When Abdulsalam Ibrahim came out of the exam hall at the University of Maiduguri on Friday, 8th December 2023, he sat down to reflect on his challenges as a student.
“There were times I felt that dropping out could be my last option,” said Ibrahim, who had struggled to pay his tuition fee at the university.
From a struggling background, Ibrahim had to pick up a part-time carpentry job to sustain himself in school. His most challenging moment was his final year because he struggled to raise money to pay his tuition fee, which rose from around N26,000 to over N50,000.
But he did not; instead, he pushed himself through days of hunger and self-doubt to reach a milestone where he is now a graduate.
Today, Ibrahim throws his mind back to a kindness he received at the beginning of his academic journey: In 2018, Ibrahim was posted to Wukari, more than 200 KM from Jalingo, where he was based, to write his Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination or UTME (Nigeria’s tertiary education entrance exam).
Ibrahim had only N1,000 instead of the N3,000 needed to go and return.
“I was looking for someone to help me, but then all the people close to me were not [able] to help financially. I even thought of forfeiting the exams,” but it wasn’t a risk Ibrahim could take as it was going to put his chances at life in jeopardy.
The following day, Ibrahim went to the motor park, hoping that the Road Transport Union members would, but they didn’t, and he was left to his tears in the middle of the park, pondering what to do next.
Then, he sighted a female secondary school classmate. They engaged themselves in a conversation for a while, and then she noticed something was wrong with Ibrahim because he wasn’t his usual self. Then she inquired to know what was happening. It was then he narrated his situation to her.
After learning about his situation, the girl who was also going to Wukari for the UTME offered to pay for Ibrahim’s transport, covering both journeys.
So, by the evening of that same day, they were done with the examination and headed back to Jalingo. When they arrived, it was night already, and they said goodbye to each other and went their separate ways.
“That money she sacrificed for me was a gesture that I felt changed my life because I was able to pass the UTME. Maybe it might have been a huge loss for me if God hadn’t sent her my way at the park.” Ibrahim told Prime Progress.
It has been five years since their encounter at the motor park. Since being admitted to study Public Administration at the University of Maiduguri, Ibrahim has yet to set his eyes on the girl. However, the memory of that day has remained stuck with him. Ibrahim hopes to meet her someday and repay the kindness or at least let her know that she has sown a seed in him that helped shape his life.