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I wasn’t specific about a CGPA I wanted” says Alada, UI Faculty of Law BGS

I wasn’t specific about a CGPA or award, but I wanted to graduate with a first class. — Alada, BGS, Faculty of Law, UI 2019/2020 Set. In this interview with Fantbabs, Alade Bukola revealed her journey to such a feat.

Fantbabs: How would you describe or introduce yourself?

Bukola: My name is Bukola Alada. I am a student at the Nigerian Law School, Abuja campus and a first class graduate of Law from University of Ibadan. I am a 2018 Nigeria Higher Education Foundation (NHEF) scholar, a pioneer scholar of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) and recently, a Gamaliel O. Onosode scholar. I am interested in different areas of commercial law, gender equality and civic engagement.

F: Ko easy. Big congratulations on your recent convocation/graduation from the University of Ibadan. At the ceremony, you won a total of how many awards?

B: I won a total of 11 awards.

F: Boss levels. With everything you have done and achieved in and from the University of Ibadan, do you feel fulfilled? How do you measure fulfilment?

B: Yes, I feel fulfilled. I was able to do and achieve most of the things I set out to do and achieve as a university student. It’s easier to measure fulfilment at different stages, different tasks, etc. I think fulfilment for me is dependent on the achievement of my goals or the threshold I set for myself taking into cognisance the challenges I was faced with at the time as well.

F: Amazing. So you set out to achieve goals. What were your goals exactly? Were they definite?

B: Lool. So before I resumed 100 level, I didn’t have as much knowledge of what went on in the university as much as I do now, but I knew the classes of grade that existed. I decided very early I was going to try to make a first class from UI. This was probably the only definite goal I had. To be honest, I wasn’t specific about the CGPA or any other award, I just wanted to finish with a first class. I also knew I wanted to make the most of my university experience, so I joined a student organisation, JCI (Junior Chamber International), in 100 level first semester.

I took on new goals along the line. For example, it was in 300 level I decided I wanted to finish with at least a 6.7 CGPA and to graduate as the best student in my Faculty. In 200 level, I decided to take on additional responsibilities. Later on, I decided to join organisations such as the literary and debating society, the moot and mock society, among others; to participate in more competitions, plan events, so I could have an all round university experience.

So to an extent, some of my goals were definite.

F: Impressive. What was your finishing CGPA?

B: 6.7

F: Inaaaaaa! Had anybody achieved this feat in Law before though?

B: Yes, I believe so. But I do not think anyone has gone beyond this point.

F: Wow!! Big ups!!! What would you attribute your very outstanding results to?

B: First, the grace of God because I could have done everything I did, yet my results could have come out differently.

Two, my parents’ efforts over the years. They tried to provide everything I reasonably needed and they taught me values such as discipline, ambition, etc. that helped me.

For things within my control, I’d attribute my results to proper time management, ability to focus on what matters and hard work. I learned early that hard work is going the extra mile.

F: Hmmm… I like the concluding part of this. And I think this is something that a lot of people find hard to figure out.

As a Law student, you were involved in a good number of organizations and duties which were very important. In fact, you were a leader in some of those bodies. How did you arrange or determine what mattered in the midst of many things that mattered?

B: I always knew that the most important thing for me in UI was my academics. I want to practise Law, I need the degree and because of the competition in the market, the quality/class of the degree matters. I only had a 5 year period to study Law, I could still do many other things later. I had this at the back of my mind every time. I also wanted to do other things within the 24 hours I had every day, so I tried to maximise time and to plan my day. But if any of these other things clashed with my academics and there was no way around it, I easily picked my academics.

It’s usually very rare for me to not have an idea of what hour of the day it is. Till now, I allot time to almost everything even if I’d just give a rough estimate. In UI, I estimated how long it’d take me to prepare for a test, number of hours I needed to study for an exam, how long I’d spend at an event; I also had time for miscellaneous. I also tried to make feasible time estimations and to give room for contingencies. I didn’t do this every single day, but days I had so many things to attend to. So with proper time management, I was able to maximise my 24 hours.

F: Kaiii! This looks painstaking. Were there days you just wished this cup called Law would just pass over you and you would have all the fun you wanted without the need to time yourself?

B: Oh yes definitely. Several times I wondered if I truly wanted Law and not a 4 year course that would have been faster. Sometimes, I wished I could just fast-forward time. There were days I had no actual plan and did nothing tangible. There were days I just did things as they came up and there were days I had planned the things I wanted to do but ignored everything because I wasn’t in the mood, or I just wanted to flex. I remember this particular ASUU strike in 400 level. It started about 3 weeks before exams were meant to start. My roommates and I danced and screamed so much that night, one would wonder the kind of students we were.

I just made sure I didn’t let those days become the general rule. There were days I had to study or work on a speech or attend a meeting even when I didn’t feel like. Such days I told myself, it is what it is.

F: You started your Law journey in your second year in UI. You were a Sociology student (where, after your first semester, you got a perfect 7.0 CGPA, I might add) although you had chosen Law as your preferred course for UTME. How did that whole process happen?

B: After my first semester, I got a 7.0; after my first year, 6.9.

As you rightly stated, I had chosen Law as my preferred course for UTME. Everything was going fine until post-UTME results and cut-off lists were released. I missed the cut-off for Law, but luckily, I was eligible for Sociology. I already knew about the transfer program but I remember crying that night when I realised I would have to be in Sociology department for 1 year or that I may even have to study Law as a second degree, if I still wanted to.

The following day though, I shook it off and started to see my life going in two possible ways. Either way, I was still going to try to finish with a first class. When we eventually resumed in March, I put my best in, knowing I wanted to transfer so that I could have a good chance. I had been told that another list would be made at Law based on the grades of everyone who wanted to transfer and the available slots. At the end of the session, I obtained the transfer form, and with my grades, things were easy. Sociology department did not also restrict its students from leaving, so I had no trouble being signed out.

F: Awwnn… I must really commend your doggedness!

I just want to know. Did you find Sociology so easy that you had such a mind-blowing result? Or was Sociology similar to the Law you wanted? Or it was just your intention to get a grade good enough to transfer that did the trick?

B: Lool. If I told you at the end of my first semester in law, I had a 7.0 and at the end of my first year in law, I had a 6.9, would you still have this question?

I didn’t find it so easy, or similar to Law. It really didn’t matter whether it was easy or difficult, I was there already. I knew I may be there for a year or for 4 years. Until I eventually transferred, it wasn’t certain I would be able to transfer to Law. So I just wanted grades that put me in the best position, either way.

F: Ahnahn… I like the way you thought. You focused on the cards you were dealt with. In the first place, what interested/fascinated you about Law? Was there a lawyer in the family that you looked up to?

B: I don’t think there was one particular reason I wanted to study Law. I also don’t remember at what point I first wanted to study Law. But I know Law has always been my first choice. My paternal grandfather was a lawyer, and one of my aunts is a lawyer as well.

I thought about other things such as Economics, but somehow, I always ended up choosing Law again.

F: Hmm… This love for Law. You know how they say you can’t explain or control love. That’s what you had for Law, right?

B:  I don’t think so. It was just a viable option, I had always had it and I didn’t have a particular or strong interest in any other thing that would have taken law off the table.

F:  Funny thing, when I interviewed Dara (Olaniyan, a colleague), he told me if Law doesn’t work, he’s game for any legitimate venture that brings money. Is that the same for you or you think your options are limited?

B: My options are open. These days, I have my eyes on tech. At some point, it was finance. Who knows what the future holds?

F: Gbam. Entertainment nko? I know you’re a music person.

B:  you know the saying, no go do pass yourself. I like to apply it a lot.

F: So that’s a no.

If you were to briefly capture your experiences in Faculty of Law, UI for the five years you spent there, how would you do that?

B: I think my experiences were all-encompassing. I learned, met some of the best people I know today, made friends, had fun, won and lost competitions, made A’s, overlooked a compulsory question in an exam, made some grades that made me question if I had things figured out, met mentors, learned how to make a bonfire, among others.

F: The bonfire part. Tell me about that compulsory question you overlooked. Plus, in your (valedictorian) speech, you spoke of a course where you had 3 points. What course was that and what happened?

B: It was Law of Contracts 1. Question 1 was compulsory and somehow, I had missed the instruction. I didn’t realise it until we were told to stop writing and Wale, sitting next to me, asked about number 1. I said I didn’t do it and he said it was compulsory. Then I looked, and I realised I was seeing that part of the paper for the first time. It looked very strange. I was down for a while that day, but I thought about it and felt there was nothing I could have done. I wasn’t rushing to start, I normally read instructions, so it somehow just happened that I didn’t see that instruction. I answered 4 questions and even felt confident of an A. So I just hoped for the best. Luckily, I got the best.

The 3 points was ETR 301 o. I still can’t explain it. When I saw it, I felt, where do I start from if I wanted to complain? ETR, general course. I just accepted and moved on.

F: Whoa! So the lecturer luckily waived it for you?

B: Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know for sure. But I know I answered 4 questions well and eventually had an A.

F: Would you call it a miracle?

B:  Not really. It wouldn’t be too unusual if the lecturer had waived it. I remember being told then by some students in higher levels that some lecturers waive some mistakes.

F: What were your two or three most memorable moments?

What courses didn’t you find easy or funny?

B: Equity and Trusts, because for a long time, I didn’t understand how it applied to modern day activities. Jurisprudence 1, because it was abstract and I didn’t understand why I had to analyse such theories under the conditions of an exam. I felt it would have been better if what was expected at the end of the course was a term paper. Contracts 2, because it was very bulky and we had to cram so many things.

Most memorable? Hm. This is difficult. These may not be the most memorable, but are definitely some memorable moments for me.

Sitting with LnD members after a meeting or during midweek meetings working on speeches in preparation for competitions. Sitting with my classmates/members of student organisations gisting and banting.

Having a Christmas bonfire party with my classmates when we were stuck in school for exams in 500 level second semester.

Planning JCI events.

F: Which JCI events were you involved with planning?

B: FOPA, Blood donation, Breast Cancer awareness walk/outreach; sometimes as director, other times as a member of the committee.

F: Wow!! This is very laudable o. Great work! Well done!

Since when had you seen you graduating as the BGS coming? Did you, at any point, see any of your classmates as a threat?

B: I had seen it coming since 400 level, but I was never 100% certain until it came. Threat? No, it wasn’t reserved for me. We were all trying to improve our grades, so I understood anyone else could perform better and my GPA could significantly reduce even with seemingly small mistakes.

F: If UI or someone with the means were to get you any prize you wanted for graduating in such grand style, what would your choice be?

B: Scholarship for postgraduate studies in an Ivy league school or a property in Banana Island.

F: Osheyyy!! Big girl with big dreams. This means you’re doing Master’s immediately after (youth) service?

B: Not necessarily immediately after service. But it is very likely I’d pursue a Master’s degree.

F: With Law, what is the endgame for you?

B: I don’t see myself staying that long in litigation. I’m interested in commercial law transactions and ADR. So we may be looking at a Nigerian law firm, an international law firm, an international governmental organisation or multinational corporations.

F: Where the money is. You already have ACIArb?

B: Yes, I do.

F: Finally, talk to that “Jambite” that intends to fill UI Law in their Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) form, with a desire to graduate with a first class.

B: Don’t be scared to aim high or dream big. It’s not going to be easy, you may have to sacrifice some things, but you can do it if you put your mind to it.

Lastly, enjoy the process. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

********************

This is the end of the interview. Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. Do congratulate Miss Alada in the comments section and also let me know what you think of this interview. Many thanks!

PS: The last episode of the Phenomenal Five will be dropping soon, and it’s my interview with the overall best graduating student of the Nigerian Law School this year. I do apologize for the delay. It will be worth your wait.

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