By Mohammed Nur Shuwa
The first Technical Committee on Establishment of Borno State University was inaugurated by the administration of Governor Ali Modu Sheriff in 2009. It was headed by the prominent Professor of History, late Muhammad Nur Alkali. I had known him as the “Pen is Mightier than the Sword.” True to type, the Committee under him consulted widely with individuals, educational stakeholders and institutions. Its first report was probably kept in view tray. The administration of Ali Modu Sheriff had not made it to reality.
On assumption of office, Governor Kashim Shettima in 2011 reconstituted the Committee to go-on with its assignment. However, following the loss of Prof. Muhammad Nur Alkali in 2014, Prof. Abubakar Mustapha was appointed to take over. After seven years of struggle, recently the Committee submitted its final report to the Government. Instantly, the National Universities Commission, (NUC) granted recognition to the Borno State University with approval for the commencement of academic activities by January, 2017.
Despite the fact the state is struggling about where to find money to fund the on-going reconstruction and rehabilitation of towns and villages that were devastated by the Boko Haram, worrying about where to find food to feeds the IDPs, and with carrying a heavy burden of seven state tertiary institutions. Governor Kashim Shettima announced his intention to build two or more universities before the end of his tenure. Someone may say this promise is a likely to be made, but what is most important is that the newly created state university be made of international standard.
During the Abatcha regime, several lecturers left federal universities due to poor remuneration. Mostly they withdrew from the academic services to the banking sector, the then Petroleum Trust Funds (PTF), and other well-paid organizations for better pay.
In University of Maiduguri, Mallam Kashim Shettima was among those who left. The major problems affecting state universities in Nigeria are lack of timely release of funds, payment of academic staff, allowances for visiting professors and lecturers, as well as political interference.
Financial autonomy is one of the factors that strengthen the University’s academic activities.
Next step, government should avoid political cronyism. Appoint a dynamic young Professor as Vice Chancellor who is focused, strong, sincere and with the intention to build the Borno. Being a Vice Chancellor to a new university is not an easy task.
It means spending more hours outside than office room, inspecting academic services, and the on-going projects. It is important to consider the issue of appointment of the registrar and other senior management team too who must have required years of working experience.
Professor Jibrilla Dahiru Amin, OFR, former Vice Chancellor, University of Maiduguri and pioneer Vice Chancellor, Federal University Dutse is gentle, hardworking and straight forward man. When he was appointed as the Vice Chancellor of the newly created Federal University of Dutse (FUD) in 2011, he knew that working with the “fresh” and newly recruited staff that do not have working experience of a university administration would not support him to achieve his objectives. Being a University administrator, Professor J.D. Amin required the services of some of his former colleagues both academic and non-academic mostly from the University of Maiduguri to help him in developing the new University. With their experiences, Federal University Dutse (FUD) is now one of the best among the nine newly created Federal Universities in the country.
Next step, as a University cannot function efficiently without a Governing Council, the appointment of Pro-Chancellor and the members of the council should not be wholly political or composed of politicians. Government should respect the tenure of the Vice Chancellor, the Registrar and the University’s council.
At times, state governments treat tertiary institution as a political centre. Indeed, overnight removal or appointment of Provosts and Registrars due to political interests would wreck the smooth academic activities. Therefore, government should also respect the law governing the state University. Hopefully those steps will be thought about. I wish the Government and people of Borno a prosperous new state University.
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04 November 2021