How active is the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Alumni Association in Abuja?
Usmanu Danfodiyo University Alumni Abuja Chapter, has been active from conception, however the current exco since it’s election in December 2011 has increased its role in active participation in recognizing and awarding alumni members who have been steadfast in their commitment towards the continuous development of our nation and who have demonstrated success in their chosen career/profession and reverberating same values across Nigeria. This they have done upon graduation from the mother Institution (alma mata), Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto.
They include Rt. Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Speaker Federal House of Representatives; Alhaji Biliya Sanda, the immediate past pro-chancellor and chairman of the governing council; Prof Riskuwa Shehu; Prof. Muhammed Ibn Junaid, Executive Secretary, National Commission for Colleges of Education; HRH Alhaji Abdulmimuni, Emir of Katsina; Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim Mera, ACG Nigeria Custom. Others are Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the immediate past Executive Secretary, Tetfund and few others.
I took over from Lukman Mohammed as chairman in December, 2012 and have been at the helm of affairs since then. Some of the activities we have undertaken include holding congress meetings at least once in every quarter based on agenda to involve alumni in Abuja on future plans for the development of the chapter. We also paid a visit to SOS Orphanage Village Gwagwalada in the spirit of charity.
As the Abuja chairperson of the alumni, what programmes have you identified and how best do you intend to achieve them?
According to the National Alumni Constitution, Alumni Chapters should project their programmes towards the alma mata and as such any programme that we identify with has to resonate with the intentions of the university itself. The project can be huge or little but it must have an impact on the students and the university environment for years to come.
What I always re-iterate to alumni is that our children are now studying in UDUS or applying for degree programmes in the university. The question therefore is, since graduation and becoming successful members of society, what have we given back to Mother – alma mata that we call UDUS? Have we gone back on visit to the university to see where we came from, to make personal contribution in improving the university?
I’m sure there is pride in saying we are graduates from UDUS, because at the time I was studying there, it felt like a home from home, a peaceful environment, a conducive atmosphere to study, make lifelong friends with whom we still keep in touch today. So what have we actually achieved for UDUS itself since we left? We cannot help but give credit to the vice-chancellor who is an alumnus for the way and manner he has maintained the university.
On our part, we are carrying every member of the Abuja chapter along in ensuring that we achieve the set goals and objective. Towards this, we have mandated members to submit proposals for projects to we wish to undertake in years 2013–2014, and we are working on the cost estimates, the design, feasibility studies and how best to implement the project, how best to contact the university for a formal proposal if the end goal of the projects become realistic. All this is in progress.
These projects we have highlighted in the exco meeting but I would like to keep them under wraps for now until the university is informed and given us support to proceed. In due course, all will be revealed.
How are you relating with the National body in terms of support?
We are relating very well with the parent body. Fortunately, the National Alumni President, Mallam Nasiru Saidu is a member of Abuja chapter. We in this chapter are very lucky in the sense that we have the privilege of meeting with the president on regular basis to chart courses together toward moving the alumni body forward. Currently, The Abuja chapter works well with the national body as we get invited to the extra-ordinary meetings. The last one was held in Kaduna. The national president is resident in Abuja and attends the congress meetings hosted by us. He is also kept informed of our activities if any. I would say that in terms of support – there is a good working relationship.
What are the challenges facing your branch?
We have many challenges. We the exco are not being paid in any way. We are merely volunteers in our services to the alumni. We dedicate our time and host congress meetings out of pocket. We provide drinks and snacks out of our pockets, make sure venues are prepared, diesel to run the generator. Stationery such as letter headed paper/envelop are out of pocket expenses. And then there are transportation expenses. So these aforementioned challenges are tackled out of pockets.
Then there is the challenge of getting our members in Abuja; here I mean any graduate who lives in Abuja is a member to attend the congress meetings. We send invitation by e-mails, text messages –bulksms, facebook etc. We noticed that inspite of all efforts, the attendance is still not very appreciative. We would like an increase in the turn up and increase in membership.
There is also the challenge of collecting membership dues. On this point, the chapter has a bank account and dues are paid into it but this year’s dues have been very minimal.
All these challenges are being tackled by increasing awareness. The chapter does exist and there is good intention towards its survival and goals.
What messages have you for fellow state chapters in view of the daunting challenges facing the university system in the country?
Yes, I believe the Abuja chapter is doing well despite its challenges which we shall rise up to with the continuous support of our alumni in Abuja. Lagos state, I hear is coming up as well. The Niger state chapter is strong. I would say that since all our efforts are voluntary given with no expectation of personal reward, only with expectation of achievement on realization of our goals towards our alma mata and effective networking, then we should not give up.
You would not believe how many of our alumni are doing well out there. We should also assist others who need assistance. We should stay on track, be guided by the alumni constitution, raise the spirit of cooperation among ourselves, hold more congress meetings. Effective communication goes a long way towards achievement of set goals which we may have in mind towards our university. Other alumnis in the world are doing very well, bonded together and UDUS alumni cannot be an exception.
Once the viable projects have been identified and UDUS is in conjunction, we will hold our last congress meeting of the year to keep congress informed. I appeal to members to respond to the invitation to attend congress. On like note, a handbook will be made available to only members who have paid their dues and duly registered. In respect of this, if you are a graduate of UDUS, you are a member. It’s automatic but confirmed only on registration by the exco.
I as chairperson of UDUS Alumni Abuja chapter would like to use this medium on behalf of my fellow exco to thank all members of congress sub-committees for their support.