In this interview with Punch reporter, Mr Daodu Oluwamayowa Temidayo, Nigerian Law School first-class graduate, talks about his success and how he was able to excel in the school.
Looking back, are you happy that you chose to study law?
I am happy that I studied law. Right from childhood, being a lawyer has always been my dream and I am grateful to God for making that dream a reality today.
What made you decide to study law?
Putting a smile on someone’s face and helping others have been the driving force behind my decision to be a lawyer. I felt it would afford me the opportunity to reach out to them. The respect and honour given to those in the legal profession also motivated me to become a lawyer.
Which university did you attend?
I attended Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, formerly known as University of Ado-Ekiti.
Was it easy for you to graduate with a first-class degree in law school?
Graduating with a first-class degree in law school was not easy, I must admit. Anyone who graduated from the law school will confirm that. The law school programme is structured in such a way that your least grade determines your final results unlike what you have in the university where a poor grade in one course may not really reflect on the Grade Point Average.
How many of you graduated with a first-class in your set in the law school?
Two graduates of Ekiti State University graduated with a first-class from the law school, while a total of 161 students bagged first-class degrees in the 2017/2018 set of the Nigerian Law School.
Was there any strategy you deployed that worked for you?
Well, I believe it was God that made it possible. Speaking of strategy, I don’t think I did anything special. However, I believe in having mentors, and have always followed their advice. I made it a duty to read all the interviews and stories of those who graduated with first-class degrees that I could find. I took note of the things they did differently and how they succeeded. This helped me during my stay in the law school. I made sure I read ahead of each class and also did the tasks assigned for each class because of the fear that I could be called in class to say something. This helped me to understand the topics. I also took lectures very seriously and listened attentively in class because I knew law school examination questions would come from the lecturers. I used the materials of Kenneth Okwor, who was the overall best student in his set in addition to the recommended textbooks.
What was the longest number of hours you read at one go?
Honestly, I can’t read for long hours; after three hours of reading, I always took a break before reading any material again. I always envied those who stayed up all night to read. Right from time, I had known that I couldn’t read at night, that was why I did as much as I could during the day.
While in the university, did you have time for social events at all?
(Laughs) I didn’t engage in social activities during my undergraduate days. However, I was actively engaged in MFMCF (Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries Christian Fellowship) EKSU. I became an executive right from when I was in 300 level and the only time left for me after school and church programmes, was purely spent on reading and studying.
Did you make any conscious effort to seek out friends that could motivate you to study harder?
Yes, I have always surrounded myself with friends who are like-minded and would challenge me to study harder. I was lucky to have such friends in school, also in Kano campus. My friends at the law school contributed in no small way to my success at the bar final exams; we always had group discussions where we shared views and worked on past questions while timing ourselves. My friends, to a large extent, helped me to realise my dreams.
Did you have to sacrifice anything in order to excel?
I had to give up social life and unnecessary outings. I remember staying back after the end of first term and spending Christmas Day and New Year’s Day in school just to be able to read the topics we had done and discuss same with my friends who were also around during the break.
Was graduating with a first-class degree a challenge you set for yourself?
Having a first-class degree has always been my goal right from the outset. I started with the end in mind and was ready to pay the price, knowing that with God, nothing is impossible. And yes, I did challenge myself; although, I finished with a second-class upper degree from university, I told myself that if others could do it, then nothing should stop me from graduating with a first-class degree from law school even if I didn’t have it in the university.
Have you imagined how you would have felt if you had failed to achieve the feat?
After seeing the workload and the enormous demands of the law school, it crossed my mind a couple of times that I might not have it, but my consolation always came from Isaiah 41:10. This has always been my anchor scripture and my belief was that those who succeeded did not have two heads.
How would you have felt if you had not graduated with a first-class degree?
I would have accepted any grade I got even if it wasn’t first class, because I know that grades cannot limit one’s potential if the person has a passion for greatness. Many of the renowned and brilliant lawyers who have contributed immensely to the legal profession did not even graduate with first-class degrees.
What are your aspirations? Where would you like to work?
I would like to get a master’s degree in one of the renowned universities in the United Kingdom. I hope to get a scholarship to enable me to pursue my dream. I also desire to carve a niche for myself in the corporate world. I desire after my service year, to work in one of the top-tier law firms (in the country) and learn and develop, especially in the area of corporate law.
How did your parents and siblings feel after you graduated with a first-class degree?
When our results were finally released, I had to summon courage to check mine, after having sleepless nights for two days. I finally checked my results with my heart beating very fast. Fear was written all over me, lo and behold, it was first class. I checked the results more than three times to be sure they were mine because I felt I didn’t answer some questions well. My younger brother was even scared when I shouted upon seeing my results; my parents were elated and glad and they told me it was well deserved.
Were there times your parents rewarded you for your performance?
Yes, my parents, especially my dad, are strict disciplinarians who always encourage us to study hard. He believes every child has great potential which can only be revealed through hard work and discipline. Since I was in primary school, my dad imposed a ban on watching of television in our house. We never had DVD or even computer games. His belief was that the time spent watching television should be spent adding value to yourself and reading your books. My parents were very supportive and would always encourage you, even after failing. They will say you can still be the best you are meant to be.
What do you think students should be doing that they don’t do?
Students should rely more on God rather than depend on their own strengths and abilities. Humility and readiness to learn, even if it’s from one’s classmates, goes a long way in helping students to succeed.
I will also state that diligence, dedication and willingness to pay the price for success should also be part of the culture imbibed by students, as a man once said that greatness is achievable, but not without a price.
I think students should look inward and find out what actually works for them. Many people fail to achieve excellence because they tend to copy others.
Some people are of the view that it is harder to maintain a first-class grade level than to get there; how true is this?
I quite agree with that position. Expectations are somehow higher, especially for someone that is already at that level. It behoves the person to show that it isn’t by fluke and that the position is well deserved. There are times I almost gave up on my dream of graduating with a first-class degree, but I constantly reminded myself that the difference between those who succeeded and those who failed was that the latter gave up earlier, while those who succeeded held on a bit longer than others.
Were you one of the best in your class in secondary school?
No, I attended Oyemekun Grammar School, Akure, Ondo State and during my secondary school days, I was not even among the best students in my class; I was an average student. After I did Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination for the first time, I couldn’t get my favourite course of study in the University of Benin, Edo State; that was law. I did my second UTME and got 263 after which I got admission to study law at EKSU, formerly UNAD.
Why do you think students fail in school?
I think many people fail because of fear. When school resumed for third term after the externship period, the fear was so palpable. Fear can make you forget the simplest things like your name. The best thing is to put one’s fear under control and turn it into something that will motivate you to do great things and not act as a barrier. Inability to pay attention to small things such as instructions or even questions can bring failure. Many people fail not because they don’t know the subject, but because they either answered it wrongly or did not fully answer the question.
Are there any challenges you had while in school that could have stopped you from graduating with a first-class degree?
Law school is a jealous wife which requires your full and undivided attention. I always found it difficult to keep up with the workload and volume of books that we had to read for each course. Many times, after each day’s lecture, I would find it difficult to prepare for the next day, so I had to come up with a to-do list as a means of managing my time well. I tried to wake up early in the morning to do revision and attend to tasks and after class, I tried to revise and also read in preparation for the next day. I made it a culture to always finish all the activities listed on my list before going to bed each night. At some point, I was intimidated when I saw people taking notes, going to the library and reading till daybreak. I had to find out what actually worked for me, so I came up with a plan that suited me. I knew I had to read two or three times before I would understand a topic unlike others who would read once and understand. I started listening to audio lectures and my personal recordings, which help me to remember the principles and sections faster.
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