Despite his father’s accident that almost marred his academics in 2012, Mr. Michael Aderibigbe Arowosegbe showed that tenacity pays even in the face of daunting challenges as he recently emerged the overall best graduating student of the institution with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.86. Funmi Ogundare reports
It was celebration all the way at the 20th convocation ceremony of Lagos State University (LASU) recently as Mr. Michael Aderibigbe Arowosegbe, 24, of the Department of Biochemistry was called out to receive his prize for emerging the overall best graduating student. He got two other awards: best in the faculty and dean prize valued at N100,000 each. Arowosegbe, who made a first class, outshined the over 17,000 candidates the institution produced in the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 academic sessions. Seven other graduating students also obtained first class.
In his valedictory speech, the third child in a family of five, held guests spellbound with the story of his tortuous journey that almost marred his academics. He said: “Many of my friends and colleagues never knew that he worked as a contract staff, attached to the campus marshal. I witnessed a students’ protest while in 100 level, where he was stoned, I could not cry. As if that was not enough, another incident occurred on November 9, 2012, which changed his life to this day. He had an accident on a bike, while on duty here on campus, where he hit his head and some portion of his back against the university gate. “He could not move any of his limbs initially, some even thought that was the end of him and that it might affect my academics because there was no succour from the appropriate authorities, but glory to God, he is recuperating and I am already a graduate.” Arowosegbe, who said he drew strength from what his father, Mr. Ajibade has been through in life, said he chose Biochemistry in LASU to fulfil all righteousness and please his father. “I reluctantly chose LASU as my second choice in the 2011 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and I almost ignored the post-UTME that year because I had already written that of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, where I scored 278.
So I thought with that score, together with a UTME score of 287, I was on my way to study Medicine and Surgery, but look at where the choice I made has brought me today.” He advised fellow graduands to know that, “in uncertainties lie opportunities and you need to enhance the future by setting great examples and becoming a source of motivation to those who will follow your footstep. Do not be discouraged, believe in God and in yourself and never let the fear of striking out hold you back. Sometimes, taking the road less travelled may lead to an unusual breakthrough, which would create a new path for others to follow, never stop learning new things, always harness the splendour of positive thoughts.” While commending the university authority for its tireless efforts to make the institution a pride of the world with the assistance of the state government, he said, “this is not the end of the road, great exploits await us as we sail into a world of endless possibilities to ensure that we build a great nation where even the ones yet unborn will beat their chest and say, ‘I am proudly Nigerian.
LASU graduates please be good ambassadors of this great institution wherever you find yourselves.” The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olarenwaju Fagbohun, congratulated the graduands, saying, “as you leave our campus, honours in hand, always remember that you are still part of our community and very much connected to us. You are about to join our burgeoning group of LASU alumni, people with whom you can connect, share experiences and challenges, and gain knowledge that can further inspire you as future leaders. The Lagos State University is here for you. We are proud of our alumni and eagerly look forward to celebrating their accomplishments.
Earlier in his convocation lecture, a Professor of Comparative Literature and Director, African Studies Institute, University of Georgia, Akinloye Ojo, called on the government to formulate a policy that would ensure that African languages do not go into extinction. In his lecture titled, ‘Empowering African Languages for Socio-cultural and Economic Development in the 21st Century: A Case for our Languages at Home and Abroad’, he expressed concern that some languages are threatened in Africa because they are not documented, adding, “which means hardly is it possible to be used in modern or European-based educational systems. “When languages are not used by their speakers, they become gradually moribund, which means the only speakers will be adults. The first risk a language suffers is when children do not speak it and so some of our children made the choice, not because they do not like or economic reasons but to speak other languages because they do not speak it.” He added that in Southern Africa, many indigenous languages in the rural areas are highly threatened because the bigger languages are expanding.
“The European languages are also exerting influence so the competition is very high. These indigenous languages are not rewarding economically so families chose to use that. You also found out that because of the way government approach language policy, they make bold statement in documentation but implementation becomes a problem so people notice that this seems to be the preferred languages, you can get economic reward, advancement in life and jobs and everything so you move towards that language.”
Ojo said a language that is not documented and very well used becomes a candidate for endangerment over times. “We have to increase our efforts in documenting African languages. Where I teach, I tell my students, you don’t have to wait for a big project, if you know how to write 10 things in one language that you speak and the language is not written down, document it and if you know how to say people’s names, document it. “We do know that there is resurrection, the languages that are already documented like Yoruba for instance, has very robust writing system, we have to empower it by making it useful in all domains. It is not enough to read Yoruba but to read and write science, philosophy, among others in Yoruba.” Speaking at the conferment of higher degrees and fourth installation of the chancellor of the institution, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said he saw the need to focus on LASU to bring its unending crisis to a halt, adding, “today good reasoning has prevailed over the crisis.”
The visitor disclosed that students will soon begin to live on campus to guard against vices, adding that his administration would place priority on graduates of the institution for work placement with its ‘Ready Set Work’ initiative. He thanked the governing council for its vision saying, “our vision is to have an institution that will be job creators rather than job seekers. The mission of the state government is to make LASU first in research and innovations.