Ayodele Dada has made history by graduating from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) with an amazing 5.0 CGPA. In this interview with UNILAG Sun’s Muftaudeen Raji, he reveals the secrets behind his remarkable life. Excerpts:
Would you briefly tell us about yourself?
My name is Ayodele Daniel Dada. I graduated from department of Psychology, Faculty of Social science, University of Lagos. I’m from Ekiti State. We are just two siblings, I have a younger brother. I’am a kind of person who is open to various experiences. I try to experiment a lot and I have tried so many things. I have been into music production in the past.
Your educational background?
I had primary education and secondary education here in Lagos. My secondary school is Hopebay College, Ajegunle-Apapa, off Lagos-Badagry expressway. We lived close to that area. So after secondary school, it took me a while to decide on what I wanted to do because I had a brief stint learning how to do some bit of IT, bit of network business but it wasn’t really serious, it was just on the surface level and I did some French.
I’m interested in languages especially European languages so I learnt French though I’m not efficient at it now. I’m also trying to translate that into a bit of music production. Eventually, I read a book that just made me see how psychology can be applied in the real life so it just captured my imagination and I decided that I was going to devote my time to Psychology.
Yes, it was difficult at first. For example, when I decided I was going to do Psychology, I devoted three months to preparing to take JAMB/UTME and I really studied hard for it and I wrote the exam, confident that I really did well only to hear some couple of weeks later that my result was seized. I was devastated.
That was in the year 2011. They said I cheated or so. I felt sad but I took it as fate. I initially wanted to go through the complaining procedure but it didn’t really work out because it was taking too long.
I really wanted to resume as quickly as I could and then that was when I took the Diploma option, the foundation programme. That was how I came into UNILAG.
How did you finance your programme?
It was challenging because of the expense. Meanwhile, at that time, I had been doing several jobs. I worked a bit with my uncle. I did a bit of sales job selling computer accessories for some time. I also did some tutoring, I was teaching some people trying to at least make ends meet for myself and I didn’t stop that even when I started my programme at UNILAG. Most of my expenses except one or two occasions, I was taking care of my daily expenses. So, I had to plan my time such that it will not affect my study.
Before I was able to get on board the foundation programme, I had to get money from several sources. There were quite a few of family friends who were very helpful. They really came in and stood in for me because I could not take the bill myself.
They were so kind because they were ready to help me without any string attached and that was how I started the Diploma programme and then it was challenging because they kept on telling me my name was written in pencil. “You are not part of the system.” There was even a student in this faculty (FSS) who would just come and tell us :“All of you that did this, you are bribing your way into school: and those things just kept on adding to my motivation. But I felt like people have to understand that we did that because of some certain circumstances, it was not as if we had all the money to come and spend. So I started the programme, kept on going through it and I was really driven to succeed in it.
What was your standing like at the end of the programme?
My first result the first semester, I had 4.55. I had a D in Geography and I tried to ask for what happened because even people who I was tutoring were having Bs and As but they said my CA or part of my exam was not recorded then I said fine, I would work better in the semester. The next semester, I had 4.91, exactly for the second semester. So, the aggregate was like 4.72. That’s for the foundation programme. That was how I gained admission into UNILAG.
Could you tell us how many JAMB exams you took?
I have taken just two JAMB exams and the reason is that I actually got the admission but it wasn’t what I wanted and the thing about me is that if it is not something I really want to do, my motivation is always very poor and I have to commit to the task and once I commit I could actually go to any length to achieve it.
The second one was the one that was seized as I said earlier.
What about the SSCE exams, how many WAEC did you write?
I wrote one and I made it at once. I wasn’t the best overall but at least I made everything that was required.
Now, how can you describe your study habit?
My study habits are not very predictable because I adapt my study habit to whatever that is needed at the time. Take for example, I have a policy of never studying at night but, sometimes I had to change that based on the situation.
How were you able to sustain your GP considering how difficult the hurdles could be?
I have been asked that question severally and the simple answer I will give is that I never looked at everything on a long term path. I was looking at it from one day to the next. What I mean is I was thinking short term instead of the long term because I know quite a few people who were thinking this is what I want to finish with but then you have that long goal and you are looking at that meanwhile, things are happening right in front of you in short term.
I was just preoccupied with winning the short terms. That was where my focus was on. This assignment, do it well; this test, do it well; this current exam, do it well. Do today well because, tomorrow is another today and then it will keep coming. So, just keep doing each they well and when it adds up, then you get to wherever you want to be.
What was your relationship with your lecturers likewhile in school?
(Cuts in) Yes my relationship with my lecturers were very good. Now you may say it’s because I was one of their best students but, it doesn’t always work that way because I know that there were some people who were also very good. Infact, I have to say that my class was one of the best classes that my department has had in a long time.
What’s your social life like?
Yes I go to cinemas. I attend people’s birthdays. Some of my colleagues can attest to that. I’m not completely the outdoor type but, of course on occasions I have been to quite a number of functions. I participate in events and activities even though I will not be the main person all the time but, im just there and I try to socialite a lot. I interact with so many people although im not the kind who is always attending every party. I tried to create a blend.
How were you able to manage the wave of the social media?
For most of the initial years in Psychology, I was only doing social media on my laptop because I felt it’s easier to control on a laptop because the laptop is not something you are checking all the time. When I got to final year, I decided to change that. So, I got a phone that would enable me monitor the social media and I downloaded all the apps.
I told myself I was going to participate seriously in social media and I was quite visible. My class had a whatsapp group chat, I tried to participate in that as well. I tried to be involved. I don’t just lock myself away and say because I’m studying I won’t do that.
What can you say on your level of performance in extra-curricular activities?
I didn’t do much of extra-curricular activities because most of the times I spent my time either tutoring my colleagues or those in the lower level apart from my personal academic work and also collaborating to an extent with some of my lecturers.
There was one event I attended with one of my lecturers, she has been very supportive and she has tried to mentor so many young people in the department. We actually went to Enugu State. She was the one who advocated and showed the idea to us. She actually led the contingent where we presented a research to a group of people who are also members of Nigerian Psychology Association and they applauded our effort because, it was a research where basically we were the only undergraduates to present that year.
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That was November – December 2014. So, it was the 50 years anniversary of Psychology in Nigeria. It was something wonderful, I would say that was more of extra-curricular activity for me. I was always in some way connected to curricular activity.
When it comes to fellowship or association on campus, did you at one time serve as the leader?
Well, I wasn’t really part of the fellowship but, the association I participated in and that was in my final year was Impart Your World Leadership Initiative (IYWLI) and there was an event that was organised to inspire leadership and I still have a good rapport with the CEO of the organisation and it was because the event which launched it was the one that really captivated our minds and it was highly inspirational and it’s something that reshape the academic landscape of this university in times to come so, that was how much I participated as far as association is concerned.
Could you also talk about your hobbies?
My hobbies include reading. I read quite a number of books, a wide variety of books and some of the books I read I have shown them to some my colleagues and they feel like this is really boring but, If I know that I’m going to learn one thing from it I’m always interested and I don’t finish all the books I pick up.
When I pick up a book I read it I get through some parts, if I feel like this is as much as what I want from this book I don’t feel obligated to finish the book. I can put the book aside, pick another one and begin to read so, I read a wide variety and that’s one of my key hobbies.
Then like I said I’m also into music production so I do it as a hobby now. I was even as serious as it was then but, now I do it as my hobby and I like board games, strategy games, chess, scrabble, monopoly although I’m not extremely good at them but the strategy games I really like are computer strategy games.
Apart from academics, were you also into business or other things?
I still did a bit of sales job while I was studying Psychology because I had to support myself. It was something I had to do. I had to sell to some of my lecturers, to my colleagues as well and then I was also going to Ikeja because my uncle was the one who really introduced me to it.
We would go to Computer Village and even sell in wholesales then I also did a bit of private tutoring. That was one of the key areas I major in. As far as business is concerned, I participated briefly in entrepreneurship challenge although I wasn’t the leader but, I just participated to gain some experience.
It was organized by Google, some departments in engineering pioneered it in UNILAG and I participated at a point so, it was connected to entrepreneurship where we have to promote particularly a small, start-up business. It was good and a learning experience for me but owning a business and running it, I don’t think I have that much time because the demands the academic climate put on me as well as other things I was doing I just make sure that time for such was highly limited.
What of your relationship status while in school?
No I wasn’t in any serious relationship because I read a study that just made me realized that most people who really achieved the strongest grades in their schools were single at the time and I was able to identify with it because for me, when I go into things I go into them fully and when I’m in a relationship I want to be able to at least devote time to it and time was one of my major challenges.
I always have a lot of things to do and so many things are coming up. I don’t want to be in a relationship and it will now suffer because I didn’t have enough time for my partner or my girlfriend or something so, I just said I would put that on hold till I’m done with my programme.
What was your experience with girls generally like?
In fact, most of my friends are girls and they are the ones who would call to check up on me. I related well with girls. I seem to be able to connect with them a lot easier because I know that I am a patient person when it comes to listening even though the girl has a lot to say about her life, I would sit down with her and listen even if it took hours. Some of them had challenges and I would give advice and be of help.
So, my relationship with girls was quite good, but relationship wise, no, I wasn’t into any relationship.
How did you get your motivation?
From most things I have done, my motivation has always been intrinsic. I’m not doing it for anything most people say they are doing this to get that but, I do things for their own sake. For example even though I was doing private tutor, there were times when some people would not pay me completely, yes they would pay part but they won’t complete payment. I was passionate about imparting knowledge to them.
It’s quite brilliant that you are already working. How can you describe your experience at your place of work?
My experience at work has been wonderful. I have interacted with some of the best minds at work. These are smart and driven people who will want to win in any way possible as long as it is legal and it is the right thing to do. These are highly principled people who are determined to achieve great things.
It has been a great experience. I have to learn things and I have even surprised myself by learning things that I have not even learnt before.
Where do you see yourself in the next five to 10 years?
By the grace of God, five years horizon, I want to have at least furthered my education. I won’t say exactly now at least I want to be somewhere where my expertise, efficiency and certification in my field is a lot higher than it is now. I want to be professional and recognised in my field. Ten years I want to be really distinguished but, five years, I want to be on that path, whatever it’s I have to achieve the level of distinction in my field not just at this level. I really want to go far.