Muminah Musa Agaka is not the maiden First Class graduate of the Sociology Department of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, but she is the first to achieve the feat in the last 37 years. In this interview, the 22-year-old, who recently graduated with a CGPA of 4.60, gave an insight into her life, motivation and study routine.
Tell us about your educational background?
I attended Islamic Nursery and Primary School, Ilorin and Islamic College, also in Ilorin. From there, I started an IJMB programme at Lanko Theory Educational Service Limited and moved to Alhikma University, where I wrote the IJMB exams and went to the Ahmadu Bello University .
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I am also a henna artist. I have been into henna art since I was 11 years. It is something I enjoy doing because it enables me to assist my mum in the little way I can.
Did you choose to study Sociology?
I chose Sociology but really didn’t have deep knowledge of what it was all about. I was just a young girl that got to know about the course when it was very close to registering. It sounded interesting, so I picked it.
What were the challenges you encountered in school?
Actually, leaving Ilorin for the North-West at the starting point was a challenge because of the weather and culture shock. Ilorin is much warmer, and there were certain foods I was not used to, such as dan wake.
The university environment in its entirety was something I was new to. Being a direct entry student too, without the basic knowledge of Sociology, made me read like never before.
Health-wise, I can barely withstand stress, so every semester I was admitted for nothing less than three times. But I thank the Almighty Allah for the gift of life and how everything turned out.
The Department of Sociology in ABU is over 50 years, but you are the first to bag a First Class in 37 years. Was this something you deliberately worked to achieve?
Actually, bagging a First Class was never a dream before stepping into the university. The whole ‘dream’ popped up when I had a 5.0GPA in 300L and saw that bright light on my mother’s face. It was not the first of its kind, actually, but that very day, it came with tears and I felt so happy and wished to see more of that. My father died when I was seven years old.
I just felt I should keep doing well and that ended in me bagging a First Class. I won’t say I set a target, but all these came with a whole lot of sacrifices and consistency. At some point, I felt like I was chewing more than I could swallow. I was making henna during holidays then resume to burry my head in studies. At times I had migraine for three days, nonstop. I only did things I thought I should be doing, and God crowned my efforts.
Can you share your journey towards making First Class?
The journey wasn’t an easy one. Like I said, almost everything comes with sacrifices. There were so many times I wanted to take a break, but, “dem no born me well” because I still had a lot to cover. During my stay in school, I had friends that actually walked the walk with me – families such as my aunt, Mrs Hajara Baba, lecturers who turned mentors, such that despite their tight schedules they would guide me. I will forever be grateful to them because they made the journey less tough for me.
How did you feel when your efforts paid off?
I learnt from a mentor in Zaria that never should an individual feel he/she is better than anyone, and never should he/she feel that anyone is better. He taught me to never be proud and never should I be of low self-esteem. Thus, the feeling I get among my friends and community is that of being happy and grateful to God. Achieving that doesn’t make others any way less than me, and I keep in mind to keep my head high and shoulders down.
Have you always been an exceptional student?
No; far from exceptional, actually. From my early primary school days, I would call myself dull. I remember times when my mates would sing for me when I didn’t get the answers right. At my junior secondary school, I can’t recall doing any proper reading, but at the same time, I can’t recall failing. Maybe I grasp most things when taught. It was at senior secondary school that I started reading properly. I would read to understand literary terms, constitutional development, and for the very first time, I got a gift. I guess that was when it all started. My reading culture got enriched when I put in for IJMB. I resumed a bit late and had a lot to cover, so Mr Lanko, the director of the IJMB centre ensured I read. And I was always ready to answer my questions. These processes and those I developed getting to the Sociology Department were what paid off, I guess.
What was your study routine like in school?
Every night I would engage in discussing what we were taught, for at least three hours. Secondly, I would read till the next day and take breaks at the weekends. Thirdly, at midnight of some of those nights, I would take a break from reading to make Tahajjud (night prayer), usually just two rakats and pour out my heart to God. Fourthly, I would try to also explain to whoever was finding it hard to understand. I learnt that knowledge is only useful when you instill it in others, and by doing this, I realised that it stuck more in my head. And more ideas on the whole discuss keeps popping up in the course of my explanations. Alhamdulilah for how it later turned out.
What are your future plans?
My future plan is to further my education and grow in my business. Furthering my education is really something I desire as I would love to have my master’s and PhD. It will be a dream come true, though I don’t have the financial means yet. I keep hoping that, if God wills, through growing my henna business and securing a scholarship, I would be able to achieve it.
What advise can you offer youths?
My advice to them is that they should always be ready to learn and ask questions when they do not know. Read very hard, pray very hard also; and never should they limit themselves. For those who are doing well, they should never let themselves be consumed by pride because that will drive them to doom.
Also, I will like to encourage them to learn a skill to compliment their tertiary education certificate. They should study themselves and figure out what they love doing because passion is required when you want to learn a skill. It makes you want to know more about it and also makes the work less tiring to do in the long run. This is what is required of us as Nigerians – to be more of job creators than job seekers. This will help lessen so many vices we have in our society today.