SEGUN OLUGBILE in this report highlights how a 23-year-old Nigerian girl, Askia Oghale Tessy, laundered Nigeria’s battered academic image in the United Kingdom by emerging the best graduating student at the 2011 convocation of Middlesex University, carting home five awards.
Oghale, during the 2011 convocation of Middlesex University, United Kingdom
She left Nigeria in 2010 an unsung hero. Though Miss Askia Oghale Tessy had graduated a year earlier with second class upper degree in Computer Science at the Novena University, Oghume, Delta State, nobody gave her a chance to do well at the Middlesex University, Hendon campus, United Kingdom, where she had secured admission to pursue a Master’s degree in Business Information/Computer Technology. But Oghale did not just do well, she emerged the best international graduating student to launder Nigeria’s battered academic image.
Apart from emerging the best, she also carted home five of the awards on offer during the convocation. According to the university, the Nigerian got the award as the best graduating student in Management Information Systems, Decision Support Systems, Systems Design Technology, Expert Systems Technology and Transaction Processing Technology. For her efforts, the UK university has given her an appointment as a lecturer and an automatic admission to run her Ph.D degree at the institution.
In a telephone chat with our correspondent, Oghale said that the quality academic background she was exposed to at Novena, her determination to succeed and the grace of God contributed to her academic success in UK.
“My experience in UK has proved that Nigeria’s education sector is not as bad as we think it is; at least I did all my primary, secondary education and my first degree in Nigeria and if my country’s education sector had been as bad as we used to think, one would not have been able to cope here,” she said.
Oghale, however, added that the level of facilities available in most UK institutions were far better than Nigeria’s. But she said that no student could succeed, whether in Nigeria or in foreign universities, if such student lacks determination and will power to shun distractions.
“For me, I pay full attention to whatever I want to do and I think that also contributed to my success,” she said.
She added that the solid academic foundation she received during her undergraduate days and the quality of lecturers that taught her in Nigeria also contributed to her academic success.
Oghale also said that the involvement of the private sector in the promotion of university education had also upped the standard of university education in the country.
She, however, urged federal and state governments that operate public university to increase funding allocation to these institutions.
“I’m a beneficiary of private university education in Nigeria and I advise government at all levels to invest more in education. If only our government will put in place the physical and academic facilities that will enhance learning, Nigerian students will compete favourably with their peers across the globe, because learning environment will affect students positively or negatively,” she said.
Oghale’s brilliant performance abroad did not come as a surprise to her lecturers at Novena. Some of them who spoke with our correspondent on phone noted that the 23-year-old girl had, on many occasions during her undergraduate days, proved she was made for the top.
The Head of Department, Mathematics and Computer Science, Novena University, Prof. Forli Amusah Frank-Young, a Ghanaian, described Oghale as a hard working, brilliant, diligent student who loved challenges.
“I’m not surprised at her performance because when she was here, she proved to be a very brilliant student. She liked solving difficult questions and took pleasure in challenges,” the professor of Computer Science said.
He added that most times, the award winner engaged herself in research and academic work.
Also, the Head of Department of Chemical Sciences, Dr. Ekakite Andrew, said though he only taught Oghale Basic Chemistry in her first two years in the university, he knew that the girl would go places.
“She was a student who challenged me as a lecturer. She would go out of her way to prepare for class and what we do in Novena is that we encourage brilliant students like her and motivate the less brilliant. You should also know that this university was established to create stars and those who will change Nigeria and Africa for the better. She’s a picture of the future we desire,” he said.
Andrew, however, said that Oghale was not the only student of the institution who is doing well. He said others, including Miss Nwofor Vivian, a 300 Level Biochemistry student, had also written the name of the institution in gold.
Nwofor, he said, had represented the university in the zonal JETS Projects Competition (free choice category) at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and won the first prize.
“She went further to represent the FCT at the national competition where she also came first. Her exploits paved the way for her to represent Nigeria in South Africa in a Project Exposition tagged: “Expo for Young Scientists,” where she won a Merit Award for her excellent performance,” the lecturer said.
Nwofor, while speaking on her performance, stated that this was made possible by hard work, diligence and the good works her lecturers were doing in imparting knowledge to the students.