Victory signs in ABU

With a focused beginning and eyes on target, Professor Ibrahim Garba, Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU )records startling  achievements in three years of his administration.

BY TOBS AGBAEGBU AND SALMON SALAMI.

His graph of success is already pointing up. In the core areas of students and staff welfare, robust teaching, learning and community service, as well as in infrastructural facelift, testimonies and evidence abound that he has largely done well within the short period he has served as Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University ( ABU) in Zaria, Kaduna state. Ibrahim Garba, erudite Professor of Geology, proud alumnus of ABU, has indeed  recorded monumental successes since he assumed office as Vice Chancellor  in May 2015.

A gentle man, soft spoken , Garba is unarguably committed  to delivering on his mandate, aimed at uplifting  Ahmadu Bello University,  considered to be the oldest and the most cosmopolitan tertiary institution in Nigeria, both in terms of students and staff profile, to high heights. On assumption of office, he outlined his vision for ABU on a three-point agenda of Reclaiming, Refocusing and Reinvigorating the entire University system to make it ready and in tune with contemporary realities.

He promised, in one of his statements on assumption of office, to reinvigorate the university, pointing out that  “It is well known how robust ABU used to be from inception till far into history.” He noted thatABU started on a strong foundation based on courageous visions of its founding fathers more than fifty years ago and that the tempo must be sustained. The VC also made a strong commitment lift ABU higher and to “advance the frontiers of learning and break new grounds through teaching, research and dissemination of knowledge of the highest quality must be fulfilled.”

From his thoughts and policy pronouncements ,it is clear that Professor Garba knew the vision and mission of the ABU which was established  in 1962 by the Government of  the then Northern  Region of  Nigeria  with a vision to be ‘’ a world class university comparable to any other, engaged in imparting contemporary knowledge, using high quality facilities and multi-disciplinary approaches, to men  and  women of all races, as well as generating new  ideas  and intellectual  practices  relevant  to the  needs of its  immediate community, Nigeria  and the  world at large’’.

Prof Ibrahim Garba. Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University ( ABU) in Zaria, Kaduna state.

The university is named after Sardauna of  Sokoto. Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, the first primer of  Northern Nigeria and has since 1975  assumed  a  national mandate after it was taken over  by the Federal Government  of  Nigeria , although its  ties  with the  19 states  created  out of  the  former  Northern Region  has continued to remain very  strong..

Indeed, the  founding fathers  expected  the University to aspire to the  highest  international ideals of  scholarship and to provide learning of a standard required  and  expected of  a  university of  the highest standing while  reflecting  the  needs, the traditions  and the  social and  intellectual heritage of the  society  in which it is located.   As espoused and encapsulated in relevant documents of the university, ABU was set up to with a mission “to advance  the  frontiers of  learning and  break new  grounds, through  teaching, research and the  highest  quality; to establish and  foster national and international  integration, development  and  the  promotion of  African  traditions  and  cultures; to produce  high-level human  power and enhance  capacity-building  through retaining, in order to meet the  needs and challenges of the  catchment area, Nigeria  and  the rest  of the world’’.

In the 56 years of its existence, the ABU has  grown to become one of the largest, influential and diverse  universities in Nigeria. Consisting of  about ninety eight (98) Academic  Departments, Thirteen (13) faculties, and twelve (12) Research Institutes. The departments offer undergraduate and  postgraduate courses  in such diverse  fields  as  Agriculture, Public and Business Administration, Engineering, Environmental Design, Education, Biological and  Physical Sciences, Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The University has a large medical program with its own ABU Teaching Hospital, one of the largest teaching hospitals in Nigeria and Africa. The university also has a large population and two campuses,inKongo and Samaru,both in Zaria, kaduna State, and located on 7,000 hectares of land.

Proactive and progressive university governance requires a leader with a strong academic background as well as a sound and broad administrative experience of the university system. These imperative credentials are captured in the person of Prof. Garba as he deploys a broad vision of life to drive Nigeria’s largest university. In Prof Garba’s words – “This is the largest university in this country. We have the largest carrying capacity; we have the largest diversity and we are the most-sought after.”

Currently, Ahmadu Bello University has 13 faculties, 12 specialized institutes and centers, a school of postgraduate studies and 98 academic departments. In addition, it has a division of agricultural colleges, a school of basic and remedial studies, a secondary school, and a primary school. This is besides offering extensive and consultancy services which provide a variety of expertise to the university and the wider society.

Perhaps not surprisingly, he has manifested compelling vision and moral courage which enabled him withstand all the strains and stresses of university governance. Soon after he assumed office, he made it loud and clear at any given forum that he would consolidate on the gains made by his predecessors. For example, he strived to ensure the university maintains its academic standard by establishing institutional linkages, exchanges, collaborative researches and mutual staff training agreements with some other local and international institutions in line with world best practice.

In the past two years, a good number of specialized institutions have presented themselves for partnership with the university in form of affiliations and collaborations. This is a result of his great concern for attainment of highest academic standards and achievements to be able to have a university true to its ideals and meaning in line with the vision and mission of ABU’s founding fathers.

Some of the institutions include Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT) which signed a memorandum of understanding with ABU to commence postgraduate diploma and masters in transport and logistics as well as Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) which has now collaborated with the university to introduce insurance courses at its department of business administration.

The university also signed research collaboration agreements with De Montfort University, Leicester; International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property and National Museums and Monuments; and Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI), Benin City.

Equally, there is on-going discussion with Robert Gordon University (RGU), UK, based on a visit in November, 2016 by the Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering, for collaborative development of a program in MSc Oil and Gas Engineering as well as joint delivery for prospective candidates. These far-sighted, strategic initiatives have helped reposition the ABU in critical aspects and earned him a well-deserved recognition and accolades.

Soon after he took over, Garba moved fast to embark on a number programs and projects, aimed at further development of ABU. Appreciating the importance of peace to development in an society, he first initiated measures aimed at consolidating and maintaining the peaceful atmosphere he met at the university. He also paid rapid attention on the need to upgrade academic standards in the university, in line with global best practices.

Specifically, he led the university to get involved in many linkages, partnerships and collaborations on academic activities and accreditation of various academic programmes. Notably, ABU under Professor Garba was involved in a partnership on the environment between the University and the Ministry of Environment over the Great Green Wall, the World Bank Mission Team, to the Centre of Excellence for Neglected Tropical Diseases and Forensic Biotechnology. ABU also was also involved in collaboration with ELSEVIER Research Intelligence on Science Direct research and publication in different areas of specialization. There was also the Presidential seal of patent and Intellectual Property Rights Certification for ABU’s breakthrough in zeolite research findings.

The ABU Zeolite Research Initiative was a research effort by the University’s Chemical Engineering Department, in conjunction with the PTDF to produce zeolite catalyst locally for the refining of crude oil. The project started with the building of zeolite pilot plant and laboratory for this purpose.

Other key achievements recorded in ABU under Professor Garba, as Vice Chancelor, include, the commissioning of the ABU Sugarcane Bio factory and the NITT Memorandum of Understanding with ABU to commence Postgraduate Diploma and Masters in Transport and Logistics. There was also the NDIC collaboration with the University, to introduce Actuarial Science Courses (beginning with Insurance) at the Faculty of Administration.

The University also signed research collaboration agreement with many universities and institutions overseas. Among the foreign universities and institutions are the De Montfort University – Leicester, UK; Florida State University, USA; Adam Smith International, UK; University of Utara, Malaysia; Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAN); BATC Development (BERHAD) – BIONAS Malaysia; and others too numerous to mention.

In his effort to boost infrastructural development and pursuit other  lofty agenda, Prof. Garba discovered that the University could no longer sustain the high cost of electricity power supply to the University community.He therefore quickly swung into action by sourcing for an alternative and cheaper means of energy supply. Consequently, the Vice Chancellor and a team of experts from the University visited AGRAR Bioethanol of Hungary for a discussion and possible collaboration to establish a bioethanol and biogas project in ABU as an alternative source of energy.

Agreements reached included that ABU will, in conjunction with AGRAR, establish a biogas plant, using the University’s waste water treatment plant system. The bio-ethanol plant to be built was to be programmed to use industrial maize silage as raw material. The plant will subsequently produce disinfectants and organic manure for local consumption.  The laudable effort of the Ibrahim Garba administration culminated into a ground breaking ceremony where a foundation of the 1.2MW Bioethanol/Biogas Power Plant was commissioned in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

In addition, another ground breaking event followed soon after. This was the flag-off of the 10 megawatt solar photovatic power station, which is another gigantic effort by the Vice Chancellor within his two years  in office. The solar power station is a collaborative effort between the federal government of Nigeria through TETFund and the Nigerian Energy Partnership. The project, on completion, will meet the University energy needs, reducing over-dependency on utility power supply for the University and the neighbouring communities.

The Garba administration has also carried out some administrative reforms which affected the size of the faculties. At present, the University has 13 faculties but changes have occurred. The traditional Faculty of Sciences has been split into two namely; Faculty of Life Science and Faculty of Physical Sciences. The administration said the essence was to decongest the over blotted former faculty of sciences.

Far reaching infrastructural development and growth has taken place within the past two years. These achievements in this direction include; the on-going flyover bridge project at the North Gate which is being executed by the former Vice President, AtikuAbubakarand the rehabilitation of the ABU Water Treatment Plant. There is also the proposed Hotel Development Initiative of the Vice Chancellor sponsored by Dangote Group, renovation of students hotel in Kongo Campus and the renovation of ABU Hotel (former Kongo Conference Hotel) to a standard world class hotel.

The ABU Bakery, facelift projects in Kongo and Main Campus, and the rehabilitation and upgrade of offices in the 8th floor of the Senate Building is also a success story. The university also was involved in the purchase of official vehicles for principal officers, rehabilitation of road networks on campus, prompt payment of salaries, amongst others.

Professor Ibrahim Garba must also be commended for the peace and stability on the two campuses. The secret of this success stems from the Vice Chancellor’s high sense of responsibility and accommodating spirit for all shades of interests in the University system. His diplomatic style in dialoguing with the in-house unions is worthy of mention. Staff welfare was not relegated to the background.  One major milestone again was the promotion of both teaching and non-teaching staff whose promotion was long overdue.

One major observation made by the VC was that the growth in population of the University has never been marched with the growth of facilities and services/. The University administration is not without challenges of funding and infrastructural development. This is one major challenge for the ever-vibrant and focused Vice Chancellor. Notwithstanding existing challenges,  Prof. Garba has continued to dream  big for his great alma-mata.

Testimonies abound on the good works of Professor Garba in ABU. There is a consensus in the testimonies by many who work directly with the VC ,that Garba  is loved and appreciated by his co-academics and by non-academic staff.

Professor Najume Ibrahim Doguwar-Giginya, a  Director  in charge of the Division of  Agricultural Colleges (DAC) in ABU was among those who spoke wellof Garba. He told Verbatim that Garba  has always been an excellent  person, right  from their school  days. He confirmed that ‘since  his  arrival at the  Division of  Agricultural Colleges, there  has  never been a time  when  DAC’s teaching  examination, release of  Examination results or programmes were stagnated because of any undesired misunderstanding or lack of  dedication or cooperation on the part  of the  staff’’.

Professor Ibrahim attributed this rare feat to the visionary leadership of Garba, the vice-chancellor. According  to him  the  vice  chancellor  is  passionate  about  human  capital  development  hence  ‘’he  has  mandated  us to  ensure  that salaries are  paid regularly as at when  due. And  thank  God  all the  colleges namely Samaru  College  of Agriculture, College  of Agriculture and  Animal Science, Kaduna and Kabba College of Agriculture have been  performing optimally’’. He told Verbatim that the colleges are all ‘headed  by  Provosts  and the  staff  are highly  motivated as a  result  of the transformational  leadership  style  of  our  amiable  Vice-chancellor. Ibrahim Garba is focused and result-oriented. He has  demonstrated  by  example,  that  visionary  leadership is the  key to prosperity  and  well-being of the  people  and seamless running of  ivory-towers’’.

Mrs Nana HauwaMadugu , Director University Health Services in ABU also spoke in the same vain. She told Verbatim that Prof. Ibrahim Garba, the ebullient Vice-Chancellor is  Gender  sensitive and has  been  recognised  and acknowledged by  many (even  internationally) as a  leader  and  an academician  par  excellence. Her words: ‘’I have  been  working  with  him  as  the  only  female  Director  in his cabinet.  You  would wonder  how  you can prove  yourself,  working  with a  man  who  has  seen  it all, a man with  wide academic  exposure. However, he made working with him very simple, rewarding and worthwhile for me. He is dedicated and has a listening ear. He is very understanding and passionate about the health service delivery in the University’’.

HauwaMadugu revealed that the VC is versatile in knowledge about many things.’’ Even as a geologist, he knows quite a lot about medicine, so it is very easy for him to flow. He  really  has a large heart  and  he  is  ever willing  to support  us  at the  Health  Services’’, pointing out that the Vice chancellor is an exceptionally good person. ‘’Even amidst males, his transformational leadership style is very  commendable. He has so many good attributes. I have  no reason for  not  doing what I am supposed  to do because  our  vice- Chancellor  has  what we  Hausa’s call Amana (he is a man of  his words)’’,she said.

Engr. Mohammed A. Sambo, Director, Physical Planning and Municipal Services (PP&MS) was full of praises for the ABU Vice Chancellor too. He spoke in an interview session with Verbatim,  on the achievements of Prof. Ibrahim Garba, especially  as it relates to the Physical Planning And  Municipal  Services.

Among other achievements, He explained that  the PP&MS has successfully  completed  the  renovation of  female  students  Hostel; that is  Queen Amina  Hall,  which is  the  largest  female hostel  in Ahmadu  Bello University.  He explained that the renovation was done under the NEEDS Assessment intervention fund  and  was completed  in 2017. The entire project was said to have cost over N300 million naira for the entire renovation.

Still under the NEEDS Assessment Intervention project, there were ten  new  projects that were awarded  to  different  contractors  in 2017. These projects include Expansion of Department of electrical engineering construction of computer and communication engineering department (2) construction of twin lecture halls, (3) Extension to the  department of  Geology (4) extension to the faculty of  Arts(5)  construction equipping  and  furnishing  of studio for the department of mass communication (6)  construction of  two male students  hostel (7) construction  of two  storey  female  students  hostel (8)  construction and  furnishing of university  central  museum  for  department  of  Archaeology (9)  construction and  furnishing  of  faculties of Physical science  and life sciences (10) construction of 1.95Kilimeter road. All the above projects are at different stages of completion.

Other  projects  awarded  include  construction  of  extension of  bio-chemistry department,  construction of  ABU  Business School,  construction of  Ring  and  Box  culverts  to  create  access  to ABU  phase 2. Also the remodelling and furnishing of chemical engineering  department is on-going. Under  the  able  leadership of  Prof. Ibrahim  Garba, the  Vice – chancellor, the PP & MS has done the  supply and  installation  of  240  unit  of  solar powered  energy  street light.  Also, they  undertook  the  (under  capital  project) renovation  of hostel  2 and  3 in kongo campus in  2016.

In 2017, under  the  able  leadership  of  the vice-chancellor, he explained that they  embarked on the construction of  brand  new  student  hostel  at ABU  phase  2.  Under Tetfund project, PP&MS has done the following: construction of block of classrooms and offices for glass technology department. Procurement, furnishing and  external work  for  Glass Technology  department, construction of  Entrepreneurship Centre  construction  of  Geo spatial  centre  for the  department  of Urban  and  Regional Planning; procurement  of  Equipment for the  department  of  Water  Resources  and  Environment Engineering  and  many  more  other  project too  numerous  to mention.

There are also inherited projects which the VC has completed.  Such  NEEDS assessment projects  include  the  rehabilitation  of  Kashim  Ibrahim  Library;  construction  of  medical laboratories at ABUTH, Zaria Also the  rehabilitation of lecture  theatre  for  Faculty of  Social  Sciences. It  also  includes  the  construction of  Laboratory for physical  and  health  education departments, Rehabilitation of  President  J.F  Kennedy library at Kongo  campus. Rehabilitation  of  department of  department of Local  Government  and  Development  Studies  Lecture  Theatre at Kongo  campus; upgrading  of centre  for  Islamic  Legal  Studies  and the  Rehabilitation of  Faculty  of  Law Library  at Kongo Campus.

In his conclusion, Engr. Mohammed A. Sambo, Director, Physical Planning and Municipal Services (PP&MS) said this. ‘Prof Ibrahim Garba  has done  a lot  for  ABU  and we  pray  that Almighty  Allah  will continue to protect  and  guide him. He is an asset to us and we are proud of him and his achievements’’.

Prof. Ibrahim Jaro Musa, Director, CDRMDS/ABU   testified that the Vice Chancellor has been a success story, from his earlier days in service as Head of Department of geology in ABU,adding that Garba’s  era then was glorious. He said: ‘’ Professor Garba earlier set a good example as the Head of Department of Geology. Now, as the Vice Chancellor, he has continued to rebrand ABU. He has   also energised both the academic  and non-academic staff . He is so admired that students felicitously call him Daddy .We are all proud of him’’.

Ibrahim also added that the Vice Chancellor has been so successful with the short period he has been in the saddle that ‘’he has now raised   the bar in such a  manner  that we  all  feel challenged that nothing but the  best  is  good  enough  for  ABU’’.  He told Verbatim that the VC is now clearly on the way to putting ABU on the world map. ‘’Surely,  ABU has joined the Ivory League’’, he said.

Professor  N.M.Danjuma , Dean, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences  described Garba as an embodiment of goodness. ‘‘A very simple, humble and prodigiously intelligent man, Professor Garba is a Professor’s Professor and a consummate university administrator par excellence. He is highly intelligent. He makes discussion very simple and interesting for all the staff to be relaxed as he is a very personable leader. He has no air of arrogance around him and he is  very  accessible.  He is also very transparent and he is  giving  priority to  important  things within the  university setting’’,he stated in an interview with Verbatim in Zaria.

He also paid glowing tribute to the VC on the able way he handles matters relating to academics in ABU.  He explained that one of his greatest attributes  is the ability  to think out of the  box and his ability to attract  funding  to the  university.  Essentially,  we  are  being  sensitised  to use our brains  and  to think creatively  in  such a  manner  that we  attract  funds to the  university. Honestly, a university has no reason to be poor or to go abegging. They have all it  takes  to  be self-sustaining  and  to  generate funds’’, he said .

Giving details of the assertion he made, Danjuma  said; ‘’It  may  interest you to know  that donors find  it very  pleasant  to come  to ABU. For  your information, Dangote, the richest man in Africa, was here  and he  gave  the pre- convocation  lecture  which was as  intellectually stimulating  as  it  was  inspiring’’

Danjuma also confirmed that the VC is doing much to return  the  university to the  olden days when, for example, an Ambassador of Northern Ireland was around when the Faculty of  Social  Sciences organised lecture.  ‘’It was inspiring and intellectually refreshing. Also the Chinese Ambassador came calling. In fact 46 of our students were given about N100,000. It was a motivation. Please do not look at the money but the motive. It was an encouragement for the students to take academics seriously.  It was the sort of elixir needed to take us to the  next  level. Even other students want to emulate those who got the largess. The  Vice  Chancellor is in  control  and  does  not joke  with academics, He  cherishes  knowledge and the  impartation of  it’’, he said.

Professor  Y.Y Bambale ,  Dean of Students Affairs  who  has been a staff of ABU since  1988 and also worked with many  Vice- chancellors in the past told verbatim that he saw much of difference with Garba.’’ Our Vice-Chancellor, Prof Ibrahim Garba, is an extra-ordinary human being.  From afar, one would think he is a very difficult human being. But he is not. He is the simplest human being. Even though he has not read law, he is fair in his dealings.  He applies the principle of natural justice. He gives everyone, a fair hearing.  If you are able to convince him he will agree with you’’,he said.

Citing instances with the humane nature the VC treats issues about students, affairs. Bambale stated that he has never regretted  working with  him.’’Our Vice Chancellor does not joke with students affairs. He attends to them swiftly.  If we say he is students friendly, honestly we are begging the fact. I am a Lawyer  but  I do  not  have the  adjective  to describe  the  Vice- Chancellor.  This is my 30th year in ABU as a staff. I Joined in 1988 and I have never been to any other place.  I have worked with many Vice-Chancellors, but he is the best. This very one is very wonderful. If I bring anything to him concerning students, he will approve’’,Bambale said.

The story of the Ahmadu Bello University ,a university of  first  choice  for  many admission  seekers is no doubt interesting. This is much so,not just  only  because  of its  architectural  designs, which is a  master price,  but  because  of the  quality  of  teaching in the institution and,  the  urge  to produce graduates  who  are  problem  solvers. This is what the university has  been  doing since  its inception. However, the present Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ibrahim Garba  clearly has raised the bar within the short period he has been in office.  A very creative and highly intellectually rejuvenating personality.Garba  has  clearly taken  the  University to the next level.

Garba does enjoy praises for the good things he is doing in the university. His response to A Verbatim magazine question, during an interview in his office last week said much about the humility. The conversation went thus:

Verbatim: What do you say say to many people who are saying positive things about you and your achievements so far?.

Professor Ibrahim Garba: ‘’Can I be  greater  or larger  that  the  university that make  me  and  also my employer? Certainly not. The  fact  that it  falls  on my shoulders to carry  the  responsibility  and make  some  impact,  I thank  Almighty Allah.  ’’.One cannot claim to know it all or  be perfect.  But  whatever one  does, whether  it is  appreciated or  not, as  long  as  it  projects  the university in good  light and upholds its traditions  and the  dreams  of the founding fathers, one  would feel fulfilled after leaving  office. At least you have left the university better than you met it. If only I can be remembered in this light, then I am fulfilled’’.

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