Gazali Tanimu, 28, is the best graduating Ph.D student in Chemical Engineering at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Tanimu, who was the best graduating student in 2012 at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, and teaches at the same institution, tells ABDULSALAM MAHMUD, that some lecturers’ attitude negatively affect students’ performance.
Tell us about your journey to King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM)?
Well, I first got to know about KFUPM through some senior colleagues in 2012. Then I was still an undergraduate and in my final year at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. But I later got to know more about the specialised Saudi university through my elder brother and one of our neighbours, who were both offered post-graduate admission by KFUPM. After I graduated from ABU in 2012, I applied and the university instantly offered me a scholarship. The scholarship is meant for persons, who graduated with either first class or second class (upper division) from some selected countries. Among other things, the scholarship covers tuition, stipends, housing, textbooks and healthcare.
Can you recall some of your feats at KFUPM?
To the special grace of God, I graduated with distinction after successfully defending my M.Sc. thesis in May 2016. Considering the outstanding grade, KFUPM offered me another admission to do my Ph.D. To the glory of Almighty Allah, I just graduated as the best Ph.D student in Chemical Engineering during KFUPM’s 2019 post-graduate convocation in March this year. Have you always been the best among your school mates?
I don’t mean to sound pompous, but the truth is, I have always emerged tops among my classmates right from the outset. I was the best graduating student in my primary school. I replicated the same feat in my secondary school and then in 2012, I emerged as the overall best graduating student at the convocation ceremony of ABU. Personally, I think it is my creator’s doing. I thank him for blessing me with a razor-sharp intellect. The exceptional mentors I came across in my academic journey also contributed immensely to my accomplishments.
Did you encounter language barrier since Arabic is Saudi’s lingua franca?
The King Fahd University and most of the universities offering post-graduate studies in the Kingdom use English as medium of instruction. So, I and other foreign students at KFUPM did not encounter any kind of language barrier.
What inspired you to study Chemical Engineering at ABU?
Initially, I had two courses that were my priorities-Medicine and Chemical Engineering. This is because I was very good in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics, which are core science subjects. At that time, I approached my tutors and I was strongly advised to choose the one I prefer most. They were confident I could do well in both courses. I got to know that both Medicine and Chemical Engineering have bright prospects, based on the discussions I had with those studying them. So, it was really difficult to take a decision. But as fate would have it, I finally settled for Chemical Engineering, and there have been no regrets so far.
What is your Ph.D research all about?
The research I carried out in my PhD programme was titled: “Novel process for the oxidative dehydrogenation of LPG to high-value olefins”. The target of the research was to improve on the selectivity of olefins and diolefins from normal butane (N-Butane). So, what we were able to achieve was a catalyst designed base on commercially available metal oxides, which gave good performance (in terms of activity, selectivity and stability) for the desired products. And the desired products are ethylene, propylene and butadiene, which are the backbone of most petrochemical industries.
What interests you about student-lecturer relationship at KFUPM?
At KFUPM, the lecturers are very friendly, unassuming and hospitable towards students. The aspect of lecturer-student interactions is quite high and absolutely impressive. This is possibly due to the moderate ratio of students to lecturers in various departments. Also, the lecturers have office hours, which is an avenue for students to table their complaints before their lecturers. In return, they politely counsel their students. The lecturers and supervisors over there assist in proffering solutions to students’ academic problems. Lecturers in every tertiary institution should not incite fears into the minds of their students. They should avoid threatening students with carry overs. They should rather be epitomes of humility, kindness and compassion, who desire the best for their students.
How come you performed brilliantly at KFUPM?
I adopted no any special way of studying at KFUPM. It is just that the university had already provided a conducive environment for students to study efficiently. The only thing is that I was surrounded with erudite mentors that armed me with necessary advice and mentorship at every point in time. During my PhD research, I was lucky to receive proper guidance and instructions from the consultant professors at KFUPM Research Institute. I gained a lot from their rich expertise, which enabled me to have an excellent research output. Also, I cannot forget to thank my project supervisors for their tutelage.
What is your next plan?
I am a patriotic Nigerian. Therefore, the only plan I am nursing now is how to gather my luggage and head back to my country. I am passionate about contributing my quota towards the sustainable development of our fatherland. Furthermore, I want to contribute my quota towards the accelerated growth of science and technology in Nigeria.
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