Ayodele Daniel Dada has been in the limelight since he made history as the first student to graduate from the University of Lagos with a 5.00 Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA). His lecturers and colleagues have been reacting to his feat, which he says he achieved “by setting small goals of doing well each semester.” He promises many more to come report KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE and OLUWATOYIN ADELEYE.
Since he made history as the first student with the best result ever at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Ayodele Daniel Dada, 29, has been on the centre stage.
The 29-year old 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.
Dada graduated on Tuesday; he was showered with praises and awards for his feat.
He bested all others who also made first class. Five were from his department, Psychology and 177 from other departments.
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.
For his feat, the Vice Chancellor (VC), Prof Rahamon Bello, described Dada as “the wonder boy” during Tuesday’s convocation. He congratulated him on “setting a record for others to meet”.
Prof Solomon Akinboye, Dean of Postgraduate School, and Prof Samuel Iyiola Oni, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, acknowledged that Dada must have worked hard to earn the score.
Underscoring the achievement, Akinboye said: “This person has broken a record, not only in the faculty but in UNILAG by making 5.0. This means ‘A’s all through – including the GS courses, so it is monumental,” he said.
Oni said Dada brought honour and fame to him as dean, the department, and others. “It is not an easy task. There must have been an element of hard work,” he said.
While many are praising Dada’s achievements, others are skeptical about the possibility of making the perfect score. Some lecturers admitted that the university may have produced a 5.00 point result even before now – if their colleagues had not stopped it.
Prof Ibinabo Agiobu-Kemmer, Head of Psychology Department, said some people within the university wanted to dampen her excitement by claiming that Dada might have been helped by his lecturers. She said he was only noticed to be on the road to 5.00 after his third year in the university. She praised the lecturers of the department and others who taught Dada outside the department for not stopping the feat, unlike elsewhere.
She said: “One person in church instead of congratulating me said people were saying that we didojoro (cheated). How can we? All of us stumbled on the 5.0, I think after their third year – even in the Board of Studies I think – and I said ‘wow, here is somebody scoring 5.0.’ And all of us differently… we did not know. I want to thank my colleagues and teachers in the department of Psychology that you saw excellence and rewarded it and appropriately graded it.
“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.”
Prof Omololu Soyombo of Sociology Department and former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences said the Psychology Department should be lauded for encouraging Dada, and for being an example to others if they find students that are brilliant.
“I want to commend the Department of Psychology and the staff. They should be examples to us all,” he said.
To his fellow graduands, Dada’s achievement transcends the normal. Many told The Nation during the convocation that he had to be super human to have achieved A grades in all his courses from first year till graduation.
Adetomiwa Adewumi of Linguistics Department said he must have been helped by the Almighty.
“To me, he is not an ordinary person because studying in this school is not easy. To be at the top of the class like that is also not easy. I am sure he put God first and that was why he achieved it because it was not just by his efforts but God’s.”
Dada’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.”
Benita Ebule, who graduated from Philosophy Department, said Dada must have been committed to his studies.
“It is not easy to graduate from this university, not to talk of having ‘A’s all through. I admire him so much. I wish him all the best. He must have been committed to his studies as well as determined,” she said.
Another Philosophy graduate, Alabi Iyabo, said of the feat: “I am very happy for him. For the fact that he broke the record is amazing. I am overwhelmed by it. 5.0 is not small. I don’t know him personally but he must have been highly focused.”
His peers may think of him as a genius. But Dada said his challenges while in school were not just restricted to making good grades. He described his story as one full of ups and downs.
For instance, he constantly fought a battle at the home front for choosing a course not favoured by his parents.
“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.