From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Henry Chisom Osuigwe, a native of Umunoha community in Mbaitoli Council of Imo State, has broken a 33-year academic record at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Imo State. The graduate of Electric/Electronics Engineering obtained a 4.96 CGPA, beating the previous 4.91 CGPA, which had stood for 33 years.
He spoke with The Education Report.
How did you start?
I had my primary school (education) at Otumonye Primary School, Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra State. After passing the national entrance examination, I was admitted at Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha, popularly known as the DMGS.
It was at the DMGS that I was taught discipline and learnt hard work and how to be focused. At DMGS, the emphasis is on hard work and discipline. Teachers teach you the nitty-gritty but they also expect you to do more on your own.
When I got admission at the FUTO in 2015/2016 to study Electrical/Electronics Engineering, a five-year course, I came prepared. My objective was to be the best in my chosen field and I got down to business.
Before I came to FUTO, I already had some friends who were studying in the same department. It was from them I got the course outline. By the time I was admitted I had already finished some of the course outlines studying on my own. That was because my major aim was to come tops, because I like competition.
At DMGS, did you win any award?
When I was in JSS1 at the end of the session, I emerged the overall best student in five subjects. I was given some cash and other gifts. That award gave me the motivation to work harder and to always aim to be the best. Ever since, it became an abiding principle for me to aim for excellence. I have continued on that path and that is how I ended where I am today.
You had 4.96 CGPA, which is a record, what was the former record?
The existing record before I broke it was 4.91 CGPA. It existed for over 33 years. I said to myself, if somebody could make 4.91 CGPA, with hard work and consistency, I could surpass it.
In my first year, I made about 4.1 and I kept improving my grades. It was by the grace of God and hard work that I broke that record in the class of the 2020 with 4.96 CGPA. I remain grateful to God.
What is your family background like?
My father is a petty trader. I did not come from a wealthy background. Going through secondary education was tough. Most times, my father found it difficult to pay my school fees.
Fortunately for me, I won scholarship. They paid my school fees for some terms. Even prize money competitions I won, I used for my school fees. It was the N150,000 cash prize that I won as the best graduating student in my secondary school that enabled me to process my admission into FUTO.
I had it rough in my first year at FUTO because of financial difficulties. I even tried getting some sort of scholarship but it was not possible. It was during the second semester of my second year that I was able to secure a scholarship from Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company.
Their financial assistance enabled me to expand my academic frontier. I was able to register for some online courses. I also acquired gadgets to enable me stay connected to the Internet and to track the latest development in the technological world. Through this scholarship from Shell, the remaining years of my undergraduate (study) became smooth, financially.
But before, it was hard for me. I was living in the school hostel. Most days, I would go hungry because I had no feeding money. I remain grateful to Shell Nigeria. The company’s scholarship board is like a big family. They keep giving us career mentorship and academic mentorship. I thank them.
Imo State Government has also awarded you a cash prize in addition to automatic employment. How do you feel about it?
I am grateful to Governor Hope Uzodimma. He made the pronouncement as the special guest of honour at the fifth Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu Lecture Series organised by the state chapter of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE). I was there and as an indigene I was given the award. I am grateful to the state government.
After my NYSC, I intend to go for master’s degree, preferably abroad, and, if possible, a PhD. I have always liked Electrical/Electronics Engineering and will continue in that direction.
As a little boy, whenever the electrician came to carry out repairs in our house, I followed him about to know how he would rectify the problem. I am also interested in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Engineering. I am also currently a programmer even though I am in Electrical/Electronics. My ambition is to help Nigeria to operate on a smart energy system one day.