I won’t re­fer to my­self as bril­liant – ABU’s 1st class grad­u­ate

Twenty-three-year-old Al-Amin Bashir Bu­gaje of Ah­madu Bello Univer­sity (ABU), Zaria, emerged as the over­all best grad­u­at­ing stu­dent dur­ing the univer­sity’s 40th con­vo­ca­tion y last Satur­day with a 4.93 CGPA, the high­est score ever recorded in the his­tory o

Weekly Trust - - Interview | Encounter - Haf­sah Abubakar Matazu

How does it feel achiev­ing such an in­cred­i­ble feat? Firstly, there’s re­lief, mostly from fin­ish­ing school­ing. I also feel ex­cited and a lit­tle over­whelmed. The re­sponse from the univer­sity com­mu­nity and the coun­try at large has been re­ally pos­i­tive. I am re­ally hon­oured and hum­bled.

Did you ex­pect to grad­u­ate with such fly­ing colours?

Well, I al­ways try to do my pos­si­ble best. I’m not al­ways sure what that will trans­late to. But gen­er­ally, in or­der to avoid dis­ap­point­ment, I don’t ex­pect.

How did you at­tain this re­sult?

It was a mix­ture of all the reg­u­lar ‘study-well’ driven con­cepts with a touch of the magic recipe. Firstly, my mother and se­condly, sleep­ing reg­u­larly. I take sies­tas ev­ery day if I can. The idea be­hind that is, with­out the bless­ings of your par­ents, all you do will be fruit­less. And with­out proper rest, your men­tal ef­fi­ciency is com­pro­mised.

What’s your study pat­tern like?

My study pat­tern has evolved over the years. Dur­ing my first two years, set­ting a solid foun­da­tion was key. I split my study time in bits, but was al­ways con­sis­tent. An hour in the night and in the morn­ing; be­fore class to get an idea of the next day’s cour­ses and an hour in the evening to recapitulate the day’s lec­tures. This made build­ing my knowl­edge base in as much as 13 cour­ses a se­mes­ter with­out los­ing fo­cus.

How hard did you have to study to achieve such an out­stand­ing re­sult? To be hon­est, ‘Na God.’ You were also awarded with the best project work. Can you share what your project was about?

My fi­nal year project was on the de­vel­op­ment of a web-based real-time en­ergy mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem, aimed at im­prov­ing the ef­fi­ciency in en­ergy man­age­ment. Real time in­for­ma­tion of pro­cesses hinged on the idea of IoT (In­ter­net of Things) was the driv­ing force that made the im­ple­men­ta­tion pos­si­ble. The project was a re­sponse-so­lu­tion to a sud­den hike in elec­tric­ity tar­iff in ABU, Zaria to about N86 mil­lion per month. Real time in­for­ma­tion could pro­vide valu­able in­for­ma­tion to save cost in the short and long run and also pro­vide bud­get­ing and fore­cast op­tions amongst oth­ers. At the mo­ment, a pro­to­type so­lu­tion is de­ployed in my depart­ment, that is, Elec­tri­cal and Com­puter En­gi­neer­ing.

A while back, Kaduna Elec­tric­ity Dis­tri­bu­tion Com­pany showed in­ter­est in the project, but they haven’t got­ten back to us yet. But I’m still hope­ful of im­ple­ment­ing this as a sus­tain­able so­lu­tion.

What chal­lenged you the most dur­ing the course of your stud­ies?

Learn­ing to over­come my stiff body to dance. If I am to name a chal­lenge, it will be at the time I was com­bin­ing ‘To­wards an In­tel­lec­tual To­mor­row,’ club ac­tiv­i­ties, stu­dent politics, en­gi­neer­ing lab hours with my reg­u­lar aca­demic ac­tiv­i­ties. It was de­mand­ing and I was stretched to my lim­its. But it all paid off.

Be­ing one of the smartest stu­dents in school must have come with a lot of at­ten­tion. How did you han­dle it?

I tried not to think too much of it. There were cer­tainly times when I wished for some peace and quiet but couldn’t have that. Or peo­ple ran­domly stop­ping you on the street to get your num­ber. Along the lines, I tried to sep­a­rate my so­cial in­ter­ac­tions from my academia. Coin­ci­den­tally most of

It was a mix­ture of all the reg­u­lar ‘study­well’ driven con­cepts with a touch of the magic recipe. Firstly, my mother and se­condly, sleep­ing reg­u­larly. I take sies­tas ev­ery day if I can

friends were from Fac­ulty of Law.

Have you al­ways been this bril­liant or was this a walk to­wards a goal for you?

I sin­cerely wouldn’t re­fer to my­self as bril­liant. I am pushed to al­ways be a bet­ter ver­sion of my­self. To do the pos­si­ble best, I can al­ways and hope­fully, that will trans­late in an ef­fort to make my so­ci­ety bet­ter. But to answer fully the ‘bril­liance’ ques­tion, I share the same sen­ti­ment as Isaac New­ton when he said, ‘I do not know what I may ap­pear to the world; but to my­self I seem to have been only like a boy play­ing on the seashore, and divert­ing my­self in now and then find­ing a smoother peb­ble or a pret­tier shell than or­di­nary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undis­cov­ered be­fore me.’

What role did your par­ents and fam­ily play in your suc­cess?

The role a fam­ily plays in groom­ing a per­son can’t be overem­pha­sized. I have been blessed with the most sup­port­ive par­ents and they were in­volved in ev­ery step of the way. My mother is an avid reader and that spirit was in­cul­cated to us all from a young age.

The sup­port from my fam­ily in all di­men­sions es­pe­cially in terms of ed­u­ca­tion is pro­found.

With the schol­ar­ship awarded to you by the NNPC for your post­grad­u­ate stud­ies, what course do you in­tent do study and where?

I hope to ex­plore the fron­tiers of en­ergy per­haps along the lines of re­new­able tech­nolo­gies. The world of to­mor­row is built around sus­tain­able en­ergy. As a na­tion, we must turn to­wards that with all we’ve got. I still haven’t de­cided but my op­tions are be­tween the UK and the US. I’ve al­ready started the ap­pli­ca­tion process to Cam­bridge and I’m also adding the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (MIT) to my list.

What else would you have stud­ied if not Elec­tri­cal En­gi­neer­ing?

Per­haps Psy­chol­ogy. I’m fas­ci­nated with the hu­man mind and the thought of hyp­no­tiz­ing some­one has al­ways tit­il­lated my fancy. Hope­fully I’ll pur­sue it some day.

What do you do in your free time?

I en­joy po­etry so I read and write. I also play chess. Other times I make the ef­fort to play foot­ball and on cer­tain oc­ca­sions, my squad forces me to move my other­wise stiff torso to the beat.

What advice do you have for stu­dents who find it tough to cope with their stud­ies?

If you are do­ing some­thing you love, stay strong and stay true. It’ll get bet­ter. Con­sis­tency is a virtue. So dis­ci­pline your mind to keep push­ing. If you aren’t, run away and find some­thing you have pas­sion for.

Alamin Bu­gaje

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