By Dominic Akpensuen

In the words of Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa: “Education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world.” The appointment of Professor Suleiman Bala Muhammed as the Vice Chancellor of Nasarawa State University, Keffi, NSUK, is an indication of putting a round peg in a round hole. Since his assumption of office as Ag Vice Chancellor on October 8, 2019 and confirmation as the Vice Chancellor on April 3, 2019 to pilot the affairs of NSUK, within five years, he has aligned his vision and mission with the dream for which the institution was established. Eighteen (18) years after the establishment of the University; Bala’s dogged steps to transform Nasarawa State University into a world class Institution remain a burning desire and a dream to actualise.

The idea is nourishing a university system with strong institutions and organs such as Council, Senate, Congregation, Faculty and Departments’ Board, which shall operate on the basis of the rule of law and time tested principles of transparency and accountability. The institution is set to overcome the hurdles of admission manipulation, employment, promotion, graduation that will be driven through due process and transparency.

Building a world class University that will meet the test of the 21st Century University Information Communication Technology, ICT, teaching, learning and research to meet the University’s academic needs, the administration that will never tolerate unethical conducts both from staff and students. He has committed to ensure that the sale of handouts, sale of grades and extortion of money from students is totally eliminated, even as sexual harassment by lecturers and examination malpractice will be abolished. He is also committed to seriously check the issues of drug abuse, and cultism among students. The whistle blower policy, he says, shall serve as practical example to demonstrate the true realisation of the dream and acute focus.

The leadership which shall exist on the basis of team work will judiciously utilise intervention funds. Indeed, restoration of quality institution operating with public confidence in service delivery, fair and just disciplinary process, improved science/ art ratio of the University to gradually meet the ratio of 60/40 for Science and Arts through the introduction of health science and engineering; networking with international and national bodies, agencies and Universities within and across the globe, is of core concern.

Unarguably, Professor Bala’s stewardship has entered into solidarity with two companies for the establishment of printing press for easy academic excellence and publications. The project is in its advanced stage. Also, building of hostels to ease the chronic worrisome accommodation problem on campus is ongoing, just as a hotel and a filling station are projects in focus within the five-year tenure. The establishment of a block industry to increase the status of internally generated revenue, IGR, extension of library complex and renovation of structures and vehicle maintenance for effective utilization, is another plus for the institution.

The action plan

Professor Suleiman Bala’s administration focuses on a twelve-point agenda to accomplish within his five-year tenure, by making sure there is an improvement of infrastructural development, to institutionalise University culture, strengthen quality research, promote staff and students welfare, address labour related matters, meet the needs of units, departments, centre’s, directorates, institutes and faculties, establish linkages with other bodies, and improve funding. Others are; to invest in technology solutions for teaching, learning and research, improve standard and quality of academic programmes and addressing environmental sanitation and landscape through promotion of a green University campus, and assure higher levels of security.

Indeed, one of the reasons for the establishment of the faculties of Health Science and Engineering is because of its key importance to developmental programmes, and for the fact that they were overdue taking a cue from States in the North Central geo-political zone owned Universities like Benue, Kogi, Gombe, and Niger States which have all established these very sensitive and human considerate programmes.

With the establishment of the College of Health Science and Engineering in addition to eight already existing faculties, we can point at ten solid faculties in the University, including School of Postgraduate Studies, all to provide quality and sound education for Nasarawa State indigenes and beyond.

The adage that, a journey of one thousand kilometres begins with a step, is aptly captured here as the College of Health Science will commence with three departments at takeoff within two years – the department of Human Anatomy, Department of Physiology, and Department of Biochemistry.

The Faculty of Engineering will kick-start with department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, and Department of Processing Engineering respectively. The School of Postgraduate Studies, SPGS, will also be strengthened with new programmes like Security and Intelligence Studies, Legislative Studies, Criminology and Cyber Security, among others.

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