Poor little Rasheed. As a primary school pupil, no matter how well he thought he performed, his mum would still scold or at times beat him.
The fact is that Alhaja Kuburat Oladipupo believed that even if Rasheed, her only male child, got 70 per cent in a subject, he could have got up to 90 if he had worked harder. Such was the extent of the iron hand with which the woman handled the child, who, at the time, seemed destined to be an average pupil.
But that disposition has borne fruits. Rasheed, that weeping boy of some 15 years ago, has turned out to be an academic star. This became evident on Saturday when he emerged the overall best graduating student of the University of Osun, Osogbo.
By scoring the Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.73, he did not only come top in the Economics Department and Faculty of Social Sciences, he also bagged the Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for the Most Outstanding Student of the Year in Humanities; and the Chancellor’s Prize for the Most Outstanding Student of the Year.
As a result, the 22-year-old native of Omuaran, Kwara State, was widely celebrated at the event that drew guests from different parts of the country to the Osun State capital.
In an interview with our correspondent, Oladipupo, understandably, says he is very happy to emerge a big winner. According to him, when he first found out that his CGPA was 4.73, he exercised a little restraint in his excitement because he felt there could be higher flyers from other faculties. Noting that he has always aimed to be the best, he practically gives the victory to his mother who, he says, pushed him to the apex of his intellectual endowment.
“My mother has two children,’ he enthuses. “I am the second child, but she trained me as if I was the first born. She trained me as if I was not her child. Because I am her only son, she did not want to spoil me. Each time I brought home my result, she would still beat me and insist I could do more.”
Oladipupo became more puzzled when his mum took him to a boarding house for his secondary education at Methodist Boys High School, Victoria Island, Lagos. He wondered how a woman would throw her only son into such a ‘lonely’ place. But the essence of the mother’s ‘wickedness’ began to dawn on him eventually.
He discovered in the boarding house that the loneliness he had feared was the best companion he needed at the time. He had all the time to face his study. In the Senior Secondary School 1, he finished in the 10th position; he was ninth in SS2; while he led the class in the first term examination in SS 3. He had five distinctions and four credits in the West African School Certificate Examination.
Now, by the time his ‘battle’ with the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination started, he was very prepared to triumph. He wrote the examination thrice – scoring 232, 271 and 262 – before he eventually secured a place at UNIOSUN.
Although Oladipupo salutes his lecturers for bringing out the best in him and other graduands, his lifestyle at the university was also instructive. He partied less while he enjoyed reading between 12am and 5am. He managed to sleep during the day when he had no lecture. He recalls that although some friends started imbibing his style when they saw his results, he was not a ladies’ choice at all.
“Girls found me boring,’ he explains. ‘They called me a triangular student. They said my life was too boring. When I was at the 300 level, I once had a girlfriend, but the relationship did not last because she could not adjust to my lifestyle.”
He is happy that each of his friends – Isayomi Abiodun and Durodola Opeyemi – also bagged a first class.
As Oladipupo, whose polygamous father died last year, looks at the future with a brighter hope, the ‘war’ between him and his mother may not be over, though. According to him, she wants him to be a professor. He is, however, leaving the future open, although he also aims to study to the doctorate level, no matter what profession he finds himself in.
For Alhaja Oladipupo, a trader in Obun Eko, Lagos, she feels elated that her son has made her dream come true.
“I am not a literate person,’ she says in Yoruba. “I am just a trader who believes her child should have the best. Because I did not go to school, I believe he should get the best of education. Besides, it is proceeds from our trading that formed a large part of what we used to train him. So, it is important that he makes the best use of the opportunity. The only thing that pains me is that his father could not witness the great feat, because he died last year. He, too, would have been very proud of him.”
Dignitaries, including the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, commended the woman for struggling to give her child quality education.
At the event where foremost scholar, Prof. Toyin Falola, delivered the Convocation Lecture entitled ‘Public Universities, Vision and Knowledge Economy’, several other graduands also shared in the excellence that Oladipupo exhibited.
For instance, Muhammad Abdumajeed, who scored 4.70 CGPA, won the Pro-Chancellor’s Prize for the Most Outstanding Student of the Year in the Sciences.
Adebukola Okewole, Adeniyi Tayo, Olubunmi Adebayo, Mariam Salaudeen and Olubunmi Odunlami led the Faculties of Agriculture, Basic and Applied Sciences, Education, Humanities and Management Sciences in that order.
The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Adekunle Okesina, while congratulating the graduands as well as other stakeholders, notes that the university has continued to record academic successes. According to him, 1,186 students graduated at the convocation.
He gives the breakdown as first class, 20; second class upper, 328; second class lower, 660; and third class, 178. He adds that the university does not award pass degree.
Okesina identifies the institution’s achievements to include accreditation, introduction of new courses and giant strides many of its lecturers are making.
He says, “I am happy to announce that at the end of 2013, Osun State University had succeeded in securing 100 per cent full accreditation for all its 32 prorammes presented for accreditation. Given this remarkable feat and in order to actualise the academic programme of Strategic Plan of the institution, it has processed and obtained the Nigerian Universities Commission approval for the commencement of 12 new undergraduate academic programmes.”
While the NUC Executive Secretary, Prof Julius Okojie and UNIOSUN’s Pro-Chancellor, Prof Gabriel Adewoyin (SAN), commend the institution for the progress it is making, the VC notes that one of the challenges before the university is funding for a ‘state-of-the-art’ teaching hospital it wants to establish.
But the convocation also provided an opportunity for administrators, staff and students of Nigerian universities to have a sober reflection. Championing this cause were Aregbesola and Falola, who want universities to be more relevant to society.
In his remarks as the Visitor, Aregbesola argues that higher institutions can do far better than they are currently doing, especially in guaranteeing functional education.
He notes, “We should restore glory to our ivory towers. A university does not only provide and promote knowledge; it is also one of the highest achievements in human organisation. The university is crucial to development.
“Knowledge is useless without being available to humans who apply them. It is unfortunate that in our society, the relationship between the academia and the larger society has almost broken down. One of the manifestations is the issue of unemployable graduates. There must be a link between knowledge-producing centres and knowledge-using centres.”
Falola, who is Jacob and FrancesSanger Mossiker Chair in Humanities, University of Texas, United States, examines the state of affairs in the sub-sector, challenges and proffered solutions, while suggesting models to emulate.
He notes that across the world, public universities have been able to supply the required human power to develop humanity and the nation.
“They advance the frontiers of knowledge, contribute to research, support the vision of the country of location, and sometimes serve as veritable support pillar for critical institutions in society. Basic education may enable individuals to survive, but public universities are necessary for society to succeed,’ Falola explains.
Among other recommendations, the scholar wants the institutions to give youths real world skills in order to help them become gainfully employed after graduation, utilising the idea of apprenticeship and trade schools.
He adds, “Our educational goals should make us to be able to make food available, plan cities, supply energy and run services. Abundant skills must be developed to reduce importation, so that money can circulate to create a more diversified economy.”
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