Interviews The First Class Diary

First Class Diary: I had to Hawk Pure Water to Raise the Money that was Needed for My Common Entrance- EK

Written by Abigael Ibikunle

First Class Diary: I had to Hawk Pure Water to Raise the Money that was Needed for My Common Entrance.

Hi everyone! It’s August! Yaaaaaay, I’m excited. It’s another exciting episode on the series again. I have got an interesting interview for you. If you missed July series, read up here.

Please meet, Engr. Efemwenkiekie Kelvin Uyi from Landmark University. He is a mechanical engineer and was the valedictorian of his set. Let me save the rest of the story.

In his words,

Any student that can get a good grade can do well practical wise. That is not to say that some students who cannot compete well during examination cannot do well when it comes to technical jobs. Artisans are good examples.



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

Efemwenkiekie Kelvin: I am Engr. Efemwenkiekie Kelvin Uyi, I hail from Obozogbe in Orhionmwon LGA of Edo State. My family calls a neighboring village, Ugo-niyekeorhionwon home because we have an ancestral link to the place.



Efemwenkiekie Kelvin Uyi

Though, I was born in Benin, after a while my family relocated back to the village, Ugo-niyekeorhionwon. I had my early schooling in the village. With a father like mine who will take nothing but the best, ensuring his kids are the smartest was a task he made sure he achieved.

He was a core disciplinarian, expecting nothing but the best. At some point, bringing home the first position was no longer okay. He made sure I started going for the total marks in the different subjects I offered. Little did I know he was laying that strong foundation because he would not be around for too long.

My childhood was characterized by ups and downs; I knew what to do per time. In the year 2000, we lost my dad, and that was when the reality of being fatherless kicked in. We had to relocate to Benin, where I was enrolled in another private school.

The money became too much for my Mum, so I switched to a government-owned primary school (Ivbiyeneva Primary school) to complete my primary education.

In all of this, I had to involve myself in different things such as hawking, being a bus conductor, etc. to contribute my quota to the family needs.

I remembered when I was to sit for my primary school leaving certificate, my mum had no money. So, I had to hawk pure water to raise the money that was needed for my common entrance.

Then, I proceeded to Niger College for secondary education. However, for my junior WAEC examination, I enrolled with courage comprehensive school. This was because I took the exam when I was in JSS2. After my exams, I went back to Niger college for my SS1.

Few weeks in, my mum did not want me to continue schooling in Benin due to the excessive cultism activity that was going on at the time. I had to travel to Lagos, where I was enrolled to Shekinah comprehensive school.

There, I took my first GCE in SS1, and attempted WAEC in SS2 but English was missing. I had to relocate back to Benin, where I took my WAEC with Rapid Success High School.

Getting admission became very hard, I tried entering UNIBEN twice, but my attempts were not successful. Somehow, I got to know about Landmark University from my church. I tried the scholarship exam and aced it.

Fortunately, I got admitted into Landmark University as a pioneer student in 2011 with scholarship as icing on the cake under the David Oyedepo Foundation.

That’s how my university education started. Year one came, I hardly even read since I prepared so much while waiting to get admission. I had different textbooks that I got using my feeding money, I finished project 1,2,3 and other text myself.

With this solid foundation, 100 level was a work over, I took tutorials a lot. Sometimes, I won’t even sleep because I was teaching my colleagues all they needed to know. I assimilated well in class and did further study on any subject or topic I was taught.

Leading my department became an immediate task and I won the best student in my department across the various level. I was so desperate to get a 5 point; even those I taught got it before me. In my 400level I got a rhema from judges, of how God used 300 men to deliver the Israelites.

I held unto that word, it was my most playful semester. People started to think I will finally drop. As the Lord will have it, before the result came out different persons walked up to me to say they dreamt that I made 5 points. I told them I knew already and finally when the result came out God did it.

That became the beginning of a new era of 5 point. I ended up graduating as the pioneer best graduating student of Mechanical Engineering, Landmark University on the 20th July 2015 with a CGPA of 4.68 out of a possible 5.

The joy in my mum’s face was all of it for me. God helped me to achieve a feat my Dad wished for me decades earlier. I think I am the only one in the whole of my family that has achieved such academic success, I stand to be corrected.


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

EK: As a young child, toys were not things my parents will just buy for us; we had to make them ourselves. Upon getting into secondary school, I loved mathematics, though my earliest dream was to be an aeronautic engineer. I knew I had to be science inclined.

When I discovered the amount of money needed to study Aeronautical Engineering, I had to settle for Mechanical Engineering. It was the closest to Aeronautical Engineering.

Today, I have 2 degrees in Mechanical Engineering. As regards institution, the admission into the program came with a scholarship, which enabled me to choose the institution.


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?

EK: The issue regarding competence and performance cannot be over flogged. I will speak from the angle of being an engineer. One thing seems to be reoccurring here, it is the fact that so much emphasis is laid on taking several courses without the needed practical involvement.

Any student that can get a good grade can do well practical wise. That is not to say that some students who cannot compete well during examination cannot do well when it comes to technical jobs. Artisans are good examples.

However, I am just saying that students are as good as their exposure. How many companies open room to the industrial trainee? Unfortunately, I was a victim of that nepotism, despite my pleasant resume, good grade, and all.

I couldn’t get into the company I wanted to do my industrial training attachment with. So, I had to settle for a lesser one. Students learn better by doing rather than reading or listening.

There are only few persons that make the conscious effort towards getting practical experience during or after graduation. Institutions need to do more.


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

EK: The entire education curriculum as obtainable with NUC needs to be restructured. This is especially for the professional disciplines, where hands-on learning is core. That also includes policies, such as increasing the timeline for industrial training for students.

NYSC years should be made more productive for professional disciplines rather than sending engineers to the classrooms. This is not good for the growth of performers. Why not have the kind of internships doctors have but Practical focused?

What about having a school of engineering as the lawyers do, instead of allowing young engineers to fend for themselves without proper guidance? When all these are put in place, there is bound to be a paradigm shift.


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

EK: My mum will be the first on the list, followed by my eldest sister. The David Oyedepo Foundation scholarship;e it birthed the opportunity to attend an elite school like Landmark University.

Thanks to the entire faculty and staff of Mechanical Engineering department for their tireless effort in building kings and queens out of the ordinary persons.


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

EK: Yes, I am, currently.


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

EK: Yes, it allows you to be heard, just like you are doing now. Employers usually pick the best until one is not able to defend his/her resume before others can be considered for any position.


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

EK: I can only wish them well; I am of the school of thought that believes in making the best out of anywhere I find myself in life. That is what made me rise to the occasion of becoming the valedictorian of my department.

Academics are no exception. In doing so, don’t lose yourself.


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

EK: There is a need for a total overhauling, declaring education as a state of emergency won’t be too much to do. Also, there’s a need to change the entire structure, too many jobless graduates, education must be meaningful.


AI: Any other thing you would like to share?

EK: For those who were not able to achieve the feat of bagging a first-class, it’s not the end of the road there will be other feats to be achieved. To have made a first-class in my bachelor’s degree and distinction in my master’s degree have been a sign of grace.

Hence, there is room at the top for anyone interested in attaining success in any sphere of influence. I leave you with a final word from the chancellor of Landmark University and Covenant University (Dr. David O. Oyedepo) on my convocation day 17th July 2015, he said:

“If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving”.

It has worked for me till this day, I hope it works for you, God bless. Thanks for your time!


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 have engagements for any of them? Please reach out to me

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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