(157): Malam Jamilu Salim: A Short Tribute to a Fatherly Administrator

By Muhsin Ibrahim

Part One

It was 2005 when I applied for admission into Bayero University, Kano (BUK). In Nigeria, getting admission without knowing someone at the university is pretty hard. My late father was working there as an accountant, but remembering how my immediate older brother couldn’t secure admission a year before despite our father’s efforts, I did not bother to ask for his help. Our eldest brother (Yaya Babba), now late, was nonetheless a student. Knowing he was not an ‘ordinary’ student due to his age, I approached him for assistance.

I was lucky Yaya Babba knew Malam Jamilu Ahmad Salim. I cannot say what his position at the University was then, but he could help, Yaya Babba assured me. My only fear was my SSCE result, which was neither WAEC nor NECO, the two conventional entry exams. I had NABTEB and was applying to the Faculty of Education. But on the other hand, my UTME/JAMB result was excellent.

Yaya Babba met Malam Jamilu during a Hajj pilgrimage the previous year, and they clicked. To those who knew our brother, he was almost everyone’s friend. Thus, they maintained a cordial relationship after the Hajj. When we met Malam Jamilu, he calmed me down, virtually assuring me of admission. Although I got the admission without his help – or anyone’s but Allah – in the end, how he treated me was fantastic and fatherly.


Part two

After graduating in 2010/2011, Bayero University employed me as a lecturer. Fast forward, I got another lecturing position and admission for my PhD at the University of Cologne, Germany, in 2017. I signed a bond and left BUK on a Study Fellowship in late August. Months later, I thought about the implication of collecting two salaries, something I didn’t plan for. I thought I would only be a Teaching Assistant à la the American university system. I discussed this confusion with selected colleagues, including my contemporaries and seniors. Opinions differed. Confused, I decided to go to the top.

Late Malam Jamilu Ahmad Salim

With the intervention of a friend, I met Malam Jamilu, now a Director of the Establishment. He advised me as if I were his child on what I should do when I met the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Yahuza Bello. So, I did, and it worked like magic. Appreciating my sincerity, Malam Jamilu thought the University could (should?) release me – on a Leave of Absence (LOA) – without paying back the few months’ salary I received. So, he asked me to request that in my application letter. Although it didn’t work, I remain eternally grateful for his rare kindness and generosity.


Part three

Weeks before my four-year-long LOA ended, I received an email from my Head of Department that I should resume or resign. My love for BUK is more than you can imagine. But, of course, I love my new workplace, which offers me abundant opportunities, resources, and much more. Still, I hesitated to divorce my beloved BUK, where my academic journey began just like that. Nevertheless, my close family and friends suggested I bid BUK a final farewell. But how do I do it? Just tender your resignation, and that’s it, a voice told me. Another one said no, contact the ever-helpful Malam Jamilu for guidance – so I did.

Malam Jamilu, now a Registrar – the peak of his career – was much busier. He probably lost my number and couldn’t return calls from unknown callers. The friend who helped me the other time and his underling, Rabia Shour, told him that Muhsin called the other day. He apologised for not answering. Thus, when I called again, he quickly picked up. He was apologetic in his welcoming manner.

Upon hearing my story (again) and my current request, he didn’t mince his words on what he would do in my situation: resign. He added that that was a development we should all celebrate. He briefly lamented the condition of Nigerian universities and congratulated me.

I was about to drop the call when Malam Jamilu advised me to word my letter carefully and diplomatically. For instance, instead of titling it “Letter of Resignation”, it should read “Notice of Withdrawal of Service”, among other excellent tips.


The last part

I am sure Malam Jamilu did more for many more people in his decades-old career, four of which were as the University’s top administrator. He was an incontestably hardworking, dedicated and brilliant manager who rose through the ranks and contributed significantly to the university and its members’ growth and development. Since our father’s death in September last year, no other death shocked me as his. Wallahi, I spoke about him with a friend visiting me from Nigeria yesterday. We didn’t know he would die at the age of 59 later in the night!

May Allah forgive the shortcomings of Yaya Babba, my father (Alhaji Ibrahim Lawal), Malam Jamilu and our other loved ones. The list is getting longer. Everyone and everything will perish (Quran 55:26).


  1. Allah sarki!May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.

  2. Allah Ya ji ƙansa da rahama.

  3. May Allah SWT forgive him and grant him Jannah.

  4. may Allah have on their souls Ameen

  5. Allah Akbar! May his soul rest in peace, amin.

  6. He did everything to make sure we have a degree, me and my btother. About 3 months ago, he asked for my CV because he believe we needed someone among us to take care of the family.

    No one is shocked than I am today. Allah yai masa afwa.

  7. Allah ya jikansa.

  8. Allah Ya Gafarta masa Ya Inganta makwancin sa Yasa Aljannah makomar sa Ameen.

  9. Allahumag firhu warham hu

  10. Ameen thumma ameen. Everyone in BUK is still in shock over the demise of such a dedicated and kind man. We are from God and to Him we shall return! May Allah grant him eternal rest.

  11. Allah Sarki, Allah yajikansa yayimasa rahama

  12. Sorry for the loss Muhsin.his likes within our administrators are rare.may his soul repose in peace.

  13. Allah ya jikansa ya gafarta musu, Allah ya musu Rahama, Allah yasa mu cika da imani

  14. May Allah grant him jannatul firdaus

  15. Allah Ubangiji yaji kanshi ya gafarta masa.

  16. Allah Ya jikan sa da rahma

  17. What a great loss! I don't the deceased, we've never met. Though an Alumni of BUK. But with this article I realized the kind of person he was. We are in dare need of people of his caliber. Allah yajikanshi da rahma.

  18. May his soul continue rest in peace.

  19. Allahummagfirhu wa afu anhu


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