Ibrahim Shehu Kalgo

Interviewer: Uchenna Emelife

Striking a reconciliatory balance between the demands of academics and extracurricular activities is sadly a luxury many cannot afford. It is either one of the two sides suffers, because more attention is paid to the other or sometimes both. This is largely responsible for why many students shy away from activities that are not academic, including some that they know are helpful. Maybe something about the popular “You can’t serve two masters at a time” line is what may have also contributed to this.
So when success stories like that of Ibrahim Shehu Kalgo surfaces, it is important to track them down and find out what they did right.

Ibrahim Shehu Kalgo was the President of the SUG, 2018/19 session. Some days ago, his result made waves on Social Media. It was a Second Class Upper, an absolute shocker because people wondered how he was able to maintain a good CGPA notwithstanding the heavy demands of leading the SU.

This was the focus of the conversation between Uchenna Emelife of Pen Press UDUS and Ibrahim Shehu Kalgo to find out his secret, and hopefully by airing his story, show students who tread the same path how to go about maintaining a good result.

Kalgo’s Notification of Result.

Pen Press: Congratulations Kalgo on your result. It is no small feat to graduate with a second class upper especially considering your involvement in students’ unionism.

Ibrahim Shehu Kalgo (Kalgo): Thank you very much, I appreciate.

Pen Press: How did it feel when you realised that you’d graduate with such excellent result? I’m sure you must have already known even before receiving the notification, right? So how did you feel?

Kalgo: Well, I knew even before some of my results were released. I can’t put in words how excited I was when I realized that my GP was going to be above 3.5. I spent almost the whole day feeling giddy about it, even though I didn’t show it out.

Pen Press: I can imagine.
So had it always been a dream even before you were offered admission to someday lead the SUG?

Kalgo: Not at all. I didn’t even know about the SUG or what it meant before my admission. Even while as a student of Matriculation studies. But during my UG one, I had a coursemate who was a student politician and was the clerk of the then SUG 2015/16.

Pen Press: Wow! So this coursemate inspired your interest in students’ politics?

Kalgo: Exactly. We lived in the same room in my UG one and two. After they were dissolved as excos, he asked me to join politics, which I refused to immediately because I wasn’t interested. He kept insisting I did until the first semester of our UG two, when I finally agreed. His constant plea had affected me that I thought of it everyday and night. It even stopped me from reading because I kept pondering on it. LOL. So I finally accepted just to pacify him.

Pen Press: Interesting. I’m sure you feel indebted to that friend of yours for how far you came eventually.
Moving on, was there any point in your regime where you feared that your academics will be affected badly because of how busy you were?

Kalgo: Yes. I always felt that and what I did was try to think of ways to make up for the lost study time.
Initially though, I never agreed with people that warned me that campus politics can affect acadamic activities. But when I found myself in, (sighs) it wasn’t as easy as I expected. Things were so different and difficult from what I thought. I cried out at times. To this moment, I can’t even describe how much I was scared of how I’d end up academically.

SU Excos 2018/19 With The Former VC: Prof. Zuru.

Pen Press: A lot of students shy away from extracurricular activities for this same fear you just admitted you had. While their fear is valid, success stories like yours can go a long way in allaying it. So how did you do it? How were you able to balance the two equally demanding sides (academics and students’ politics) and still graduate well?

Kalgo: Firstly, let me start by saying that it’s God, because I firmly believe that I couldn’t have done it without Him.

It was never easy to marry the two activities together. It was very tough and hectic. I can vividly remember when some of my colleagues advised me to step down, because of the complexities of our UG three.

But my belief stands that if you truly know yourself you can do both, even better than I did.

My first time in office there wasn’t much work to do, I thought it would continue that way, as smooth. But when things started getting tough and I realized that my academic activity (which by the way was my primary assignment) was getting weak, so that there wasn’t even an hour out of 24 hours that I spared for studies, I knew I had to do something.

I changed my style of reading. I usually read at night, but there were series of meetings with my fellow executives, SRA or other people at a time when I’m supposed to reading, and the day wasn’t left out. In the day time, I had a lot of schedules, moving up and down from town to VC complex, invitations from different places which I must honour, it was like I wasn’t even a student anymore because I wasn’t reading. That prompted me to change my reading time. I decided that I would wake up every Morning as early as 4AM, take my bath, prepare for school and wait for Prayer time. Immediately after observing my prayer, say around 5AM, I’ll take my books and enter school, sometimes I even prayed in school, and read before any lectures or meeting. If I’ve no Morning lectures, I will stay reading until 10AM when I’m sure I’ve read enough. Afterward, I’d attend to my union assignments. Nights when I don’t have any engagements, I will revise what I read in the morning.

This was what I did and how I kept going. Sometimes I spent the whole night reading because I knew how busy I would be the following day. And what really kept me going was my conviction to succeed, seeing that I come from a humble background and I didn’t want to disappoint my family. I just had to balance between academics and my politics.

Pen Press: Just reading this and the image it is stirring up, I can already imagine how frustrating this must have been for you.
How were you able to endure all these without considering resigning? Especially having in mind that students’ politics wasn’t even your original idea.

Kalgo: If I told you I never thought of resigning, I would be lying. But I always consulted my predecessors and other people who I knew passed through this. Their mentorship and guidance kept me focused all the time. Then there is also my conviction to succeed which I already mentioned.

Pen Press: Do you intend furthering your interest in leadership to mainstream poitics?

Kalgo: I don’t know what the future holds, but for now no.

Pen Press: Who would you say are people who contributed to your success; academics and politics wise?

Kalgo: They are too numerous to mention. But key ones are: Muhammad Al’amin (clerk 2015/16), Comr. Sunusi Mai Lafiya, Comr. Comr Mai Alewa, among my course mates Abdulmaleek Hafiz Sani, Aliyu Sabiu, Ahmad Saulawa. Also, I will forever be indebted if I fail to mention Prof. AA Aliero, Prof. Zuru and the entire management.
This is just to mention a few.

Kalgo and his coursemates during their sign out.

Pen Press: What would you advise students of Usmanu Danfodiyo University who are also involved in one extracurricular activity or the other, and also wish to excel academically like you have?

Kalgo: People are different in everything, know this. Friends have huge influence on us, so surround yourself with people of similar conviction. Know and study yourselves very well. Know the time that you read best, don’t follow the crowd, remember you’re different. Stick to that time and maximise it. Read, read hard, read very hard, every little opportunity you get, please read. It may take a long time for another free time to come. Also, don’t forget to pray always, pray for yourself and ask your parents to pray for you, their prayers are very important and I dare say more answerable than ours.

Pen Press: Thanks so much for your time, Kalgo. This was an informing session. I wish you the very best onwards.

Kalgo: You’re welcome and thank you too.


Uchenna Emelife is a journalist, creative writer, content creator, and a literary enthusiast. His works have appeared and are forthcoming in Nigeria’s Nation Newspaper, the ICIR, Opinion Nigeria, Minority Africa, Punocracy and others. A third year student of Literature In English, Uchenna was awarded “Rookie Journalist Of The Year” by the National Union of Campus Journalists (NUCJ) in 2019 and “Essayist of the year” by the local chapter of the NUCJ and “Campus Reporter of the year” by Pen Press UDUS.

In 2020, he co-pioneered a book club in his school, Book O’Clock UDUS where he reports and writes about books and currently serves as the deputy editor-in-chief of Pen Press UDUS, Programs Director of Minority Africa and the Resource Officer of the Caliphate Arts and Literary Forum.

He tweets @uc_emelife.

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