On Friday the 1st of April, 2022, Muhammad Adeyemi – a 400 level student at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS) was awarded the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) academic award under the auspices of the UNESCO-ICB (International Centre for Biotechnology).
The award, which is said to be the most prestigious undergraduate academic award in Nigeria for any undergraduate category, is a joint partnership between the Nigerian Ministry of Education and UNESCO.
According to the UDUS social media handle, the maiden edition of the award saw Muhammad Adeyemi as the first and only Danfodiyo student on the list of 90 awardees from various universities across the country.
The award ceremony took place at the Nigerian National Merit Award Secretariat (Merit House) in Maitama, Abuja and awardees received recognition in the three thematic areas of the centre which are: Food and Nutrition Security, Tropical Diseases and Bioresources Conservation.
The Executive Director and CEO of the Centre – Professor Umezuruike Linus Opara announced that the award covers the tuition fee, accommodation, books and living expenses for the winners. He reiterated that the competition was intense and commended the awardees for their academic achievements.
In an exclusive interview with Muhammad Adeyemi who is popularly known as (ADRAT), he expressed his excitement about making history. He said that it was not about the award in particular that matters, it’s about the quality of one’s work, commitment and dedication to excellence that is rewarding to him.
“It’s a feeling of greatness and fulfilment of purpose,” he added.
When asked how he got informed about the scholarship, he said that he could not recall where he saw the call for the application precisely.
“However, I have access to different sources of information like this and always give my best shot to submit such an application. If I may recall vividly, it should be the scholarship category section of (myschool.ng). But even looking at the application, I guess I saw it on the last day of receiving the application but I made sure I submitted all that was needed,” he stated.
When asked how much he prepared for the competition, Adeyemi said that, as a student of Biochemistry at UDUS, the preparation was innate as one can infer from the qualities, academics capacities and competencies of the lecturers and staff of his department because he was being trained by the best academics this country can offer and he took pride in that.
“My lecturers alone are a great motivation and encouragement to always challenge myself, ourselves (my colleagues) for the best that comes our way. So I will say I was more than prepared and the award isn’t a coincidence.”
Muhammad also clarified that the award was strictly for final year undergraduate students who are working on the three thematic areas of the centre.
“Since the overall of what would be accessed is the applicant’s work (project) in the final year, I made a case for myself and speak about my experience while writing the application cover letter and statement of purpose.
“The experience I garnered at the Centre for Advanced Medical Research and Training (CAMRET, UDUS) was very helpful and motivating enough. And I will like to use this medium to pray for the safe return of the CAMRET’s Director – Dr Mustapha Umar Imam who was involved in the ugly Kaduna-Abuja rail incident recently. He was instrumental in my stay at the Centre for my Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES),” he asserted.
When asked how he felt about being the only Danfodite on the list, Muhammad replied that he was elated a Danfodite made the list and not because he was.
“When I gained admission into this prestigious university in 2017, I made a covenant with my Creator that I shall propel and advance the course of progress and emancipation of a greater UDUS within my little ability from the ‘perceived local school’ to a ‘global limelight’. I believe with the help of Allah and my colleagues (like-minded), we are advancing that course to the fullest of our ability despite the odds being against us.
“Personally, I want people to know that there is a great citadel of learning and that, it is located in Sokoto. I don’t want or like to see people confuse UDUS with a university in Kano, Abuja or Kaduna. I simply want them to know that UDUS is in Sokoto and we are being made of great stuff.”
Muhammad, however, commended the leadership of the UNESCO-ICB under Distinguished Professor Umezuruike Linus Opara (a Research Chair and Scientific Leader at the Stellenbosch University, South Africa) for employing the service of external bodies in these thematic areas to review the applications submitted.
“And after their recommendations, we (successful applicants) were contacted. From what was obtainable at the event ceremony, the best applications made the list strictly on merit. This is a testament that even at our darkest stage in the annals of our history as a nation, this is to tell you that we can always get it right with the right leadership leading the dispensation. I believe events and programs like this encapsulate what the Nigerian project and dream ought to be,” he added.
He, therefore, encouraged and advised the organisers of the programme to not deviate from the path of excellence they have chosen to toe.
As for Muhammad’s message to the university management, he said:
“I can only charge the authorities using this medium as our fathers, mothers and teachers to continue to advance the processes that will make learning easier, more efficient and more effective for the generality of all Danfodites,” he urged.
Lastly, Adeyemi told fellow Danfodites that despite the fact that their challenges as students in UDUS are real and the needs are substantial, he wants to implore them to always know that there is always a reward for the academic rigours they pass through on their campus.
He said: “The opportunities are outside there waiting for us to tap on them and this is why my team and I – as the Convener at the UDUS Scholars’ Forum (U.S.F) are championing the institutionalisation of luck through academic excellence, commitment and dedication, especially for students like us who are from the humble background by sharing this type of opportunities.”
“So, I encourage Danfodites to join this forum when next the membership registration is open. In UDUS and for us at U.S.F; the best is yet to come as we are working for progress, till we all win!” he encouraged.
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