For Tobi Achudume, 26, daughter of Apostle Lawrence Achudume and Rev. Fola Achudume, founders of Victory Life Bible Church, Abeokuta, Ogun State, the completion and bagging of a doctoral degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from the prestigious American Graduate School in Paris, France, is a dream come through.
As a growing up girl, Achudume said she had nurtured to pursue a career in International Relations and Diplomacy after listening to a diplomat on a television programme
To realise the dream, Achudume, who attended the Lawson Group of Schools and TAIDOB College, all in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, for her primary and secondary education, got her first degree in the same discipline from Benson Idahosa University (BIU), Benin, Edo State.
She also had her master’s degree also in International Relations in a UK university, before proceeding to France for the doctoral programme which she started in September 2016 and completed it recently after about 4 years.
Where did you start your formal education?
Lawson Group of Schools and TAIDOB College remain two great schools that prepared me for academic greatness in life. I started my formal education; nursery and primary education at Lawson and later had three years junior secondary at TAIDOB College. I thereafter went back to Lawson for my three years secondary education which I completed as an arts student. I wrote and passed the West African Senior School Certificate Examination in flying colours, the result of which facilitated my admission into the university. I had my first degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from Benson Idahosa University (BIU), Benin, which I completed in 2013/2014 academic session.
What informed your choice of course at BIU?
I was fascinated by a representation of a diplomat which I watched on a television programme, after which I was counselled about it and I thank God that I chose it as a course of study. As an arts student, one of the courses that I could study aside what I eventually settled for was Law, which I did not really wanted to study because as a person I see it as a more restrictive course which I don’t like, hence I settled for a more diversified and broad course that I studied during my first, second degree as well as during my doctoral programme. I must confess that as a secondary school student, it has always been my dream to either be a lawyer or a diplomat. First, God made it possible and secondly my parents and siblings, who were always there, supporting and encouraging me through counselling, guidance as well as spiritually and economically to be what I wanted to be in life.
What helped you in achieving your life time ambition of being a diplomat?
I had good support of teaching systems during my secondary education, particularly from the Lawson Group of schools, where I ended my secondary education. I must pay kudos to some of the teachers that I passed through their tutelage. Also, particular mention must be made of Chief (Mrs.) Alaba Lawson, the proprietress of the Lawson Group of Schools whose leadership, discipline, hardworking, time management and other motivating quotes were always inspiring. The rules that we have in Lawson were those that could set one up for mental growth”.
What informed the choice of the Paris-based American Graduate School?
I chose to come to Paris because I wanted to learn the French Language. I wanted to be in a place where I could improve on speaking and understanding the language. On the other hand, I chose the school, because, it is a specialised one that’s focused on International Relations and Diplomacy. It is an environment where you are sure that you’re getting the best of the course of study in the world.”
How fluent are you now in French compared with you pre-arrival days in France?
I must confess that I’m not as fluent as I would like to be yet, but I’m more fluent in the language than before. As regards adaptation of foreign student like me into the French system, I must be sincere that my first year was more challenging. It was a period that a foreign student like me realised that the French we all know is not what it’s spoken in France.
How did you cope as a foreign student with the French culture?
It was initially difficult for me particularly when I had my masters degree in the UK, but later, like other foreign students, I adapted to the culture as an individual as well as collectively with my colleagues. Let me tell you that I was the only Nigerian student during the programme.
What motivated you to study abroad and what are the areas you think Nigeria need to improve on as far as education is concern?
The main intention for studying abroad was to have another experience with education different from Nigeria. UK seemed to be the closest and so I went for it. For France, it was basically to be exposed to a different language and culture. For a good career in International Relations, knowledge of more that one language goes a long way.
What do you have to say as regard Nigeria education curriculum?
The education curriculum is good, but it is good to improve on it. We could add more practicality to the curriculum and make it more relatable to the jobs available in the market.
In term of facility and infrastructure for learning, did you think Nigeria is doing well? If no, where do you think the focus should be?
The inclusion of technology in Nigeria institutions will help a lot. The world has gone global and so we should as well. It’s not going to be a fast switch, but a slow and steady one would be great also. Computers and access to information should be a need and not luxury.
Why did you choose Boko Haram insurgency in the Northern part of Nigeria as your thesis?
I received maximum cooperation from my supervisors on the eventual topic as it went through many changes. As an International, Relations student, there is no limit to what one can explore, hence my choice of the Boko Haram, ravaging the North East of the country.
What is your advice to Nigerian students in foreign countries are as relates to academic pursuit?
I will advise that whatever it is that they want to do, please pursue it vigorously, not because someone wants you to do it. What I have learnt during this programme was that honestly speaking, if the course had been forced on me, I could probably not have completed it. I would have quit long time ago.
What day would you describe as unforgettable during the course of your study and why?
I had several unforgettable movements and days but the particular one that stands out and remains unforgettable was during the defence period, but I thank God that I sailed through.
Now that you have completed your programme, what next?
There are so many thoughts of what to do next, but I pray for guidance and direction from God. But among my plans is to go into academic, specifically sharing my knowledge of education in Africa, United Kingdom and France with my prospective students. With my first degree in Nigeria, second degree in the United Kingdom and the Ph.D in France, I have seen different educational curricula in different countries that prepare me for academic in the nearest future.