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I set out to make my firewood-seller father proud – LASU overall best student

Twenty-two-year-old Mubaraq Olawale Olaniyi was the cynosure of all eyes at the just concluded 27th convocation of the Lagos State University (LASU) having clinched the…

Twenty-two-year-old Mubaraq Olawale Olaniyi was the cynosure of all eyes at the just concluded 27th convocation of the Lagos State University (LASU) having clinched the coveted prize of the overall best student at the ceremony. Olaniyi, the son of a wood seller, graduated with a CGPA of 4.98 from the Department of Accounting Education. He speaks on his academic feat in this interview with Daily Trust on Sunday.


Who’s Olaniyi?

Olawale Mubaraq Olaniyi is my name. I am a graduate of Accounting Education, Educational Management Department, Faculty of Education, Lagos State University. I am 22. I hail from Osun State, Irewole Local Government Area. Ikire is my hometown. My mum is late. I lost my mum at the age of 16. My dad is a wood seller. I have a stepmother who has been very supportive. And I have five other siblings.

When did you get admission into LASU?

I got LASU admission in my first attempt. I wrote JAMB once. I got admission in the year 2019 and commenced academic activities in 2020.

What were your set goals when you got admission?

My goal was to achieve greatness and continue being an intelligent fellow. My goal turned to being the best graduating student immediately I got to know about the CGPA of the 2018/2019 academic session’s BGS while in 100 level.

What’s your CGPA in your first year in the university?

My CGPA in the 100 level was 4.95. I had 5.00 in the first semester and in the second semester, I had 4.91 CGPA.

Does that mean you knew from that very point that you would graduate with first class honours?

Yes, I believed I would.

i set out to make my firewood seller father proud – lasu overall best student


Was there any point at which your first class CGPA was threatened?

Yes. The first was the 100-level 2nd semester when I got to the CBT Centre late for an exam and my time was divided — I was given 15 minutes for 60 questions. Consequently, I had 4 in that course.

The second was in my 200 level first semester. I read a particular textbook three times along with my friend, Dasi Monday. But at the end I still had a 4 on that course despite how interesting the exam was.

Is it true that you are the son of a wood seller? And how has that motivated you?

Yes, I am the son of a wood seller. My father is a wood seller. He sells planks and firewood. And yes, I got motivated because I do not want my dad to labour in vain despite the meagre money he makes from this trade from which he catered for us and shouldered our responsibilities.

So, yes I really felt I have to make this man proud and that’s why I felt that whatever I did I have to achieve academic excellence.

How many hours did you allocate to study during your undergraduate years?

During my 100L and 200L days, I allocated a lot of my time to study because I knew preparing very hard would make me achieve something huge. So, I had a schedule; I set a timetable that I would read in the morning, afternoon, evening and even midnight. Sometimes I may not follow the schedule but whenever I have free time, I make sure I at least study something.

Although I am not someone who reads for a long period of time – probably six hours or four hours – I made sure that I made good use of every time to do something important with my life.

When I got to 300L – 400L, I was already used to the way I read. I already knew the kind of person I was and how best I could read and how fast I could read. So, I didn’t really do much, especially in my 400L. I would wait for the examination timetable to come out before I read; same thing while in 300L. But while in 100L and 200L, I made sure I finished my course outline by week six or seven.

How did you deal with distractions? Did you have girlfriends?

Distractions? Yes, I had a girlfriend before getting to LASU, but we broke up during my 200L second semester or thereabouts. I dealt with distractions. I made sure they did not affect me. Although I am an emotional person, but I know there is a difference between my emotions and the academic aspect of me.

So, whenever I am down, or I probably have issues with my relationship… When I am done with my academic session then I can think of it because I am very emotional. I made sure that when it happened then I had to leave my girlfriend. I was the one who left not because of the study or whatsoever, but due to some things I do not need to discuss.

I know how to manage my emotions. I tried to make sure that I had that emotional intelligence. I dealt with a lot of distractions. A lot of girls were coming’ I had a lot of female friends, but I never allowed that to distract me. Most importantly, I hate to hear people say ‘Mubaraq, you are packing girls just because you are a university student.’ I hate to hear that. So, I tried to manage distractions, and I never allowed that to affect me.

What other activities were you engaged in? Or was it all books?

I was not just an ‘A student.’ Not at all, I actually dislike anyone that is only interested in books. I engaged them in various activities. Most of my time I used to serve humanity, people can attest to that. I’m the kind of person who really works hard and also makes sure that other people embrace hard work in order to achieve success.

I make sure I impart knowledge to others. I joined impact-focused organisations, and I engage in various activities. I volunteer, I have held leadership posts in groups and was the general coordinator of Excel Minds from my 200L second semester to my 400L first semester. So I am always trying to change people’s lives, impact positively and the like.

I make sure I balance such activism with academic activities. I never allow it to affect me. So, it was not all books. No, it was not all books (smiles). I was very interested in self-development. I made sure I developed myself and also helped others.

How do you feel being the overall best student?

Well, being the overall best-graduated student, I was not surprised, but I am overwhelmed even up to this moment. I am excited and I am grateful to God. I feel that my dream has come through. It’s a dream come true. This is what I have been working for.

And how did you receive the accolades and gifts, especially the one from Governor Sanwo-Olu?

Wow! Everything is just so amazing and surprising. When His Excellency, Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu announced the N10 million, I was so overwhelmed but I just tried to compose myself on the podium. I feel so happy, excited and appreciative. I am so happy, even right now. Everything is surprising.

How  does your dad feel right now?

My dad is so happy. He has been happy. A lot of posts that people showed him and the ones he saw himself. He has been so proud of me. When you send your child to school and at the end, he brings home academic excellence, you know how it feels.

My dad is happy, and he has been thanking God. And he has been so protective, even more than before… trying to know where I am and give me advice.

What’s your focus going forward?

My set goal academically is that having done my first degree, I really want to advance to my master’s degree abroad. I want to achieve ACA, ACC, that’s being a chartered accountant. I also have to achieve so many things academically and professionally.

In addition, I really want to continue achieving academic excellence.

What is your message to the undergraduates looking up to you?

My message to the undergraduates is that determination, hard work, resilience, consistency, good association, mentorship and prayers pave the way to success. You have to define your objective, and then work towards it.

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