By Sulaiman Maijama’a

In this life, there exist some folks who have been endowed with a God-given passion for propelling the progress of others; they drive pleasure in nurturing younger ones by shaping and improving their cognitive ability; making them emboldened to face the realities of life early, in order to navigate their way to promised land and get rid of the traps of the terrain. To call these people mentors, in my view, they are underrated. They are God-sent and, therefore, worthy of being celebrated. If Allah the Almighty wishes you good, He makes you come across them, thereby opening a new page in your life.

Every successful person, I believe, has a story of someone to tell. For me, my story will be incomplete without mentioning Malam Abdul Ahmad Burra, a teacher turned mentor, whose seminal ideas instilled in us are both inspirational and fruitful. My five years encounter with him opened a fresh perspective in my life. I believe, in the process of my narration, words will fail me; I may not put it as perfectly as it is, but my friends who are oratorically more skillful can best tell the story.

I did not know Abdul Ahmad Burra before 2016. Late 2016, however, Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic, Bauchi recruited new teachers cut across respective departments of the institution. Malam Abdul was among the lecturers recruited in Mass Communication department. It was during sessional break few weeks to the completion of  our Industrial Attachment and so, immediately we resumed ND Two, we had a good fortune to have been the first set of students he taught.

His first impression in the class spelt the type of person he is; a down-to-earth, serious-minded person with wealth of experience within and outside academia. This imbued in us, sense of determination, commitment and perseverance to pursue our lofty dreams to the best of our ability. Shortly thereafter, he introduced to us a new method of teaching which we were not familiar with. Every week before the commencement of his lectures, he would challenge the class to bring updates of topical issues in the country. If you told the story, he would annihilate you with barrage of follow-up questions as if you were giving analysis on CNN. This made our class to always keep abreast of happenings in the country and before we knew it we became so conversant with National Discourse.

I was almost always the student who updated the class and that is how Malam Abdul discovered me. Our relationship, therefore, grew and blossomed into being a brotherhood. A couple of weeks after we had taken  a Semester Examination, Malam called and issued me a list of about Seven Students including myself, asked me to summon them.  ” ‘A glad tidings to you’, he said, ‘you are the best students who scored ‘A’ in my course’ “.  He offered to us pieces of golden advice and motivated us to maintain the speed. Later when he realised that my CGPA was moving with Distinction, he became driving force, propelling and challenging me to ensure that I graduated with it.  In 2017 when we graduated,  as our final result was about to be released, he was the one who excitingly broke the News to me that I graduated top of my class with Distinction. Thanks to Allah to whom I owe it and the encouragement of Malam Abdul!

After my graduation in 2017, Abdul did not leave me alone; he instructed that I should not, in all conscience, waste a year at home, should apply for a University, immediately. My intention was to apply for ABU, Zaria and going by my predilection for language comprehension, I wanted to switch to BA English but, Malam Abdul protested that Mass Communication was the best destination for me to be, and advised that I go to BUK for the institution has the best Communication Department, Professors and facilities. In order not to put all our eggs in one basket and end up losing, my friend Shamsudeen Musa and I came up with two plans: To Make two separate applications; one for BUK and the other for ABU, Zaria. We did.

Meanwhile, generous Malam Abdul Burra took all the way from Bauchi to Kano, purposely to ensure that we secure the BUK admission that year. While waiting for the admission, he suggested that I start  a volunteer work with any of the Radio Stations in Bauchi, so that I would be well-grounded in the practical aspect of Journalism. When I told him that I did not have connection with any of the stations, he personally took me to Bauchi radio Corporation (BRC), made the process possible for me work. The first report I presented to the Editor was given a headline. My reader will guess with more than scientific precision, how excited I was. I worked with the BRC for almost a year.

In the same vein, one evening in early 2018, this idol invited me to his house for a fruitful discussion. He told me that since I had an upper hand in broadcast practice, and being a precocious boy, according to him I would make a good writer and so, he wanted me to put my hand in the writing business, so that I would be multiskilled. I was too young and inexperienced but, he encouraged me that weather I “write right” or otherwise, it is a learning process, which with practice would eventually lead to close perfection. I heeded to the advice; began to write since then. Should I live without writing now, I would feel incomplete. The impact  it has had on me, today, is immeasurable. To whom the credit goes?

Late 2018 when BUK Direct entry admission list for Faculty of Communication was out, to our great excitement, only my friend Shamsudeen and I whom Malam Abdul worked for made the list in the whole Bauchi State. Upon informing him, his excitement defied expression. Having faith and confidence in us, further challenge he put on us to go to BUK and make him proud. Did I have any excuse to relent?  I felt the urge and the thirst to learn, in order to justify the confidence Malam reposed in me. I worked harder, expanded my reading time, because I put in mind that anything less than First Class would be disappointment to him.

Four semesters down the line, Alhamdulillah! with all sense of humility, I made First Class in Two semesters. Two semesters to my graduation now, I feel obliged to pen down this tribute in acknowledgement of the great impact his mentorship has had on me.

I would not do justice to myself, if I do not mention that Malam Abdul, at different points in time, facilitated me ways to work for financial earnings. During the 2019 election he engaged me in a special assignment. My budget for that year was, therefore, increased!🤗
“May the light in him continue to flicker, ameen.

Maijama’a, Faculty of Communication, BUK