Paul Agada, a former editor of UnilagSun and the Best Graduating Student (BGS) of Mass Communication in this interview with Abiola Ogunleye, Faith Enang, Seyifunmi Soremekun and Oritsejolomi Otomewo speaks on his experiences in school, political and editorial journey, challenges faced, and plans for the future.
Can we get to know you?
Paul Agada is a public relations specialist. By the grace of God, I emerged as the best graduating student of the department of mass communication. While I was here, I was a student leader, and a scholar. Let’s just leave it at that.
How did you end up studying Mass communication?
Growing up, I was the typical smart child who wanted to be a scientist. I still remember representing my school in science competitions when I was in junior secondary school. So, everybody in my junior secondary school thought I would be a science student. But then, the day we filled the aptitude form I knew what I filled would take me to the arts.
Now I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer. I knew it from the bottom of my heart, because I had seen Gani Fawehinmi’s videos as far back as 2008-2009. I read about Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela. These guys were lawyers and deep down within me, I just wanted to be a lawyer. In fact, I met with a distant cousin of mine, she was also an art student like me. They asked me, what do I want to be? I said I want to be a lawyer and my cousin said she wants to be a mass communicator. I felt masscom was a female course and for people that were not serious. On the day I registered for Jamb, my brother told me to choose mass communication. So, that was how I found myself in Mass Comm.
What were your expectations or motivation to get first class coming into UNILAG?
Well, I would say I had many expectations, one of them was the 50,000 naira endowment fund usually given to first class students. Yes, one of my friends has a sister who finished as the best graduating student in psychology in 2019. She told me when she heard that I got admission that I could get a 5.0 in my first year and get that money. That one was an expectation. I got it just once though.
I’d already gotten a Jim Ovia Foundation Scholarship before I got into UNILAG while in secondary school. Obviously, you can’t get a scholarship and disappoint the people that will ask for your results at the end of the semester. Another reason is I know my elder brother used to say that first class from UNILAG is very possible. It was more like a motivation to prove him right. You just want to be the best that you can be. So I would say those are some of the motivations for the 5.0..
How did you achieve 5.0 in your year 1?
Like I already mentioned, I was a scholar. I was always in the Mass Comm library and frequented the education library on my way home. We didn’t usually have classes on Mondays and Fridays so my friends just saw me Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday then till the next Tuesday, I stayed back at home to read. I did not go for overnight. I did it just twice and that was because of peer pressure. Everybody was going for overnight and I just wanted to be with them. I didn’t need it though. Well, that’s because what am I reading that I haven’t read? So the 5.0, even though I was under pressure, didn’t come as a surprise.
How did you maintain your first class degree from year 1 to 4?
In year 1 and 2, I would describe myself as a scholar in every sense of it. But in my year 3 and 4, I would describe myself as a strategist. I wasn’t reading like I would have read at my entry. At that point in time, it’s just a case of discerning which is a case of prioritizing and knowing what comes when. First semester year 3, I discovered that the key to getting As in this department is understanding the continuous assessment (CA). Just make sure your CA is in the good place. No one anywhere wants to do you bad in the exams. i just knew that if I need good grades this semester, I need to take my grades into my hands. We did a lot of group work, and I was often the leader. Funny how some people would not like you for what you do and some think you’re bossy. Eventually, some were grateful though. And that is why I said I moved from a scholar to strategist. I took my destiny into my hands and took charge of those group works. If you like, fight me for it. At the end of the day, you will understand why I’m doing this. You may not like me for it. Some don’t like me for those things. But, I was so happy when they did anonymous and somebody said that, If not for people like Paul, some of our GP’s would have sunk. Then in my year 4 first semester, I tried to go back to my year one days. So I did overnight reading. I read to an extent and all of that. And you know I got a 4.5 in my year four. But my year four was more of a combination of all strategies learnt so far.
It was just a case of knowing what lecturer’s courses I needed to read well and which to use common sense for. At that point in time, I was supposed to understand my lecturers as well and know them in and out. I could even predict some of them. Like they’ve been teaching me for four years and you are expecting me not to know them? I knew them very well so it’s just a case of wisdom and maturity that comes from doing something over time. That was what happened.
Were you at any point threatened by your involvement in many activities on campus?
It’s like I say. One just has to learn and be discerning. You have to learn how to prioritize. My lowest GPAs came in semesters where we had elections. The moment you get involved in some of these things they will take your time and they’ll definitely stress you. In fact my year 3 second semester was terrible. I didn’t read for most of the courses. I was just going there with vibes. My CA’s were down, I did not use my insights. I wanted to be president, it was that period in my life. I can even write a book on it. Definitely there would have been points where I definitely would have thought about my involvement in those things, but you have to learn to be discerning and prioritize.
Can we know what your worst moment in school was?
I think the worst moments will have to be that time I ran for president. I gave my all. There was a time I left my house to teach people I had no business with. Only for election times to come and now see them making different statements that I only started to teach because I wanted to run for president. Is it not just teaching?
I was so disappointed. It was the worst moment for me because I felt insulted. I felt embarrassed because the first time I actually ever taught in this school I taught as a mentor for the Coach for Pay programme organized by the university. So I didn’t even start teaching to run for position. I taught for the money, so I don’t understand. You know how insulting it can be for you to make a sacrifice for people and then for people to literally trample on the choices you made. No moment in this school rivals that period. And then my best two moments I can’t say one or the other. I really can’t pinpoint one but I would say that joy that came from seeing my results in year one first semester and I saw a 5.0! I was so happy. It was unrivaled. I think another moment that will come close was when I was having an interview in the studio. Then somebody turns around and gives a smile telling me I won the election. I ran outside in joy.
How was your social life on campus?
With most of my actions, I tried to follow my principles and my own Christian faith. I will not lie, going to parties and all of that is not my thing . Although I’m actually more open to the idea now. I won’t actually go to a party but I will go to an event where they play music, have some drinks and chat. So you know, there are some things that you know the older you grow, you’re more open to somethings.
So what’s your advice to students?
This is my advice to everybody. Don’t be so fixated on the destination, first class, second class upper, you want to be an entrepreneur, you want to be an accountant, you want to be the next Tech star, that you don’t enjoy the journey. Live because your four years in UNILAG will soon be over. So, enjoy the moment!
What is up next for Paul after school?I’m currently a PR specialist. But I have always had a long time dream to be a Chevening scholar. I’m just really hoping to do my master’s abroad either in communication for development, marketing communications or business development. I’d also love to study international and foreign relations. Meanwhile, I’m also hoping to garner enough skill and knowledge to do PR for tech, Growth marketing or product marketing. Someday, I hope to be an entrepreneur and venture into politics.