I love to see life beyond the present –Fakorede, FUTO first class graduate
Sodiq Fakorede, 25, was the best student in the School of Health and Health Technology, Federal University of Technology, Owerri. He graduated with 4.62 CGPA from the Department of Prosthetics and Orthotics. In this interview with GIBSON ACHONU, he talks about the hurdles he crossed to make first class
Could you take us through your academic journey before this latest feat?
I had my elementary and secondary education in Ayetoro, Ogun State. I obtained my first school leaving certificate in 2005 and I passed all my subjects in the Senior School Certificate Examination in 2011 at one sitting. In 2012, I sat the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and I chose FUTO to study Prosthetics and Orthotics. I was admitted that same year. At that time, it was called Prosthetics and Orthopaedic Technology before it was later renamed Prosthetics and Orthotics.
For the benefit of those who do not know about it, what is the import of this course in Nigeria’s health sector?
There are instances people have physical challenges, like loss of limbs or bent hands. The trauma such people go through should not be aggravated, so it’s our duty to ensure that such persons are reassured of having access to a suitable alternative. In the case of people with lost limbs, we try to ensure that they are able to walk again. It is pertinent to state that it is not just to walk again but to walk as natural as possible, and in such a way that people would not easily detect that there was once a challenge at that particular part of the body. So, Orthotics deals with using orthopaedic devices to enhance the functions of the weak body part while Prosthetics is the replacement of lost limb or body parts in a human being. So, we work in hospitals with other medical workers.
Can you be called a doctor?
People that studied this course overseas are regarded as doctors. But here in Nigeria, it is a new course. It is only being taught in two higher institutions, Federal College of Orthopaedic Technology, Igbobi and FUTO, so the relevant authorities have not classified the course as being a very important one, like other professionals in the medical field, such as Medicine and Pharmacy, among others.
Did you face any challenge studying the course?
Prosthetics and Orthotics as a discipline deals with life, but it is saddening that it has not been given its pride of place in Nigeria’s educational system.
What would be your suggestion to the relevant authorities in this regard?
I would suggest that efforts should be intensified by the Federal Government (Federal Ministry of Education) to classify and rate the discipline, as to make it have its pride of place like other professional courses in the scheme of things.
Do you have any regret studying the course?
No, don’t forget that I chose the course from the outset, mainly because it primarily deals with helping humanity. People go through very difficult times when they lose their body parts because it inflicts so much pain and discomfort on them. So, I believe the course should be made to be more relevant, rated and classified, like what obtains in civilised countries.
Since it wasn’t every student in your class that made first class, what did you do differently?
Every good thing in life starts with determination and more importantly the grace of God Almighty. From my first year, I was determined to make first class, so I knew that every lecture, assignment, test and of course examination counted and I shouldn’t joke with any of them. Again, there is this saying that, “All men were created equal but working harder makes the difference among them.” That popular saying really motivated me whenever I remember it. For instance, while some others relied on what was taught in class alone, I went the extra mile to study other materials to complement the one I learnt in class. I knew I wasn’t studying to just pass exams, but to know all I could about each of my courses. Another motivating factor was that I didn’t listen to what people, especially my classmates and those ahead of us, were saying like, ‘Nobody has ever had an “A” in this course’ or ‘It is very difficult or impossible to make an excellent result in this course’. And the popular saying that iron sharpeneth iron influenced my choice of friends because I was conscious of the kind of friends I kept on campus. But most importantly, God Almighty, considering my academic efforts and life principles, helped me to achieve this feat.
Were there ways your mum influenced your achievement?
Yes, there was a time in my life when I could not read or write. This was in my primary four. She ensured that I did not give up on myself. She made me to see reasons why I was better than I thought I was. This led to my being dropped down by two classes (precisely from primary four to two). It is very expedient to disclose at this point that dropping by two classes marked a new academic experience in my life. She always encouraged me to see life beyond the present. Those pieces of advice have really been of immense help to me up till today. Anytime I felt like giving up, they boosted and encouraged me.
You only mentioned your mum, what of your dad?
Yes, I mentioned only my mum because my dad has passed on. He died while I was in primary five.
Were you in any relationship on campus?
I had friends; both young men and women, but that was where it stopped. I didn’t go into any intimate relationship.
Given how much you tried to avoid distraction/relationship, were you sociable at all?
Yes, I kept friends who I hung out with. Permit me to disclose at this point that I had a special way of greeting students and friends. That distinguished me amongst them to the extent that they subsequently emulated that.
How were you greeting them?
It was funny. It did not matter what time of the day, I was usually greeting school/class mates or friends good morning even when it was supposed to be good evening or good afternoon. I also followed it by asking them ‘How is your wife and children?’ This was always greeted with laughter. With that, whenever they saw me, they also greeted me the same way. It later became the order of the day, especially among my classmates/ friends.
How tough was it to make first class?
It was not easy. I started with a result that was not so wonderful in my first year, especially when I made ‘E’ in a three-unit course. This disenchanted me. However, nothing can stop a man with determination. Again, my fellowship also became another issue. This was because it required a lot of time if you must do it very well, owing to portfolios I held. So, combining the two (academics and religious programmes) both of which I considered very important became a serious problem. But I thank God for wisdom.
What were the things you did constantly while you were on campus?
Not minding my tenacity for my studies and service to God Almighty, because I strongly believe that those in the Lord must always be in the lead, one constant thing with me was that I regularly had my siesta. Many times, I slept for three hours in the night to balance the two, but I never missed my siesta.
Why did you choose FUTO among many other universities in Nigeria?
Prosthetics and Orthotics is being taught in two higher institutions in the country. I chose FUTO because it is the only university that offers the course up to degree level.
What are your plans for the future?
After my National Youth Service Corps programme, I would like to work for some time before going back to school for my Master’s degree programme.
Where do you like to work?
I see myself in a well established hospital, where I will put to maximum use my ingenuity and dexterity in my chosen profession.
What are those moments you won’t forget in a hurry?
One very memorable moment in life was in primary five when I got first position in the class, after I had failed primary two. You know I said I was dropped from primary four to primary two for poor academic performance. The other memorable day was the day I gained admission into FUTO. The greatest among them was the day of my convocation, when I was singled out from among my colleagues as the best graduating student from the School of Health and Health Technology.
Many students, like those in your school and department, would today look up to you as having achieved what they also dream of achieving. What would be your advice to them?
I would classify my advice to them into six. One is to set priorities right. Two is for them to crave success as much as they need air. Three is that they should stop procrastination, which is something many people have to deal with. Four is that they should not give up, no matter the situation. Five is that they should desist from moving with mediocre students or simply put, students who are seriously unserious. Lastly they should never forget the supreme position of God Almighty in all their activities. They should also not see the troubled Nigeria’s educational sector as an excuse for any sort of failure.
What do you think government should look into very quickly?
It is very important for the government to know that to destroy a nation does not require atomic bomb, but to lower the standard of education and allow students to engage in examination malpractice. Students who cheat in exams and find a way to graduate are like a burden on the society. If they find themselves in hospitals, for instance, they cause more harm to human health than the positive results expected of them. If they become accountants or economists, they could crash the economy and if they become judges, justice becomes elusive and innocent persons suffer.