Meet Nigerian student who broke record in England
by Ibraheem Hamza Muhammad & Hafsah Abubakar Matazu
Daily Trust: Could you please share with us your childhood educational pursuits?
Basheer Isah Dodo: I am the son of a retired judge and my mother is a retired school teacher, both from Katsina. I started my early childhood in Kaduna. When they relocated to Katsina, they enrolled me in Ulul-Albab Science Secondary School Katsina in year 2000. I started my degree programme in Computer Science at the Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina before transferring for my bachelor’s degree in Malaysia and graduated with a BSc.(Hons) degree in Software Engineering. I obtained Masters of Science in Computer Systems Engineering or (software systems) in 2011 and 2013 respectively from the University of East London, UK in collaboration with Malaysian universities.
DT: Who is your role model?
Dodo: My father. He always believes that if someone can do it, so can you. He also taught me the value of not giving up just because it seems hard or unachievable. He also had a basic principle, you can play with a lot of things, but never you play with education, be it religious or western. I hold on to this principle.
DT: What motivated you to further your studies up to this level?
Dodo: I like picking up challenges and exploring what lies beyond. Also, I wanted to improve my own skills so as to better support those I teach. I have also got a lot of encouragement from my parents and in-laws.
DT: How did you achieve the feat?
Dodo: I presented my team’s work, which aims to ease the work of eye specialists. The work is a computer program which identifies layers of the retina. This makes the eye diagnosis task of ophthalmologists easier and better, because manual segmentation is not only time-consuming but also depends on the level of expertise of the manual grader.
Compared to other sophisticated and complex existing methods, our approach is conceptually viable, and adapts more to structural inconsistencies of retinal optical coherence images.
DT: Did you get any scholarship from other sources?
Dodo: Yes, I was sponsored by the federal government through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND). However, some colleagues and I can be said to have been abandoned on this mission and left to find our ways through to the finish line.
DT: Has the federal government contacted you after achieving this feat?
Dodo: No, they have not.
DT: Has any foreign firm or institution contacted you?
Dodo: I have been contacted by one, with the intention of looking at the feasibility of implementation in Nigeria. However, it is at a very early stage.
DT: Was there any collaboration with others on your work?
Dodo: I am the first author, and other authors are from my supervisory team.
DT: Was there any such thing as people trying to distract you, thinking you were day dreaming?
Dodo: If you keep your eyes on the prize, you will usually forget about all distractions of this sort as you were preoccupied with your work and its challenges. External threats tend to become motivation-boosters for you to work harder. So I would say I focus on my work, because I have the support of my family. And also my train of thought is guided and supported by previous works.
DT: How do you want to pay back to Nigeria?
Dodo: I am an Assistant Lecturer at the Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina, and will hopefully come back someday to lecturing, even if at a different institution. I believe there is no better way than training others to hopefully become better than me. I would appreciate researching in fields that are very specific and focused in the Nigerian context. Because technology on its own doesn’t provide solutions, you have to tailor it towards your problems for efficient implementation.
DT: Would you like to carry out more research in the future?
Dodo: I would like to continue on my current research because of its significance, and my other research interests include software engineering and big data analytics. The sole purpose is we have a lot to benefit from tech, especially in Nigeria where many systems require automation.
DT: What is your advice to younger Nigerians?
Dodo: They should wake up from their slumber. No one will benefit from improvements made to the country than them, and none can really strive to make it a place they dream of better than them. This is because, as we grow older, our priorities and views change, and the view of the elderly is unlike that of the youth. Our youth have to strive for knowledge and with this they will not be used for political atrocities. This will also mean they can elect leaders wisely, and hold them responsible for things not going according to plans.
I strongly believe Nigeria is a great country, and with youths from all angles and sectors coming together it will be great again.