“Professor Kabir Abu: I make More Money Working as a Welder Than Lecturing at the University

Meet Kabir Abu Bilal, a 50-year-old professor at Ahmadu Bello University, who has not only made a mark in academia but has also carved a niche for himself as an unconventional welder.

In Nigeria, welding is often perceived as a low-status occupation, an unusual choice for a university professor seeking a second job. However, for Prof Abu Bilal, welding is more than just a means to supplement his income; it’s a passion that has granted him financial independence and the opportunity to make a positive impact on others.

Unapologetically, he states, “I am not ashamed that I work as a welder despite being a professor. I make more money from welding.” His journey into the welding realm began two decades ago when he established a modest workshop in Zaria. In 2022, a year after achieving the esteemed position of a professor, he expanded to larger premises to meet the growing demand for his services in the university town.

Despite his significant contributions to the fields of physics and electrical engineering, Prof Abu Bilal underscores the importance of maintaining an open-minded perspective on career choices. He urges graduates to explore unconventional paths, emphasizing that no job should be considered degrading based on one’s educational background.

“I am surprised that there are people with first degrees who find a job like this degrading,” he remarks. His ability to embrace both academia and welding reflects a broader perspective on the value of diverse skills and experiences.

Prof Abu Bilal’s workshop not only serves as a hub for welding expertise but also functions as a training ground for apprentices aged between 12 and 20. Currently mentoring 10 apprentices, he imparts not only technical skills but also emphasizes the importance of financial independence and self-sufficiency.

Apprentices, who are not in school during the day, take charge of the workshop in the professor’s absence, gaining practical experience that extends beyond traditional classroom learning. The apprenticeship typically lasts about a year, providing these young individuals with valuable skills that can pave the way for them to establish their own businesses.

Eighteen-year-old apprentice Jibril Adam attests to the impact of the program, saying, “I have learned so much being at the workshop; I can weld many items together now.” Prof Abu Bilal’s dual career served as a lifeline during challenging times, such as the eight-month university lecturer strike in 2022, providing him with financial stability when many were without pay.

Reflecting on this period, he shares, “I always had money because of this job, and a few colleagues came to me for help.” Beyond his personal success, Prof Abu Bilal aspires to inspire others to consider unconventional careers and break free from societal expectations.