For a man whose main preoccupation is steering the ship of Nigeria’s biggest university and West Africa’s only Open Distance Learning institution to academic and administrative high seas, squeezing out a time from his tonnes of pressing engagements to plan a sticking celebration of his birthday anniversary is difficult.
It goes without saying that the biggest task of Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, the vice chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria, at the moment, is taking the university to even greater heights, the recent leaps in the university’s status since his assumption notwithstanding.
But amid this seeming onerous, yet arduous task, came the birthday anniversary of the man who pulls the strings in the roller coaster transformation of NOUN within just the two years in the saddle.
Professor Adamu, who clocks 62 years today, is a man of his words, an action person, whose main preoccupation is to move things forward, delve into an uncharted territory to explore and reap the positives to the maximum; a man of uncommon focus, who exudes respects once he sets out to bare his mind.
No wonder that his achievements at the university speak volume of his prima fascie plan of moving “NOUN” to “Verb”, where “business” would no longer be as usual.
And true to his words, he hit the gas moments after assuming duty with the matching order of moving to the university’s headquarters in Abuja. The erstwhile headquarters at Victoria Island witnessed the “exodus” of otherwise reluctant staff to the permanent office, deemed more conducive, effective from March 29, 2016 and since then, things have been smoother and easier.
Then came the reformation of the academic structures of the university, where the then schools became full pledged faculties and units metamorphosed to departments, typical of the conventional universities.
It was quickly followed with the democratisation of the faculties, culminating to the election of deans and heads of department. Interestingly, five out of eight deans emerged from the election, are females.
After laying the physical foundation, the academic line, the most important and difficult, was the next to be overhauled. All the academic programmes of the university were then streamlined to conform with the National Universities Commission (NUC) B-MAS.
As one of the few double professors in the country, having reached the zenith of academic scholarship in both Science Education and Media studies, midwifed the empowerment of internal organs of the university for effective control and management of the students data.
And this paved the way for the creation of the university’s independent portal, which now allows a direct, yet a real interface with students as against what obtained in the past. A whole new directorate, christened Directorate of Management Information System was created to handle the new task, while relevant ones were overhauled.
But as the new administration entered 2017, it upped the ante and shift the gear in effort to further root the ODL institution in the minds of Nigerian.
The year began with the successful ceremony and graduation of 12,125 students on January 21st and soon after that, the resource verification and accreditation of academic programmes by the NUC.
Soon afterwards, a mammoth crowd converged on the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja for the inauguration of Olusegun Obasanjo Good Governance and Development Research Centre, with the former president himself as the paper presenter at the event.
Another giant stride recorded by the vice chancellor was the passage of the amendments to the NOUN Act by the Nigerian Senate, culminating in the celebrated reportage by the media houses and by extension the students and their parents.
NOUN also entered into a series of MoUs with sister universities for the use of their laboratories by science students. A Centre for Entrepreneurship and General Studies was established to cater for small businesses.
As if these achievements were just the starting signs, the university established NOUN Business School, in collaboration with the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation as well as the a federal ministry of finance.
On the physical development of the headquarter, series of different projects under different special interventions are on going. The construction of a warehouse for students’ study materials, which has reached an advanced stage, as well as the construction of Media Centre for mass communication programme, are scheduled for completion within the next few months.
Various projects were also either undertaken or completed at various study centers.
For instance, completion of examination halls and office complex at Dutsen Alhaji centre, Abuja; construction of library complex at Kaduna campus; completion of Port Harcourt study centre; re-roofing of McCarthy study centre in Lagos; renovation of Makurdi study centre; completion of auditorium complex at community study centre, Oturkpo; completion of Fugar study centre in Edo state; relocation to the permanent site of Uyo study centre; relocation of Sokoto study centre to a more conducive learning environment and renovation of the Ibadan study centre.
Similar renovation works are presently being carried out at the Owerri study centre.
However, icing on the cake that marked the silver lining in this 2018 was another historic yet successful ceremony that saw not only the biggest number of graduates, but the first PhD graduate in person of the ex-president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Certainly, Professor Adamu’s strides at the university would for long remain glowing in the history of the university and his birthday anniversary has provided the perfect platform upon which a simple reflection of his achievements at the university becomes timely and necessary. Although the vice chancellor believes his achievements were as a result of team work and cooperation of his principal officers and other staff of the university, one must give him the credit of imbibing the spirit of teamwork in the institution.
While I wish you happy birthday, on behalf of my humble self, family and friends, may I also wish and pray for the fulfillment of your dreams as you continue to drive the institution to an enviable pedestal in the continent.
Mr Abdullahi, a personal assistant to the vice chancellor, writes from Abuja