Reward for excellence: A tribute to my dear brother | Dailytrust

Reward for excellence: A tribute to my dear brother

It’s official that Auwal Abdullahi of the Department of Physiotherapy Bayero University, Kano, has successfully defended his PhD at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

It is a dream pursued in silence, no fanfare or dust was raised. Absolute determination took the place of both.

The journey was torturous, but I know the stuff Brother Auwal is made of. Consistency, focus, determination and perseverance define him the most.

In 2010 when the Department of Sociology Bayero University, Kano, robbed me of an admission well-deserved, I alongside Brother Auwal travelled back and forth from the Faculty of Arts and Islamic Studies to the students’ affairs office almost seven times at a stretch.

I was dead exhausted and my mouth dried, but seeing how the ever-energetic Auwal kept marching, I had no option but to march with him. He was a graduate assistant at the university then.

That encounter was the third academic bullet I received, but one of the most painful in my journey to where I am today. The rest is history. It was much later I understood that that was Dr. Auwal’s way of initiating people into academic journey. Had he left me along, that bullet would have shattered my spirit.

He wanted to push some senses into me so that I would be tough-skinned and daring in my endeavours. Once you pick a model in Dr Auwal, you gradually learn that men are meant to be tested, but in their desire to survive they have to take up responsibility and be captains of their own souls, as William Ernest Henley would put it.

Whenever I mirror his journey, the rocky paths he trod – the steep hills he climbed, the academic punches and arrows he stood – I see a tale of courage.

Auwal is a type of person that will fight to the finish. He is a typical example of the saying ‘whatever is worth doing is worth doing well’.

When he sent me the invitation card of his PhD defense in Medical Sciences at the University Of Antwerp, Belgium, on Tuesday, an hour away to the time of the event, I became nostalgic.

There was no iota of qualm. I believe it was a battle already won. Auwal is the type of person you will not hesitate to send even on civilisatrice. I just thought the feeling had forsaken me since the day he got married when I turned expecting to see my late father blessing the union.

He would have been happy to see his oldest son in PhD regalia after years of a torturous journey to make Nigeria great. He would have been happier to see how the flower of the fruit of his labour has blossomed.

Since my father breathed his last, Auwal has stepped and he has been doing wonders. He has held onto the light and he is making sure every member of the family holds unto the torch and march forward, no matter how charged ‘with punishments’ the journey is.

Auwal Adullahi’s journey to PhD was  traumatic to say the least. It was another burden bore in silence. It’s not only the PhD, but the innovative research involved. He is a typical example of polymath and a researcher par excellence – a diligent and fertile mind.


A qualified physiotherapist, Auwal Abdullahi graduated from Bayero University Kano in 2005. He obtained an MSc in Neurological Rehabilitation at the University of Plymouth, UK, in 2013 and now a PhD in ‘Effects of Constraint Induced Movement Therapy on Outcomes of After Stroke’ from University of Antwerp, Belgium.

He also holds certificates in Research Methods (Qualitative and Quantitative) and University Teaching. He has worked at Bayero University, Kano, since 2010.

He serves as a Reviewer for a number of journals, including the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, BMC Neurology, Disability and Rehabilitation, International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, Child Neurology, and Physiotherapy Research International.

He is an Associate Editor at BMC Health Research Services and the Coordinator of Master of Physiotherapy program at the Bayero University, Kano.

Dr. Auwal has more than 30 journal articles and a book chapter to his credit.

‘Prof. before PhD’

Only his friends, and perhaps few of his relatives, know how grandiose Auwal’s academic standing was during his undergraduate days and what is has transformed into to date.

He once asked me to collect a transcript he had applied for at his department on his behalf. Then he took up a contract job with a healthcare facility in Gumi, Zamfara State.

I unfolded a large bale of description I stored to enact a mental image of my sender in the minds of his would-be colleagues, but they could not understand.

A staffer – who had been busy with some document and looked non-Nigerian, I still remember the name ‘Samir’, so someone called him – came out of his office and playfully asked them to shut up.

“If you cannot recognize the looks, why not the voice? Close your eyes and listen to this young man. He has the same voice as his sender,” Samir said.

At once, three of them, agreed that I was sent by someone they called Prof, to which I said no.

My direct interlocutor looked me in the eyes and said, “You were sent by Prof; you don’t know, right?”

Sometime in the same year, Auwal sent me to Professor Kodza at the Department of Physiotherapy, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital. I was an overzealous hot-headed Law-thirsty JAMB candidate then.

When the professor ushered me to a seat, he asked whether I was a brother to Mr. Auwal. I answered in the affirmative.

“What do you want to study in the university?” he asked.

Without a moment of hesitation, I answered, “law”.

After a moment thought and said, “It’s a fine course, but if you want to succeed you must take after your brother. Be vocal, tenacious and open-minded.”

That was the second time I heard people who have made a strong footing in the academia showering glowing praises on our new PhD in town.

Brother Auwal, as you bagged this PhD, my prayers will not be different from our father’s on that day I stepped out in tears to see you off to the airport where you boarded a flight to Plymouth, London.

At that moment I looked at his eyes. He wanted to tell you how much he cared. But men do not cry; neither do they speak much. They act more.

May the certificate and the knowledge acquired be your pass to greatness; may it be beneficial to humanity; may Allah the Almighty protect you, Ameen.

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