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I dropped out of school twice to pursue my passion for tech – Katibu

Thirty-three-year-old Umar Katibu was born in Misau LGA of Bauchi State and is now a freelance web developer. Since childhood, he always had an eye…

Thirty-three-year-old Umar Katibu was born in Misau LGA of Bauchi State and is now a freelance web developer. Since childhood, he always had an eye for technology and was a radio technician as a teenager. However, his talent and intelligence made his trajectory in life take a different route leading to bouts of depression and resisting forlorn hope as he struggled to trace his track.

Having finished secondary school as the best student in chemistry in 2009, his uncle advised him to study medicine in the university, to becoming a doctor.

Even though Katibu preferred industrial chemistry, he suppressed his choice to follow the guidance of his uncle, who had been sponsoring his education.

His first attempt secured him admission into Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, to study medicine but two years into the programme, he was desolate and depressed due to his performance in the school.

“It is not that I don’t have the brain capacity to study medicine, I was not just passionate about it,” he said.

The poor grades led to his withdrawal from the school. He found solace in reading entrepreneurial books which he said were instrumental in exposing him to the possibility in becoming an entrepreneur.

He knew his newfound happiness was only his own as his decision would not be accepted at home.

“I felt happy to be free from medicine. The only problem was I had let my family down. I wrote a letter to my uncle and told him my failure was a ‘Blessing in disguise.’

Four months into his bitter-sweet ecstasy, he got a fully paid scholarship to study marine transportation in the Philippines.

As expected, the decision drew anger from his family and he was labelled a failure that would never make anything out of his existence.

Deep down, he wanted a challenge that would ignite his passion, so he decided to return to Nigeria in 2016.

Katibu was not sure of what to do with his life but the inspiration came one day to learn graphics design. So he took to Adobe Photoshop and gradually, he started a self-taught journey that metamorphosed into video-editing and programming as he finally got interested in what he is passionate about.

His uncle advised him to go back to school but instead of studying computer science, his passion, he went for Quantity Survey.

“I also have an interest in construction and I know I could read it because I am naturally talented. I realised if I go for computer science, I will only study computer science but if I go to the construction industry, I can study construction and still have the knowledge of tech as I can learn it in my leisure. I realised that almost all tech founders never graduated. I believe school is not a necessity but for me to expand my horizon. So that is why I did not study computer science.”

Now in Bayero University, Kano, Katibu’s foray into programming was not serious yet until he started learning HTML, CSL, javascript and object-oriented programming.

Not long after that, he lost his uncle. This made life a bit difficult as his uncle was sponsoring his education.

Nevertheless, life smiled back at him when a rumour made the rounds in the school that the school management would not hold the annual election for the Students’ Union Government (SUG).

“The rumour then was that the school was not having the money to conduct the election while others were saying it was due to insecurity. Whichever case it was, I felt it was an opportunity for me to finally showcase my talent.”

While also in school politics, Katibu wrote several letters to the school management on how he would solve that by making it hold online. Eventually, he got a call from the Dean of Students Affairs to put his idea to fruition.

With the election portal a success, however, it has not been used on a large scale as the SUG is yet to be held since 2020 when it was developed.

The portal gave him a leap and confidence as he got another contract to create a ledger for a company that engages in POS.

While holding an optimistic view of his future and  having graduated with a BSc in quantity survey, Katibu urges youth to embrace entrepreneurship and stop reliance on government jobs.


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