The following are my most popular or disliked articles of 2020.
#1: Niger is not a civil service state
Let me start with the last one. In this column, I argued that the long-held notion that my state was a civil service state was wrong. The piece elicited a lot of arguments and opinions but I succeeded in converting many people to my perspective.
Some who already believed my perspective, therefore, found it soothing that I spoke for them. For example, Malam Mannir Dan-Ali, former Editor-in-Chief of Daily Trust, sent the following message:
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“Salaam, I enjoyed your column about the salary state myth. At some point, you may consider taking up why so much salaries and allowances are soaked up by less than one per cent of our population at all levels. That is even when you make allowances for their dependants.”
Many, however, disagreed. The problem is that our people think that the absence of factories in the state proves their point. But it does not. If they could only look towards agriculture, they would understand where our people get their employees and realise that over 36 per cent of Nigerians are employed in that sector. This is more so in Niger, the largest state in Nigeria, where 80 per cent of its 76,000 squared kilometres is farmable.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) wrote that: “Regardless of the importance of oil exports, agriculture remains the cornerstone of the Nigerian economy, employing 36.5 per cent of the entire labour force, thus being a meaningful source of livelihood for the majority of the population.”
#2: How to develop a photographic memory
This column is a chapter from one of the three books I wrote in 2020: The Secret of Straight-A Students. The article drew a lot of interest. Parents, teachers, and students especially loved it. Khalid Imam, the Kano-based writer said: “This is a brilliant article. I shall put the knowledge at work myself and teach others as well. Keep sharing stuff like this.”
#3: How to get help from busy people
This column tells the story of how I tried to get Sheikh Nuruddeen Lemu to review my book: The Social Science of Muhammad (SAW), for many months without success. Then I changed tact and adopted a different strategy which led him to do the review in two days.
Surprisingly, many readers used the strategy against me to ask for my help! Example, Abdulrafiu Arikewuyo who is a Nigerian based in Oman wrote: “I read this on Facebook and it immediately gave me the strategy I will use to get help from Dr. Dooba. Thanks, sir for sharing this beautiful thought.”
#4: A bad beginning makes a disastrous end
Some readers swear by this article. Some said it was the best thing I had ever written. I was also lucky to receive an insightful reaction from Malam Aliyu Akoshile, a former Associate Director, Business, at Daily Trust. He wrote: “I agree with you. There are not many things that can’t be learned in life. God has given humans latent knowledge since He taught Prophet Adam the names of EVERYTHING!
“Listing is great for clear articulation/presentation of thoughts and indeed easy consumption by the readers. Malam Mohammed Haruna also is a master in doing that.
“Generally, it’s about skill and style. Mahmud Jega doesn’t do much of listing but his articles are perhaps one of the most readable for clarity of thought, and of course humour. Well done my brother ”
#5: Start with a story
If you ask me which was my best column of the year, I probably would have chosen this. While many people loved it, I liked it more. In writing it, I drew on the tried and true method of the Associated Press (AP) that makes any story engaging by using five major ingredients.
Malam Musa Ibrahim sent his appreciation from Abuja:
“Masha Allah! When I grow up, I want to be an explicit writer like you. How I wish I can write in this persuasive way!”
Engr. Ibrahim Yayaji, a petroleum engineer from Abuja, wrote:
“Allah has truly blessed you with the gift of making what seems difficult to appear simple. When you said there were five elements used in my story (which I shared in our WhatsApp group) I became curious, went back and read my submission with the hope of extracting those elements but to no avail. After this column, however, the elements became so clear to me. May Allah increase you in knowledge.”
#6: This first lady has memorised half of the Qur’an
If you ask me which column was the most useful, most practical and inspirational, I would say it was this story I wrote about the First Lady of Niger State and her effort in the memorisation of the Qur’an. What makes it impressive is the fact that she does it while doing surgery for the poor for free, running a cancer centre and participating in the politics of her state.
The column was an exclusive because even members of her family did not know she had memorised half of the Qur’an. Weeks after the column came out, I met Malam Ibrahim Bello, the governor’s younger brother in Abuja who said: “I read what you wrote about Amina. I actually did not know she memorised the Qur’an. Your article went viral.”
When I visited Mrs. Kabir Yusuf of Daily Trust at home, she said:
“If a medical consultant has the time to memorise the Qur’an, we certainly have no excuse.”
#7: Kid’s guide to the electoral college
This column at once shocked people and enlightened them. People who were struggling to understand America’s Electoral College for years finally understood it in 2020 – thanks to this column. Kadaria Ahmad of RadioNow found it so useful that she put me on air to explain it to her listeners. What is most shocking about the electoral college is that you can lose the election in 39 out of the 50 states in America and still be declared president if you win 11 states due to the number of their electoral college votes.
There are other honourable mentions such as #How to get students addicted to learning. But there is no space to list all of them.
May 2021 benefit us in this world and the hereafter.