BY IKENNA ASOMBA
…becomes Nigeria’s oldest to do so
Learning is a life-long process and there’s no age limit to learning.” “It’s better late than never,” they said; when a 74-year-old retired military officer, Colonel Layiwola Adegunju, was earlier this year admitted to study Law at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, encomiums poured in from various quarters. Today, another record breaker has emerged at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo.
It is the story of 80-year-old retired civil servant, Pa Alimi Olarenwaju Amodu, who is amongst the over 27,087 students presented by the university for its 17th convocation, holding today.
Pa Amodu is undoubtedly Nigeria’s oldest university student, graduating with a Second Class Honours in Sociology. He is a father of seven and hails from Oniyangi in Oluyole Local Government Area of Oyo State. In spite of his age, he is courageous and determined to search for knowledge.
He revealed to Quadlife that he sets his eyes on becoming a Ph.D holder before he returns to the Creator, even as he had currently sat for and passed a Master’s degree examination to study Industrial Relations in LASU. After his Ph.D, he plans to give back to the society by establishing a primary school in his home town, Oniyangi.
His zeal and love for education spurred the Rotary Club of Lagos to encourage him with an award for his steadfastness in 2010. He also won the “Man of Repute” Grand Award of the Department of Sociology, LASU, in 2004, being his first year in the university.
During his undergraduate days, the octogenarian was popularly known and called the “Youngest Student” and “Baba Bookwarm.” Like a resilient fighter, “Baba Bookwarm” didn’t fail any course during his undergraduate days.
Asked the secret, he said: “It was by God’s grace that I graduated from LASU without having to re-sit for any carry-over course. Although during my undergraduate days, I faced a lot of challenging moments like having to wake up very early to catch a bus to school. What really helped me to succeed throughout was that I had from the foundation learned from my mother to wake up as early as 3.00 a.m. I usually read from 3.00 a.m. to 6.00 a.m to constantly update my scope of knowledge, and I thank God who saw me through to this point.”
During his undergraduate days, the likes of Dr. Wahab Elias, Head, Department of Sociology and Prof. Atere Adewole were his favourite lecturers. While he best enjoyed the former’s course on Sociology of the Third World, the latter’s was Criminology. It was Dr. Elias that Pa Amodu first approached when he came to LASU in 2003. The don advised him to apply as a full-time student, instead of the part-time he had in mind. He was also his project supervisor in his final year.
On how he felt sitting together to receive lectures with students who are young enough to be his grand children, he said: “That’s very good. It was a stiff competition between me and them. When you are competing with young students, there’s no age consideration. I have to always struggle to sit at the front in class. Another point is that the lecturers address everyone as equal in the university.”
Sharing his most memorable moment on campus, he recalled the incident that occurred in class sometime ago, when he dozed off during a lecture. “That day, my lecturer caught me dozing in class. He said to me: ‘Baba you are sleeping’ and I said, ‘No sir, I wasn’t sleeping’.
So he said: ‘If you weren’t sleeping, what did I say last?” I couldn’t answer. He asked me what I ate before coming to school, and I told him I ate rice. Then he advised me not to take heavy meals before coming to school , but just a cup of tea and some slices of bread. The funniest thing is that I was disciplined by standing up till the end of the lecture.”
Pa Amodu, however, disclosed that he had been offered admission by several universities in the past, but the ultimate sacrifice of giving the best education to his children, did not allow him to go. He said: “You see, the ultimate sacrifice you can pay as a parent is to give the best of education to your children.