ABU Vice Chancellor’s Stool Race:

  • Serving/Ex-VC’s, Serving/Ex-DVCs, Top Professors To Watch
  • Why Other Eminent Professors Failed To Contest
  • Presidency’s/VC’s Anointed Candidates

By Waziri Isa Adam

As the five year single tenure of Professor Ibrahim Garba, Vice Chancellor of Premier Ivory Tower in Northern Nigeria, and the largest, not only in the country but in Africa, in terms of both staff and students population, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, expires in few months’ time, precisely in April 2020; race for the highly competitive, exalted and coveted stool of the historic institution has reached its crescendo with the near completion of the task of the Search Team put in place by the institution’s senate to go all out to search for very credible and competent professor within and outside the university who have the needed experience and capacity to preside over the first generation university in the 21st century.

The Search Team which is reported to have since embarked on the mandate saddled on it is said to be doing its best in searching for distinguished professors that can give the university quality and result-oriented academic and administrative leadership in the present digital age.

What remains to be seen now is positive or negative, biased or unbiased action of the main players in the emergence of the right candidates, a responsibility that is naturally saddled on the selection Board, under the Chairmanship of the Chairman of the University’s Governing Council, Alhaji Adamu Fika, an octogenarian and former secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Mandate of the selection board includes shortlisting, screening and interviewing all the qualified candidates to finally come out with the best three.

Action, decision or judgment of the selection board which is usually second to final, is what will make or mar the university, depending on the three candidates, they have zeroed on, and out of whom one will eventually be elected or chosen as the successful candidate and who shall be appointed by the 12 – member governing council to be presided over by the Council chairman, who is rightly or wrongly believed to be a man of integrity.

Even though names of the candidates have remained top secret up to the time of filing this report, Education Monitor managed to get wind of some of the names of the Professors that have duly applied and those that had earlier wanted to apply but later changed their minds and those that have abundant capacity to administer the university but refused to apply either because of their belief that Islam says anybody that comes out to look for power desperately should be denied, or feel and know that traditionally, no matter how good one is, it will be difficult for him to get the VC position, either because he does not belong to a particular political camp or caucus or does not come from what has today come to be known, politically, as “Core-North”.

Some of those that have applied for the position, are known as ‘career applicants’, because they had never missed any opportunity to apply for such a position whenever it was declared vacant, either in ABU or somewhere else.

Among the contestants that are believed to have applied are one serving Vice Chancellor and four ex-Vice Chancellors. We have also gathered that one serving Deputy Vice Chancellor and former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the university have also applied.

A career and a new applicant are also reported to be among those that submitted their curriculum vitae for invitation, screening and subsequently interview.

Others that Education Monitor mirrored on are those Professors who are eminently qualified in every sense of the word but have refused to apply due to religious principle or one factor or the other.

The Contenders – Real and Potential

Professor Idris Isa Funtua:

Prof Funtua who hails from the same home state, Katsina, with the President, Muhammadu Buhari, is the incumbent Vice Chancellor of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University (UMYU), Katsina.

He is the younger brother of one of the senior and un- appointed,  but   one   of   the  strongest shakers and movers of the country because of his unfettered access to the President and limitless influence in the presidency, Alhaji Samaila Isa Funtua.

Before his appointment as the Vice Chancellor of UMYU, Professor Funtua served as the Director of ABU’s Centre for Energy Research and Training (CERT). He also served as Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration in ABU, for four years, under the tenure of Professor Shehu Usman Abdullahi who made desperate efforts to anoint Funtua to succeed him but failed, partly because of the stiff opposition against him (Funtua). Part of Funtua’s headache was majorly because of stronger contenders that were in the race with him, such as the Late Professor Yakubu Nasidi and Late Professor Andrew Nok, hence, he could not cling the position.

Professor Funtua, however, later applied for the same position at Umaru Musa Yaradua University, when the position was declared vacant, and was subsequently appointed by the then PDP governor of the state, Barr. Ibrahim Shehu Shema.

While at UMYU, Professor Funtua had many bitter and needless battles and frosty relationship with almost all the in-house unions of the institution, particularly Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), who at a time had to pass vote-of-no-confidence on him.

One major cause of the frosty relationship between Prof. Funtua and ASUU at UMYU was as a result of what the ASUU and other stakeholders in the state described as his puritanical, holier than thou, controversial and undiplomatic attitudes or approach to issues.

But, Education Monitor reliably gathered that because of his relationship with the powers that be in the Presidency, which his supporters openly brag that, nothing is going to stop him from being the next Vice Chancellor of ABU, because, according to them, he is the presidency’s anointed candidate.

One other source confided, rightly or wrongly, in Education Monitor that the selection board members especially external members and the council have been given directives to ensure that nothing should stop Funtua’s emergence as ABU’s next Vice Chancellor.

 Professor Muhammad Nasiru Maiturare:

Prof Maiturare who hails from Paiko Local Government Area of Niger State is the incumbent Vice Chancellor of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai (IBBUL). He is a proud and one of the most revered Alumnus of Ahmadu Bello University of his set.

Before his appointment as the Vice Chancellor of IBBUL, Professor Maiturare had held several administrative and academic positions in ABU, such as Head of Business Administration Department, Dean Faculty of Administration and later Director, Institute of Administraiton, Kongo Campus. He was also a one-time internal Council member of ABU.

As a humble and gentleman per excellence, the amiable and highly respected Professor of Business Administration, succeeded in steering affairs of IBBUL for almost five years today without any kind of altercation or dispute with any stakeholder in the university.

Professor Maiturare’s other great credentials and assets for the race, apart from his rich academic and administrative experiences and his scholarly accomplishments, are his humility, simplicity, incorruptibility, gentlemanliness and undoubtless loyalty to his Alma mata – ABU.

 Professor Ezzeldeen Mukhtar Abdulrahman:

`Professor Ezzeldeen, popularly known, among his friends and admirers, as ‘Veteran Vice Chancellor’, hails from Zaria city in Kaduna state. He is a world renowned Professor of Pharmacognosy and Drug Development in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in ABU. This excellent scholar turned successful university administrator, first displayed his leadership capacity when he was appointed as the Director of School of Basic and Remedial Studies of ABU in Funtua where he nurtured the pre-degree institution to an enviable height. His achievements at SBRS Funtua was what must have influenced his appointment as the Vice Chancellor of Kaduna State University (KASU) where he successfully held sway for five years and left credible and enviable record of achievements.

As his tenure at KASU was expiring, Alhaji Isa Yuguda, the then Bauchi State Governor who had just set up a state university at Gadau, invited Prof. Ezzeldeen to come and replicate in Bauchi state the successes he recorded at KASU at Gadau, which he obliged and moved straight to Bauchi from Kaduna.

While at BASUG Prof. Ezzelden successfully set the university on a strong academic footing and before the expiration of his five year tenure there, he had left behind unparalleled and unbeatable legacies at the young university.

Earlier at KASU, because of Prof. Ezzeldeen’s belief in the importance of labour unions, as a check and balance forces in a university system, he urged and encouraged academic staff members to seek to establish branch of ASUU in the university.

While in ABU, before his transformation to a successful university administrator, Professor Ezzeldeen had served as Head of Department and Dean of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He was also the Pioneer Director of the University’s revived pre-degree programme – School of Basic and Remedial Studies, (SBRS) Funtua.

As a ten year old experienced university administrator, Professor Ezzeldeen is believed to have acquired the required capacity and network needed to generate huge resources any university will need to augment for the shortfall universities are generally experiencing in Nigeria today.

He is a matured and patient professor who has listening ears. He believes in the delegation of power ABU needs to fully function in this century.

He has digital communication experiences and has local and international linkages needed to boost the economic base of any university.

Professor Abubakar Sambo;

Professor Sambo who also hails from Zaria city of Kaduna State, successfully served out his 5 year tenure as the Vice Chancellor of ATBU about 10 years ago, after which he joined the 2014 race for ABU VC stool and took a distant 7th position, a development his supporters saw as an embarrassment and therefore do not expect to see him contesting for such a position in ABU again.

Sambo who is almost the eldest of all the contestants is no doubt an accomplished and excellent scholar with vast experience who had also worked in many places after leaving ATBU. Among the places he has worked is Kaduna State University (KASU) where he briefly served as Vice Chancellor before later moving to take up appointment with the Energy Commission of Nigeria as Director General.

 Professor Kabiru Bala:

Another top contender in the race is the immediate past Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) of the university, Professor Kabiru Bala, a native of Kaduna state, who was removed in a surprised and unprecedented circumstances by his Principal, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ibrahim Garba, without allowing him to serve his second two year term, after serving out his first tenure of two years.

Some analysts who are conversant with the politics of the university opine that Professor Kabiru Bala’s abnormal and regrettable denial to serve his traditional second term was not unconnected with the needless intrigues, backstabbing and blackmail by desperate lobbyists or betrayal by the Vice Chancellor, who Bala had sincerely and honestly served in his first tenure with all sense of dedication, humility, respect and caution.

Professor Bala who is a one-faced, vast and a widely travelled scholar of international repute has held several academic and administrative positions within and outside the university. He was a onetime Head of Building Department, Dean, Faculty of Environmental Design, Director of the University’s Directorate of Academic Planning, Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies from where he was moved to the 8th floor of the university’s senate as Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration).

Professor Kabiru Bala who is a realist, remains one of the very few pragmatic, discerning, hardworking, energetic and visionary scholars and intellectuals in the university today and who is serenely passionate and enthusiastic in giving the university the right and much needed sense of administrative and academic focus.

 Professor S. Z. Abubakar:

Professor S.Z is ABU’s incumbent Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) who replaced Professor Kabiru Bala and who many alleged that he is the outgoing Vice Chancellor’s anointed candidate for the contested stool. He is from the same home state of Kano with the Vice Chancellor.

Professor S.Z, who, many also say, rightly or wrongly, that he is the Vice Chancellor’s brother, once served as the Director of the Institution’s National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services (NAERLS), and Dean of ABU’s School of Postgraduate Studies. He briefly served as Vice Chancellor of scrapped Alvan Ikoku University of Education.

Another popular opinion making the rounds in the university about Prof. S.Z ‘s candidature is that he is also one of the preferred candidates of the Presidency and the Minister of Education, Mal. Adamu Adamu. Prof. S. Z.’s one time very close relationship with the President and the Minister, as often proclaimed by him, may be one of his assets in the contest.

 Professor Hudu Ayuba:

Professor Hudu Ayuba who is one of the very eminent and competent Professors in the university that has the capacity to lead the university is believed to be one of the contestants of the stool.

Professor Hudu who is an indigene of Kaduna State is also a widely travelled scholar of international repute and with international connections and linkages.

He was a onetime Head of Department of Political Science, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, and presently the Director of ABU’s Institute for Development Research and Training (IDR & T).

 Professor Jacob K. Kwaga:

Professor Kwaga, a onetime Vice Chancellor of his native state of Adamawa – Adamawa State University, is a Professor of Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine. He had for long been under pressure to contest the ABU Vice Chancellor stool, but he had always subtly declined. So, simply put, Professor Kwaga is among the many qualified but adamant professors to contest for the position.

Professor Kwaga who is also a fine and humble scholar of international repute, had held various positions, both academic and administrative, in ABU and had contributed immensely in the development of the university, particularly in his rare field of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

There are two schools of thought about Kwaga joining the ABU VC’s race.

While one school says he has applied and is therefore in the race, the other says he has not. Whether he is in the race or not, one obvious fact about the professor is that he is one of the very many qualified on ground to head the university.

 Professor Tanimu Abubakar:

Professor Tanimu Abubakar is a hardworking and undisputed intellectual cum Scholar who is widely respected even by his foes. He is among the few real scholars in the university that have encyclopedic history and knowledge of workings of the university system.

A renowned Professor of English, Tanimu Abubakar had held several positions in ABU, the last of which was the Dean of Students.

Despite his rich credentials and abundant capacity, to head the university, Professor Tanimu Abubakar said he has no interest in the position. He said what he prefers and enjoys doing best is mentoring students to be future leaders and intellectuals, and reading in his farm.

Professor Idris Bugaje:

Professor Bugaje is one rare and very hardworking, honest, Godly and accomplished scholar who many of his admirers and those that know his legendary achievements and legacies in the many places he had worked before being in Kaduna Polytechnic as Rector, and Chief Executive Officer, have been praying to see the day he will be ABU’s Vice Chancellor, so that he will bring his vast knowledge, experience and serene patriotism to bear on the university.

Professor Bugaje who is only speculated to have applied for the ABU VC race, hails from Katsina State and is an Alumnus of ABU.

He was a Rector at Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa, Nasarawa State. He was also at one time Director General of National Research Institute of Chemical Technology Basawa, Zaria, where he successfully transformed those institutions and left unbeatable and unparalleled legacies.

Professor Adawa Dan Akuka Yarkasuwa:

Another prominent, highly resourceful and potential candidate for the VC stool in ABU is Professor Adawa of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Though he did not apply for the position but there is a general consensus among most scholars and intellectuals in the university that Prof. Adawa is an honest, intelligent and hardworking scholar of international repute who also has the required virtues and qualities to lead the university, but his greatest problem is that he is too apolitical and is not among such people who will go all out to look or lobby for a position or appointment.

Prof. Adawa who is an indigene of Kaduna State from Saminaka Local Government Area, had held several academic and administrative positions in the university which included Head of Department, Council member and Dean of Students during the tenure of his mentor, Professor S. U. Abdullahi.

 Professor Abdulmumini Hassan Rafindadi;

Professor Rafindadi who is a Professor of Pathology is an indigene of Katsina State. He is believed not to have applied for the position but he had been under pressure to contest, giving his enormous wealth of experience and capacity.

Professor Rafindadi is the immediate past Vice Chancellor of Federal University Lokoja where he added serene value in the university during his five year tenure as its Pioneer Chief Executive Officer.

A well connected scholar and medical doctor, Professor Rafindadi was the Chief Medical Director of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Shika, Zaria, before his appointment as the Vice Chancellor of Federal University Lokoja.

 Professor YKE Ibrahim

Professor YKE Ibrahim who hails from Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State, is the present Centre Leader of Africa Centre of Excellence for Neglected Tropical Diseases and Forensic Biotechnology (ACENTDFB), domiciled in Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.

Like other distinguished and honorable professors who are eminently qualified to serve the university as its Vice Chancellor, Professor YKE who had though been under pressure to join the race, but declined, said he is contented as a Professor with additional responsibility as Centre Leader of ACENTDFB.

Professor Zakari Muhammad;

A distinguished Professor of Library and Information Science, Professor Zakari is reputed for having the rare courage to apply for the VC stool for the fourth time or thereabout including this race, a reason why some call him a veteran or ‘career applicant’.

However, the truth about Professor Zakari is that he is a patient and hardworking mentor who had trained several academics and professionals within and outside ABU, where he was a onetime member of the university management, in his capacity as its Chief Librarian.

Professor Adamu Ahmed;

Though Professor Ahmed has not applied for the position of the VC stool despite his rich and enormous capacity, he was, like others, under serious pressure by those who are aware of his leadership qualities, added with his passion for the development of the university, but he declined possibly because of his recent appointment as Commissioner of Lands and Survey in his home state, Bauchi.

Professor Ahmad who is a result – oriented, selfless and dedicated intellectual and scholar, has held several positions in the university that included – Head, Urban and Regional Planning Department, a position he held for four years. He also served as Deputy Managing Director of the University’s consultancy outfit – Ahmadu Bello University Consultancy Services (ABUCONS).

Before his latest appointment as commissioner to serve his home state, Professor Ahmed was the Director of Directorate of University Advancement of Ahmadu Bello University.

Professor Muhammad Kabiru Aliyu (mni)

Professor MK, as he is popularly known, no doubt is one of the professors who have the patience, maturity and experience needed to run a university.

Even though he did not apply or join the ABU VC race, many people, especially students, are of the view that the university will need people like him as leaders in view of his simplicity, capacity and friendliness with students.

Professor MK who is from Kubau Local Government Area of Kaduna State has held several positions in the university which include Head of Archeology Department, Deputy Dean of Students, Deputy Director, ABU Centre of Research and Historical Documentation – Arewa House.

Prof. MK who is the current Director of University Advancement, ABU, is one of the most experienced ASUU activists of his age today in Northern Nigeria. His name is also on record as the first Professor of Archeology from the North.

He is also the pioneer Editor of Education Monitor Newspaper.

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