By Olabisi Deji-Folutile
Sequel to the trending reports on Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, who gifted the winner of BBNaija 2020, Laycon, with a house and a cash sum of N5m, I decided to do a brief research on what best graduating students in our tertiary institutions, especially the public ones, have been getting for their outstanding academic performances and I was able to come up with these few prizes, some shocking, I must admit.
But for the picture of Best Somadina published in a reputable online newspaper, holding on to his prize of a tuber of yam and a fowl, nothing could have made me imagine that a university in Nigeria could give such as rewards for academic excellence. Yet, those were the prizes that Somadina got for emerging as the Mass Communication Best Graduating Student from Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), formerly known as Anambra State University. It is possible that these prizes may have some cultural values that people may not
know, but for someone like me, those prize items look strange, and more so when they were all that someone got for academic exploits.
Interestingly, however, in terms of the value, Somadina’s case seems to be far better than that of Bamisaye Tosin who got less than a dollar, precisely N200, for being the best graduating student of the Ekiti State University’s (EKSU) Department of Civil Engineering during his own set. I guess many of us can easily relate with this as it is obviously devoid of any form of cultural connotation. However, Oluwole Hikmat Ibrahim-Buruji was luckier. She got about $6 precisely N2,000 prize for topping the University of Ibadan’s Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies in the 2016 academic session.
The value could have been lower if the current exchange rate is used for the calculation but thankfully the official exchange rate was better in 2016 than it is now. Otherwise, at the current exchange rate, that would have amounted to about $4. Despite the poor prize money, all the recipients cited above are still lucky compared to Esther Fatogun, the 2018 best graduating student of Lagos State Polytechnic, who only got a handshake.
But, in 2019, Ridwan Ola-Gbadamosi of the Faculty of Engineering of Lagos State University was far luckier than his contemporaries as he got a whopping N200, 000 for emerging the institution’s overall best – that’s about $620. He got N100, 000 as faculty best and N100, 000 as university best. In the case of Nuhu Ibrahim, the 2018 best graduating student from Ahmadu Bello University, he was able to meet the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, who promised to sponsor his postgraduate studies.
But aside that, he only got the Dean’s award for the best student from his faculty, a laptop; an award from Royal Choice Hotel worth N50,000; and another one from Chief Felix, also worth N50,000. In all, he got about $300 for his academic feat.
Compare this to the prize of the winner of the 2020 BBNaija who went home with N85m aside other gifts. In Nigeria, beauty pageants also go home with mouth-watering cash, car gifts and other benefits. Some people have said that BBN teaches nothing and adds no value; some even think the programme encourages mediocrity. Well, people are entitled to their opinion.
I may not know why the organisers keep able-bodied youths in a building, feed them every day and allow them to play around and reward the best of them with millions of Naira every year, but I guess the programme has been sustained all these years because it probably serves the goal of its organisers.
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