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Monday, 9 May 2016

My mates called me Daddy, but I’m comforted I got a First Class Honours -Style buff, Elkanah Mowarin

Elkanah Mowarin, the Best Graduating Student of Mass Communication department was certainly the cynosure of all eyes at the 2016 convocation ceremony of the University of Lagos. He joined 177 others who bagged First Class degree from the institution for the 2014/2015 graduating set.

Apart from his record CGPA of 4.74 from the department that is not popular for producing many First Class students at convocation, the obvious fact that he is much advanced in years than most of his graduating mates drew attraction to him.

In this interview with Paul Ukpabio, the marketing communication expert revealed
the reason for his passion for bagging a degree in Mass Communication, how he attained the rare feat, and other things about his lifestyle.

Quite a feat to become best graduating student of UNILAG Mass Communication department for the 2014/2015 graduating set. Tell us a bit about yourself and background?

I give God the glory. I am Elkanah Oghenovo Mowarin. I am from Ikungun, Agbara in Ugheli East Local Government Area, Delta State. I am from a family of nine- six boys and a girl. I am the first son.
I attended African Church School one in Warri. I also attended one of the best secondary schools in Nigeria called Urhobo College, Efrun in Warri.
I was born in Sapele, Delta State. My parents told me I was born in a hospital. I know I am old enough to be called a man. I also know I was not born when Mary Slessor or Mungo Park was around (laughs).

Before going to UNILAG for your degree in Mass Communication, have you been involved in any other tertiary education?

Yes. I have been involved in several higher institutions or universities education. But I don't want to go into details on that. What I want people to know is that you can achieve anything you want to achieve as long as you set your mind on it. I don't want to go into details on the number of degrees I have bagged. What I want to harp on is the fact that at any level or age you set your mind to do anything, you can achieve it. There are principles that guide this: Set a goal for yourself. Then ask yourself: how do I achieve this? Identify the ingredients of what you need to achieve the goal. Who do you need? What do you need? Then give yourself a time frame. You must then apply yourself. Start! There is also the need for periodic evaluation of how far you have gone.

What motivated you into a degree in Mass Communication in UNILAG?

Before coming to the University of Lagos, I have been into media marketing for more than 20 years, and I said to myself, I cannot just be in media marketing without getting the necessary certification to support my expertise. That was what informed my going to UNILAG. We know Nigeria is a country that is very much concerned about certificates. I Studied in UNILAG for four years as a full time student. I was in class every time I should be there. Even though I live in Lekki, I had to secure an apartment close to the University of Lagos due to my commitment to the project of Mass Communication that I was studying. I relied on the services of lecturers, senior students, and others I considered to have superior knowledge. I set apart many other things and gave my studentship 100 per cent attention. Prior to my admission, the last time I drank coffee was in the secondary school, but as a UNILAG student, I had to rely on coffee to an extent so as to be able to cope.

How did you spend your leisure time as an undergraduate?

University of Lagos is an emporium of excellence, especially the Mass Communication department, which is overdue for upgrade to a school of communication, being a UNESCO- endorsed centre of excellence in journalism and media training. Even though the primary assignment of students is to come and study, there are some social programmes put in place to enable students to catch fun. For instance, we have the costume days, and other recreational packages. In terms of socials, we went to lagoon front; we enjoyed the natural look of the place. Beside the lagoon is the botanical and zoological garden. We also went there to catch fun. In addition, we had a great time in the presence of God. The Communicators for Christ Fellowship was there. So I can say university of Lagos offers a rounded experience- academic, social, physical, and others. Being a university, all activities were not centred on academics. However, it is a place of intense studying. Lecturers are there to drive you. Fortunately, my Mass Communication department have the best set of lecturers that you will wish to have around you. Even though academics may at times be very challenging, but they are always there to encourage you.

How easy was it for you to interact with the age difference to other regular classmates?

I refused to notice the difference. We burnt candles. I was even teaching my class mates then. As I have earlier stated, what I was studying is what I have practised for more than 20 years. The degree programme was more of trying to get the academic perspective to it. As time progressed, we studied also at Arts Block. Sometimes, there would be light out in school and we had to study under the streetlight near the road. With time, I got an apartment somewhere around Iwaya road at Onike. I spent most of my time at my apartment studying. I also used the university library. Permit me to state that UNILAG have a well equipped library.

Apart from being the CEO of EOM Communications, you have also been known as a Stylish curator. And we can recall that you set up what is known as Style Next. Tell us about that

When I set up that shop then, I was not just showing off what life is really like for a fashionable society personality. I wanted to do more than that. As a youthful entrepreneur then,  I wanted to beatify people in the city. So to do that, I set up the multi million naira equipment loaded unisex salon, at Eric Moore Road, Surulere, to cater for people’s beauty needs. Yes, I must tell you that I was once a barber, and if I handle a barbing clipper for you, you will marvel at my dexterity with the tool.”

You have also been noticed in the society in terms of fashion and style, what motivates you in this regard?

The totality of life starts from the spiritual realm and I believe that God Almighty gave me the vision of style. The import for me, is always to do style better from the personal experience that I have had.

Back to UNILAG, what was your major sequence of study?
I studied Mass Communication. Even though I majored in the broadcast sequence, but the department is planned in a way that you are exposed to virtually all the sequences. These include Public Relations, advertising, print journalism, and broadcasting.
How do you feel emerging as the Best Graduating Student for your set?
To be candid, I did not come to UNILAG with the mind of graduating with a First Class. I just wanted to be a serious student and make the best use of the opportunity. However, concerning my emergence as the Best Graduating Student, I am still astonished. I feel glad about it. I feel encouraged, and I ascribe all glory to the awesome God. When I got to the department, I discovered that the lecturers are much grounded as well as verse in their various disciplines; and that propelled me because when you are in a friendly and conducive environment, there is very high probability that you get the best out of yourself.  So, I give a lot of credit to my lecturers. They brought the best out of me. In my 200 level, when results were released, some of these lecturers called my attention to the need to improve in the areas where I was lagging behind. I was always in the class. I never had a make-up test. I was always preoccupied with listening and taking notes in the class. I gave my all to my studentship in UNILAG. It was perhaps the toughest time in my life, but I have every reason to be grateful to God that I succeeded.
Campus is full of fun and beautiful ladies, how did you handle the issue of sex and the female folks who must have realised you have big money to spend?
As I have earlier stated, I had a specific goal which was to make the best use of the opportunity. The fact is that UNILAG is a fun place to be; but focus leads to environmental blindness. When you set your mind to achieve a goal, this may make you to be environmentally blind to distractions. A lot of events came. Such include going to beach parties, clubbing, among others. But I was not tempted to lose sight of my goal. Occasionally, I was involved, but I was more focused than involved. More so, that I am an adult, not just an adult student, but also the 'grandpa' student. It became a lot easier for me to be focused. The first day I came for lecture, when I looked around me, I saw 16-year-old 'children'. Then somebody said 'that must be our lecturer'. But when they found out I was a student, they were shocked. Some of them called me 'Uncle El',  some called me 'Pa El', while others referred to me as 'daddy'. All these were to show me respect, and it was fun.

Again how did you handle the age factor?

The truth of the matter is that I am a simple person. For the better part of my life, I have been a media communicator. It is instructive to note that a media person is a person of all times. He is a man for all seasons and for all ages. A media person or communicator should be able to relate with everybody across ages, gender, generation, colour, creed, religion, among others. So, that foundation was there. As a result, it was not so difficult for me to blend. By my upbringing, I am a very humble and easy going person. I can be strict, but I am not arrogant. I have to appreciate my parents for raising me up as a good child. Apart from that, as the saying goes, 'the higher you go, the cooler you become'. I believe that with my age also, I have been able to understand that pride and arrogance do not make any sense.

Can you tell us some of your future plans?

As for the future, I believe the future will take care of itself.

Are there some people you will like to appreciate specially?

I want to thank the Vice Chancellor, Professor Rahman Bello, The Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor Omololu Soyombo, The Head of Department, Dr. Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndissika, The Chairman, UNILAG 103.FM, Professor Ralph Akinfeleye, and all my distinguished lecturers in the department. I also appreciate all my fellow colleagues and all my resource persons who drank Nescafe with me, especially Mr. Godwin Simon, a graduate of the department. It was a wonderful journey, and I am immensely grateful.

What advice do you have for undergraduates in UNILAG?

I will advise all undergraduates to be focused. Focus is the soul of the purpose of being in UNILAG. You can play, but never lose sight of the fact that the primary reason why you are in the University of Lagos is academics. Apply yourselves to rewarding causes. Be consistent. Push yourself. It's all for a period, and before you know it, it's all over.

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