• Says, Made FUGUS Focus 100% Relevant to Its Host Community
  • Boasts That FUGUS Is Ahead of Most of Its Peers on Staff Development, Training
  • Says, He has Not Anointed Anyone to Succeed Him, Six Months To His Vacation of Office

Barely months to vacate office, and in reminiscence of the early days he assumed office as the Head of the newly established Federal University Gusau in Zamfara state, Professor Magaji Garba bared his mind on his core mandate as he took over the leadership of the institution, the challenges he faced and how he was able to summon courage to bring the nascent University from obscurity to limelight of adoration. His, wasn’t just an uphill task, but a herculean process that nearly drain the last atom of strength from him.

Disclosing to the Group Editor-in-Chief, Waziri Isa Adam, of Education Monitor his main focus as he took over the mantle of leadership, Professor Magaji said he came to the University with an inclusive vision of making FUGUS 100% relevant to its host community.

My Focus When I Took over:

“When I took over, what I first did was to study the University’s academic brief, and when I looked at that academic brief and then looked at the community which is an agrarian community whereby up to 80% of the inhabitants are farmers, coupled with the fact that the community has a lot of mineral deposits, especially gold, which is the highest in terms of concentration and quality in the country; I decided to formulate a focus for the University along this line, which I shared with my colleagues”, Professor Garba said.

“The focus was to identity and introduce programs that will actually be relevant to the community. As an agrarian community therefore, I started working towards providing manpower that will actually increase the input of agriculture, so that, that will be used as a means of livelihood for the majority of the people. This focus, incidentally, fitted into the motto of the state which is – ‘Farming is Our Pride’. The focus was also meant to expose the mining of gold to the federation, so that the national economy would also benefit from what God has given Zamfara State”, he posited

He said, he then moved quickly to the academic brief and modified it to contain Engineering, and specifically, Mining Engineering, as one of the programs, so that those who take the course in mining engineering will just move straight away to the field and continue to exploit the mineral resources, after graduation.

“In line with this focus, we also established Faculty of Agriculture, which I am proud to tell you that it is being headed by a prominent professor of Seed Multiplication and a former Vice Chancellor, Professor Shehu A. Ado, and who is being assisted by many specialists in different fields of agriculture such as Forestry, Seed Multiplication, and so on. I want to assure you, with all sense of confidence and humility, that soon, this Faculty will be a faculty with a difference in Nigeria”, he said

“One area of great interest which I want to emphasize here is Forestry. Regrettably, as important as it is, our government and people have forgotten about forestry and its great economic benefits. Forestry is a huge resource generating sector which can really help the economy; and I have a Professor of Forestry that is part and parcel of the new Faculty in the University, in the person of Professor Abdullahi Shinkafi, who was a one-time SSG of the State. So, you see, we are bringing a Faculty of Agriculture that is directly relevant to the needs and the aspirations of the state and the country in general”, the Vice Chancellor revealed.

His focus, in a nutshell, was to see that the University fuses into the requirement of the community. To be 100% relevant to the people of the community”, Professor Magaji submitted.

Staff Training and Development:

Knowing full well that human capital is paramount to every giant stride, the learned fellow did not entertain any hesitation to ignite the unquenchable fire of building strong human capital base for the university to thrive among other universities in the country and also to make the university a world class standard.

To achieve this, the Vice Chancellor dived into the TETFUND’s Academic Staff Training and Development (ASTD) intervention without delay; and by providence coupled with intellectual prowess, the outcome can better be imagined than said.

His words, “When I came, I had an idea of staff training and I knew there is an Academic Staff Training and Development (ASTD) intervention at TETFUND including conferences. In the ASTD I found that almost close to 300 million naira was not yet accessed by the University; and in the conferences, there was another 200 million yet to be accessed.

“So, I quickly went to TETFUND and enquired of the procedure on how the money could be accessed by the university; and I would like to humbly say, therefore, that I am the first Vice Chancellor here to start Academic Staff Training and Development. I sent my submission to TETFUND and TETFUND responded immediately and so, the first set left to Malaysia, UK, Turkey, Cyprus and other places, while others were within the country; and by early 2017, we had sent almost 97 staff both outside and inside the country.  Today, the number has increased. At the moment we have about 300 staff that we are undergoing training under this programme.

New Faculties and Challenges:

“I told you earlier about mining engineering. You and I know that it is a very difficult area especially in getting the professionals for the programme; and I am actually linking up with some colleagues like Prof Idris Bugaje, Prof BM Dewu and others in Jos. In fact, we even went to Ibadan and Ekiti in search for right persons for the programme because these are places that offered mining engineering”, he added.

Believing that success in leadership does not come without sleepless nights of ponderings on how to conquer series of challenges, Professor Garba was able to strategically position himself to tackle those challenges with ease as they come. While laughing at some of the challenges in derision, seeing them as mere teasing problems, he squarely faced some with sore displeasure and vehement effort to bring them to a standstill.

“The first are teasing problem in the sense that people from that area a university is established want to own the university. Therefore, the quality of staff that started the university really were not that required for the university”, he stated.

“The future is challenging; I know what I faced. I had to go to NYSC more than 15 times. I sent my Dean of Students’ Affairs three times, before they knew there is Federal University Gusau”.

Funding For New Universities:

On the issue of funding, the Vice Chancellor lamented the low Internally Generated Revenue of new Universities and called on the federal government to always fund newly established Universities to a greater extend saying that, “You know if you set up a university, ideally, you should fund that university and develop it into a certain level because the university may not be able to have enough IGR. Enough IGR usually comes from Postgraduate Programmes. So, they should be encouraged to get higher funding so that they can develop all the infrastructure they need in good time”.

Unnecessary Crises and Boat Rockers:

The Vice Chancellor expressed disgust on the nature and pattern of crises, group politics, interests in our academic environments which have been affecting leadership process in most of our citadels of knowledge, noting that, “I think if we are intellectuals really, ideally if we disagree, we should come and profound reasons to convince. Because, what I believe is, as an intellectual environment, strong reason should prevail”.

Professor Magaji Garba’s Alleged Annointed Successor:

On the issue of his successor, and the future of the university, Professor Garba said the university is strictly going for the best candidate for the seat of the University’s VC without any interferences from any quarter.   “The best will emerge through the process. Because there will be a panel to interview the applicants and at the end they will bring three, and it is among the three that we will argue. But, for now, we are waiting for the process to take its natural course. I don’t believe in interfering with process. Everybody knows me from ABU. Procedure is very important.

Accreditation of Courses:

On accreditation of courses, the Gusau VC said about 28 programmes had accreditation. “15 are full, while 13 are interim, all of which their licenses have expired this year. Right now, we are in the process of reaccreditation of these 13, where they will be full also. and I can assure you that we are hopeful because we have been putting all that is needed-including staffing, library and physical infrastructure”.

“Out of the 28 programmes I found on ground, we are now introducing about five in Engineering, Pharmacy, and then seven in Agriculture. Very soon we are going to call NUC for resource visit for all these programmes and immediately after the resource visit programmes, we will apply for admission for all the programmes”.

Students Population:

According to the VC, the University started with about 600 students but the number has increased to 6,000 students and the number isa still counting. “If they bring out these new ones, we are expected to have our 7,000-8,000 students. So I think we are moving”.

On federal character in admission process, the VC said just like JAMB, the admission system is 45% merits, 5% LDAS, 15% educationally low advantage stage. “Here you can see students from all over the country. I think it’s only from Akwa Ibom state that we don’t have students, because they don’t apply, but all the States in the country are represented here”.

Infrastructural Development/Banditry/ Lecturers Morale:

On infrastructural development, the professor lamented the dearth of staff quarters stating that “this has really affected the morale of some of the staff. Some of them resigned because there was no place for them to stay”.

On banditry in Zamfara State, the professor said banditry has not affected studies in the institution, but regretting that the issue has actually affected the consistencies of staff. “We have professors, Readers who came and left because the university has no accommodation for them and they don’t feel secured.  “If there was accommodation for them, they will feel secured and at least manage to stay. But we don’t have that. So they come and go. But thank God we are getting enough from Sabbatical and visiting from ABU, UDUS and BUK.

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