Tell us about your childhood?
My growing up was interesting, I lived the early years of my life at Igede; and I had to live with one of my aunts in Lagos, Mrs Disu, my mother’s younger sister. I did part of my primary school education at Saint Paul Anglican Primary School, Lagos State and completed it at St. John Anglican Primary School, Igede-Ekiti. In 1982, I proceeded to Baptist High School at Igede-Ekiti from 1982-1986. After that I went for HSC at Christ School at Ado-Ekiti. From there I proceeded to Federal Polytechnic Ado-Ekiti, where I studied Mining Engineering. I had a stint at Federal University of Akure, but did not complete my B.Tech due to lack of funds. I lost my father very early in life. I came back to Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti to complete my Geological Engineering. After service, I took up a teaching job after work with some contractors as a technologist.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
I regard teaching as a calling because I have passion to interact with youths and children. It is not for the pecuniary gains. When I was in secondary school, I was the senior perfect, and I was teaching form two class. When I was doing my A-Levels, I was assisting the students in Physics under the direction of PTA. So, teaching has been part of me right from time. My own belief about teaching is that knowledge that is useful is supposed to be passed from one generation to the other so that it will continue to uphold the dignity of that society. The reason I did not study education was because of funds but I later found myself there. I did my postgraduate at the Ekiti State University and graduated with a good grade.
When did you start teaching?
I started teaching in 2006 precisely but I had taught at the Lagos State Continuous Education Centre between 1997 and 2000. Officially, I started teaching with the Ekiti State Teaching Service Commission in January 2006.
To have emerged as the best teacher among thousands could not have come by happenstance. Would you say it was a dream come true or hard work simply paid off?
A combination of both – because I do my job with little or no supervision. I like doing anything worth doing well. I like to perform excellently in anything that I do. At the same time, I have always dreamt to be fulfilled in this job. So, that was why I put all my efforts into the profession.
How did you feel when your name was announced in Abuja as the best teacher in Nigeria?
I was the first person to get to Eagle Square, Abuja on that day. Nobody was there when I got there. When I saw all the gifts, I prayed, ‘God, I want a car. May it be so in Jesus’ name! Amen.’ When they started calling names for the public secondary schools’ category from the fifth position, I prayed again. I said, ‘Let my name be called last in Jesus’ name. Amen.’ When they got to the second position, I strained my ears and realised it was a Hausa name; that was when I knew I would be the winner.
What criteria were used in choosing the best teacher?
There were many criteria. I know they considered hard work, past records, results of pupils and some other things. Pupils nowadays believe that it is only what the teacher teaches that they should know. They won’t go beyond that. But in my case, I tell them where to go to get information. I used Project Method to teach. Then there is what I call extrasensory; when I tell a pupil to do something, I may know that it won’t be easy for him. But when he comes back, I will tell him how to do it. With this, their sense will continue to develop. What I think helped me a lot was realising when I started this work that most of the pupils have problems assimilating the abstract concept that we teach in physics. I teach mathematics, physics, chemistry and geography.
How did your wife and children react when you were announced as the best teacher?
They jubilated and they were happy. They started praising God for the uncommon grace.
To date, many parents do not want their wards to study education. What is your advice to such parent?
That may be based on their ignorance of ideology behind education. Education is in all fields. If you are a doctor, you apply knowledge to solve problem in Medicine and whether you are an Engineer, you apply knowledge to solve problems in structures. Whatever field you find yourself, you are applying knowledge to solve problems. Knowledge is the bedrock of education and education has a functional definition by White Head in 1932. He said education is the art of utilising knowledge. So, if you are able to utilise knowledge at the same time use it to be useful to self and community, then you are practising education. So, the parents who are saying a ward should not study education are invariably saying they don’t want the child to achieve knowledge because if you look at the beginning, educationists were trained under medical doctors and engineers at the foremost college then, Yaba College of Technology. So, those people if they have not perfected the art of utilising knowledge or if they have not got the rudiments of education I don’t think they would be able to impact the knowledge so effectively and effortlessly that brought up the concept of education. So, I don’t believe that parents should discourage their children from studying education.