They all have three things in common. They were leaders in their various fellowship groups while on campus. They all spent two extra years in school because of the ASUU strike and COVID-19. And then, they all made First Class in their various departments. They are the 2020/21 set of the Federal University of Technology, Akure. The graduation ceremony for the set took place on November 17 2023.
From Church Times findings many of the students who made First Class including the overall best graduating student were executives in their fellowships.
Being executives meant they had less time to spend on their books compared to their colleagues. The testimony however is that despite being active in fellowship, they still excelled academically.
Church Times was able to reach some of them who shared the story of their academic journey and how they attained excellence despite daunting circumstances
It’s gratifying that the best-graduating student in the university for the set, Oluwanifemi Olajuiyigbe was Choir Secretary of her fellowship. Follow the link at the end of this series to read her story.
But find below part 1 of the stories of some of the executives in different fellowships on the FUTA campus who made a First-Class despite their involvement in fellowship programmes. They include: Oghenetega Igho, Isaac Kayode, Moses Akinwole, Alice Okpafi, Peter Eniola, Stanley Emelike and Gbemileke Osinaike
Oghenetega Igho: I did dry cleaning job while in school
He is the first of five children. His parents were not too bouyant financially. There was nobody to look up to in the family to inspire him to succeed. In his extended family, little premium is placed on certificate. Because of this family background, Oghenetega Igho was just content with getting through the university. The hope of making a First Class grade was not there.
But then he had the drive to give his best and be good at his course of study which is Information Technology. An indigene of Delta State, Igho said his first three years in school were tough. “I did not have the needed financial support in my first three years. So I had to do menial jobs to meet up with school demands.
“I did a dry cleaning job. I would wash clothes in the evening and iron them throughout the night. In the morning I had to be at lectures and also go to the library. I ended up sleeping in class sometimes because I was always awake most nights to wash clothes and iron. However, I ensured the timetable for my lectures was also the timetable for reading. As soon as we were done with the lecture, I would read up the material on it and also read relevant materials. I read widely.”
He was also an active member of the Baptist Students Fellowship and the publicity coordinator of the fellowship when he was in his final year. His grades in the first two years did not hit the first class button. But things changed when he got to part 3
“When I got to part three, my performance improved. My involvement with the fellowship also helped because I interacted with like minds and being in the fellowship helped me to be focused. But then I practically had no spare time for myself. I had to be in fellowship almost all the days of the week and still combine that with my academics. God proved himself in all.”
Igho got the MTN scholarship in part 3. That saved the day for him. He quit the dry cleaning job and concentrated more on his career, got a laptop, and also began to learn programming on his own. Today, the future looks bright for him.
But getting a first class was not a walk in the park. “sometimes the more you tried, the more it appeared your best was not enough. But I just kept trying. At a point, I wanted to give up trying. However, I got a lot of encouragement from my friends in fellowship and one of my lecturers. I became more emboldened that I could make it when I saw my part 3 result. One of my lecturers encouraged me and urged me to put in more effort. That was what helped me to pull through.” he stated
While thanking God for the grace of attaining such academic height, he said, “I feel so grateful to God. In my family, nobody has graduated with a first class. It is a big deal to them that I can make it. A journey of 1000 miles starts with a step. It was God who supplied the strength. My advice is that whatever you find yourself doing, do it well.”
Igho says FUTA has taught him to be more focused and determined.
Oluwasola Isaac Kayode: It’s hard to succeed if you can’t manage time
He set out with the right foot when he got to FUTA. His first place of call after he was done with registration and was getting set for the rigours of study was the Redeemed Christian Fellowship. That was one of the places he was inspired he could make a first-class grade.
“I went to fellowship that day and heard testimonies of people actively involved in fellowship and still made good grades. Many of them made First Class. I said to myself, if these people were workers in fellowship and could still make it, I would make it. Before that time, I had seen the result of a brother whose lowest score was B for a particular semester. He had many As. That also inspired me” said Isaac Kayode
He did not stop at that, Kayode who studied Physiology also had to carefully choose those he related with. “Many of my friends were brilliant students on campus. When I saw the brilliant performances of people ahead of me, I was greatly inspired. I then planned to work towards achieving the same feat. I was careful about the kinds of friends I made while in school. I started moving with brilliant people and people of like minds. I paid attention in class. I put in my best and do my assignments.”
He made a CPGA of 4.22 in his 100 level and that almost demoralised him because he felt that despite all the efforts he still did not make the grade he expected. But a lecturer who was also a pastor encouraged him not to give up. The motivation was timely. By the time he got to Part 2, he made up and maintained a first-class grade till he graduated.
Kayode did not find things easy in school. His parents were not financially okay. He had to do a lot of things to make up. He ran a POS business, did cloth branding, and monetized his intellectual capacity. “I am the third of six children. It was tough on the home front, I could not rely solely on my parents. I had to work to support myself.”
Kayode was the evangelism coordinator of RCF. He said the university enabled him to know himself and cultivate priceless relationships
He said he was able to combine fellowship with academics because God helped him to plan his time well “Time management was one of the key things that helped. I understood the system better. I knew I did not have enough time. I made sure I was always doing something meaningful at every given point.”
He said a good relationship is key to attaining success adding however that time management is key. “If you can’t manage your time, it will be hard to succeed in life.”
Moses Damilare Akinwole: RCF played key role in my success
While in FUTA, Moses Akinwole was the Welfare Coordinator of his fellowship. He had to be in fellowship almost all the time for sundry meetings. That however did not affect his excellent performance in the Department of Industrial Chemistry where he made a First Class.
But things did not look up in the first two years. “It was when I joined the RCF I was exposed to how to manage my time. Because I got involved in fellowship, I knew I had no spare time. So after every lecture, I would read up my notes and do more research.”
Apart from going through the rigours of academics, Akinwole had to also work for money to survive. His parents were not financially strong enough to meet the demands of school.
He had learned electrical trade during COVID-19. So while in school, he was using that knowledge to make some money for himself to relieve his parents. The challenge notwithstanding, he remained focused on his studies and his spiritual life.
Akinwole said the first lesson he learned staying on the FUTA campus is that hard work pays at last and that the place of God in one’s life can’t be overemphasised. “You must also be known to live out the value you profess,” he said.
One event he will not forget in a hurry was when he tried to make a case for a colleague who had a bad grade. “I was the representative for my set. So I had to make a case for my colleague who had a bad grade in a particular course. I went to plead with the lecturer. But the lecturer turned the heat on me. He said I was threatening him. He reported me to other lecturers. I was wondering if I would graduate. But what saved me was that many of the lecturers knew me as a Christian and that I could not do what I was accused of.”
He attributed his success to the mercy of God and the relationship he kept while in school. He said also that the RCF played a key role in shaping his perspective on life.
Alice Abosede Okpafi: You can’t thrive in isolation
Alice Okpafi is from Edo State. She read Electrical/Electronics Engineering and she is one of the four students that made a First Class in that department in FUTA.
She told Church Times that she has always had the ambition of making a first class. “I had that goal and intention. It was something I planned for and worked towards.”
Her first year was a walkover in FUTA. It was when she got to part 2 that the real academic rigour began for her. “It was quite challenging but at the same time interesting.”
One of the setbacks for her was the medical challenge she had in her part 2 and had to go in and out of the hospital. “My ill health affected my concentration. I had to go for checkups. But God glorified himself at the end of the day.”
Okpafi who is currently doing her NYSC at Huawei Technologies, Lagos was level coordinator for the Baptist Students Fellowship where she worshiped while in school. She had to go to fellowship four times a week. But that did not make her lose focus on her primary reason in school. “I had a mental note of everything I was doing. My academics were a key reason I was in school. So being active in fellowship was deliberate. I knew from day one that if it would not work I would not be involved. But it was being active in fellowship that helped me.” she said.
For students coming behind, she said, “ I will first advise them to give their life to Christ. That is the starting point. Life is more than making first class. They should understand that their lives are more precious than the certificate. Then, they should make good friends and have study partners. They also have to be real to themselves.”
She believes every student has a unique identity. “We can’t all be the same. Every student should prayerfully discover what works for them. We can’t all have the same approach to study. For instance, I was never in night class, I only do that occasionally. You don’t have to follow the common way of reading if it does not work for you. Pray to God, study well, and study smart. From my experience, you can’t thrive in isolation. You won’t thrive no matter how good you are.”
Peter Eniola: A 30-minute talk in RCF changed my orientation
Peter Eniola is a typical grassroots young man with zeal and focus. He is not shy about his background and would gladly tell anyone who cares to listen that he is from the back end of the world. But that has not in any way affected his vision about life. He told Church Times that he attended a secondary school that ranks low among schools in Ondo State.
“In my secondary school days, we had no teachers. I attended Community Grammar School at Ereke Community in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State. Many teachers don’t like coming there because it’s a riverine area and far from civilisation.”
But God helped him to wade through the storm in that school. He did well in WAEC, sat for UME, got admission to FUTA, and graduated with a first class in the Department of Crop, Soil, and Pest Management
He said his orientation changed in less than 30 minutes after listening to a talk at the RCF in FUTA. His words, “I never really had the motivation that I could finish with a first class. But my orientation changed when I attended RCF FUTA.
“After fellowship that particular day, fresh students had a meeting with the academic coordinator. I was motivated by his speech. He spoke for just about 30 minutes and my views about life changed. That was when I believed I could make a first class.”
Working towards that goal was however not easy. He recalled, “Coming to FUTA and meeting all kinds of people was a baptism sort of for me because I lived in the village all my life. The only time I was taken to Lagos was when I was less than a year old. I have not been to Lagos since then so I don’t have the Lagos experience. But then I had to begin to learn and interact with people despite my rural background.
“The first thing I did was to join tutorial classes. I joined RCF and that of the CACCF. I prefer tutorials because that is where the lectures are explained better. My choice of friends also helped. I looked for people with similar interests. Five out of the six of us who were friends made a first class. The sixth person had a strong second-class upper.”
Because of his village experience, Eniola says it was easy for him to adapt to the challenges on campus. “We grew up to be strong. I can survive with just Garri. Nobody would know what is in my stomach. So I was never downcast because I did not have good food. My parents tried for me but their best was not enough to see me through school. I had to resort to coaching students and writing academic papers for a fee.”
Known as an All-Rounder while in school, Eniola, apart from being assistant to the academic coordinator of RCF, was also President of the National Association of Ondo State Students. He was the Financial Secretary of his department and also captain of the RCF football team.
On how he manages his time, he says, “I know the super important ones. I don’t allow them to clash with my academics. I prioritise the important ones. I have discovered that you can achieve anything you set your mind on. Your determination will defy your background. Some students finished from top secondary schools but they could not meet up with the academic rigours in school. What that tells me is that it is not about the school but the person. The school can be good, if the student is not diligent, he may not excel. Many of my friends did not believe I came from an unknown secondary school.”
He said the kind of association that he kept while in school was also instrumental to his success.
Eniola is currently doing his NYSC at the Federal University Lokoja. He says five of the seven students who had first class in his department were active in their various fellowship groups.
Emelike Stanley Ikemefuna: I wanted to be a bad boy, but God intervened
Stanley Ikemefuna who hails from Abia State did not start school on a pleasant note. He lost his mum the same year he gained admission to FUTA. That was to cast a shadow on his ambition. But because he had always loved his books, he maintained his focus.
He had set out to make a first-class from day one. At first, he did not like the idea of joining a fellowship. “I thought that would be a huge distraction. So I did not join any fellowship. I also did not make friends. I was just in my world. Despite those precautions, my first-semester result did not meet my expectations. I did not know where the problem was coming from. The second semester was not better. I discovered that not opening up to people was not helping me. I had to give other people a chance in my space. That was when I decided to join the Foursquare Students Fellowship. I started combining it with my school. But by the second semester of Part 2, my grades dropped to 3.9.”
That further discouraged him. He wanted to give up and become a bad boy when he saw the result. “I just wanted to enjoy myself. I was depressed and thought to myself that my best was not enough,” he recalled.
But reason prevailed. He decided to make more effort. “I noticed that the exam system was what was causing my grade to drop. The CBT exams were not favouring me. I also started paying more attention to courses with higher units and God began to give me insight into my academics.”
He was later asked to join workers in the fellowship. “My first response was, when I was not a worker, my grades were bad, not to talk of being involved in the workforce. I said I would talk to God about it. I later made up my mind to join. When the fellowship leader saw my result they tried to discourage me from being active in fellowship. But I told them I now have the strategy.”
The transformation began. He started having high grades. His academics became easy when he joined the workforce in the fellowship. “We had meetings almost all days of the week but I was able to manage my time. I allocated time to read and stretched myself overnight.”
The first of four children, Emelike says he went through a lot of financial strain. “My uncle was supporting me. But the demand for money was too much. I was receiving N7000 as a monthly allowance without foodstuff. I had to manage the money. I have graphic design skills which I used to sustain myself on campus. I go to friends and leverage on them. I used to read for long hours. When I am exhausted I get hungry. But I had to just endure. Somehow, God saw me through”
Follow this link for Part 2 of the stories of FUTA students who made First Class Despite Church activities: https://churchtimesnigeria.net/how-we-made-first-class-in-futa-despite-church-activities-fellowship-excos-2/
He said the number one lesson he learnt in FUTA is not to be alone. “No matter how brilliant you think you are, you still need the help of others. You can’t be a lone ranger. You need the experience of those around you.”
Emelike also believes anybody who wants to excel should learn to share knowledge. “I did not want people to know more than me. But with time I discovered that was not a good strategy to succeed in life. I learnt to give out knowledge. Also, put God first in everything. It was God that helped me more. At one point, I wanted to quit fellowship. But I later discovered that the God factor is key to having good success”
He says it is always good to have a source of income before embarking on the university journey “Before gaining admission you must have something that will sustain you. Those who don’t have capable parents should have a source of income, perhaps learn a trade they can do by the side to get some money. Feeding alone takes a toll. Also, set a target for yourself”
Emelike who studied Infomation Technology in the School of Computing of FUTA is currently doing his NYSC at the Kwara State College of Education working on the e-library of the university. He says 4 out of the 9 executives of the Foursquare Students Fellowship made a first class.
Osinaike Gbemileke: I read better when I listen to good music
He studied Information Technology and was among the first set of students that would be admitted to the department being a new department. But he had a mindset to excel irrespective of his course of study or the challenges. “I was not dreaming of a First Class, but I was just positive, trusting God for the best. My parents were the first to challenge and stir that desire in me.”
From day one in FUTA he started a relationship with people of like minds. “Staying in Akindeko Hall in FUTA was a sort of inspiration for me maybe because I went to a boarding secondary school. I was used to the hostel life. But life in that hall was something else. We were 12 in a room when I was in part 1. I was the only one in 100 level among my roommates.
“Many of them were in their final year and some were in 300 level. But staying with them was a kind of inspiration for me because of the way they were reading. Some of them were on First Class. That motivated me. Though the hostel environment was not conducive, I just had to endure. I remember I could not use the toilet in the hostel. I prefer to use that of the school fellowship. That means walking over a long distance just to use the toilet.”
He said he also had to leave his room for lectures as early as 5.30 am so he could sit at the front in the lecture room “If you come to lecture by 6.30 am for 8 o clock lecture you won’t get a place to sit. It was that bad. We keep running from one point to the other.”
On his reading pattern, he said, “I don’t have a particular reading style. But I assimilate better when I listen to good music, especially in courses that have to do with calculation. When I go to the library I listen to songs with my earpiece. The advantage for me is that I can read anywhere irrespective of the noise. I set the time for reading and I read. What I don’t understand I leave and come back to it. I prefer to read while in bed.”
Being a Christian, Osinaike said it was just normal for him to join a Christian community. RCF was my choice because two of my roommates were attending the fellowship. “When I got to RCF I was inspired by the fact that students were the ones leading the fellowship. I was challenged. I joined the Bible Study unit as a worker and later was selected as the VP of the fellowship. We used to meet five times a week including the time we prepared Bible study outlines. So for me, it’s either I was in fellowship or I was reading. But I still spared time to watch football mostly on weekends. But fellowship and my academics take priority over any other thing.”
Osinaike said he learnt that things don’t happen at random. “You just have a plan to get what you want. I had to intentionally work towards getting a First Class. God then crowned my efforts. You are the master of what you deliberately learn. I never thought for instance that I would become a programmer. But I had to set my mind to it and I found myself writing code. I believe God has a way of setting an example among believers so that people can emulate them. In my fellowship, many who were in the exco still excelled in their academics. It was a testament to me that if these people can do it, I can also do it.”
Currently doing his NYSC at Revent Technologies, Osinaike believes any student can make a First Class as long as the student is determined and ready for the hard work. ‘Excellence is possible regardless of where you find yourself. Any student who wants to attain excellence must first identify with people of like minds. When people of like minds rub minds together they are better inspired, better encouraged. Let people know you for who you are. Do something that is always challenging.
He said “Getting a First Class has not changed me. I am still who I am. I think it is better to put the achievement behind and focus on a new goal. I am grateful to God but it has not changed me. What it does is to put you on a pedestal, a recognition note. The implication is that you have to do more. If you have a First Class, people expect you will have a good job and excel generally. So beyond the First Class one should strive to excel in one’s career. The major thing for me now is to build myself career-wise.”
Follow this link to read the story of the best-graduating student: “I am a product of God’s grace: https://churchtimesnigeria.net/im-a-product-of-grace-says-futas-2021-best-graduating-student/