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My mates felt I was selfish for not telling answers in exam hall – First class graduate, Crawford University

Chukwuma Precious was the best student of
the Department of Political Science and International Relations,
Crawford University, Igbesa, Ogun State, in the 2013/2014 academic
session, with a 4.84 CGPA. She shares her story with Tunde Ajaja below:


Why did you choose to be a political scientist?
I can’t say I had always wanted to be a
political scientist but I’ve always been fascinated and curious about
politics and international affairs. I used to read newspapers and
articles. I read wide as a kid, including watching news and
familiarising myself with topical issues. It may interest you to know
that some characters in Nollywood movies that depict political science
influenced my interest. I thought I would study Law but my score was
four per cent below the cut-off mark, so I opted to study Politics in a
private university rather than ‘waste’ my good UTME score.
Since you didn’t study your preferred course, was it by luck that you had a first class?
Initially, it happened on its own,
because I was surprised when I had 4.42/5.00 GPA in my first semester
and 4.91 in my second semester. I had these results when I was very
playful. On seeing such performance when I didn’t pay much attention, I
decided to keep it up and even do better, coupled with the kind of
encouragement I got from my parents, lecturers and our then association
president. It was hard work crowned by God’s favour.
Is the course that simple, like some people have said?
It’s not simple. Political science has a
lot to do with History, Government, Sociology, Economics, Psychology and
other things, which were all the things I have always been interested
in. So, I didn’t find it hard at all.
What part of your course did you enjoy most and which was most challenging?
I enjoyed our International Relations
courses, most especially Human Rights and Diplomacy where we had
practical classes and treated issues like domestic abuse. The most
challenging time was between 300 Level and 400 Level when we did many
courses, mock exam and real project work.
In reference to what you were taught in school, how would you assess politics in Nigeria?
That’s a tough one because even in class,
it was so hard to aptly categorise Nigeria and her style of politics.
It’s basically a form of do-or-die politics that runs on legalised
corruption, godfatherism and doublespeak where the few influential
people rule, feeding off the ignorance, small mindedness or ‘sidon-look’
attitude of the masses, and making them dependent on the crumbs of the
so-called national cake. Nigerian politics is basically a struggle where
only the strong survive and the Machiavellian rule applies.
In your view, is there any link between studying Political Science and being a politician?
In this sphere, there is hardly any link
between the theory and practice of politics because we hardly spot
politicians with any formal training in politics, unlike what is
obtainable in some other countries. But ideally, political scientists
should form a vital part of the political class as they tend to be more
knowledgeable about certain things. I don’t think we have had anyone
like that in politics, so it has to be tested before we can conclude.
Would you like to go into politics?
If it’s part of God’s plans for me, so be
it. I seem to have it in me following my history throughout school
years, so it’s very likely I do.
Which of the political posts would likely interest you?
For now, I want to work and improve
myself before I think of anything politics. If I have to, I would like
to be a lawmaker than be in the executive arm of government. I have to
start somewhere and progress from there, and not because it seems
lucrative but the need to be there for people and speak for them. I have
never liked business, so I won’t go into it while politics has always
been my passion.
What do you think is wrong with the way politics is run in Nigeria by the way?
Contrary to the popular belief, what is
wrong with Nigerian politics is not the leaders but the followers,
Nigerians as a whole; our very poor political culture, total disregard
for selfless service, mediocrity, ignorance and mostly, fear of the
unknown and of speaking the truth because of familiarity or what we
stand to gain. Then we can also blame our constitution for many of its
loopholes, such as immunity clause, crop of very selfish lawmakers and a
weak judiciary. I believe if we as Nigerians take responsibility for
whatever has brought us to this level and start working to make a change
in any little way we can, things will get better. Parents and teachers
should also impart to the younger generation better values like selfless
service, honesty, active citizenship, and neutrality to ethno-religious
differences.
In international relations, how would you assess Nigeria’s relations with other countries?
In my opinion, Nigeria’s relationship
with other countries is quite favourable, just that our foreign
relations still follow the neo-imperial trend of the decades after the
Independence. This shows in our trade and aid relations where we are
heavily dependent on the opinions of others, we import products to the
detriment of local industry and many other issues.
Who are the people who influenced or inspired you to excellence?
My mum, Mrs. Ezim Chukwuma, religious
fathers like my Vicar, Ven. Shobo, my wonderful HOD in school, Dr.
Gabriel Adeola and my lecturers. Also, some prominent figures like Oby
Ezekwesili, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf have
influenced me greatly, even without knowing them. Seeing them is an
encouragement.
Can you tell us about yourself?
I’m from a very humble family of two
children, my elder sister and I. We were raised by our mum and
grandmother because our dad died when I was 12. I was at home then, so
it was a painful experience but thank God for the good support system,
else, it could have affected my studies. Also, my dream as a child was
to either be a broadcaster, a renowned lawyer or human rights activist
because I like defending people, so I had people like Festus Keyamo and
Gani Fawehinmi, of blessed memory, as my role models.
What was your typical day like as an undergraduate?
My schedule was quite regimented between
100 Level and 300 Level. I had a timetable that engaged me between 7am
and 7pm everyday but it became more flexible after that. I used the
library a lot, probably five out of six days, to read, make my private
notes, read novels or to browse and beyond that, I used to read in the
midnight.
How easy was it to graduate with a first class?
Success in academics doesn’t come easy so
it was definitely not easy. There were distractions, some laxity and
there used to be some temptation to relax but the grace of God kept me
strong. I also must say that my approach to reading was different
because I had a very unusual or even weird take on things. For instance,
I could read and make links between the most serious things as politics
to the simple things like cartoons and jingles to help me and my
friends recall certain things when necessary and I also didn’t do
excessive reading as some people would think.
As a first class student, did you enjoy any certain privilege(s)?
Maybe few. I was a bit popular among
lecturers and students and sometimes when I couldn’t meet up with some
assignments, they understood and were not too hard on me because they
knew it was unlike me.
Were you involved in other school activities?
I wasn’t really involved in other things
apart from political and sporting events. I was once a treasurer in my
departmental association and I was the only female to ever run for
President later on. I also played volleyball for fun.
How did you manage distractions?
Overcoming temptation was not too much of
a struggle since I already made room for playtime with friends; but
prayers, self discipline, good company and having my priorities set
straight were key.
How did you cope with gestures from guys who had interest in you because of your performance?
Guys, guys, guys. Let’s just say I was able to handle their presence with wisdom.
What was the most unpleasant thing you ever heard about yourself?
Most unpleasant things I heard about me
were that I was a mean and pretentious person who would read in secret
and distract others so they would fail, and that I didn’t want to share
my knowledge just because I didn’t agree to share answers in the exam
hall.
What are your aspirations?
My aspirations remain to be very
successful and to be a source of inspiration to girls, women and people
generally and by being a blessing to them regardless of the field I find
myself in.
Where would you like to work?
I have a ton of dreams so I would like to
work in areas involving foreign affairs and travelling, probably in
multinationals or for the government, real estate, and still be a
creator of employment for others.
What would be your advice to students?
I advise young people, students,
undergraduates and everyone out there to pray about everything, have a
good circle of support, be it good friends or older colleagues. Students
should have the courage to ask questions about things that are not
clear to them because failure is worse than so-called stupid questions.
Most importantly, students should know, love and believe in themselves
to avoid being misled by others.
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