In this interview with Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis, winner of the 2015 Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi Essay Contest, Ezekiel Efeobhokhan, a Pharm. D student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) Pharmacy School, Benin City, Nigeria, bared his mind on why he chose to study Pharmacy, how he felt winning the essay competition and ways to improve on it. Excerpts:
Tell us a bit about your educational background
I finished my secondary school in 2008 but got my SSCE in 2010. I immediately enrolled for a diploma in computer science and I graduated in 2011. That same year I got admission to the School of Pharmacy, UNIBEN. I love creative thinking; so I ventured into writing. When I was much younger, I would gather my peers around and tell them fascinating stories. Stories I cooked up in my mind. And they would all sit round to listen. You know, it is not just easy to make your peers listen while you talk but because of how fascinating the stories were, they would sit till I was done talking. Sometimes I got “tips” to tell stories.
Why did you choose to study Pharmacy?
Pharmacy is a very good profession, no doubt. But I would be truthful to say that I knew nothing about this pot of gold until I ran out of other options. I chose pharmacy because the year I took the UTME, I was told that UNIBEN would not be admitting students into the MBBS programme. This is one of the problems the profession (Pharmacy) is facing. It lacks publicity.
Who do you look up to as role models and why?
Early this year, I came up with a list of individuals who are to mentor me on the path I have chosen to follow. They are Pastor Oluwale Josiah, Prof. Ray Ozolua, Gilbert Alasa and Yomi Odunuga. Josiah is my pastor and someone I hold in high regard. I love the way he teaches and responds to my spiritual needs. For Ozolua, I like the way he lectures and how objective he sees life. One principle that endears me to this icon is the fact that he teaches one never to be pedantic. That is, he encourages students to be open-minded and accept changes. With the few communications I have had with him, I have learnt to emulate his level of objectivity. Alasa is an award-winning young journalist who provides me with a great arena to learn and improve my writing skills. Odunuga, on the other hand, is a Saturday columnist in The Nation newspaper. I love the way he presents facts in his write-ups.
How did you feel winning the 2015 edition of Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi essay contest?
It felt like a dream come true. It was something that I looked forward to. It was like a validation. Although many had commended my style of writing, I needed something more tangible than mere commendations. This was what winning the essay brought to me. It brought a sense of fulfilment and a level of satisfaction. All the same, I give God the glory for the opportunity.
Are there areas you think the organisers can improve on?
Yes. I would want the organisers to create more time for essay writers to prepare their work. This year’s competition gave just two weeks to prepare. That was too short, considering that we are students. As we all know, pharmacy students barely have enough time for their books not to talk of sacrificing time for essay competitions. Other national essay competitions I partook in usually give nothing less than two months for preparation. Also, the rewards could also be improved to motivate more writers to participate.
If you were to study another course other than pharmacy, what would it be?
I would have opted for any course related to journalism, maybe Mass communication. Most of my mentors I listed above are all journalists except Prof. Ozolua. I could have also settled for English and Literature.
All the same, I will still find time in the future to pursue this dream of being a professional journalist. Journalism and writing is a passion.
On completion of your studies, in which area of the pharmacy profession do you hope to practise?
Pharmaceutical journalism, if there is any field as such. I may also want to lecture because of the ample time it would create for me to practise journalism. But I can assure you that anything I am going to engage in after graduation will not be far from journalism and writing.