Amos Ishaku is a 27-year-old Internally Displaced Person (IDP) in a camp in Edo State known as “Home for the Needy”. He graduated from the Edo State University (ESU), Uzairue, with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.80. In this interview with Daily Trust Saturday, the graduate of chemical engineering from Gwoza LGA of Borno State speaks on how he denied himself many things to achieve the feat.
How were your university days?
Interesting, but the beginning was difficult and challenging because when I came to this camp in 2014, I had already dropped out of school for over three years on account of the Boko Haram insurgency in my home state. I never thought of going back to school because of the trauma of how I was chased from my homeland. After I survived the onslaught, all that I wanted was to live and just have something to eat and a place to put my head.
When I arrived at the camp, Pastor Solomon and other staff of the camp started encouraging us to go back to school. That was how I started schooling again from SSII where I had dropped out. In 2018 I passed all my papers and was admitted to the university. Determination and encouragement from my pastor helped me cope throughout my stay in school.
Before then, did you attend secondary school in the camp?
When we finally summoned courage to go back to school after much encouragement, we started learning under trees, and when it rained we went back to our houses and came back as soon as it stopped because the classrooms were not enough.
Sometimes we didn’t even complete notebooks and textbooks. We shared textbooks. But through determination I was able to make my papers after seven attempts. I wrote WAEC, JAMB and NABTEB seven times before I made my papers.
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Why did you have to write seven times?
My pastor, who I call my father, used to tell us that we could pass any examination without malpractice and that it didn’t matter how many times we sat for an examination, that what mattered was success. That made me read hard and passed at the seventh attempt.
JAMB, WAEC and NABTEB seven times, how?
I wrote WAEC twice, NABTEB twice and JAMB thrice.
In the university, I was determined so I read my books, attended lectures and never missed classes, tests and exams. From there I was able to make my points. My dream was to make first class, and I made it.
From year one to final year how was your CGPA?
In year one I got 4.928, year two 4.886, 300-level 4.902, 400-level 4.893 and 500-level 4.532. Then overall CGPA became 4.80.
Before going to the university, how was your stay in the camp?
As I said earlier, I had lost hope and going to school was not an option. But my pastor continued to engage and preach to us; that we could still make despite our setback.
As God would have it, some graduates who we ran together to the camp were among those teaching us. That was how I was able to cope in secondary school.
How were you able to cope in university?
I attended lectures and did my test. I did not go to parties. It was from hostel to class and class to hostel, because I knew where I came from and what I wanted. I also attended Christian fellowships and at times watched football.
How did you feed?
We denied ourselves many things due to lack of money. The major food we ate was garri, and whatever that was available. We never complained of not getting what to eat because we knew it was only our pastor that was helping us, and we were many. Just imagine about 200 students in higher institutions and one man is the one sponsoring them in different universities across the country.
So, even if it was N5,000 we got in a month, we managed it. We understood the situation and had to cope no matter the hunger.
Was there any scholarship?
Over 99 per cent of us were not on scholarship. It was our pastor who sponsored us. We applied for many scholarships and wrote many of the examinations for them but we were not successful.
How about clothing and other things?
At the camp, we relied on donations and gifts.
Any hope of going back to your community in your state?
I believe and have hope that one day I will go back to my community because my relations are still there. One of the things that propelled me in school was the desire to go back to my community better than I left it.
It has become my home. I have friends, daddies and mummies, and that helps me get over the trauma of the insurgency. Coming to Edo actually changed my orientation of life, especially the culture, it has changed my orientation and ways of doing things.
How did you know about the camp?
Through my headmaster. He knew me and my zeal for education. I was the time keeper in his school. When he got to know about this camp, he reached out to me in Taraba State. I don’t know how he got to know that I escaped to Taraba, but he located me, brought me to Jos, Plateau State, and later brought me to this camp.
What is your advice to other inmates of the camp?
My advice to them is that whatever they are going through they should be patient and follow our pastor’s advice.
I appeal to the government at all levels, corporate bodies, donor agencies and individuals to come to our aid so that many of us can have education.