Sefiyat Ahuoiza Owuri was a first-class student in her days at the Kaduna State Polytechnic (Kadpoly) and the Federal University, Lokoja (FUL) where she read Estate Management and Economics, respectively. In this interview, the 38-year-old indigene of Adavi LGA of Kogi State who is pursuing a master’s in Economics while working as a land surveyor gives an insight into her life, motivation and study routine.
Why survey which seems a male-dominated field?
Actually, growing up in the 1990s every science student wanted to study medicine and since I was good in the science subjects and one of the people that topped the class I also considered medicine.
But after I graduated from secondary school in 2000, being the eldest child, I did not have an elder sibling to guide me. There was no one to tell me that I did not need to study only medicine as a science student. I wrote the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination twice to study medicine and surgery at the University of Jos (Unijos). For two years I stayed at home but I was unsuccessful. I would have gotten admission into Kadpoly because I had an uncle that kept asking me to apply, but I did not want to study at a polytechnic because of the dichotomy between Higher National Diploma (HND) and degree.
I had no option than to apply to Kadpoly. When I was filling the form I was not happy. I was just filling it anyhow. My uncle studied urban and regional planning, so he suggested I study estate management. I applied for estate management and was given admission in 2004. Now I believe that anything worth doing is worth doing well. When I got to the polytechnic I took my studies seriously and it paid off when I graduated with distinction. But I still had the urge to go to the university. So, I applied for direct entry at the Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna, Niger State, to study estate management. I wrote the Post-University Matriculation Examination (Post-UME) and was given admission. But then, the HND admission list was out and I had registered. I had to forfeit the FUT admission and went for the HND because my mother was footing the bills since my father died and I did not want to overburden her. In all this, I wanted to be a lecturer; I used to organise tutorials for my course mates and others, but it was not meant to be as I got married and went back to Kogi State and kept looking for employment.
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I had an uncle that was working in the Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation (OSGOF). He told me they were recruiting junior staff and since my course was related to surveying I should apply. I applied with the ND since it was junior staff and I was employed on Grade Level 6, but the surveyor general said the field was mainly for land surveyors and not estate managers. So, we were taken back to Grade Level 4 and we had to tender our school leaving certificate. I was posted to Kogi where they have a field office.
After that, I enrolled for a one-year Post-Graduate Diploma (PGD) in education at the National Teachers Institute (NTI) in Kogi. After that, I still felt I had time in my hands.
Meanwhile, FUL had just started but were not admitting Direct Entry (DE) candidates. I thought that instead of waiting, why not start the course afresh. That was how I picked a JAMB form 15 years after I graduated from secondary school and with two kids to start a degree in economics. I passed with distinction from my first semester till I graduated.
While in my second year at FUL, I gave birth to my third child. I cannot thank God enough for the husband he gave me because if not for his support and encouragement I could not have succeeded.
Do you still want to be a lecturer?
That is one thing I feel I am very good at and still want to do that. I just picked a masters form because I realised that if you must be in the academia you need a certain level of certification. Furthermore, since I have a PGD in education, I feel it will help me in that field.
What were your challenges in school?
My struggles to gain admission into Unijos to study medicine and later balancing home and school. Other than that, there were not really any challenges. I had learned the art of time management. So I planned my time well.
How was it like making distinctions?
It was God. Secondly, determination. If you are determined to do something, there is no way you will not succeed. I did not joke with assignments and tests. There was this satisfaction that I was determined to get. So, I tried as much as possible to reach that level of satisfaction by reading and planning.
What are your plans?
Right now, it’s picking a masters form and then waiting on the promise by the Vice Chancellor (VC) of FUL who has promised to employ some of us as graduate assistants, and then taking care of the kids and home.
Meanwhile, I am still working with OSGOF as a junior staff member.
What advice do you have for women and youths?
We have this group where we talk to young women about their aspirations. As a woman, people say marriage does not stop anything, but it does. A married woman cannot set out to achieve all her dreams, but rather rearrange them. It does not however stop you from doing something. Pursuing my academic dreams for me was something outside marriage because I did not want to regret not going back to school years later. Now I feel happy and competitive. This has always been my dream.
When I finished HND I was advised to go back to school and get a BSc. I promised myself I would get it and I did, that made me very happy and it reflects in my home.
Therefore, women should develop themselves outside their marriages as self-development is very important. Also, remember that if a woman is not happy, her home will never be happy.