that someone could have a higher one in other faculties. On the day I was informed that I emerged as the best, when I got to the faculty, I was told to go to the Students’ Affairs unit, where I was told that I would need to prepare a valedictory speech. I couldn’t shout where I was seated. I was indeed happy. When I told my parents about the news, they were all overjoyed, to say the least.
Was it your plan to graduate with a first class when you got admission?
Initially, I was not really interested in having first class because I was still feeling bad that I was not admitted into Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, despite my score. So, I didn’t have the zeal to give my best, but as God would have it, I saw the way the 100 level medical students were always studying, and some of my friends among them told me that if I could do well, I might just be allowed to cross to medicine. My enthusiasm was reignited from that moment, I still thank God for those statements, although I didn’t cross to medical school, it sure yielded a positive result for me. Also, one of my lecturers, Mr. Alli-Balogun Ganiu, who also had first class from LASU inspired me. He taught us without using notes and he would even give notes without looking through any book. The way he taught offhand inspired a lot of us. I felt if he could do that, I could do better.
Does it mean you had always wanted to study Medicine?
My dream as a child was to study Medicine and Surgery. Medicine is one field I love so much, because it allows one to bring hope, through treatment, to a lot of people. I would have loved to study medicine, but when the offer wasn’t forthcoming, my father said I should settle for Biochemistry since I had the offer from LASU. He didn’t want me to stay at home for a longer time. Initially, I tried Petroleum Engineering but it didn’t work. I tried Obafemi Awolowo University for Medicine twice but it didn’t work, and my dad was not happy with my stubbornness to study Medicine in Ife at all cost. So I accepted the offer from LASU whilst praying earnestly that OAU would still work out. I really thank God how things turned out and I have to thank my dad for that because I could have lost another year. Biochemistry is a wonderful course. I am glad to be a biochemist; I can still fulfil my dreams as a researcher.
When did you start having first class?
I started having first class from my first semester in school. Although in my second semester in 100 level, my CGPA dropped so bad, yet, God was still faithful. Some people told me it was difficult to have first class and that “the higher you go, the tougher it becomes” but I refused to agree with that and I reframed it to “the higher you go, the better it becomes”.
Have you always had such a performance in your previous schools?
I actually got my WASSCE result at a sitting but my story is quite different from other scholars. Although God has always helped me to be among the best right from my primary school, I won’t say I was outstanding in my previous schools. One thing that kept me going was the strong desire to succeed.
What can you tell us about Biochemistry?
Biochemistry is not an abstract course like many people think; it is the aspect of science that deals with the chemical compositions of living organisms and how these constituents work to make the organism perform functions that have to do with life. Without biochemistry, there would not be Medicine and its branches, pharmacy, pharmacology, and other biological science courses. As a biochemist, there are so many things I can do; I could be a clinical biochemist; diagnosing diseases down to the cellular and molecular level. These would be quite difficult for a medical practitioner. I can work as a nutritionist, because I have sufficient knowledge of how the metabolic processes work in the body. I can even become a forensic scientist; I can solve crime with my knowledge of biochemistry. The list is endless.
What were the amazing things you learnt about the human system in the course study?
There are so many fascinating things about biochemistry. We were taught genetic engineering, which enables us to be able to clone genes and alter the gene make-up of an organism. Take for instance, the insulin used by diabetic patients is produced through the insertion of a gene that codes for the hormone into microorganisms, these organisms are allowed to replicate. Through this process, the hormone is synthesised. So many useful drugs have been manufactured through the knowledge of genetics, which is a branch of biochemistry. One of the things I found amazing was that we did forensic biochemistry and I have always enjoyed watching foreigners solve crimes, using their knowledge of science. From that course, I can tell if a blood is from a human, an animal or if it wasn’t even blood in the first place. If a body is found in a crime scene, I could predict the cause of death when the victim died, due to the biochemical changes that would have taken place per unit time. Biochemistry is sure an interesting course, if I am to speak exclusively on this, there might not be room for other columns of your paper.
Out of the about 17,000 who graduated with you, only eight had first class. In your view, why is it difficult for students to have first class?
To obtain a degree in LASU is never a walk -over, not to even talk of a first class, but there is more to academic success than just studying. The ingredients are hard work, working smart and prayers. No man gets a thing except it is given from above. A lot of people study for hours without being able to relate what they have read to the likely questions that could be asked. One thing about me is that I always looked for the opportunity to teach my colleagues what I knew, that way, I understood things better, because I would have discovered areas that I needed to work on. So, first class is not for some sets of students. If you are willing to pay the price, it would be yours. If you can get your admission into a university, you can make first class. All you need to do is to discover the study method that works for you, be determined, work hard, have faith in God, and the sky would be the beginning.
From your observation, what makes students fail?
People fail for various reasons, ranging from lack of adequate preparation to laziness. I discovered that a lot of students don’t even have the zeal for what they study and that is the more reason why they don’t give their best. Many of them just want to have a degree; they don’t like the course. I think we need to have effective counselling units in our secondary schools, so they can counsel prospective students before they apply for any course in the tertiary institutions. Then, the way students answer questions matters a lot. Like in my own course, lecturers don’t grade you based on how good your use of English is but how well you are able to answer, using the appropriate biochemical terms. So, students need to understand that as well.
Were there things you did differently from other students to be the best?
One thing I tried to do was to always study each course adequately, so I could teach others, and that was what I used to assess myself. If I had difficulties in the tutorials, it meant that I needed to do more work in order to comprehend the course effectively. For someone like me who is from a humble background, there were times I used the money meant for my feeding to make photocopies of course materials and I did some studying and organised tutorials on weekends, sometimes without food.
What was your reading pattern?
I tried to have a fixed duration of study but it didn’t work. I tried as much as possible to study daily but the durations varied. So, basically, I studied based on my mood. There were times I read all night. I never saw reading as a routine but something I should enjoy, regardless of how long. Also, I made use of the library while in 100 level, but in 200 level, I got some useful books, both hard copies and a few electronic books.
How was your growing up like?
Growing up was fun. I attended Air Force Primary School in Ikeja, because I grew up in the barracks, when my dad was still in active service. Back then, I wanted to become an aeronautic engineer because my dad worked in that unit at the airport. During festive periods, we would move from house to house to get gifts, cash and other stuffs. When my dad retired from service in 2002, we had to leave the barracks. I just give thanks to God for all these experiences. The early stage of my dad’s retirement was hellish; we worked at construction sites just to raise money for food and other things. There was a day my parents worked in a site, filling the foundation with sand till like 3pm. That was one day I would never forget.
Your father was a security man in the same school you attended, were there times you were ashamed of that, especially when you saw students from rich homes?
I was never ashamed of his job and I was never humiliated because of that. In fact, he is the greatest dad I have ever known, always willing to sacrifice his comfort for his family. The only reason I kept it from my friends was that I didn’t want a situation where I would be used as bait for him. Though there were challenges, God helped me to overcome them and still be successful. They used to give me N500 from home every day, and out of that money, transportation was like N320, sometimes more than that. There were days when I would need to make photocopies of necessary materials, books and other stationery, using the balance. So, sometimes, I wouldn’t eat throughout school hours.
Were you social at all?
I was social to some extent, though I didn’t really have time for social events because I had a lot to do in church. I am very sociable; some people disagree but I know myself better than anyone else.
How did you use your leisure?
I love to listen to good music, most especially gospel songs. I saw movies once in a while and I enjoyed sleeping as well. I loved to read a lot of stuff on the internet that were not related to my course, especially things on types of animals.
Given the rate of unemployment in the country, are you sometimes discouraged or troubled about getting a job?
Sometimes I do, but I just believe that I cannot be stranded. I have read about people who made first class but were not first class citizens in life. My story cannot end up like that because I am here to fulfil a purpose. I was created to succeed and I won’t go back to the creator until I am done with these assignments.
Where would you like to work?
Well I would like to work in a university or any research institute with state of the art facilities. I want to discover new things and be a reputable researcher. I can also work in companies that manufacture drugs or beverages, where I could help to develop new products, which would be safe and affordable. Wherever I find myself, I’m determined to make great impacts.
What are your aspirations?
My aspiration is to become a renowned professor; I want to be a solution provider.
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