Prof Ibrahim Garba: Dreaming big for ABU by Auwalu Umar,

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Nothing was indeed put in place either in form of plans or preparations by authorities of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, to rejoice with its Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof Ibrahim Garba, when he clocked three years in office.

Garba, a professor of Geology, assumed office on May 4, 2015 after taking over from Prof Abdullahi Mustapha, on April 30, 2015.

Prof Ibrahim Garba, Vice chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria
Prof Abdullahi Mustapha

Understandably, Prof Ibrahim Garba’s decision not to roll out drums for celebration might simply be out of humility or probably because the past two years are too short to access an administration that will run for five years. However, it will be uncharitable for some of us who keenly watch every unfolding development in the university not to bring to public knowledge some of the laudable works Garba is doing for this revered institution.

ABU, which has a good complement of international students and staff, has its own peculiar characteristics. Till date, it is such a huge institution that requires a leader with a strong academic background as well as a sound and broad administrative experience of the university system. Such leader must also show sufficient vision, moral courage and qualities of character that will assist him withstand all the strains and stresses of university governance, as clearly contained in a Government White Paper on Presidential Visitation Panel for the university in 2000.

The university is widely regarded as the most cosmopolitan tertiary institution in Nigeria, both in terms of staff and student profiles. It has been established that every local government in Nigeria has students in the institution just as all states of the federation have a representative in the staff profile of the university. The institution is one of the greatest universities in the sub-Saharan Africa.

At present, the university has 13 faculties, 12 specialised 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 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.

Prof Ibrahim Garba, soon after he took over, 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 specialised 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 also 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 ongoing discussion with Robert Gordon University (RGU), UK, based on a visit in November last year by the VC and Dean of Engineering, Prof Muhammad Dauda for collaborative development of MSc Oil and Gas Engineering as well as joint delivery for prospective candidates.

When Prof Ibrahim Garba realised that the cost of power supply to the university community could not be sustained, he undertook to diversify the energy sources to ensure sustainability as well as engendering flexibility in the energy supply to the university. He realised that renewable energy sources offered the best alternative to achieving his twin ambition of delivering flexible as well as sustainable power supply to the university.

Consequently, a delegation from the university visited Hungary in May, last year where it examined the possibilities for adaptation of bio-energy plant based on existing facility in Hungary. Accordingly, it was agreed that ABU will establish a biogas plant to be based on the university’s wastewater treatment plant system, a bio-ethanol plant using industrial maize silage as raw material and a bio-ethanol and disinfectant manufacturing plant which is expected to provide an organic manure of 1133 tons per annum.

Prof Ibrahim Garba must be praised for the stability in running the university, even though there were occasional tough engagements with in-house unions, especially when some of their demands could not be met. The secret behind the sustained stability in the system stemmed from the vice chancellor’s high sense of responsibility and tremendous respect for the unions. He would always and patiently have dialogue with workers’ unions in an attmpt to implement the university Council’s decisions, an action that sometimes is not in tandem with definition of welfare, rights and privileges.

University governance is not without challenges. The vice chancellor, like all his colleagues all over the federation, faces the challenge of inadequate funding to cater for overhead costs and other expenditure. The level of current capital allocation to the university is utterly inadequate to cater for routine needs and services, which would always give any VC some sleepless nights. Yet Garba kicks and dreams tall for ABU!

Credit: thenationonlineng.net


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