George Eyoyibo, 21, graduated as the best student in the Department of Information Communication Technology, Zenith University, Cape Coast, Ghana, in the 2013/2014 academic session with a 3.7/4.0 CGPA. In this interview, he tells TUNDE AJAJA how it felt studying in a foreign institution
How was your growing up?
I had a really nice childhood. My grandmother used to visit us and she used to give my siblings and I cash gifts and she told us tales in the night. Also, my mum used to compel my siblings and I to do our homework before going out to play with other kids in the neighbourhood, and like many other children, I was sometimes mischievous. The only challenge I had as a child was that I couldn’t talk until I was four years old. My parents were afraid that I was dumb but I started speaking when I was five years old.
What attracted you to ICT?
My dream as a child was to become a computer scientist; I have always had interest in technology and its systems. Interestingly, no one influenced my choice of the course; I chose Business Information System because of its affiliation with ICT. It seems like an unpopular course in Nigeria, but for me, a course that combines information technology and business would be a relevant and marketable discipline in our current ever-changing business environment. My courses included database, networking, management and entrepreneurship, among others. It’s designed to examine how technology can be used to solve 21st century business problems and to bridge the gap between IT and business management, and the application of this is very crucial in gaining strategic competitive advantages in today’s business world. A student of business information system can work as an information security analyst, network architect or a database administrator.
How easy was it passing your West African Senior School Certificate Examination and Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination?
Both exams were okay but demanded much especially the WASSCE exam; I passed all at one sitting.
What took you to Ghana to study?
I had a little delay in securing admission here, so I opted for Ghana. I travelled to Ghana in January 2011.
Would you mind sharing with us why you preferred to go there for your tertiary education instead of staying in Nigeria?
Immediately after my West African Senior School Certificate Examination, I wrote the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination that same year and I passed. I wrote the Post-UTME for the University of Benin and another school but I wasn’t admitted, so the following year, I applied to a university in Ghana and I was admitted. Going to Ghana to study didn’t come easy; there were sacrifices, but above all, it was worth it. I had the best result in my department and it was a rich experience.
Were there other Nigerians in your class?
Yes, we had a lot of them and their numbers in a class depends on the course. There are so many Nigerians in the school.
In your view, why are more Nigerians travelling to Ghana to study?
Admission into Ghanaian schools is quite easier; a good WASSCE with at least six credits is all that is needed; no UTME or post-UTME. The ease in gaining admission is one aspect I think the Nigerian government needs to work on; it should be less cumbersome so that more Nigerian youths can have access to university education. Also, there is no cultism and the duration of a course is guaranteed because there are no industrial actions (strike) in their institutions. The lecturers have respect for their students and it is relatively easy to gain admission into a university in Ghana than in Nigeria.
How easy was it for you to have a first class?
It wasn’t an easy one. I needed to be studious and disciplined to get the A’s. Time management was the key. I had planned my trajectory before going to the university; it was a choice I needed to make and I thank the Almighty that it came to pass. Only 12 of us had first class out of 200. My happiest moment was when I received an award for being the best in my department.
What was your performance like in your previous schools?
My performance in primary school and junior secondary school was below average because I was too playful, but I took my education more seriously in senior secondary school and I was one of the best. The main thing that motivated me was I hated the fact that a female was always leading the class from JSS1 to JSS3. I needed to change that and I did.
To be the best in your department, what were the things you did differently from others?
I attended every lecture, which was one of my secrets because we used to have impromptu tests and there was score for class attendance. I am a fast learner, so I gave my lectures all the attention so I spent less time reading. Also, I engaged myself in group assignments and brainstorming with my course mates. Of equal importance was that I prepared for every test or mid-semester test as if it was a final exam and I had a healthy relationship with my lecturers.
What about the performance of other Nigerians in your class?
A number of them loved to enjoy the good life at the detriment of their academics. There are lots of clubbing and social activities in Ghana when compared to Nigeria, so, some tend to lose focus. However, there were serious ones too. In my department, two of us had a first class while some others had it in my class.
Was there a time you received special commendation as a Nigerian student?
Yes, I was awarded the best student in my department and numerous commendations for being outstanding in my work.
How was your relationship with other students (indigent and foreigners)?
I had a good relationship with students from other West African countries but I was very close to the Nigerians; my closest pal then is a Nigerian. Interacting with people from different countries exposed me to different cultures and it gave me a richer perspective of life.
Could you tell us about the grading system there?
If your score falls between 80 and 100, that is an A and the value of that is 4.0. If it falls between 75 and 79, your grade is B+ and the value is 3.5. If it is between 70 and 74, the grade is B and the value is 3.0. If it’s between 65 and 69, the grade is C+ and the value is 2.5. if it’s between 60 and 64, the grade is C and the value is 2.0. If it is between 55 and 59, the grade is D+ and the value is 1.5. If it’s between 50 and 54, that is a D and the value is 1.0 and if you score below 50, that is an E and the value is zero. Then, for the class of degree, first class is between 3.6 and 4.0 CGPA, second class upper division is between 3.0 and 3.5, lower division is between 2.5 and 2.9, third class is between 2.0 and 2.4, Pass is between 1.0 and 1.9 while less than 1.0 is failure.
What was your typical day like as an undergraduate?
After my lectures, I used to spend about one hour to do my assignments and revise what I was taught in class that day, after which my brother and I would go and play basketball. I was a member of the school basketball team. My reading had no regular pattern because I’m more of a good listener during lectures so my reading was more of revision. But, if I really had to read, it was usually late in the night. I rarely used the library to read; I did my reading in my hostel. During exams, my schedule was always very tight because I needed to teach some of my course mates and prepare myself for the exams.
How would you describe your social life in school?
I attended some social gatherings and sometimes I spent my leisure reading online articles, journals, newspapers etc.
It is believed that ladies love to associate with intelligent guys, how did you handle such gestures, if any?
Yes, very true; I experienced a lot of that in school but I handled it pretty well and most of them became close friends.
What are your aspirations in life?
After my National Youth Service Corps programme, I will be devoted to my community and Nigeria by working with a company in the Information Technology industry. My goal is to use the skills I have acquired to inculcate IT into every business process in the company that I’m going to work with because technology is a crucial part of today’s business.
Were you told stories by anyone about how difficult it could be to have a first class and did it affect you in any way?
Yes. Some of my friends told me I would need to read for six to seven hours every day in order to make a first class and that my department is the most difficult in the school. Some even told me having a first class is needless but I didn’t allow these to deter me.
Where would you like to work?
Chevron, PwC, GlaxoSmithKline or Exxon Mobil.
What is your advice to students?
Students should not lose focus of their real purpose for being in school. They should always strive for personal development, like attending seminars, symposiums and getting professional certifications because those things are going to help on the long run. However, if a student has no reason to be serious in school, he or she should study to make the parents happy.
Culled from PUNCH.