Ayodele Dada: Nigeria’s CGPA Record breaker!

Dada, the best graduating student in Unilag

Dada, the best graduating student in Unilag

In life, there is no permanent record, records exist to be broken! In other to achieve great success, we must develop an infinite capacity to always ignore what others think cannot be done. The most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo, once said; “The greatest tragedy of life is not that we set high aim and miss it, but that we set low aim and reach it”. In an era where mediocrity has become a trade mark among youths, one young chap decided to put his human limitations to the test; he has succeeded in showing us life’s grandest truth: we don’t know what we are capable of until we try. Over the 50 years of existence of the University of Lagos, many records have been set and broken but one that has never been heard of before is the attainment of the peak obtainable CGPA of 5.0! The great philosopher, Seneca said, ‘’it is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.’’ The human mind is limitless and we must strongly believe in our capacity to challenge the status quo. Being undaunted in your pursuit automatically guarantees its accomplishment.

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Impossibilities exist only in the dictionary of fools”. In 1954, there were medical articles that wrote about the human body not being able to run a mile in four minutes. They said that, physically, the body was not able to withstand that much pressure. Banister became the first person to run a mile under 4 minutes. Sport and medical experts said it was impossible but someone dared to challenge impossibility. Roger Bannister, an oxford medical student proved his professors wrong by ending the athletic world’s quest of the 4-minute mile track record with a monumental effort in which he was timed at 3:59:4.

He had beaten the former world record of 4:01:4 established in 1945 at Malmo, Sweden by the great runner Gunder Haegg. It all started after his failure at the 1952 Olympics, Bannister spent two months deciding whether to give up running or not. Roger Banister was aware of the existing record and he went ahead setting goals that eventually broke it. Despite the psychological and medical mystique surrounding the four-minute barrier, barrister dedicated himself to being the first to cross into the three-minute zone. He set himself on a new goal: to be the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes. On 2 May, 1953, he made an attempt on the British record at Oxford. Paced by Chris Chataway, Bannister ran 4:03.6, shattering Wooderson’s 1945 standard.

“This race made me realized that the four-minute mile was not out of reach”, said Bannister. The historic event took place on 6 May 1954 at Iffley road track in Oxford. It was watched by about 3,000 spectators, the weather at Iffley road was not ideal for record-breaking- a 15mph crosswind with gusts of up to 25mph meant that Bannister nearly called off the attempt. Bannister taught the world a great lesson, that there is no permanent record, records exist only to be broken. In 1975, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. In 2012, Bannister carried the Olympics flame at the site of his memorable feat, in the stadium now named after him. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States of America underlined the power of human determination when he said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; rewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on!” has solved and always will solve the problems of human race”.

“Always bear in mind that our resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing”-Abraham Lincoln

Philip Elmer-DeWitt once said, “Some people make headlines while others make history”, but for Ayodele Dada, he made both at the same time. Ayodele Daniel Dada is the 29-year-old native of Ekiti State and graduate of Psychology who graduated with a 5.0 Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) from the University of Lagos, the first in the history of the University and perhaps Nigeria’s history. The stunning story of the Nigerian whiz kid is both inspirational and unprecedented in the tale of academic prowess in a nation where academic standards have suffered great devaluation. His exceptional and unique performance is a testimony to the fact that an average Nigerian youth is full of possibilities. The 2014/2015 convocation event of UNILAG formally kicked off on 28th February with a convocation lecture by the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu. It was an electrifying moment on March 1, 2016 at the 48th convocation of the great institution; 178 students graduated with first class division across all the departments but in the midst of these great minds stood ‘the special one’, a young man that stood out even among his outstanding peers. Just like the biblical Daniel, Ayodele Daniel Dada was indeed ten times better than his colleagues with the spirit of excellence. The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rahamon Bello, was mouth full of praise when he conclusively said that the candidate showed exceptional academic prowess.

The road to getting admission into tertiary institution for Ayodele was paved with great hindrance as his JAMB/UTME result was seized in 2011 for unfounded reasons. He was devastated but then resorted to taking the Diploma Option (foundation programme) and eventually got admitted into UNILAG. He sold computer accessories and engaged in paid tutoring in order to make ends meet. In the face of overwhelming challenges, people ultimately fall into two categories: people that break down and people that break record. In his valedictory speech , the UNILAG whiz kid encouraged youths on making a healthy use of the Social media and also discovering themselves so as not to spend a ‘larger chunk’ of their lives following the multitude. He extolled the virtue of hard work, dedication, perseverance and determination.

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right”-Henry Ford

In an unusual twist that is worthy of emulation, the House of Representatives suspended its rules to permit the entry of Ayodele Dada into the hallowed chambers for the purpose of holding a commendation session in his honour. An act that is a rare privilege in country where we celebrate political ‘thugs’ and moral outlaws more than people with great intellectual values. In a letter titled, “NEW ACADEMIC RECORD BY AYODELE DANIEL DADA”, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila made a call to appreciate the young graduate for his outstanding feet and accomplishment. The concluding part of the letter reads: “To this end, I wish for you to join me as we suspend the House rules to invite Mr. Ayodele Dada to the floor of the House on Tuesday 22nd March to honour the young man and his remarkable achievement. His story is compelling and inspirational to the youth and he represents and mirrors the hope of our tomorrow”.

It was an emotional laden occasion for Ayodele as he struggled to keep a ‘straight face’ when the whole House stood to honour him for his record-breaking feet. Ayodele could not hold back his deep sense of gratitude when he relayed his experience with journalists, he said, “I was just standing there, feeling it was a dream and wishing it didn’t end. Given my humble background, I never envisioned receiving a standing ovation from people I watched on TV. I am completely appreciative”. I am using this platform to applaud the Honourable members, most especially, the Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, for their laudable initiative in deeming it fit to celebrate excellence among youths. It is a culture that has long been lost in the Nigerian environment. In the same vein that the Speaker of the House, Honourable Yakubu Dogara reached out to Mr. Ayodele Dada, I am advising the Nigerian youths to beware of the three vices that hinder success: Money, Women and Alcohol.

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