Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Exclusive to The Journalist Blog: The Untold Story of the Record Breaker: The Student who broke 69-year-old academic record at UI was initially frustrated out of UNN and was not allowed to graduate with his mates!

Last week, the media in Nigeria were head-over-heels reporting the unprecedented academic achievement of Ozibo Ozibo Ekele, the bookish Ebonyian who cracked a 69-year-old academic nut at the University of Ibadan. However, what the media didn’t tell Nigerians is that Ekele was stopped from graduating from the Department of Mass Communication University of Nigeria Nsuka due to a disagreement he had with his project supervisor over his project topic.
Also, people still didn’t know that Ekele was a science student and was initially admitted to UNN to study Architecture but switched course after the first year because he “lacked passion for the sciences”
The Journalist Blog got in touch with Ekele for a chat which turned out to be quiet revealing.
Ekele in the said chat revealed to this blog that academic laurels were not entirely new to him since he was also the best graduating student at the secondary level.
My name is Ozibo Ozibo Ekele from Agba, Ishielu LGA in Ebonyi State” he began.
“I started my education at Community Primary School, Amagu Agba and then to Community Secondary School Agba where I was the best Graduating Student in WASC”
Many do not know that the brainy Ekele was initially admitted into the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus to study Architecture and had to switch a year into the programme due to lack of passion for Architecture.
His words: “In 2008, I was admitted to study Architecture at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus but I transferred after one year (in 2009) to Mass Communication at Nsukka”
However, he was stopped from graduating with his mates in 2012 despite being a leading member of his set. The incident was a result of a disagreement he had with his project supervisor (who he refused to name) over his project topic.
Narrating what actually led to his exit from UNN, Ekele said: “Unfortunately, I had some disagreements with my Project Supervisor who made sure I never graduated with my set in 2012. Yes, academic disagreement related to the topic and how to go about it. Thus, I left UNN in frustration to pursue a new degree in History at the University of Ibadan”
Ekele was working on a topic titled "The Press and Terrorism: A Comparative Analysis of Newspapers Coverage of Boko Haram."
When it comes to academics, not graduating with one’s mates could be harrowing. For him, it was one of those difficult moments he faced in school. He said he felt like quitting. Ekele shared his experience:
“The most striking of those difficult moments was the UNN Masscomm incident. When I wrote to many people and it seemed no solution was in sight, I decided to go. And the experience of not graduating with my set, despite being a leading member of the class academically, is the one I would not forget in a hurry. But thanks to people like Dr. Ohaja, Prof. Okoro, Dr. Udeajah, Dr. Ezeah, Mr. Nwachukwu, etc.”
While Ekele was pursuing a degree in History at UI, the authorities at UNN reviewed his case thereby making it possible for him to also complete his studies in Mass Communication. But that did not stop him from going back to Ibadan to complete his studies in History too.
Hear him: “While in Ibadan, the management of Mass Communication in UNN saw the merit of my case and changed the supervisor such that I was able to come back and finish my degree in 2013. Meanwhile, I was already underway at UI, hence I decided to finish that too”
Thus, in 2016, Ekele had two degrees, one in Mass Communication, and the other in History from two of Nigeria’s most prestigious Ivory Towers.
But Ekele is not the kind that stops half way since he promptly picked the MA form at UI, sat for the test and was enrolled to study for his Masters in History; and he told this blog he is not stopping just yet.
“I started MA in Ibadan after my BA and I am also proceeding to PhD, other things being equal”
While many think Ekele broke the 69-year-old record at MA level, it is not true.
To put the records straight he said:
“I broke the record at BA not MA...mind you. When I arrived Ibadan I had no degree yet. So, it was while there that I came to UNN to finish. I wanted to abandon my UI BA but my lecturers advised against it, especially as I posted a GPA of 6.8/7.0 after the first year”.
 This turned out to be a good decision since he described his experience at UI in glowing terms:
“The experience in Ibadan was the best I have had in any school in my entire life. The school is very cheap about 19k for 100 level, the environment is academic friendly, the halls are okay, in fact, the best in Nigeria; most importantly, student-lecturer relations is very cordial. This is a school you can write to the authorities and be sure to have your complaints addressed. Elsewhere, it is a different ball game. The school might not be perfect but when people say UI is the first and the best, they are not mistaken”
Surprisingly, Ekele describes himself as “not intelligent” thus demonstrating rare humility. According to him: “I am not intelligent. If I know of any intelligent person, definitely it is not Ozibo. I just push myself to excel. It is important to point out here that I never learned of any unbroken record in UI History Department until my graduation in 2016. When I left UNN, my aim was to get a degree, any degree. So getting a degree, not breaking a record, was uppermost in my mind. Upon learning of the broken record, well, I see it as a journey not a destination” he told this blog.
Ekele has three pieces of advice for other students who would want to emulate his excellence:
“First, make sure you read courses you have interests and passion in, second, work hard and make sacrifices for your studies, and third, never underestimate the power of the internet and the social media”.
In the nearest future, Ekele said he wants “to be a dedicated academic, a seasoned writer/columnist and if possible retire to a life of law practice in future”
The journey was not rosy at all as according to him challenges were there to deter him, but he pushed on.
According to him: “Yes, I faced the challenge of funding, especially in the university but I was able to pull through. The challenge was so enormous that I almost quit but since quitters never win, I decided to push on”

Ozibo Ozibo Ekele is the son of Late Mr. Ozibo Elem and Mrs. Thereza Ozibo, a trader.

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