affirmative, that would be a fallacy of composition. On the other hand, if I answer in the non-affirmative, that would be a fallacy of decomposition. My making it to the top was never planned and a whole lot of factors were at work such as: God, luck or chance and others. Most of these factors are not things I can entirely control, so the tendency of making a first class in another department depends on whether I would be favoured by these factors in that department. It is commonplace that people believe that the â€žpowers-that-beâ€&#x; decide the fate of students eligible for 1stClass in final year. Do you think anybody decided your fate, and why? Powers-that-be? That is a conspiracy theory. If there is any chance anything like that exists, then it is definitely not in my department. Excuses are the refuge of failures. Do your part, leave the rest for God. Besides, is there any so called powers-that-be that is greater than the power of God? I guess it is simply a battle of faith versus fear. Whatever the mind of man conceives and believes it can achieveâ€ŚNapoleon Hill.
Recently, our attention was drawn to the idea of hard work and smart work in the 1stClass race. What do you think about them, and what bone has smart work got to pick in the quest? There is a place for hard work and a place for smart work. But you have to possess the wisdom to differentiate between the two and to know when best to apply them individually or concurrently. Smart work saves you a lot of time and effort yielding greater value-added. But it does not always work. The world seems to believe a lot in hard work. So you have to know when to draw the line. Was your coming out 1stClass a result of hard work or destiny? Personally, I believe a lot of factors were at play. The objective notion of hard work and the subjective notion of destiny are just threads which are part of the entire fabric. Since your question pertains to these two, I want to believe that I had an ample slice of eachâ€Śmaybe just enough to make a first class. There could have been a time when you felt like giving up, how did you scale the wall, what kept you going? Yes, I felt that way severally. But I always ran to the church to talk to God whenever I lose my faith. I also talk to my mummy whenever I am down because we are very close. We have a wonderful mother-child relationship. Furthermore, I had mentors, friends whom I confided in and I also read a lot of motivational books. I always knew that the challenges I faced where supposed to make me stronger. So, God, my mum, my mentors and friends kept me going as well as my motivational books. Do you think this whole 1stClass thing is an â€žall geniuses affairâ€&#x; or can an average student make it that top? There is no such thing as an average student. God did not create people unequal. We simply fail to find what we have passion for and we also do not look out for what works for us. Find your passion and pursue it; discover what works for you and you can be everything you want to be.
What role did your course mates play with respect to making or marring your quest? My experience with my course mates left me with mixed feelings. While some were very envious and antagonistic, I had very lovely friends who always had my back. I had Ezeizu Chibueze, Makuo Precious Chijioke, Amaka Obiora, Nkechi Collins, Sam Nzube, Odo Obinna amongst others. I will never forget these people in my life. They all wanted the best for me much as I wanted the best for them. What about friends, especially the opposite sex; what about your family? It was not easy handling my female friends, but I guess I handled my relationship with them well enough. At some point, emotions might have gotten in the way of my relationship with some of them, but I hate making mistakes and I believe relationships are meant to bring out the best and not the worst in people. So I was always careful not to go astray. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom…King Solomon. I was always careful not to allow my relationship with any female friend of mine get erotic. More so, I had a stable relationship with my family especially with my mum (Mrs Gloria Aguegboh) and my immediate elder sister (Nkeiru Roseline Aguegboh). My brothers showed me lots of love as well. They are Obiora Kinglsey Aguegboh, Ifeanyi Godwin Aguegboh, Nnaemeka Stanley Aguegboh and Uzochukwu Christian Aguegboh. Were you „bookish‟ or an „all-rounder‟? What chance has an allrounder in this 1stClass thing, and how involved must one be in the allround thing? I think I was more of an all-rounder than a bookworm. I do not even like the idea of being a bookworm because it comes with a lot of disadvantages. I always had time for my extracurricular activities, my social life and so on. An all-rounder does not only have a chance to make a first class, but a chance to keep being a first class in other facets of life beyond the walls of the university. About the extent of being an all-rounder, wisdom is of essence. You have to make-up for lost time in your academics. This is where smart work comes into play as well.
Who or what inspired you to commence the pursuit of 1stClass, and what place do you think role models and mentors play in this quest? Abraham Lincoln said, and I quote: “I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me to do great things.” You cannot underestimate the place of mentors and role models in one‟s journey to success. At times, seeing the successes of others stirs you to believing you can also make it. On a personal note, I read a lot about great people. According to one of my favourite pastors (Pastor Okenwa Nwagu of Living Faith Church), the secrets of great men are in their stories. I even go as far as printing out the stories of great men and make them part of my personal effects to serve a reminder. Furthermore, I also believe in mentorship. Your biological father can be a medical doctor while your mum an accountant, but your God-given talent might be singing. So, you would need a mentor (one who is advanced or established in your field of interest) to guide you. Now, leave a very personal advice to students who are walking passionately in the direction of 1stClass. And what have you to say to those who had the quest but are now discouraged? To those who are already on first class or close to it, make sure you don‟t give up. The fact that you are already on that path shows that a lot of factors are already working in your favour, both the ones you can and can‟t control. Then for those who are not on first class, it does not mean first classers are better than you. Believe in yourself, pursue whatever it is you have passion for, find what works for you and follow it to the letter. Awarding you a 1stClass, in character and in learning, qualifies you for an ambassador of the Nigerian educational system; do you think you can favorably compete with your foreign counterparts, especially those in Europe and the Americas? I have never believed that one‟s race has anything to do with his/her intellect. No country or race possesses the monopoly of it. Africa, and maybe Nigeria, simply has issues with their value system and institutions. In fact, a whole lot of Nigerians who are studying abroad finish their academic pursuit as pacesetters. So I believe that every Nigerian student, including myself, has what it
takes to compete favourably with our foreign counterparts even those in Europe or the USA. After 1st Class what next? The thing about success is that once you are one, you have to keep being a success. Everybody is waiting to see what you would make of your opportunities. Presently, I am planning to give my youth service the best shot I can. Afterward, I think I would pursue my masterâ€&#x;s degree programme immediately.
The Story of March 10, 2010, Day 1 on Campus Although it wasn‟t the first time I‟ve had to school on my own (away from home), what made the UNN experience crazier was that I had no guide – strictly speaking. There was actually no one to insist on the choice of what I did and what I didn‟t. It was the very first time I had to embrace the stark truth of the Newtonian third law of motion, that action and reaction are equal and opposite. There, I had to account for every bit of all I did since there were individually and collectively a partial fulfillment of the requirements for eventually finding and certifying me worthy in character and learning. However, it wasn‟t all romantic because it was actually a struggle for survival. The one date I don‟t bother writing on my diary is March 10, 2010. That date has become a very part of me, the day I bade home farewell to always return back never the same. That was the day I kick started the lifelong journey of the restoration of my dignity, the day I started off a fresher in the one and only University of Nigeria, sited on the soft green hills of Nsukka. It was like the whole world stood still watching me make that journey, a journey that would leave me a better man. And there and then I was! On arrival, one thing remained clear to me: my goal. I had come to the university to pursue my life‟s purpose, and on that first day I didn‟t need Urim and Thumim to tell me what it was. Four years, and never more than four years, from that day I needed to have become sophisticated in learning and fortified in character, I needed to have become the envy of my friends and the pride of my family; I needed to have become eligible to thread the corridors of power and join in the shaping of the destinies of my countrymen in definite directions. In fact, four years from March 10, 2010 was very clear to me, I could clearly see myself on top of the world – at least dining and wining with the powers that would be. However, my undoing started on March 10, 2010, the very day I‟d seen too clearly that I‟d become too blind to the things that mattered most. On that day, I offended the gods and spent four years appeasing them. I had
thought that the journey was all mine to make, that four years ahead stood still waiting for me to lay my hands on them, but forgot that I could barely be certain about what the next second held for me. On March 10, 2010, I didn‟t call to mind, like Homer‟s Odyssey pointed out, that without gods man is nothing. For all I cared, it was for the singular reason of my unequalled intelligence and smartness that my name meritoriously found its way to the primary admissions list. I didn‟t have to bother about dying because death was a mere intellectual concept that frightens cowards; I was brave. Failing exams, getting rusticated from school, getting incapacitated, running out of funds, putting a girl in the family way, contracting a terminal illness, getting involved in cultism, alcoholism, exam malpractice, rape, fraud, etc. never crossed my mind. They didn‟t have to because I‟d planned everything all out: I‟d made up my mind on shunning bad company; I‟d mapped out a formidable studies strategy; on my mind I‟d already said „NO‟ to women; I‟d gone through and accepted to abide by all the University‟s regulations. In fact, I had found myself capable of fulfilling all the requirements for the bagging of the academic award I sought. Sadly enough, that was all self righteousness. I‟d thought too highly of myself that it became my very undoing – that same day! I‟d forgotten that bagging a First Class in the university, and moreso the Varsity par excellence, UNN, was not the same as coming first in my secondary school classes or making multiple A‟s and B‟s in WAEC. I‟d forgotten that the reason why my female friends didn‟t enter my room at home was because I was either in the mission boarding school or my parents will skin me alive if I did, but neither my rector nor my parents came to UNN with me. I‟d forgotten that there was a time I‟d almost repeated a class but not for the assistance I got from a friend called exam malpractice. The things I forgot outweigh the very few that were the reason for my pride. And it all started happening, one after the other. It was like the rest of the day conspired to make the worst start off imaginable. It began with women. Like every heterosexual male, I‟ve had positive admiration for worthwhile women; one of them was my neighbor. To say she‟s cute is to
say the least. From Nursery 1 to Primary 6 we‟d been not just in the same school but classmates. Jennifer she‟s called. Then I left for a Catholic mission secondary school far away from home and only got to seeing her whenever I came around on break. My religious orientation, family background and naivety left me and Jennifer only on talking terms. There‟s nothing more. However I was proven wrong on that March 10. Jennifer had maintained her academic tempo that she also got admission to same school with me, and what March 10 meant for me was what it meant for her, except that I now think that it meant more to me because of the conspiracy of the day to sabotage my mission. Of course, I‟d my phone and trust that Jenny‟s number was there since, like I said, we‟re in talking terms. And hardly had I unpacked than she called; she had been put on the opposite block of my provisional hostel. She asked to come over mine or me to hers. That was the first shock I got, “So she could actually come over!” I thought. Since neither my parents nor a rule prohibiting the visit was there, I naively asked her to come over mine. And in no time she was already at the door. What immediately followed my opening the door was a very serious hug from her. Although the hug was somewhat reasonable, perhaps she was just too happy that we‟d made it to the university or found ourselves together again, but the power that surged through my system at that instance told me I was wrong about what I‟d thought about handling women on campus. At this point it dawned on me that I could hold onto the hug, initiate a kissing spree, explore further by just bolting the door and then leading her to bed so that our long standing admiration for each other be consummated. I don‟t know how I escaped it, I thank God I did, or else it would have been sex on Day 1. And if that had happened, and if she was in her period, pregnancy would have been inevitable; Jennifer had past 17 and I was a year older. No sooner had she left than I started crying. It wasn‟t because I‟d wished her to stay further; I wept because my encounter with Jennifer almost rocked my boat – I was at the verge of putting a girl in the family way but not for His Amazing Grace that kept me safe thus far. I‟d barely recovered from that shock than the second conspiracy popped up! It was alcoholism and cultism at the same time. Two rugged and gangsterly looking boys
walked into the room I‟d been assigned while I‟d just stopped crying but still sobbing. For awhile it seemed like they‟d ignored me but dramatically burst into a frenzy of laughter to my amazement. One of them even motioned towards me, patted me on the back and gently asked me, “Do you miss home?” As I didn‟t provide an answer, he continued, “This is a whole new world where only real men survive. So to survive here you have to be a real man.” My curiosity now made me ask him who a real man was. He answered, “Real men are hard and tough, they are brave and rugged and can do and undo.” Picking up a bottle of rum (a strong alcohol) from his bag, he continued, “Real men drink this like water.” At this juncture, he lifted up his long T-shirt to reveal the gun he had on his waist, it was stainless, and he concluded, “Real men throw bullets from this equipment at people like throwing stones into a sea of water.” After a brief moment of silence, he then asked me, “Do you want to become a real man?” Truth be told, that was the most dazzling question ever thrown me in all my life and I know I didn‟t have the answer, and His unfailing grace made me too dumb to say a word. He tried forcing the bottle of rum into my mouth and when he found that I was choking and wasn‟t responding, he called me a mummy‟s pet and beckoned on his colleague to come along so they don‟t waste their time on this „injuga.‟ Before they left, they drummed this threat into my ears: “If you tell anybody anything that happened here or what you saw, we shall come back here or anywhere you run to and slice your throat.” I had failed the test and am so glad I did. It wasn‟t months later when I leant that those tormentors of mine were cultists, had been caught in an armed robbery operation, rusticated from school and now serving a lifelong jail term because they had killed someone on their last duty. I now felt I wasn‟t ready yet for university. I felt like going back home. I felt like getting my mum on the other end of the line and telling her I was dying. I felt like calling Jennifer to come over to stay with me, but with what just happened Jennifer wasn‟t a part of the solution. I felt like going in search of the „real men‟ that just left to apologize to them over how I reacted and tell them I was now desirous of real manhood. For all I felt, there was one feeling I constantly suppressed as it continuously popped up on my
mind, “Dial daddy on your phone,” the soft still voice repeatedly told me. The singular reason why I didn‟t want to call daddy was that I already knew what daddy would say, “Son, just be a man and face it”. At this juncture, I discovered that only daddy held the truth. A thousand and one times he had told me to react to every problem situation by simply trusting in God and being a man. I didn‟t have to call daddy anymore because my subconscious had already consulted with him at the gene level – it was his sperm that sparked life into my mum‟s ovum that resulted in me. I now became strong and laughed at how my first day in the university was running its course. And then I fought with someone. I‟d just left my room for a cold bottle of soft drink to calm my nerves from the uneasiness it had passed through from the events of the day. I‟d motioned towards the counter, requested for the drink, paid for it and picked it up. No sooner had I occupied one of the vacant seats in the lounge than a bully of about my age came up to ask me to stand up, that I was occupying his seat. I innocently asked him if he hadn‟t overgrown bullying and that he should help himself with one of the many empty seats around since he didn‟t leave a mark of ownership on the one I sat upon. At this, he slapped the bottle of drink off my hand and we both watched the bottle shatter on the floor and leaving me with a cut on one of my toes. And then he asked again, “Would you leave now?” To cut the story short, we‟d started fighting, and he wasn‟t doing better than me in dishing out the punches. It took the intervention of those around to help us come back to our senses. It took just one remark from a passerby to make me realize I was getting it wrong again, “These bush boys don‟t know that it is only fighting, stealing and exam malpractice that can give one automatic rustication from the university.” I knew His grace had saved me again, for, if we‟d been caught by the school‟s security operatives, our story would have been different. At this, I quietly apologized to the boy with whom I‟d fought, walked up to the counter and paid for the shattered bottle, and sorrowfully went back to my room. “What a hell of a day it‟s being,” I cried out. But the last for the day was yet to come. I‟d slept off after a moment‟s gaze at the decking of Room 110 of Mary Slessor Hostel, and the time about which I went to bed was 6.30pm.
But at 8.00pm I was up again, and after finishing up the supper I‟d brought from home, my last homemade for the semester, I knew I‟d to try out some academic work. On turning on the light, my roommates told me they can‟t sleep with the light on, and since it was three against one, I had to reluctantly leave the room for them and joined those going for night class. On getting to class, I found that we all didn‟t go there for the same reason. Some had come with their girlfriends to have a nice time out, some had come to make night calls, some came to see movies with the laptops, and some came to have their friends tutor them on some of the foundationals they had missed out in the secondary school, especially those in the sciences that didn‟t do Further Maths. Just a few came to do real study, and I was one of them. However, I discovered that university studies were different from what I‟d known in my earlier school days. The text books were so fat, and there was no lecturer, I was told, that would make notes for me; I was to make all of them myself from lecture attendance and available materials. The school had already stopped the sale of handouts. Truth be told, that night was a nightmare for me as the themes and concepts were not just unfamiliar but very strange. I then knew that I was not going to graduate with a fine grade just like that. I knew I‟d to go back to the scratch, to mind my book more closely. Before I knew it March 10 was gone, because I only woke up by 5.00am with the books I‟d come with as my pillow. Today, after four years, the four years I‟d seen from March 10, 2010, I can now say that things were a whole lot fun. That was how I began, and that manner of beginning had a profound influence on me; I‟d seen it all on the very first day that on the morning of March 11, 2010, my mind was already made up about the journey I‟d begun the previous day. How then did the four years roll by? It went like this: On March 10, 2010, I discovered the inner force that propelled John Newton to compose the celebrated Amazing Grace, and what got William Wilberforce, the English slave abolitionist, to be obsessed about that song that he would sing it whenever he was lacking in strength and inspiration. And my realization of the place of his Amazing Grace in my making it through March 10, made me dedicate my entire university journey
to his friendship. The church, St. Peter‟s Catholic Church, UNN, became my best spot outside the classroom and the library. NFCS (Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students) fellowship became for me a must attend, and I became so involved that his Amazing Grace saw me finishing the last two years of studies as her Onitsha Ecclesiastical Provincial President. And today I can say that making this four year journey with God as my friend made all the difference. The saying that a tree cannot make a forest is an overlabor of the obvious. I was sure I wasn‟t going to pull through UNN all by myself; I needed my classmates and friends who would clear my doubts, calm my fears, inform my ignorance, shape my character for the better, steer me away from envy, counsel me in virtue. I needed female friends who would make me feel more like a friend than like a man, because making me feel more like a man might leave me as vulnerable as I was in the arms of the Jennifer of March 10. To get this caliber of friends, I didn‟t have to rush into contracting friendship with whomever I smiled; I drew a thick line between friendship and the likes of acquaintance, colleagues, classmates, roommates, fellowship brethren, friend‟s friends, etc. And then in the latter part of that first semester, I began to settle down for those that were to become my friends, and with whom I spent the rest of the four years. Because I‟d taken my time to find them, I didn‟t have to drop any of them along the line as they were, by the day, better than I even bargained for. And they were just a few of them – so that I could be friend enough to them too. I also knew I needed platforms to develop my potentials in view of the fat future that lies before me. I needed to acquire new abilities while developing my talents. I needed to become a skilled and competent communicator, a superb team player, and outstanding go-getter, a versatile fellow, an indefatigable leader, a groundbreaking writer, etc. With these in mind, I figured out that some famous and approved organizations such as Rotaract, AISEC, Motivators International, SIFE, etc. could help me out. I was wise enough not to blindly leap into all of them, but I did chose one or two to which I was most suited and that made all the difference. In them, I got to meet the best students on campus, got the opportunity of walking and
working with them, sought counsel and guidance with them, and looked forward to replacing them when they were gone. And for my academics, I was inspired and helped by the ancient saying that, “If you want to know more about the underground then consult the rabbit.” I summoned the courage to meeting some of my lecturers to inquire from them how to survive the academic rigors of the university. To my greatest surprise, I found that they were happy I‟d come and were glad to offer me great pieces of advice. One Dr. Ogbozo told me that the entire fat text didn‟t compel my consumption; I should just go in there, pick what I needed and send it back to the shelf. With this guide, I needn‟t a soothsayer to tell me it was academic greed, and even stupidity, to try to empty a 5000paged encyclopedia into my skull. Dr. Asogwa told me I shouldn‟t be too anxious about the journey, that I should consistently make it one step at a time. What haven‟t I said? Anonymous
He will have to learn, I know that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero; that for every selfish Politician, there is a dedicated leader... Teach him for every enemy there is a friend. Steer him away from envy if you can, teach him the secret of quiet laughter. Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest to lick... Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books... But also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and the flowers on a green hillside. In the school teach him it is far honorable to fail than to cheat... Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong... Teach him to be gentle with gentle people, and tough with the tough. Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the bandwagon... Teach him to listen to all men... but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good that comes through. Teach him if you can, how to laugh when he is sad... Teach him there is no shame in tears, Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness... Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders but never to put a price-tag on his heart and soul. Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob, and to stand and fight if he thinks he's right. Treat him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel. Let him have the courage to be impatient... let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will have sublime faith in mankind.
This is a big order, but see what you can do... He is such a fine fellow, my son! Abraham Lincoln
Published on Mar 25, 2014