Oluwatobi Ajakaiye, 21, was the overall best student of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, in the 2018/2019 academic session with Cumulative Gross Average Point of 4.76. Ajakaiye, who is a graduate of accounting, tells PETER DADA how he became best student of the school.

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What made you study accounting?

I wanted to become what my dad could have become, but didn’t.

What is it that your dad could have become?

My father could have become an accountant but could not. He was a banker for a while, and I liked the profession.

What roles did your parents play in your academic pursuit?

Aside from God, they have been my major pillar and support as regards my education, starting from primary education up to university level. They stood by me and gave me the necessary support – morally and financially. They have been a source of motivation for me, and that alone has been the driving force that has propelled me towards achieving this great feat.

You attended many schools before you went to university, why was that?

I started my primary education at Fortune Nursery and Primary School, Ikotun, Lagos. Afterwards, I attended so many others because we were relocating from place to place. I eventually concluded primary education at Durosef Private School, Ijegun-Ijedodo, Lagos. I later proceeded to Durable Comprehensive High School for secondary education, but I didn’t finish there as I had to leave. From there, I attended Towab High School, where I took Senior School Certificate Examination. Then I proceeded to Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko to get a degree in accounting.

The relocation had to do with housing; we were moving from one neighbourhood to another.

How many times did you sit SSCE and Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination?

I passed both at one sitting.

If you had not studied accounting, what would you have studied?

I’m analytical so I believe accounting helped me to develop such a skill, and placed me on top of the game as a critical thinker. Also, it made me feel alive. However, another course I would have loved to study would is mathematics.

What challenges did you face while studying accounting?

Let me begin with the technicality of the course. Accounting as a course of study demands that you familiarise yourself with the basics or rudiments; it begins with the elementary aspect, which is taught at junior and senior secondary school levels. Good for me, I realised this soon enough, and had to go back to the basics to teach myself so I could cope as we advanced.

Most times I had to study the same thing over and over again to better understand a concept or topic. When I was confused after a class, I held on to something one of my tutors said that “most of the time, the best (students) don’t quite get it in class. What they do every time is to go back to study more and then get it”.

So most times when I looked confused about a course or a topic we did, with time, I was able to get it. Accounting is a huge course that requires continuous studies and updates. It was a bit easy for those who were doing one or two professional courses, as they were already exposed to most of what we were doing at that time. They had an edge over those who had no prior knowledge of certain topics and were introduced to them for the first time.

Still, you were able to compete with those doing professional courses, how were you able to do that?

Well, I believe God was on my side, and I will also say I was committed to my studies.

You are currently undergoing the mandatory National Youth Service Corps programme, what do you plan to do after that?

One of my plans is to do the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria programme and be done with it before the end of 2020, God willing. I also intend to start a master’s programme after the completion of my NYSC programme.

What are the challenges you faced on campus?

There were so many of them; first, in my first year in school as an undergraduate, I faced humiliation from some persons who felt they were far older than I was, hence demanded respect they had not earned. But over time, I learnt to cope and earn their respect. Also, living off campus was a challenge. Most times, there was blackout and I had to go to school to read and charge my phone and other gadgets. There were also disturbances from neighbours, especially as most of them had generators because of the regular blackouts.

The noise of the generators was a problem, but I never allowed it to be a stumbling block. I always found a way to adjust and cope with such situations, especially as I knew that no excuse was enough to justify failure.

Many first-class graduates end up working in universities, do you plan to be an academic?

I believe the reason is to impart knowledge to people. I also myself doing that as well but while I consider a career in education as worthwhile, I would also love to be involved in a conglomerate.

How social were you on campus?

I would describe myself as a moderately social person. I tried as much as possible to relate well with people. I could be jovial and funny at times, and at other times, I maintained a countenance that suggested seriousness. But in all, I am easy-going. I relate well with people I think I should relate well with, and enjoy the company of others, especially when such relationships are worthwhile and not against moral values.

What social activities were you involved in on campus?

In my first year in school, I engaged in sporting activities a little. As a lover of table tennis, I get hooked when I get the chance to play, which is not all the time. I organised tutorials and got to meet so many people, who became my acquaintances. I was also involved in social impact activities, thanks to Impact Leaders Club, AAUA, as I was the financial secretary of the club. It gave me a platform to motivate and inspire several persons during some of our impact driven programmes. I was also once an executive in the fellowship I attended, Foursquare Students Fellowship, AAUA.

What was the Impact Leaders Club about?

The platform was created by Impact Your World Leadership Initiative for young leaders to hone their leadership skills on campuses, especially campuses where students have been privileged to pass through the Impact Leadership Academy; this is the training arm of Impact Your World Leadership Initiative for leaders. Fourteen others and I from my university were privileged to be beneficiaries of the programme, and that led to the initiation of the club’s activities at AAUA. Interestingly, at the recent convocation of the school, four of us who were pioneer members, won prizes for our academic feats. The club is duly registered and its activities so far have been impact-driven, and as an alumnus, I suggest that every aspiring student should consider joining such a club. It has indeed been a platform where leaders are raised. I’m therefore using this platform to thank the organisers of this initiative, more importantly its founder and president, Mr Akin Odumakinde, for identifying, nurturing and empowering us for leadership roles.

Were you distracted at any point?

No, I believe in the saying that too much of everything destroys. So, I tried as much as possible to be moderate enough in all my dealings. I played a little when necessary and would then face my work squarely. I’m of the opinion that while we should try as much as possible to socialise and take interest in extracurricular activities, we shouldn’t forget the primary purpose of being in school. The school itself is only an avenue to discover other areas of your life, not for you to neglect the main reason for being in the school.

It will therefore be wrong for a student to give priority secondary activities and allow the primary ones to suffer. I timed my activities to ensure I limited activities that could affect my studies. I knew I could always engage in such activities later because the main reason why I was in school was to study; every other activity was secondary.

What was your ambition as a young child?

As a child, I was carried away by the fantasies of being a child. I would say whatever I had in mind then. For instance, I wished to be a pilot, doctor, or banker.

But the turning point in my life, which eventually determined the path I chose, was when I was in Junior Secondary School 1. I got to know certain details about my dad, and I vowed to become whatever my dad could have become, but didn’t. So at that time, it has always been my desire to become a successful accountant, even though I have a strong flair for lecturing.

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