Thursday 21 January 2011 was indeed a memorable one for thousands at the University of Lagos, as they received various degrees from the University after years of rigorous academic training. It was time to reward students who had put varying degrees of efforts into their respective programmes. Of the several thousands of first degree recipients were 119 First-Class graduates, among whom a particular student stood out. 21-year old Babatunde Olusegun Alawode, a graduate of Mechanical Engineering, emerged the Best Graduating Student with a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.93/5.00. In this exclusive interview with BN Editorial Assistant, Gbenga Awomodu, this young man who wants to solve Nigeria’s energy problems, shares interesting bits about his childhood, friendship, education, and, of course, Nigeria.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am Tunde Alawode, a native of Abeokuta in Ogun State. I come from Semore in Imo, somewhere in Obafemi-Owode Local Government. I am from a polygamous home and I have 28 siblings. I am the 21st child, and seventh of eight from my mum. I recently graduated from the University of Lagos with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Your graduating CGPA of 4.93 translates to how many A’s and B’s?
I had one C and four B’s. Two of the B’s were in my first semester in Unilag, and the remaining two in the fourth and fifth semesters respectively. The C was in a physics laboratory course in my second semester -everyone in class had the same grade. I did, altogether 76, courses.
Please let us into your academic history, pre-university.
I started at High Class Nursery and Primary School, Ikotun, Lagos. Later, I followed my sister, Moji, to her school, Folem Private School (then God’s Time Is the Best Nursery & Primary School, Igando, Lagos). I started at the bottom of the class, but in primary three, I ‘suddenly’ came third. By primary five I was steadily in second position behind Moji. I was enrolled at St. Saviour’s High School, Ijegun, Lagos in September 1999. For the first two terms, I was again second position behind my sister until I came third in the third term of JSS 1, beaten by a girl named Nengi. At the beginning of the next term, the most brilliant students in the neighbouring class were brought to mine. I was scared of even performing worse, so I became more serious. I came first that term and haven’t looked back since then. However, there was a particular very disappointing incident during my JSCE examinations, which made me decide to prove a point – I had all A’s and a P (in IntroTech) in my JSCE. In the 2005 WASSCE, I had all (eight) A1’s and a B2 (in English Language). I heard that was the best result in Lagos State at that time.
Why did you study Mechanical Engineering?
In SS 2, I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do with my life. I soon realized that I loved things engineering. I liked medicine too, but hated the sight of blood and disliked that drugs were too bitter. If I were a scientist that specializes in making drugs sweeter, I would be motivated! My favourite subjects were Physics, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Technical Drawing and Chemistry, so I thought I would not fare badly in Engineering. I read a copy of Awake! magazine which explained the bleak future of the world with current trends in energy demand and use, which would eventually make the world uninhabitable. I decided that my life must make a global impact in the area of energy. Imagine if you only required a litre of petrol to move from Lagos to Sokoto, or if your car could run on only water.
Finish up the exclusive interview here!