By ‘Kunle Adebajo To start with… On the fourteenth day…
By Sodiq Omolaoye
Described as the largest university in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ahmadu Bello University is the first University to be established in Northern Nigeria in 1962. The University which boasts of over 500,000 graduates is indeed one of Nigeria’s finest in the aspect of research and human development.
Located in the heart of the Northern emirate- North of the Sahara, South of the Limpopo, East of the equator and West of the Mahaha, ABU Zaria is inarguably a household name in intellectual production. With two major campuses (Samaru and Kongo), 96 academic departments, housed by 12 faculties and 12 research Institutes, the intellectual dexterity and creativity of her products is rarely contested.
In natural contradiction, as backlash and resentment continues to rage in from the public on the negative sides of our public universities, I decided to see something positive in ABU because even every cloud as a silver lining. I am therefore going against the flow. Tragically, some universities around the world may have diverted from their core mandate(s), ABU, however, over the years has been pushing hard to achieve her core objective which is aptly captured thus ‘To advance the frontiers of learning and break new grounds, through teaching, research and the dissemination of knowledge of the highest quality…’
In Nigeria today, and beyond, the university has far become a pacesetter, a trailblazer and frontrunner which other institutions emulate in knowledge production and advancement. Recently, it was announced that a team of students from ABU won the 2017 Enactus National Championship and was also declared winner of the Lekoil Environmental Sustainability Challenge in the competition. As reported by some of our media outlets – ‘ The team won the challenge through an innovative project tagged Baggega Hope Rising, which uses the water filtration process of separating physical and chemical impurities , such as lead and other heavy metals from underground water sources’. Compensated for their victory, the team represented the country in the Enactus World Cup tournament held at the United Kingdom.
Also, sometime last year, the school engineering team won the shell eco marathon competition held in South Africa after claiming glory at home to represent the country at the continental level. These victories, among others place the university above her counterparts in knowledge distribution. Perhaps, with the level of her alumni, research, teaching and contribution to both regional and national development, ABU should be tagged the new ‘Nigerian Harvard’. A feat perfectly attained in a clime where government is turning a blind eye to the country’s educational system and where peanuts are budgeted for intellect acquisition and redistribution. Technologically, ABU is among the eight universities offering distance learning in Nigeria (UI, OAU, UNILAG, UNIMAID, LAUTECH, UNIABUJA, Modibo Adama,Yola) are the other seven universities.
The moment you set foot onto the second largest university in Africa, its surrounding is easy on the eye and also, a feast for the eye. For the first time, bearing in mind the area where the university is situated, you maybe perplexed by the melodious social scene it offers. That, however, reveals that the principle of federal character as enshrined in the constitution is flawlessly respected by the institution. In each department, every state is ably represented as the admission criterions are well spelt out. Far away from the northern region, ABU is helping lame dogs over a stile in term of quality education. Apart from ABU breakthrough in academic research, it has successfully produced billionaires who are not only successful in their businesses, but also are policy influencers. Technocrats who are doing fine in their chosen career parts, sound academics who have made major academic discovery and political office holders bestowed with high intellect. Only schools, such as Harvard can boast of such notable alumni list at the world stage.
Perhaps, what happened at the last ABU convocation ceremony proved my point right. The best graduating student, Al-Amin Bashir Bugaje, a First Class graduate of Electrical engineering with a CGPA of 4.93 was handed a full postgraduate scholarship, up to doctorate level, by Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru. Interestingly, the MD himself is an alumnus of the school and faculty the young man graduated from. Baru’s gesture, however, received outcry from students of other universities. While some gave it an ethnic colouration, some splashed it with religion sentiments. They, the mischief makers, yet, forgot that Baru is an alumnus of the school. Consequently, Bashir Bugaje innocently benefitted from a powerful and robust alumni network.
In a similar fashion, advancing a mental trip to her infrastructural development, apart from lecture theatres and laboratories being constructed around the University, the new center of excellence donated to the University by the Central Bank of Nigeria is a point of major significant improvement in the great citadel of learning.
Located at ABU main campus, Samaru, ABU center of excellence was commissioned on Friday, 8th, Dec 2017 and the edifice is expected to house ABU business school (department of Business administration, Accounting, Insurance, Economics). It is undoubtedly, another feet worth applauding even though it may not be the first in the country. Without a mission to flatter excessively, in few years to come, ABU will be far ahead of other first generation universities in Nigeria and it may take centuries to catch up with her. From whatever foot the shoe is on, ABU looks like a university that is ready to compete with both her African and world counterparts. Not only in the beautification of its campus or its infrastructure, but also in its academic outputs.
It is not rocket science that ABU is fast-becoming a pacesetter in the academic environment, as where there is smoke, there is fire. Accolades, therefore, should be given to her alumni network who are working tediously and tirelessly to see that the university becomes a force to reckon with. ABU current developmental stride is not a product of a single individual since a tree cannot make a forest and it takes two to tango.
Meanwhile, the ABU phase II project is currently ongoing and it will serve as a springboard for ABU to be rank highly among the best in world. By sustaining the current growth tempo and continually putting her shoulder on the wheel. In the nearest future, ABU will certainly distinguish itself among world class Universities. Nothing of importance can be done in a short period of time because Rome also wasn’t built in a day.
As I draw down my curtain, let me use this opportunity to express my sympathy with the entire ABU community for the death of one of her own, a leading international researcher, a worthy academic and professor of professors- Prof. Andrew Nok. His death indeed left open a vacuum difficult to fill. Professor Nok won many awards when he discovered the gene responsible for the creation of sialidase (SD), an enzyme which causes sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis). He was a great scientist and a teacher worthy of emulation. Rest in Peace, Prof. he is very good example that proves the ‘Naturally ahead’ mantra right.