Whilst a lot of Nigerians are crying wolve over the decadence in the education sector, a young Nigerian has proved himself a bright shining light from the system.
Daniel Nkemelu has achieved what most Nigerian students consider an academic impossibility – he graduated from the University of Ibadan with a perfect score; a GPA of 7.0. How did he achieve this? Daniel granted an interview to Vanguard where he said it all. Find excerpts of the interview below:
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Daniel Nkemelu K.
What does the initial K. stands for?
How did you come about the Yoruba names (Oluwaseun) as it appears between your name on Facebook?
I simply converted my native name (Kelechukwu) to Yoruba. I love the Yoruba culture, I’m very Nigerian.
Where do you hail from?
I am from Nnewi-North LGA in Anambra State.
How old are you, Daniel?
Could you please tell us about your parents. Who are your parents and what are their occupations?
My dad, Mr Daniel Nkemelu, is a business man and my mum, Mrs Augustina Nkemelu, is a caterer and fashion designer. They are based in Lagos. I can talk about how amazing they are all day, but let me simply say, they are God’s gift to me.
What exactly do you mean?
My siblings and I were brought up with full and proper parental guidance. We were taught about morals, honesty and love for every man. These are useful qualities in today’s world. I think it is sufficient to acknowledge my Christian background and avoid mentioning a particular church.
Church is a delicate topic in Nigeria and I don’t want to distract the aim of this interview.
How many children have your parents and what position are you?
I’m fifth of seven children, four boys and three girls. I’m the third boy and fifth child.
What’s your course of study?
I heard that you graduated with a 7.0 CGPA, is that true?
Yes, It is true, I did.
Could you please tell us how it happened.
It was challenging and interesting. Studying at the University of Ibadan is a rigorous process. My initial intention as a freshman was to do well and hopefully get a First Class result. However, after my first session, I started having loftier dreams… In the end, I was able to achieve it.
In other universities, a perfect score is 5.0. Why is U.I perfect score 7.0. Do you have an idea of it?
The University of Ibadan started in 1948 as an extension of the University College, London. UCL used a 7-point scale at the time and we aligned with it. I heard there are plans to switch to a 5-point scale soon, though, I’m not an authority on this subject.
Was there anyone before you with a perfect score 7.0 CGPA?
I’m not sure. My convocation ceremony would hold later this year, I’m sure the University would make a statement on this after checking the records.
Where did you grow up and how was it like?
I was born and bred in Ajegunle, Lagos. Growing was fun because we had formal education at school, informal education at home and ‘street education’ on the streets.
Tell us about your primary and secondary education.
I attended Owhenama Educational Centre (a low-cost makeshift school for children from low income homes) before moving on to Holy Family Private School to complete my primary education. For my secondary education, I attended Chiben Comprehensive College before moving on to Rolex Comprehensive College (both in Iba, Ojo, Lagos) for my Senior School Certificate Exams.
Did you ever have difficulty in paying your school fees at that level?
We were always sent home for fees; but my Dad always found a way to pay.
How was your WAEC and NECO, what were your results like?
My WASSCE result was not outstanding but it was fine enough to earn me a place in Yaba College of Technology, where I earned a National Diploma in Computer Science before moving on to the University of Ibadan. I had two distinctions and six credits.
Did you ever have difficulty in getting admission and how many times did you sit for UTME?
I wrote UTME twice. I missed out the first time. The second time I was admitted to Anambra State
University and Yaba College of Technology, I chose the latter.
Why the choice of the later, when you are fully aware of polytechnics and university dichotomy?
I would say two reasons: At the time, I was guaranteed better practical application of the course at Yaba College of Technology and then there were rumours of a possible conversion to a university of technology, it eventually didn’t happen though.
Did you eventually get what you wanted at YabaTech?
I did. Yaba College of Technology was a nice experience. I graduated as the Overall Best Graduating Student in the National Diploma category for the 2011/12 session. The knowledge I gained was very influential to my success at the University of Ibadan.
Have you ever failed in primary or secondary school before?
Well, I might have failed tests and assignments but exams, I don’t think so.
What’s your reading lifestyle?
My reading pattern was very dynamic. I didn’t have a fixed time or location. My kind of course requires broad understanding of concepts and practical application, so I could spend the whole day programming or reading tech blogs and reviews.
I visited the school library occasionally because it was conducive and distraction was minimal. I also held periodic tutorials that made me read in depth, so I could explain properly to others.
Were there other things you did to fetch you money while on campus?
Yes. I’m a freelance web developer. I did some software projects for people that fetched me money. I turned down some too when I needed to concentrate on my studies.
Could you please, tell us about your social lifestyle.
Wow, the cultural diversity at the University of Ibadan is amazing. I made a lot of friends and met lots of amazing people. I was not overly outgoing but I attended many events on campus. From Electoral Campaign events, Campus Blasts, Variety Nights… Social life was balanced.
What are your future plans?
My short term plan is to serve (NYSC) and then get a Masters (or higher) degree. I strongly believe that technology has a huge role to play in Africa’s rise to dominance and shared prosperity, so I have to equip myself with the necessary experience and exposure to be world class.
Do you hope to be self employed or work for someone in an organization?
This is a decision I would make after graduate studies. I’m open to new ideas and I believe you can make impact from anywhere, either as a Software Engineer in San Francisco or a CEO in Yaba.
If I may ask, what’s the secret of your academic success?
God’s guidance and support from friends, course mates and family; focus and determination; comprehensive teaching from my lecturers. However, these aren’t secrets, so I would say, there were no secrets.
Do you have a girlfriend?
I need to clarify that there is no correlation between one’s academic performance and their relationship status. It is part of the training to handle both work and emotions.
And because healthy relationships help you to get better at what you do; I loved and was loved in return.
However, bad relationships or friendships can affect academic performance, sincerely. Girlfriend is not the word; but there are people of the opposite sex that mean so much to me. That’s all sir.
Were you on scholarship?
I was an Etisalat Merit Scholar and was also awarded by a group of amazing women called Women Connected By Purpose.
To what extent did the scholarship assist you?
They both came in my final year and they were very helpful. It helped me concentrate better on my studies.
Who is your role model?
I learn from lots of people. No single person holds that monopoly. From the wisdom of my dad to the love of my mum, the intelligence of W. F. Kumuyi who finished from my school and Faculty and the calmness of E. A. Adeboye, the speaking prowess of Barack Obama and the charisma of Nelson Mandela.
These people are great examples to me and many others.
What advice do you have for other students?
I always tell young people; define what success means to you and give it what it takes. Everyone may not end up as perfect CGPA holders but everyone can excel at something. Be it in leadership, programming, entrepreneurship, public speaking, academics, writing, entertainment and the likes. Be open to learn and do your best to make a difference.