celebrating ABU’s 50-year anniversary, what do you intend to achieve?
Ahmadu Bello University would be exactly 50 years on October 4 this year. Fifty years in the life of an institution is certainly a long period. The idea of the celebration is for us to come together to showcase our achievements and to analyse the future. I think 50 years is enough time to take stock of the past and plan for the future.
We want to do this celebration in a very big way. ABU is a big institution and it has contributed a lot to the development of the north and the entire nation. There is no place you would go in this country that you would not find an ABU graduate. Without any fear of contradiction, ABU is the most cosmopolitan university in Nigeria. It is the only university that accommodates people from every part of the country. So, ABU has done a lot to this country. Therefore, it is expected that all those who benefitted from the university to come back home during the 50th anniversary and appreciate what the university has done for them. This is the time that the university needs the support of everyone both in kind and in cash.
Lots of logistics would need to be put in place in big occasions like this, what measures are you putting in place to ensure a hitch free celebration?
In terms of preparations, we have gone along way. A committee has been in place for quite some time to draw a comprehensive programme that would start in October up to the climax of the celebration with a convocation ceremony on the 24th of November. In early October, lots of activities would commence with symposia, lectures and sporting activities like basketball and others. In fact, we are going to use that occasion to launch American football, which I think we would be the first university to engage in such game. The university’s team would also take on the Super Eagles in a friendly match. We are also going to organise marathon, which we hope people would run from the university up to the emir’s palace.
We also want to use the occasion to come with what we called the world of fames where we would take stock of all those who graduated from the university and give awards to those who excelled in their chosen careers. There would be the Ahmadu Bello Award and many others to be given to distinguished alumni of the university who have diligently served the country. We also intend to give awards to some state governments who made special contributions to the development of the university.
It would not be an easy task to bring together all the alumni of the university, what measures have you put in place to achieve that?
It is true because many people are not used to this idea of home coming, but to achieve that we have created a website where people can link up either through names, classes and other areas. We also intend to link up with our leaders who are in position of authority to help in linking us with many of our alumni. We also intend to use our alumni offices in different parts of the country. We have active offices in Lagos, Calabar, Portharcourt, Abuja and other places. We intend to use all the alumni offices in mobilising past graduates of the university. There are other individuals who are in position of authority that we hope would help in mobilising the alumni of the university.
In specific terms, what role do you expect the alumni of the university to play in the forthcoming 50th anniversary?
This event is going to be the greatest in the history of the university. We have a plan of developing the second phase of the university. ABU has grown so big. Its present site is a bit chocked up therefore there is no room for development. We have a vast land at the site slated for developing the second phase but we have to go across the Kubanni River and I think it would take us another 50 years before we can fill up the new site. On this grounds, we hope the alumni would contribute generously towards realisation of the second phase of the project because we seriously need it but we have to first of all build a bridge across the river Kubanni before we can start erecting structures at the second phase and build road networks.
Again, we would want the alumni to help in renovating our existing infrastructure because gone are the days when handlings of our projects are to be left in the hands of government. This is why we need to source funds from other sources and I think this is where the alumni should do more by assisting the university. I think with correct approach, the alumni can do a lot.
The present site of the university seems to be accommodating all the faculties and departments of the university, are you going to use the second phase to create new departments and faculties?
Knowledge is developing every day. It may interest you to know the number of departments ABU started with but now we have expanded to the level that we have about 95 academic departments and 12 faculties; we have many centres and institutes and everyday new ideas are coming up; new departments are opened and so on and so forth. We don’t have space to continue opening new departments and centres, hence the need for the second phase since we have the vast land.
Are you saying you want to use the 50th anniversary to make the university bigger?
Certainly, we hope people who don’t know us properly would come to know us as being the greatest university that we are in the country. ABU has helped in building many communities in the country and the university was able to become a micro Nigeria.
Apart from training people from different backgrounds, what other achievements can you say ABU had recorded in 50 years?
In line with our vision of having an Ahmadu Bello University that is a world class university comparable to any university anywhere in the world; I think we have come a long way in achieving this vision because we have succeeded in creating new knowledge. We have broken new grounds through our linkages with other universities of the world and through that we have become the true citadel of knowledge not only in Nigeria but the world over.
Are you facing challenges in the preparations of the 50th anniversary?
I think challenges are always there, which are normal. It is those challenges that force one to proffer solutions to the challenges. Nevertheless, I have to confess that our major challenge is finance. The fund rising is not making significant in roads. It is an event for which about N100 million is needed but what we have now are only pledges. The real funds arenot with us yet. We hope to raise the money needed from outside because we don’t intend to use a single kobo from our meagre resources.
We hope we would get this monies from well wishers, especially the alumni. Our hope is that all the money to be spent would yield the desired results.
We hope to use the 50th anniversary for people to appreciate the need to develop the new phase of the university because we really need it as congestion is becoming one of our challenges now in ABU.
Are you using the 50th anniversary in changing the focus of ABU to a postgraduate training institution as the VC has kept repeating that the university would pay more attention to postgraduate studies?
ABU is a premier university in the country therefore we can excel with postgraduate programmes. The idea is part of what we called opening new grounds where we would give much emphasis on postgraduate studies but it doesn’t mean we would stop undergraduate programmes. We want to become a mirror in terms of postgraduate training in the country. We want to become a model in postgraduate training so that we can leave the small issues to smaller universities or institutions. We believe ABU can serve the nation better if we try to improve our postgraduate programmes.
Is it possible for all the events that lined up for the 50th anniversary to take place in the main campus of the university?
The events would be held both within the main campus outside the university. Congo campus and other centres and institutes of the university would host some of the events. Many of the lectures would take place at the Arewa House. We intend to allow the alumni host other activities at their different branches in Lagos, Abuja and other places but all the events would culminate at the main campus of the university in the convocation centre as the events would run through October to November.
I would like to state that everybody is invited to come and witness this ceremony, which is worth celebrating. Our host community should also come forward to assist us in having a befitting ceremony. I would like to also appeal to all the graduates of ABU to come forward to assist the university to achieve its future aspirations. We welcome whatever people can donate and there are accounts specifically opened for this project where people can donate no matter how small or big amount. The accounts are accounts of the institution therefore no individual can tamper with the monies. I would like to also assure all and sundry that whatever is realized would be judiciously utilized as monies to be realized would come directly to the university.