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Meet Dr. Gazali Tanimu: 28yr-old Abusite who emerged Best PhD Graduate in Saudi Arabia 2019

Umah Muhammed
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Gazali Tanimu is a young Abusite who has already distinguished himself on the world stage. Against the best of the best, he emerged as the best graduating Ph.D. student in Chemical Engineering at the elitist King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), Saudi Arabia in 2019.

Dr. Gazali Tanimu was born on the 5th of September, 1991 in Tudun Wada, Zaria, Kaduna state. He attended God’s Time Nursery and Primary School and proceeded to Government Secondary School both in Zaria. He also attended Muslim Refresher Course Programme (MRCP), and Muslim Special Training Centre (MSTC) for extramural lessons.


He graduated with a First Class degree in Chemical Engineering (B.Eng), from the great Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria 2012, an M.Sc with Distinction and Overall best Student and recently, a Ph.D. both from the elitist King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), Saudi Arabia emerging the Best Graduating Ph.D. Student 2018/2019 Academic Session.

What Inspired His choice of course

He said, “Initially, I had two courses that were my priorities-Medicine and Chemical Engineering. This is because I was very good at 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 make a decision. But as fate would have it, I finally settled for Chemical Engineering, and there have been no regrets so far.”

His Academic feats

Dr. Gazali Tanimu graduated with distinction after successfully defending his M.Sc. thesis in May 2016. Considering the outstanding grade, KFUPM offered him another admission to do his Ph.D. where he graduated as the best Ph.D. student in Chemical Engineering during KFUPM’s 2019 post-graduate convocation in March this year.

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Dr. Gazali Tanimu is used to always emerging top among his classmates right from the outset. He was the best graduating student in primary school. He replicated the same feat in his secondary school and then in 2012, he emerged as the overall best graduating student at the convocation ceremony of ABU Zaria.

In an interview, he said, “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.”

His journey to KFUPM

Gazali Tanimu said, he got to know about KFUPM through some senior colleagues in 2012. Then he was still an undergraduate and in his final year at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria.

He later got to know more about the specialized Saudi university through his elder brother and a neighbor, who were both offered post-graduate admission by KFUPM. After graduating from ABU in 2012, he applied and the university instantly offered him a full scholarship.

Dr. Gazali Tanimu, best graduating Ph.D. student in Chemical Engineering, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), Saudi Arabia 2019 Award

The choice of Saudi Arabia, according to Gazali Tanimu is not unconnected with the fact that getting a fully-funded scholarship is relatively easier compared to other countries. Once you have an excellent CGPA and fully satisfied their requirements of GRE/TOEFL, then securing admission/scholarship becomes easy.

In their effort to boost research and development in the country, they attract talented students from across the globe; provide a conducive living and learning environment thereby benefiting from the research outputs/contributions by the students.

It is also easier to get a Ph.D. directly after finishing the Masters, thereby ensuring continuity in research, unlike other countries. As a Muslim, it is an extra avenue to exercise your religious duty (hajj and umrah).

Dr. Gazali Tanimu’s challenges in Saudi Arabia

According to Dr. Gazali Tanimu, his major challenge was the academic challenge; this has to do with the initial difficulty in blending with other graduate students. This is because most of their students have a better foundation in most of the courses resulting from the rigorous teaching and effective training received in their undergraduate. Secondly, their grading system is completely different from the Nigerian system.

But he didn’t allow that to distract him, he stayed focused and committed to his primary goal, he studied hard day and night. This helped him in graduating as the best student in Chemical Engineering at KFUPM. “You are graded relatively; your grades depend on the highest scores in the course which resulted in ‘unhealthy’ competition among students.”

This also helped him in graduating as the best student in Chemical Engineering at KFUPM. You are graded relatively; your grades depend on the highest scores in the course which resulted in ‘unhealthy’ competition among students.

His Ph.D research

His Ph.D. research topic 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).

He was able to achieve a catalyst designed base on commercially available metal oxides, which gave a 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.

Dr. Gazali Tanimu said he is a patriotic Nigerian. “I am passionate about contributing my quota to the sustainable development of our fatherland. I want to contribute my quota towards the accelerated growth of science and technology in Nigeria.”

Dr. Gazali Tanimu is currently a lecturer with Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria and is happily married.


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