26-year-old Yusuf Oluwasegun Ogunfolaji, an orphan, was announced as the best graduating student of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State during the institution’s convocation ceremony for the 2018/2019 academic session, with a CGPA of 4.82 in Civil Engineering from the School of Infrastructure, Process Engineering and Technology (SIPET). He speaks with ADELOWO OLADIPO. Excerpts:
What can you say is the secret of your outstanding success?
I will say it is the grace of God that has taken me this far. When I take a look at every day of my life, I think I have to be giving thanks to God. I did not think I would ever be a university graduate. The reason is because I am an orphan. I thought my secondary education was going to be the end of my schooling. I later saw myself as a national diploma graduate from Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, where I also studied Civil Engineering and I had distinction in the course too. I just thank God for my life.
Tell us your experience, how you transited from being a diploma holder to becoming a student of FUT Minna?
During my primary and secondary school days, I was an average student; but I think what really inspired me was when I gained admission to Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta. My first semester result then was 3.5 CGPA, and I was close to distinction. My second semester result at ND 1, I also had 3.5 CGPA. That really inspired me. So, I said if I can do this, I can still do better. During my second semester in ND 2, my CGPA rose to 3.74. I eventually graduated with 3.68 CGPA, which is a distinction. After that, I proceeded for my one-year industrial attachment, and that was the place I met the person that advised me to come to the Federal University of Technology, Minna. Before then, I did not even know there was a university called FUT, Minna. But the man, Adeniran Lukman, advised me that FUT Minna is okay when it comes to Civil Engineering programme, because he was a 400 Level undergraduate student of the university also on industrial attachment then. So, when I gained admission to FUT, Minna through Direct Entry, he was in 500 Level then.
As an orphan, can you share with us other experience you have passed through just to survive and get on in life?
When I was in SS2, I decided to learn plumbing work. As I said earlier, I did not even think I could get university education. My dad died when I was just six years old. My mom had died, as I was told, when I was just eight months old. So, while in SS2, I decided to engage myself in plumbing work as an apprentice. I finished my secondary school in 2011. I must have spent three years on the job. Then after the three years, I gained admission to Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, doing a part-time programme in Civil Engineering, so that I could find a means of getting money to pay my school fees and get money to do other things. But along the line, my grandmother tried a lot for me. She is in fact my father’s mother.
Who do you see as your role model?
The current Dean of Postgraduate Studies in FUT, Minna here, Professor Sallau Sadiku. However, I think there is a difference between a mentor and a role model. Though Professor Sadiku is my role model, I have a mentor and I think my mentor has really contributed to this because my going to tertiary institution was because of him. He is Engineer Abdulrahaman Madaki. He is not even a Yoruba man. I met him then when I was learning this plumbing work I told you about. At that time, I was at my boss’s shop and there was one construction work that was going on opposite the Paramount FM station in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital. Then, they were doing one construction work there. That day, we just met at that site and my boss sent me to go and take care of the company’s plumbing works. And this same Engineer Madaki saw me there and asked if I was the one that my boss sent to the place, and I said yes. I didn’t know whether it was because he saw me doing the plumbing works for them that attracted his attention to me. He just advised me that ‘young man, why don’t you go for further studies? and I told him my problems.