Binta Muftar Ahmed was the cynosure of all eyes at the 12th convocation ceremony of Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, Kwara State. The 21-year-old indigene of Funtua Local Government Area (LGA) of Katsina State who transferred from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State, due to a strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in March 2020, emerged the overall best graduating student and won 12 prizes and several cash awards. She spoke with Daily Trust Saturday on how she was able to achieve the feat.
How do you feel as the best graduating student of Al-Hikmah?
In short, I’m short of words to describe how I feel, but I give Almighty Allah all the praise for my story. It was not easy graduating with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.93.
Did you see it coming?
It is really amazing; I didn’t see it coming because I didn’t start at Al-Hikmah. I was admitted to ABU in 2017 but came to Al-Hikmah in 2020 due to a 9-month ASUU strike. I saw it as a fresh start and I was determined and made use of the opportunity with hard work. But most importantly, prayer is very important and I saw its efficacy, particularly in my situation where I started all over. You can’t underestimate the power of prayer, especially as a Muslim.
What was your reading routine like?
It was very vigorous. Sometimes I spent the entire night in the classroom. I would leave my house by 8am and won’t return until around 12am.
How did you deal with peer pressure from colleagues and the opposite sex?
I believe there is nothing like peer pressure; it is what you want to do. If you’re determined about what you want to achieve, you’ll work towards it without anyone hindering you because you are focused. These were practical situations that worked in my case.
Then, the school environment also helped a lot in getting the students focused. It played its part which complemented mine. It was a great experience and a long journey intellectually and academically.
What was your greatest challenge?
At the beginning, I tended to forget lessons taught in class easily. It was one of my greatest challenges. Although I started experiencing it right from secondary school, thanks to Almighty Allah I overcame it after I put it into prayer and with support from my parents who also turned to Almighty Allah over it. That is why I say I attest to the efficacy of prayer. With God’s grace, we are singing a different but better tune today.
As someone who has experienced both public and private universities, how will you compare them?
There is not much difference, but one thing that I discovered is that private universities are more convenient and the crowd in the lecture hall is fewer to enable the lecturers to focus on each student.
Why did you transfer to Al-Hikmah despite the distance and several other choices at your disposal?
I didn’t see all that. What I was concerned about was to look for a faith-based university with a high standard of education. Al-Hikmah ticked all the boxes for me and it was easy to make it a choice despite all other considerations. It assisted me in my faith, morally and academically.
What were the sacrifices you made to achieve this feat and how did they affect your social life?
I sacrificed part of my social life and limited my other activities, including sleep. It was tough but I worked hard to achieve the goal I set for myself. I was moderately social in school. I didn’t involve myself in all social activities and so was hardly distracted.
What is your aspiration now?
I would like to be happy and successful and further my education to post-graduate level and become a researcher. 10 years from now, I see myself being successful and becoming a better version of myself in sha Allah. And just like my mum told me; that the convocation was the most joyous, emotional, beautiful and happiest moment of her life; that she couldn’t have been prouder. I pray Almighty Allah to give me the grace not to disappoint my parents and myself. I thank my parents a lot for all the support. It wouldn’t have been possible without their support and prayers.
Your new status has come with lots of awards and prizes, can you break them down?
Apart from that of the Kwara State Governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, prize for overall best graduating student which attracted N1m, there are 11 others which run into millions.
I won faculty and departmental prizes for the best graduating student. Also, our Chancellor, Alhaji Sayyu Dantata’s, prize for the best graduating student in the Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences.
There is the Prof Akanji prize for overall best graduating student, Globacom’s prize for best graduating student in the faculty, our VC, Prof Noah Yusuf’s, prize for overall best graduating student, alumni prize for best graduating student in the faculty, our founder, Alhaji Chief (Dr) Abdulraheem Olademeji’s, certificate of honour for first overall best graduating student and his prize of masters and PhD scholarship and automatic employment in Al-Hikmah University, among others.
How do you feel about the awards?
I feel humbled, challenged and thankful to Almighty Allah for bringing me this far. What is apparent as we have been told by the VC is that this is the end of the beginning of another phase. That is very important. As a microbiologist, I want to get to the pinnacle of my career and benefit my environment and humanity with my knowledge. But certainly, these recognitions will serve as encouragement. I thank everyone for this, including my colleagues who were there for me at every point of my need. I’m motivated.
What is your advice to students?
I advise them to be determined and focused on their goals and what they want to become and achieve. They should take it a step at a time and by Allah’s grace things will turn out good for them. Mine is not an exception.
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