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Opinion

 Nigerian University Dons and the “Small Boys” of the University

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Abubakar Adamu Rasheed

 

 

When I picked up the interest in the academic profession in the year 2000 during my National Youth Service in Kano, my beautiful picture of academia was that it is a place where knowledge rules irrespective of your age and where you came from. The likes of Bala Usman were the names I hear and the only place I want to be was in academia. That made me enrolled for MSc Physics in 2001.

 

When I got in by 2005, the picture appeared different and I started wondering if I was really sure that academia is the place I still want to be. Things started to unfold and I traveled to Trieste, Italy for a 2-week workshop in 2007, thanks to the guidance of my academic supervisor, and I returned with a resolution to battle all the obstacles around me to make a difference. One thing that got me worried as things were unfolding was the breakdown of mentorship and the no respect for younger academics. Most of the young academics were on their own. For example, I lost my Ph.D. supervisor in 2008 and for several months, nobody cared to ask about the progress of my research.

 

I have heard some senior colleagues addressing younger colleagues as “small boys” across Nigerian universities. Such words like “imagine that small boy fa” always come up when you have a reason to disagree.

 

During a certain meeting in 2018 or so (I was already due to be Associate Professor), a senior colleague addressed me as ” Small Boy”. I objected to the disrespectful statement but unfortunately, other senior colleagues present did not see any reason to caution him. They possibly also believed in the “Small Boy” concept in the university.

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I was thinking the small boy thing only existed within my immediate environment till I met a highly placed senior colleague in 2018 who addressed me and two other colleagues as “the under-13 in physics department” with all my grey hairs at 44. He possibly thought I was born with grey hair.

 

We were discussing one day and my friend (age mate) in another Federal University also narrated his “Small Boy” encounter with senior colleagues in his university.

 

I have been wondering about the origin of the “small boys” concept in Nigerian universities and up till this moment, I have not been able to figure it out. It could not have being from the colonial masters because from my experience in the UK from 2009 to 2012, the younger academics/researchers in that country are treated with a high level of respect. They are aware that they are the future and guiding them to create a better future for the university and the rest of the world. I had a similar experience during my postdoctoral research fellowship in Norway between 2013 and 2015.

 

Senior academics in these countries expect you to be better than them. They are glad to identify skills in you and they help you develop them and dare you to take steps to stardom. They carry you along in every step. They trust your views and don’t consider you too small to contribute. They nurture you to be a team player and a great leader. They don’t see you as a threat or a competitor, but a partner in progress to develop a better system. I remember my supervisors for both Ph.D. and postdoc telling me that I was not working under them but working with them. They do not impose ideas on you but offer suggestions and expect you to argue with them. They take intellectual argument with their students as a positive development. They are willing to acknowledge and welcome your views and ideas if they find them more superior.

 

The culture is different among some senior colleagues in Nigerian universities. We have imbibed this culture in the ministries where you are expected to wait for your time or turn. You work under them and not with them. An attempt to differ in an opinion is considered insubordination. Loyalty to the system and not to an individual is considered a threat. An independent mind is a threat. If you dare to be different and do things differently against all odds, you are considered trying to build an empire.

They constituted themselves as kingmakers and you dare not contest for a position they considered their birthright. Zero mentorship and low academic/research output, while the bulk of the time is spent on secondary activities.

 

In the recent few years, some early-career academics in ABU decided to look up to themselves and created a group called the “ABU Young Academics” in order to interact with themselves. Although, I was considered not eligible to be in the group because I was already due for the rank of Reader and was considered not young. Meanwhile, some senior colleagues still merged my class with them and address all of us as “small boys”. So where do I belong? Maybe we should create a group of “university small boys in their 40s”…LOL!

 

I was losing hope till recently when an amazing leader in the university gave me the opportunity to work with great minds and silent achievers from different departments. Late Prof Jonathan Andrew Nok was one academic/researcher that I look up to. But within the last year, I have discovered more excellent researchers within my university to look up to. Experimental researchers with quality research output. This group of academics in ABU have inspired me a lot and I pray I can be like them.

 

We need to sit back and reflect on our activities as Academics in Nigerian universities and our relationship with the younger academics, the future of academia. From the nature of our training, we are meant to ask why and how and find answers to it. We are trained to challenge the status quo. So, why don’t you bring closer your younger colleague with an independent mind and the potential to challenge the status quo, instead of tagging him as an enemy?

 

Dear Senior colleague, don’t give your younger colleagues a reason to make you their postdoctoral research question. By their age and recent training, they are more likely smarter than you. By the time they are done with their research on you, you may lose that platform you are using to suppress them, their ideology, and the interest they represent. Bring them closer as partners in progress and you will benefit from them. They are more beneficial to you than those “yes sir puppets” around you.

 

Create opportunities and interactions that will make them look up to you. We need to create a real mentorship program to help growth and development. That is all that we’ll leave behind whether we leave the university at young or old age.

 

If we do not change our ways, time is ticking and the supposed “small boys” will surely grow as strong academics if they refused to be frustrated out of the system. The story may end like that of the lion, the king of the animal kingdom. No matter how long it lives, the greatest lion will eventually die miserably. They may die young from injuries defending their pride and ego. They may die old enfeebled by age.

 

You will recall that lions at their peak rule and chase other animals. They catch devour and gulp them and leave their crumbs for Hyenas. The Lion definitely gets old and the old lion becomes very vulnerable, feeding becomes difficult and the strength to chase, intimidate and kill other animals is gone. If luck ran out of the old and very weak lion, it is cornered by Hyenas and eaten alive without any resistance.

 

We have seen that everyone who lives long enough will become very vulnerable and weak. So, if you are in a privileged position, always remember the story of the lion and that you will leave the stage one day. You have the wisdom and these supposed “Small Boys” are smart and have the ideas. Irrespective of the age difference, let’s work together in the interest of the system to create a system we can be proud of.

 

We are Academics and nation builders. Let that reflect on our actions and activities within and outside the University community.

 

Eid Mubarak!

 

Abdelghaffar Amoka Abdelmalik

Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

aaabdelmalik@abu.edu.ng

Opinion

Hailing Sunusi Musa AS Senior Advocate Of Nigeria -EL -Hamza

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Barrister Sunusi Musa SAN

Musbahu- EL -Hamza

Remember when I tracked down and handed to the police a phone snatcher in Kano? I almost ended up behind bars!

So after writing my statement at the police station, two officers almost turned the table over on me, to allege that the phone snatcher could be innocent, while I was just trying to frame him.

They took me to an office and began interrogating me. That was after discovering I was a journalist and have since posted on Facebook to call on the attention of the owner of the phone who couldn’t follow us on foot as I chased the phone snatcher. Inside of me, they’ve succeeded in scaring me, but I acted otherwise.

I summoned the courage to ask them, “Sirs, am I under arrest, so I can get my lawyer?” I had no lawyer at that time. But then the conversation began to change, and they finally allowed me to go home after taking a photograph of my ID Card, and downloading the video I posted on Facebook. “In case he wouldn’t come back or decide to delete the video,” an inspector said.

They said tomorrow I will meet with the DPO, after which we might likely have to be taken to court. I agreed and took my leave.

I was trying to make my community better, but here I am about to be framed for a crime. I was terrified. But I believe Allah was watching. Could this be the reason why people will be seeing a wrong doing and do nothing to stop it? I asked myself lots of questions.

Just a few minutes after I left the station, my phone rang. It was Barrister Sunusi Musa. I couldn’t believe it. Why would he be calling me at that very time?

“How are you, Mallam Misbahu,” he asked. Alhamdulillah, Barrister.

I only met with Barrister Sunusi twice. But we speak on the phone very often. And he place the calls most of the time. This time, I waited to hear why he was calling.

“I saw your post on Facebook. I hope the police did not release the man.”

I sighed, then narrated everything to him that transpired at the station between myself and two police officers.

“What,” he exclaimed. By Allah I could sense his frustration. He then giggled. As if it’s something expected of the officers.

Barrister finally told me not to worry. “I am currently in Abuja, but hold on with the phone, let me call someone there in Kano for a conference call.”

He literally TASKED someone I can refer to as a high ranking lawyer in Kano to go with me to the station the following day and not only make sure nothing happened to me, but that that man must be taken to court to produce the other two people who ran away. He then told me to go back to the station and wait for the DPO to come back so I can speak with him directly, ‘and not his boys’ who could be funny sometimes.

Long story short, DPO uses all words of encouragement to commend me for what I did, and assured me that this is how they want the public to be helping them to secure Kano, “since we cannot do it alone”.

He told me to go home and not bother. I bragged that my lawyers are concerned about how his boys treated me. “You have nothing to worry about, young journalist. We will deal with it appropriately.” He praised me in the presence of those officers who were trying to prove I was wrong and might probably be taken to court for what I did.

I requested the DPO’s phone number, which Sunusi asked me to try and collect, but he declined. He joked that he wouldn’t even grant me an interview because he hates being in the news. “But you’re always welcome to my office. We are now friends,” he said. Whatever. I walked home ‘a free man’, slept with my two eyes closed.

You may remember that that evening, I posted on Facebook that if you do not have a lawyer, try and get one for yourself. It’s very important. If you cannot afford signing with them, befriend one. “e get why,” and now you know why!

I am ever grateful to have Barrister Sunusi Musa around. Just as I will never forget how those police officers treated me, I will never forget through who Allah saved me from them.

Today, Barrister Sunusi Musa is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). We’ve been celebrating him since his name was shortlisted. He deserved it. Read all submissions on him, you cannot miss the line stating his humility and generosity.

Sir, we love you. And we appreciate you. We pray that Allah will continue to raise your rank in this life and the next. As He used you to wipe away my worry that day, may He grant you peace in this life and Akhira, amin.

Once again, congratulations from me and my family.

Misbahu El-Hamza is the publisher of citizens report and a member of the Editorial Board NIGERIAN TRACKER

 

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Opinion

Aisha Buhari: The Downtick Of Human Rights And The Uptick Of Human Wrongs 

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By Bala Ibrahim.

I am writing this article in pain, great pain, for reasons that have to do with my training and calling as a journalist, my conscience, or my moral sense of differentiating the right from the wrong, and how these values play a guide, in shaping my behaviour as a person. For the avoidance of any ambiguity, and in order to circumvent any misinterpretation on the position from where I am talking, I must make it clear that I am writing in my personal position as a Nigerian, a Human being, and one that believes in the ambition of the rule of law. Therefore, should this article offend anyone, please, I should be held personally responsible and completely accountable, because I am not speaking on behalf of anyone or any institution, but my humble self-YUSUF BALA IBRAHIM.

For sometimes now, the Nigerian news space is AGAIN filled with the unpalatable stories of the wilful misconduct of the First lady of our dear country, Hajiya Aisha Buhari. I used the word again in capital letters on purpose, to make the reader understand that unpleasant stories about the First lady are not just regular, but fast becoming commonplace, with the latest saying she has turned herself into a puncher, using the official residence of the President, as the ground to fight with her fists, for the simple reason of defamation. Yes, defamation, which the dictionary describes as, the action of damaging the good reputation of someone, slander or libel. A kind of character assassination.

I am not a lawyer, as such, I can not claim knowledge on the proper stands of the law with regards defamation, but I studied in English language, a segment of which was even in England, where I also worked. Hence, I can say with authority, that I know the ambition of the dictionary with regards the word defamation. I am also conversant with the meaning of right and wrong, as they apply in any civilized society- the intended destination, or dream of Nigeria.

A large segment of the press has reported on the latest misconduct of the First lady, but for reasons of consensus with their correctness in reportage, I would quote the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, which had an interview on the subject matter, and reported thus:

“An undergraduate of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, Aminu Adamu, has been languishing in detention after security officials comprising the police and men of the Department of State Service, arrested him over a post on Twitter alleging that the wife of the President, Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha, was feeding fat on poor people’s money. Aminu’s uncle, Shehu Azare, in an interview published by BBC Hausa on Monday, said the victim’s father, Mallam Ádámù, was not aware of his arrest until about five days later. Appealing to the First Lady to release Aminu, Azare said Aminu’s father was not aware of his son’s condition until one of his friends informed him.The uncle said, “His father did not know about his arrest. It was five days later that one of Mallam Ádámù’s friends called and told him that his son had not been seen in school for about five days. That was last Monday.Then a day after, Aminu called his father and told him what was happening, that he was arrested and taken to Aso Rock by the wife of the President, Muhammad Buhari, beaten, scolded and was arrested somewhere”.

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Arrested for days in an undisclosed location, beaten and scolded for alleged defamation? Good God! This is not the ambition of those who crafted our laws. When I asked a lawyer friend of mine, What is the punishment for libel in Nigeria? He said,

Section 375 of the Criminal Code Act states that “any person who publishes any defamatory matter is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for one year.” He also added, “any person who publishes any defamatory matter knowing it to be false is liable to imprisonment for two years”. He didn’t say the person should be abducted from his location, taken to another location for beating, scolding, or endless detention.

Another lawyer argued differently, saying the person will not go to jail. It is a “tort” or civil wrong. This means that if a person/organization makes defamatory statements, the person affected may seek compensation for their damages as a result of the defamation, through a personal injury lawsuit. No mention is made that the person should be abducted from his location, taken to another location for beating, scolding, or endless detention.

For God’s sake, from where is Aisha Buhari drawing her powers? I am happy to hear that God had since came to the rescue, as she is said to be on admission with a fractured leg, occasioned by the drama of wilfully taking the law into her hands. In the history of Nigeria, no First lady had disrespected the position of the First lady as Aisha Buhari, who seems to be doing it with reckless abandon.

Our memories are still fresh of a similar misguided treatment she gave to Mallam Mamman Daura, the nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari, a businessman and retired civil servant of repute. History has recorded Mallam Mamman Daura as a prominent member of the old Kaduna Mafia, that comprised a group of Nigerian servants with interest in the interest of the north, including those who helped in raising Aisha to her level today.

I don’t know how conversant Aisha is with History and current affairs, but she needs to be reminded of the saying of Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Indian politician and president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, former Chief Minister of Bihar, former Railway Minister of India, and former Member of Parliament, that, in DEMOCRACY, POWER IS NOT PERMANENT.

If she doubts Mr. Prasad, she may wish to ask Madame Patience Jonathan, her immediate predecessor and the most abused and disparaged First lady of Nigeria. Yet, she kept to the meaning of that adjective, patient. By tolerating the insults without becoming annoyed, or turning herself into an Aisha, the puncher.

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Opinion

Reviving the lost glory of Science Colleges: KASSOSA Agenda

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Entrance Dawakin Kudu Science

 

Umar Idris Shuaibu

The then Kano State Government enacted a law in 1977 and the same law was amended in 1978, to establish Science Secondary Schools Management Board.

The Objective of establishing the Board is to produce Secondary School graduates that can qualify for admission into tertiary institutions, with the sole aim of producing medical Doctors, Engineers, Technicians, Scientists, Teachers, and other professionals in different places of expertise that will sufficiently serve the state and beyond.

Initially, the Board established two Science Schools one at Dawakin Kudu and the other at Dawakin Tofa.

These schools are strategically located close to Kano metropolitan for easy access to the city by the teachers who are envisaged to be recruited from overseas and equally for their Nigerian and African counterparts of similar backgrounds.

As earlier mentioned, the then government demonstrated its determination by providing class structures, teachers, instructional materials, of course, a student enrolled on merit and fed with food, that many cannot afford to boast of in their houses.

This arrangement has over the years justified the government investment with the graduates of these schools being everywhere in Kano and Jigawa and beyond in various fields of human life.

But the current status of these schools with additional after the first two is in dilapidated condition due to the lack of maintenance from the recent governments.

But the bitter truth is, one does expect the school environment to be the same even with routine maintenance.

The situation now is so pathetic with almost more than two percent current student population of 423 compared with the 162 initially admitted for the 1977/1978 session, especially with no corresponding improvement in infrastructure, furniture, hostels, classes, and toilets.

This results in congestion in classes, laboratories, and hostels, and dilapidated conditions of the dining hall.

But the notion that government alone cannot shoulder the responsibilities and problems of these Science Colleges, is why the umbrella body of the Kano Old Science Schools Students Association, popularly known as KASSOSA intervene in so many areas with a view to improving the existing situation.

One must appreciate the training given to them as they are now paying back what the government invested in them.

Currently, the school records indicated several interventions by the members of KASSOSA not only in the first two schools but for the entire science schools in Kano and Jigawa.

Reports say that from 2009 to date, 21 out of the 41 class chapters have intervened in the schools 16 times.

The interventions, however, cover the construction of hostels, and toilets, renovation of various infrastructure, and donations of teaching aides, drugs, and computers among others.

This effort by KASSOSA members made the condition of the schools far better compared to others with no such interventions.

Last year, many witnessed a fundraising event organized by the KASSOSA National Body, where they targeted N950, with a vision to rescue the Science Schools in Kano and Jigawa.

They are lucky to raise over forty million Naira from donations and pledges made by the members of the Association.

The report says part of this raised amount will be used to build the association secretariat and renovations of the schools.

And in Science College Dawakin Kudu, the class 1981 chapter of the institution single-handedly sponsored the renovation of two laboratories (Biology and Chemistry).

One must appreciate how the alma mater association of KASSOSA put heads together in ensuring their schools are in better condition.

Hope they continue due to the various competing demands on shrinking government incomes, which more hands are needed to ensure the sustenance of the schools due to the role they are playing in Kano, Jigawa, and the country at large.

 

With such effort by any alma mater association, I’m sure the lost glory will be restored.

Long live Kano State, Science Colleges, and long live Nigeria.

Umar Idris Shuaibu is a Digital Journalist, who writes from Kano.

shuaibuumaridris@gmail.com
08066616097

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