I got selected for the Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship (KIF) at a very critical point in my personal and career life and deciding to join, though unquestionably, was hard-hitting. It was another intentional decision I made (of course, after my marriage). It came at a period where I had choices, interesting opportunities, and enticing options.
When I told my colleagues that I will be accepting the fellowship and relocate to Kaduna for a year, their comment was; ‘how much will you earn? Is it worth it?’ I responded that I didn’t know, and truly, I just didn’t know how much a Fellow – A Special Assistant to the Governor earns.
But my conviction for accepting the Fellowship was not monetary, so I wasn’t worried about the income. My conviction, since the beginning of the fellowship in 2018 (where I was a finalist but eventually not selected) was to participate in a homegrown leadership programme, and more importantly, to experience life in public service, gain quality networks that can snowball my career development.
Initially, after the remuneration was disclosed, I felt my friends were right and I should have known the details before committing myself to it. But I was quick to realise that I would have been a big loser to deny myself the lifetime investments for quick gratification. My gross income was no way closer to the benefits from the fellowship.
My life has been a rollercoaster of bittersweet; it is filled with the grace of a career and the loss of desires and opportunities, the struggle to understand my purpose and being a source of strength to others, the countless rejections (very bitter love letters) and accrued favours from unexpected places. Despite these double-edges, I have gained quite interesting experience, working on projects of national importance, meeting people at high-level meetings and contributing to national development.
Despite all these, the fellowship has brought me closer to people, places, and courses than I would. The KIF is designed to drill, scrutinise, rebrand, reshape, and ignite purposeful leadership, and within few weeks of joining the fellowship, the impact has been felt and there’s a great desire to experience more.
If you are thinking of applying or just admiring the fellowship, it is important to see the Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship beyond the icing of being the Special Assistant to the Governor of Kaduna state and the perceived packages that comes with the title. That is the least of the embodiments of the fellowship.
What is more important is the opportunity to truly understand how Nigeria works; the Brown Bag Meetings, where you understand the functions and functionalities of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the state; the Speakers Series, where you meet world leaders, past Presidents and Governors and Chief Executive Officers of large corporations, not for meeting’s sake, but deep conversation and sustainable networking; the seminars and workshops, where you discover yourself, understand your limitations and see people that will genuinely help you to get better; the lifelong relationship, which you build with the excellent members of the governing Board, steering committees, and alumni of the fellowship.
Abdulhakeem Ibraheem Abdulkareem (AiA) is a fourth Cohort Fellow of the Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship and Special Assistant to the Governor of Kaduna State.