SEGUN OLUGBILE narrates how a 27-year-old man battled adversity to emerge the star of the 21st Convocation of Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu.
Bakare Opeoluwa’s courage to stand strong in the face of adversity is legendary. Five times, he sat for the West African Senior Secondary SchoolCertificate Examination and five times his results were withheld. Not because he was involved in any examination malpractice, but for reasons best known to the West African Examination Council.
After his sixth attempt, his full result was however released. He cleared all his papers and applied to the university to read Computer Engineering, hisdream discipline. But this was not to be, as his score was below the cut-offpoint. That is why he opted for polytechnic education and eventually got admission to study Computer Engineering at the Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu.
But in spite of his challenges, Bakare, who had lost his father, graduated on Thursday as the best LASPOTECH graduating student during the institution’s 21st convocation. With a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.97 out of a possible 4.0, Bakare bagged a Higher National Diploma certificate in Computer Engineering. He also made history by becoming theall-time best graduate of the polytechnic.
Born 27 years ago in Illisan-Remo, a town in Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State, Bakare attended Expressway Primary School, Ikosi Ketu, Lagos between 1990 and 1995. He left in Primary Five for Community Primary School, Shangisha, Magodo, where he completed his primary school education in 1996. From there, the last child in a family of seven proceeded to Ikosi High School, Ketu, Lagos, for his secondary school education.
Speaking with our correspondent after he received over 10 awards from the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Joke Orelope-Adefulire, who represented Governor Babatunde Fashola at the convocation, Bakare said his road to academic success was not an easy one.
“I finished my secondary school education in 2002. When the WASSCE result was released, WAEC released my English, Mathematics and Physics, but others were withheld. I thought the others would be released, but at the end of the day, they were not. With just three credits, I could not proceed to the university to study computer engineering.
“The following year, I enrolled to retake my papers. I studied hard, but when the results were released, mine was not. And that was how I continued sitting for the same exam in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. Still my results were not released. I became disturbed but not discouraged.
“In 2006, I did both the May/June and November/December WASSCE and, to the glory of God, one was released and I cleared all my papers,” he says.
But what was he doing during the long wait, apart from preparing for examinations? Bakare said his love for computer moved him to enrol for a diploma certificate in Computer Appreciation at Dequeue Software, Sagamu, Ogun State.
“I was truly troubled during those years, but because I love computer, I enrolled for a diploma course in computer appreciation at the institute in Sagamu. I did so well that I came out with distinction.”
So, how did he cope with the frustration of writing examinations repeatedly? Bakare said it was not easy, but he was determined to have tertiary education.
“Although it wasn’t easy, I was determined to be educated and successful in life. I knew I had what it takes to be successful in me and I knew that even great men always have their ups and downs. But I was encouraged by God and my brothers, Dr. S.A. Bakare and Barrister Ola Bakare. I will also say that my zeal to become the greatest engineer that has ever lived helped me to go through the difficult period,” he says.
He advises youths who are passing through similar situations to be focused and persistent in following their dreams.
“They should always hope in God for the best and always do what is right, irrespective of the situation they find themselves. They should also bear inmind that there is time for everything and that God’s time is the best. Theyshould never lose hope. If I had lost hope, I would not have been able to achieve what God has helped me to achieve now,” he explains.
Bakare, who admitted that he set out to be the best when he resumed hisstudy at LASPOTECH, said the factors that contributed to his feat include God, hard work, proper time management and persistence.
“The very first day I stepped into LASPOTECH, I wrote down my CGPA and hung it on the wall. Anytime I woke up in the morning, it was the first thing I saw and it always reminded me of where I was going and I worked towards it. I thank God that it paid off,” he says.
But why computer engineering and not another discipline? He notes, “Studying computer engineering had always been my childhood dream and I would like to transform Nigeria from being a consumer state to one of the greatest manufacturers of electronics/computer devices and systems in the world. I will also like to help in applying information technology to solve national problems.”
On how he would handle discrimination against polytechnic graduates in the job market, Bakare says this would not be a problem to him.
“Yes, polytechnic graduates are being discriminated against, but in my opinion, university graduates are not better off. By discriminating against HND holders, we are only making nonsense of the already troubled education system because everyone has a role to play in national development and if you really want to make a difference, then you will not only rely on what you are being taught in school. Whether you are a polytechnic graduate or a degree holder, the onus lies on you to develop yourself,” he adds.
Because he was involved in campus politics, Bakare notes that the greatest challenge he had while in school was how to maintain a balance between politicking and academics.
He applauded his mother and brothers for contributing financially and morally to his academic achievements.
“But I must say that some of my course mates, including Alli Kazeem, inspired me to be the best I could be through healthy academic competition. Kazeem, who gave me the toughest challenge, made a distinction. The only regret I have is that my late father is not here to see his boy making him proud,” Bakare says.
He also commended all his lecturers for doing what he describes as a greatjob, adding that the virtues of truthfulness, honesty, hard work, and diligence they imparted to students would go a long way to make graduates achieve success in life. These virtues, he says, made it possible for him to remain focused and avoid the distraction from female students.
So, was he not into any romantic relationship while on campus? Bakare says, “When you are focused and determined, nothing can distract you. I do have a lot of female friends and there is no way you can run away from women. You just have to maintain your principles and define the limit.”
The brilliant man, who plans to further his education after the mandatory National Youth Service Corps Scheme, however, identifies negative attitude and poor mindset among Nigerians as the nation’s greatest challenge.
He says, “The mindset of the average Nigerian and his attitude are the nation’s greatest challenge. Self reformation, I believe, is the starting pointfor us to get it right in this country. Yes, leadership plays a major role, if we can all change our mindset and imbibe positive attitude of selflessness,truthfulness, honesty and patriotism. Then, not only Nigeria, but the worldat large, would be a better place for us and our children.”
Bakare, who expresses optimism in the ability of polytechnic education to eliminate unemployment in the country, calls on all stakeholders, particularly governments, to invest more in technical and vocational education.
Though he was not the only student who was celebrated, Bakare got over 10 of the awards amidst ovation from the crowd, which included the Rector, Dr. Abdulazeez Abioye, his deputy, Mr. Olasunkanmi Longe, the Registrar, Mrs. Aderonke Ige, parents, well-wishers, lecturers and students.
Other brilliant students rewarded include Godson Thompson, who made a CGPA of 3.85 to obtain the HND certificate in Electrical/Electronics; and Jokogbola Dolapo, who bagged HND in Architectural Design after scoring aCGPA of 3.54
Earlier, the Rector had told the audience that 8,686 students who had completed their programmes in various disciplines would be conferred withnational diploma and HND certificates at the occasion.
According to him, 5,854 were conferred with ND certificates, while the remaining 2, 823 were awarded the HND certificates.
Abdulazeez, who congratulated the graduating students on the successfulcompletion of their studies, urged them to have a constructive attitude and always think in terms of solutions and not in terms of problems.
He also highlighted the achievements of the institution in the outgoing academic year to include construction of an access road linking the institution to Itamaga; construction of the sports complex and School of Technology building and supply of machines and equipment to the Civil and Mechanical Engineering departments.
He, however, called on the state government to help the 35-year-old institution to build a befitting administrative complex.
The deputy governor, who read the Visitor’s address, restated the commitment of the state government to uplifting the education sector.
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