Paul Agada emerged the 2019/2020 best graduating student in the department of mass communication, University of Lagos (UNILAG). In this interview by ENIOLA OYEMOLADE, Agada reveals how he attained this victory, among others.
Why mass communication?
“Initially, my intention was to study law. As a kid, I read about Gani Fawehinmi and watched his videos when he died in 2009. I wanted to help people like he did. The decision to study Mass Communication was last minute. My brother convinced me that Mass Communication offered me versatile options such as journalism, public relations, advertising, broadcasting, communication for development among others. Basically, I felt I could also change the world as a communicator.”
How was your admission into UNILAG like? Was it easy?
“It was not easy at all. My JAMB score was 211, when I saw it, I gave up on admission. I was very close to switching to Lagos State University (LASU). Luckily for me, the change of institution form had closed when I wanted to. Thankfully, the Federal Government directed universities to suspend Post-Jamb and adopt O’level in 2016. My O’level results were great and that’s how I got into UNILAG.”
You emerged the best graduating student of your department. How does this make you feel?
“I feel so elated. It gives me confidence in my ability; I know that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to pursue.”
You were the president of the Mass Communication Students’ Association for the 2019/20 session and General Secretary of same association for 2018/19 session. Would you say you have a love for politics?
“Coincidentally, my birthday is May 29, the former democracy day. The date marked the dawn of the fourth republic. Growing up my relatives and family friends called me ‘The governor’ and ‘Obasanjo’. That instilled a love for politics in me and I will love to be a politician soon.”
How were you able to combine these roles with your academics?
“I believe that academic excellence and active involvement in extracurricular activities are not mutually exclusive. That mindset helped me learn how to prioritise. I had to learn time management and leadership. I delegated things that others could handle and trusted them enough to deliver.”
What did you do differently in your quest to attain this feat?
“I was strategic. I had to observe the environment, my lecturers and senior colleagues who excelled academically. Insights gained from these observations guided my decisions.”
Did you make up your mind right from the start to finish as the best graduating student?
“Yes, I wanted to be the Best Graduating Student of my Faculty. But, I could not achieve that. From the start, the goal was to be the best in my department and faculty.”
Would you call yourself a genius or this feat was achieved through hard work?
“A combination of both; I am naturally brilliant and I have a strong work ethic.”
What was your reading pattern like? Were there any special patterns?
“In my first year, I was a library nerd. I spent hours in the library. But from my second year after I got involved in extracurricular activities, I resorted to doing overnight reading when examinations were close. I took my continuous assessments (CA) seriously, we did a lot of group work and I was often the group leader.”
Did you face any challenges in school? What were they and how did you overcome them?
“At one point, I was dealing with a lack of self belief. I was afraid that my involvement in so many extracurricular activities would prevent me from graduating.
But I had to remind myself that I had done well so far. I spoke with my seniors and their words helped me. That aside, I did not get bed space in year one and three, so I attended classes from my house. Getting to school in time for 8:00 a.m classes was quite difficult because the Akoka route would always be at standstill in the morning. Oftentimes, I had to use bike men and we all know how carefree they ride”
People tend to assume that those who do excellently well in their studies do not have any social life. Was this your case?
Well, I’ll say I’m in the middle. I’m not the most outgoing person nor am I anti-social. I hang out with friends and family whenever I have the chance.
Tell us your most memorable moment in school
The feeling I got from winning my departmental election in 2019 is unrivalled. It was a tough election and the result was a close call, thankfully I won. When I saw the result, I could not contain the feeling, I jumped and screamed. Some of my supporters even carried me. I was under immense pressure and I dreaded losing that election, so the feeling of victory was memorable.
Is there any communication gap(s) you think the media is yet to fill in this country?
First, I must commend the Nigerian media for adapting to trends technology and content wise. However, I believe data journalism is a bit crude. I understand the challenges confronting the media though, but I think the media need to do better interpreting and reporting data, particularly tracking budgets and using infographics like BudgIT does.
What area of mass communication do you plan to delve into?
I’m currently into marketing communications, but I plan to also touch communication for development/behavioural change communications. This is because as someone who believes that achieving the global goals requires input from everyone, specialising in communication for development will ensure that I am able to develop and execute campaigns that will advance development in this part of the world.
Communication for development/behavioural change communications is an aspect of communication that is concerned with communicating developing plans by government or NGOs to its target audience in a manner that will resonate with them.
What was your CGPA? And did you receive any award? List them
I finished with 4.62 CGPA. Yea, I received awards in school. At the convocation, I was awarded the HOD’s Prize for the Best Graduating Student in Mass Communication and the Wetherheads Advertising Group Prize for Best Student in Advertising. Also, my entry won the Future Leader of Marketing category at the 10th edition of Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) Awards in 2021.
In my faculty, I won the Scholar with a Difference Award of the Social Sciences Students’ Association in 2021. In my department, I won the Journalist of the year award in 2019, and then I won Orator of the year, Most Influential Student and Scholar with a Difference Awards in 2021. I also got the Jim Ovia Foundation Scholarship in 2016, having emerged winner of the Star rising Mastermind Initiative Quiz.
Tell us a little bit about your background
I am from a Christian family of eight. My state of origin is Benue State, Ogbadibo Local Government Area. I belong to the Idoma tribe.
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