Interviews The First Class Diary

First Class Diary: You Will Never Succeed If You Fear Rejection or Being Ridiculed- HO

Written by Abigael Ibikunle

First Class Diary: You Will Never Succeed If You Fear Rejection or Being Ridiculed- HO

Hi everyone! It’s the last Monday in June. How has the month been for you? Trust you have been faring well.

You will agree with me that June has been a month we will not forget in a hurry. And the interviews have been amazing.

Meet my scholar for the week, Hope Obakhena, an Electrical Electronics Engineer from Ambrose Alli University. He’s got quite an interesting story.

In his words,

Place yourself under self-set rules and live by them. You will not always be motivated at all times. That is why you must learn intentional discipline – the ability to act even when you don’t feel like it.

Abigael Ibikunle of Edugist: Please share with Edugist, a little about your background.

Hope Obakhena: My name is Hope Obakhena, from Edo State. I am the second child in a family of three children. I grew up under strict supervision.

My academics was well monitored by my parents right from my primary school days. This did a great deal for me. I was always above average.

One big lesson to learn from this is that parents should always make out quality time for their children.

You will

Hope Obakhena

After my Senior School Certificate Examination, I was not offered admission directly into the University.

I spent a year doing foundation programme, popularly called pre-degree, before my admission finally came the next year.

A testimony I heard from a first class graduate during my pre-degree days spurred me into taking action. You truly become what you continually feed your mind with and ponder upon.

Where focus goes, there energy also flows. I was top of my class from 100 level till my finals. It took a whole lot from me, but it was definitely worth it.

I am a first class graduate of Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Ambrose Alli University.

In 2019, I emerged Second Best Engineering Graduate in Nigeria for 2018/2019 Academic Session, in a competition organized by the Committee of Deans of Engineering and Technology of Nigerian Universities.

Right from childhood up until now, I have always been passionate about making impact in my world. I had my focus, particularly in the Engineering sector.

This was to disrupt dysfunctional systems and engage new models for growth and development.

My mum was a teacher while my dad is an achiever. They taught me very important lessons as a child. One of them was that

the secret of my success lies in my daily routine.


AI: Was there any motivating factor(s) that influenced your choice of discipline and institution?

HO: I have always had a keen interest in electronics. I would dismantle faulty electronics just to get an overview of its internal mechanism.

My dad also influenced me greatly. There’s almost nothing he cannot fix, right from electrical faults to anything technical. This was my major motivation for choosing Electrical and Electronics Engineering.

I chose my institution majorly because of the geographic location. Most persons would want to school in his/her state of origin.


AI: There are two major skills that every student must possess: COMPETENCE and PERFORMANCE. While competence revolves around skill acquisition, performance is much more concerned about skills application. It is believed that most graduates are competent because their academic performance testifies to this, but they are performance-challenged. This poor performance ipso facto hinders them from getting lucrative jobs in the labour market. What can you say about this assertion?

HO: I would say the assertion is not totally true. There are still some selected few excelling in their careers. However, a large majority falls in this category.

No doubt, our educational system is largely responsible for this. It is true that no nation can grow above the level of its education.

I think the Federal Government needs to declare a state of emergency in the educational sector. Students are mainly being assessed on lower level thinking skills such as memorisation and recall.

This needs to be changed urgently. We need to have students apply what they’re learning by engaging them in projects.

They need to be engaged in higher order thinking skills that would be critical to their performance in the labour market.

The school system must be reinvented to be accountable for what matters most. That means to do the work- teaching, learning, and assessing- in new ways.


AI: What do you think is responsible for competence without performance? Please suggest ways of improving the performance level of university students and graduates

HO: As I earlier said, our current educational system is largely responsible for competence without performance.

Also, most students have a belief system prior to getting admissions.

They believe that the goal of young adults is to leave their nest and test their wings.

In other words, to go to school, get good grades and graduate in the hope of landing a lifelong position. The current educational system needs to be reviewed and reformed.

Tremendous changes are occurring in the global world and the educational system must rise to respond to these changes.

Employers are also focused on interpersonal skills rather than GPA. Students and graduates need to identify and close workforce skill gap.


AI: Achievement in life transcends one’s personal efforts. There were people who, during your programme, rendered some assistance that made your dreams a reality. Who are specific persons whose contribution you can’t forget in your first-class feat?

HO: I am a product of many mentors and I would always be subjected to mentorship. I’ll forever remain grateful to the Almighty God for his grace and sufficiency during the course of my program.

I also take immense pleasure in appreciating my beloved parents, Mr and Mrs Obakhena, and my siblings for their love, support and care.

Appreciations to my amazing friends, Abraham, Mercy and Faith, who were like minded. They were pivotal to me achieving this feat.

My lecturers also imbibed in me the drive for relevant knowledge acquisition. Two lecturers in particular, Engr. Dr. M. S. Okundamiya, and Prof. A. M. Obiazi, pushed me to always give my very best.

I would also like to place on record, Pastor Emmanuel Obot, who was a Father to me in school.


AI: As a first-class graduate, are you currently gainfully employed?

HO: I am not gainfully employed. I am to wind up my one year National Youth Service on the 16th of July, 2020. Hence, I am very open to opportunities.


AI: Do you think your grades have or is giving you any major advantage over other graduates with lesser grades?

HO: No, I don’t think so. Graduating with a first class degree is a great feat but you do not have to rest your oars.

Companies and organisations would rather employ persons with the actual competitive skills in the field of work, than someone just certified as a first class material.

This is why I have always been committed to capacity development.


AI: For students who aspire to graduate with outstanding grade like yours, what would you advise them?

HO: It is said, where focus goes, energy flows. Champions in any field are made through continuous process. Consistency is very key. Anyone can want something; few will actually take action on it.

Place yourself under self-set rules and live by them. You will not always be motivated at all times. That is why you must learn intentional discipline – the ability to act even when you don’t feel like it.

They need to humble themselves and learn from those more grounded in a particular area. These students need to discover what works for them in terms of studying and stick to it.

You’ll never succeed if you fear rejection or being ridiculed.


AI: What would you advise the government to do to improve the standard of our education system?

HO: The government needs to declare a state of emergency in the education sector. They should progressively increase education budget annually.

Instead of opening more universities, the government should invest in already existing Universities. The should address the incessant strike action embarked upon by ASUU and other academic bodies once and for all.


AI: Any other thing you would like to share?


Investment in knowledge always pays the highest dividend. Remain ever committed to capacity development.

Thank you, ma for this opportunity. EDUGIST is really an amazing initiative.


That’s it for this week’s episode. I hope you enjoyed the interview. Got a scholar you would love to be featured?

Would you like to sponsor any of our scholars you find their stories inspiring?
Do you want to contact any of them for engagements or inquiries?

Please reach out to me directly: or call me directly +2347035835612.

I am Abigael Ibikunle and celebrating excellence is a top priority for me. iTeach, iSpeak, iTrain, iFacilitate, iWrite, iInterview and iLoveYou all. Smile! See you next week!


About the author

Abigael Ibikunle

Associate Correspondent at Edugist, Abigael Ibikunle is a Mathematics Education graduate. A professional Journalist and a passionate writer. She can be reached via:

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