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Prof. Fatima Batul Mukhtar: A Mid-Term Scorecard of an Amazon

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenges and controversy.”

his immortal quote of the famous US Civil Rights Activist, Martin Luther King Jnr, depicts the true reflection of the leadership of the Federal University, Dutse (FUD) under the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Fatima Batul Mukhtar. The Vice-Chancellor assumed duties as the second substantive Chief Executive of the university precisely on February 16, 2016, having been appointed by the Federal Government on February 14, 2016. Prior to her appointment, she was serving as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the Yusuf Maitama Sule University (YMSU), formerly North West University Kano. It follows, therefore, that she came into the office with a rich background experience in university administration.

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It is a well known fact that Prof. Mukhtar took office at a challenging period in the history of the eight-year-old institution, for two reasons: First, the university was just coming out of highly contentious succession exercise that left it polarized along geo-political divides, which meant that the institution required a neutral and a temperate leader to heal the wounds and unite all the contending interests. Second, was the fact that some academic programmes, especially those in the College of Medicine and Health Science, which were mounted earlier, were suspended on the orders of the National Universities Commission, (NUC), Nigeria’s universities regulatory body due to financial downturn occasioned by economic crisis in the country.

The development expectedly generated anxieties within and outside the university community.  Again, this also required a strategic thinker to bring the situation back to normal, so the appointment of Prof. Batul Mukhtar was the right choice in this circumstance to carry out these tasks.

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On assumption of duties, therefore, the VC, it appeared, was not unaware of the enormity of the challenges ahead of her and seemed to have been well armed to tackle them.

In a chat with this writer in May, 2017, barely one year into her tenure, Dr. Mukhtar, a Professor of Botany with bias for Plant Physiology and the first female Vice-Chancellor from the North-West geo-political zone summarized her ultimate vision for the institution. To see to its growth and attainment of excellence in teaching, research and impact on the society through educational outreach programmes and focused research; develop highly skilled academic staff who can compete favourably with their counterparts from other institutions globally in scholarship and research and to produce knowledgeable, disciplined and competitive graduates, who can advance to professional or graduate programmes or be relevant in both the public and private sectors of the economy.

Three years down the line, the question to be asked is: Has she been able to walk the talk as far as the administration of the university is concerned? In other words, is FUD better off under her leadership? The answer is obviously in the affirmative, when taken into consideration the many achievements so far recorded within this period. These range from academic expansion, provision of infrastructure to linkages with international bodies, among others.

On assumption, one of her take-off duties naturally, was how to get the suspended programmes restored. Not giving to buck-passing, she quickly put on her thinking cap, put in place the necessary structure for that purpose, which worked round the clock for the realization of the objective. The efforts paid off because FUD has become the first among the youngest generation of federal universities to have successfully mounted the programmes of MBBS, B.Sc. Human Physiology and B.Sc. Human Anatomy. In appreciation of her doggedness and resoluteness, the Jigawa State government agreed to release the state-owned Rasheed Shekoni Specialist Hospital (RSSH) Dutse to serve as the teaching hospital to the fledgling medical school. At the moment, all the necessary administrative paper works are being perfected at the federal level to ensure early takeover of the hospital by the Federal Ministry of Health for the upgrade.

Apart from securing full accreditation for seven of the academic programmes being run by the institution then, Prof. Mukhtar’s administration recently, as part of its academic expansion agenda, secured in one go, the nod of the NUC to run 11 undergraduate courses beginning from the current academic session. At the same time, the university secured the NUC’s nod to commence master’s degree courses in 15 academic programmes and PhD programmes in seven courses, a feat that is unprecedented in the life of such a young university.

Under her leadership, FUD has established, in collaboration with the School of Continuing Education, Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU), Zaria, the Interim Joint Matriculation Board, (IJMB), a stop-gap arrangement aimed at offering prospective university candidates the opportunity to brighten their chances of securing admissions to the university. This is in addition to the remedial programmes which have just been introduced to help candidates rectify their Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) with a view to securing admissions to higher institutions.

Also with the support from the Universal Basic Education Commission, (UBEC), Abuja, the university has been able to establish its primary school during the 2018/2019 academic session. Already the first set of the pupils have been admitted and have commenced lessons.

The administration is credited for having designed and produced the Maiden Five-Year Strategic Plan starting from 2016-2020 as part of the efforts towards translating her vision into reality by embarking on institutional development, building the capacity of its personnel in providing services to a variety of end-users and ensuring that they provide quality and up-to-date service delivery. The plan provides the administration with the necessary implementation guidelines for the smooth running and development of the university with the stipulated period of time for the administration to achieve its set goals and objectives within the overall vision and mission of the university.

Abubakar, who sent this contribution from Dutse, Jigawa State can be reached on onuojoku05@yahoo.co.uk.

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