Last Sunday’s convocation of Babcock University, Ilisan-Remo, Ogun State, was a potpourri of emotions. For some, it was expectedly exciting. Shouts of joy, mixed with backslapping and hugging, were not in short supply.
The cynosure of all eyes were, however, a 20-year-old lady, Omobola Oduyoye, who emerged the best graduating student after scoring a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.92…
Oduyoye, an indigene of Ilisan-Remo, Ikenne Local Government Area of the state, was awarded a first class degree in Public Health, while Nuhu also got a first degree in Christian Religious Studies.
Speaking with Punch after she received the Senior Vice-President’s Prize as the graduate with the highest overall CGPA, Oduyoye said commitment, discipline, hard work and focus – combined with what she called God’s grace – fetched her the award.
“Motivation from my parents, lecturers and course mates also helped me. Healthy competition from my course mates such as Akomolafe Damilola, who also obtained a CGPA of 4.60 , also enhanced my performance.
“I have a lot of respect for her because she is a mature married woman and a nurse. In spite of her age, she related well with us and she was very focused. Each time I looked at her, I felt like I should ask government to stop admitting fresh secondary school leavers straight into the university. They should be asked to do the A/Level or ordinary diploma programme before they enrol at the university,” she said.
Oduyoye, who aspires to become the nation’s health minister some day, noted that she would change the face of the nation’s health sector, particularly child and maternal health if given the chance.
“I’m from this town. I only lived the first six years of my life in Ghana and since then I’ve been here and I see a lot of challenges poor women and children go through daily. I want to make health delivery accessible, affordable and extremely cheap for our children and women. I will fight corruption in the health sector and ensure that our children and their mother don’t die again from preventable diseases,” she added.
This desire could explain why each time she and her colleagues had to embark on a field work, Oduyoye always ensured that children and young mothers were her target.
“Though I don’t have money to give them, I always organise seminar and workshop to train them on hygiene, oral health and how to handle preventable diseases. We at times give them off-the-counter drugs. But if God permits and I become the health minister, I’ll work hard to ensure better health service delivery for Nigerians,” she noted.
On how she handled pressure from male students and lecturers, Oduyoye said that though she had so many male friends, she avoided getting intimate with them.
“I have a number of friends – including male students but I always draw a line between friendship for academic advancement and immoral relationship. I’m not abusive; neither am I a snub. But I don’t encourage any relationship that will distract me from my studies. I don’t encourage any action that can suggest to you that I’m a cheap commodity. I also ensure that I don’t go alone anywhere or follow anybody to dark corners even if she is a girl like me.
“It may sound funny to you, I have never kissed anyone in my life and I have not been kissed by anybody. I thank God for the grace He gives me to achieve this because I know that some people will say it is not easy but with God all things are possible,” the 20-year-old fresh graduate added.