By Usman A. Ngaski

As my boss, Prof. L. S. Bilbis steps down as Vice Chancellor (on 29th July), I want to take a moment to congratulate him and recognize his contributions to our great institution – Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS), the most peaceful University in Nigeria.

2. I had the privilege of working with Prof. Bilbis in different capacities, for a number of years. Firstly, I worked with him in 2009 during the development of competitive proposals for submission to World Bank under the famous Science & Technology Education Post Basic (STEP-B) Project. Eventually through that process, UDUS won two (2) grants worth millions of dollars. Secondly, at the University Development Office when he served as the Director while I was the Administrative Secretary. Thirdly, I was with him during the implementation of the World Bank Centre of Excellence on
Renewable Energy Research and Development. He was the Chairman, Implementation Committee while I served as the Secretary. Fourthly and most importantly, I worked with him when he was the Vice Chancellor (July 2019 to July, 2024). During most of this period (4.5 years), I worked closely with him in the Vice Chancellor’s Office. I served as the PAR (VC’s Office) and doubled as the Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor.

3. In all, I have worked with him for 15 productive years. I therefore have the authority to speak on many of his attributes – be they official or personal. Candidly, Prof. Bilbis is a complete gentleman, progressive by nature and a leader per excellence.

4. Prof. Bilbis had encountered and successfully dealt with quite a number of challenges as the Vice Chancellor. He was able to weather through those challenges because of the tremendous support he received from various sources. And this feat might not have been unconnected with the fact that Prof. Bilbis had utilised, effectively, his vast connections. Even before becoming the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Birnin Kebbi (FUBK) and later UDUS, he had travelled widely within and outside Nigeria. By my rough estimation, he had been to over 50 countries covering the continents of this
planet earth.

5. Prof. Bilbis appreciates hard work. He is nicknamed ‘‘slave driver’’. May be because he would drive countless initiatives at the same time and expects his lieutenants to match him in the drive to implement those initiatives!

6. Many a times, Prof. Bilbis would bring forth an idea; very difficult and daunting, and some of us who were saddled with the responsibility of implementing the idea would initially be sceptical of the feasibility of that idea, but Prof. Bilbis would continue to push us, encourage and support us until that idea became a reality. A case in point is the vaccine research and development project in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos and the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom under the TETFUND Research and Development (R&D) initiative.

7. This tribute is not to narrate successes of Prof. Bilbis as Vice Chancellor of UDUS, rather to say the least about this unique personality. Prof. Bilbis is simple and humble, focused and extremely brilliant.

8. Prof. Bilbis vehemently detests what I normally call “overtaken idea/suggestion” and this is a situation where a staff, after things have gone wrong, or are about to get bad, would say ‘‘sir, I wanted to earlier suggest or observe’’ when the same suggestion or observation wouldn’t have been useful at that point in time, typical of what Hausa people would refer to as ‘‘Fargar Jaji’’. On the other hand, he loves someone that takes responsibility for his action irrespective of the consequences – a habit that is fast dying in public service.

9. Prof. Bilbis has been a steady and visionary leader, guiding the Usmanu Danfodiyo University through a period of remarkable growth and change. Under his stewardship, the University witnessed:

a) the expansion of its academic programmes, meeting the evolving needs of our students and the community;

b) the construction and provision of several state-of-the-art facilities that have enhanced teaching and research;

c) the securing of record levels of internal and external funding and grants supporting cutting-edge researches and scholarships.

10. Beyond his impressive record of accomplishments, Prof. Bilbis has also been a trusted advisor, respected colleague amongst his peers, and a mentor to many of us. His unwavering commitments to the University’s mission and his genuine concern have truly set him apart.

11. I would like to be more personal here; Prof. Bilbis enjoyed a good working relationship with me. When in 2013, he was appointed the Vice Chancellor, FUBK, he offered me a job there; a position higher than where I was at that time. However, many factors beyond my control prevented me from taking up the appointment. As fate would have it, few years later, we met again at the Vice Chancellor’s office, UDUS; and I am glad to be part of that transformational journey.

12. Prof. Lawal Suleman Bilbis and successive administrations of Prof. T. M. Bande, GCON, Prof. R. A. Shehu, OON, and Prof. A. A. Zuru have all pursued various phases of human and capital developments over the years. It is my candid view that UDUS has been blessed with focused and visionary leaderships over the years. No wonder the University has trained and produced eminent personalities: President of the UN General Assembly; Speaker, House of Representatives; Ministers/Heads of MDA; Senators; Ambassadors; Honourable Members of the House of Representatives and State Assemblies; the Chairman, INEC; Vice Chancellors, Registrars, Emirs, Federal and State Commissioners, Federal and State Directors and many others. Congratulations to them all!

13. I hope his successor will follow his footsteps, although, the bar has been set high for him. He is therefore stepping into the shoe of a great giant. I equally hope and pray that Allah would see him through and bless his tenure. Undoubtedly, Allah has been with the affairs of Prof. Bilbis, and again as the Hausa people would say ‘‘Allah Ya shiga alamarinsa’’. Allah Ya jibinci alamarinmu’’.

14. May I, on a sad note, pray for the soul of Prof. Yusuf Saidu. Prof. Saidu was the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research, Innovation and Development) from May, 2021 to June, 2024, and has been instrumental to implementing most of the developmental initiatives of Prof. Bilbis administration. May his soul rest in peace, amin.

15. Term limits are no doubt good things for a life of any system. No matter how good a dancer you are, you must, sooner or later, leave the stage for others to perform. We pay deepest farewell to Prof. Bilbis. The entire University community wishes you good health and all of the best in your future endeavors.

16. As you exit the exalted position of Vice Chancellor, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto after a successful completion of your 5-year tenure, I wholeheartedly congratulate you. The indelible mark you have left behind on our Institution will continue to shape our path forward.

17. I join thousands of well-wishers to wish you long life, happiness and prosperity. May the rest of your time be the best of your life. Indeed, you have done extremely well in spite of challenges confronted during your tenure and the realities of the moment. No doubt, in all your professional, academic and social roles in life, you have so far done well. Goodbye, Bilbis!

18. Once-again, congratulations! May Allah (SWT) prosper our affairs.

Usman A. Ngaski
Formerly PAR & S.A to Vice Chancellor, UDUS
Now Acting Registrar, Rayhaan University Birnin Kebbi

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