“I am the most courageous person in the world but I believe in testing the resolve of impossibility…” that was how the small goal 29-year-old Ayodele Daniel Dada, the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Psychology student set himself. I would love to have a chat on NigeriaReal podcast with this inspirational man who, with the help of God, yes! God, the feat was achieved.
Ayodele must have fought a lot of demons on his way to victory. He mentioned his parents were not fully in support of his choice of Psychology as a course at university. What was wrong with Medicine, engineering, etc, they must have queried him. But he was adamant, Psychology it was to be. That was one battle he had to fight.
Prof Ibinabo Agiobu-Kemmer, Head of Psychology Department, also expressed her delight with lecturers at the department who did not introduce sentiments when it was time to grade Ayodele. That would have been extremely likely. This was what she said, as reported in the Nation, “Ayodele, you are not the first that would attain this. I have heard of one or two other candidates who were very close. But some lecturers gave them a B. The lady said, ‘no but I got an A in this course.’ But the lecturer said: ‘You want to get everything?’ Even in the last one year, when we all discovered, we were praying that he would make it. I am sure they have checked to see whether we made a mistake somewhere.”
In a country such as Nigeria where sceptics are in the majority, Ayodele Daniel Dada’s achievement should be applauded. There would still be many doubters, even amongst lecturers at the university, however, I doubt if this would set him back in his pursuit for conquering the impossibilities.
Ayodele may have scored a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 5.00 to emerge the institution’s overall best graduating student for the 2014/2015 academic session, but what many may not have realised was he he went about becoming the ‘Wonder boy’ as described by Vice Chancellor (VC), Prof Rahamon Bello.
Getting to that height was not easy. Dada said he set his eyes on the goal to prove whether indeed it was achievable. He said he achieved it by setting small goals of doing well each semester.
“I remember when I started Psychology somebody said it is impossible to get a 5.00 in a university. And then I said ‘let’s test how strong that impossibility is’. That is not to say that I am the most courageous person in the world but I believe in testing the resolve of impossibility. Let’s see how strong they have earned the right to remain; let’s test their will to survive,” he said.
One of Ayodele’s classmate, Olalekan Sulaimon, said he learnt from his achievement that anything is possible.
“I learnt from Ayo’s achievement that impossibility is nothing. Anything is possible. He is a social person to a reasonable extent. Seventy per cent of his time is devoted to his studies and the remaining 30 per cent he split among various social and spiritual aspects. He is always ready to teach people and he gets very happy when the person he is teaching understands.”
While his peers may think of him as a genius, he described his story as one full of ups and downs.
In his valedictory speech, Dada said :“I have fond memories. I was the head of my final year planning committee for dinners, symposium, and was involved in a lot of other things. But I didn’t have a girlfriend.”
He said being the best was not only about reading books, but having a balanced life and surmounting impossibilities.
“I was a social person throughout school. I attended birthday parties, cinemas, I had so many movies on my laptop and I was sharing them with my colleagues, as I was sharing notes as well.
“I had close friends but I did not want to have to deal with a lot of things at the same time. I was working and schooling. You don’t have to be a genius to get the results of a genius. Just target excellence always. The nation needs us. We must readily take direction for our lives.”
“I wasn’t always the best academically while growing up but I was always among the best. There were many challenges, financial and otherwise. My family was not always on good terms with me. I was not always seen as the best child or the one they were always proud of in my family. For example, a course like Psychology is not well-known or recommended, and most parents want their children to do things that are main stream like engineering, law, medicine, etc. So when I told my parents I wanted to study psychology, it took a lot of efforts to convince them that this is what I want to do and I can do it well,” Dada said.
Choosing to study Psychology was something Dada did because he was fascinated about the mind and how people think, and not just to get into school. He even turned down his first admission to study Engineering because of it.
He said: “All through my life, I have been fascinated about how people think and I realised that once I enter any book store, the first thing my eye catches would be a book on or related to Psychology. I cared about the mind and I could be devoted to those books for hours, when others would have got tired of it. So that informed my choice of studying psychology.’’
Just like he tested the impossibility of making 5.00 as a student, Dada is ready to test a lot of norms in the society as a professional.
“Conformity is a terrible thing when you allow it to guide you. Conformity never breeds excellent people. You must be ready to do things differently and see the world in a different view from others. You will have opposition but if you are ready to make the necessary sacrifices, challenge what everyone says is impossible, test the result of impossibilities, ask questions and always listen, you will get it right. Listen, focus and be ready to learn from anybody. When I ask my colleagues to explain things to me sometimes, they would feel they are not in the position to but I let them know that I can learn from them too,” he said.
The 29 year-old graduate was the centre of attraction at the University on Tuesday as he carted away many prizes.
He won eight awards, including the Vice Chancellor’s award for the best graduating student, worth N600 000. He also got N500 000 from the UNILAG Alumni Association, which was presented by the National president, Dr Sunny Kuku.
Kuku, who announced the award while admitting the new graduands into the alumni association, said the body rewarded him with N100, 000 to represent each CGPA he attained, adding up to N500, 000, as against the association’s usual N100, 000 cash prize to the best graduating student as well as a plaque.
With his excellent academic records, Dada has also become in hot demand by multinational companies, head hunting for talents.
He said has been approached by many companies, three of them multinationals.
He is also working at the moment as an intern in one of the firms.
Dada, who was thrilled by the awards, expressed profound gratitude to the institution for its support.
Being the top of his class from his first year, he said he used the opportunity to teach his peers and younger ones as much as he could and eventually got paid for his tutoring services.
“I give glory to God and I understand that it took a lot to get here. I am proud of all the people who were part of my success story. I also feel the weight of the responsibility that this achievement bequeaths on me.
“I did private tutoring for my colleagues and my juniors while in school and they paid me for it. It was useful for me even in my own academics. I got the advantages both academically and financially,” Dada said.
Adapted from THE NATION