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Opinion

I am a Professor

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Abdelgaffar Amoka

I have been to different offices and saw congratulatory posters and calendars of senior colleagues to celebrate their promotion to the rank of Professor. Some of this new culture always reminds me of the likes of Dr. Bala Usman that were more than qualified to be Professors but decided not to be. But here we are today celebrating the rank with posters, calendars, customized written pads, etc. I didn’t know the origin of the culture of making a professorial congratulation calendar, but it appears to be a general practice in recent times. Congratulatory messages for the appointment/promotion to the rank have even been upgraded to newspaper advertorials. I find this to be contrary to the principles of academics.

What is in the rank of Professor to celebrate by the individuals, family, or friends? It is supposed to be another facet of the life of an academic with more responsibilities, more headaches, and so many academic and community expectations. You should rather be congratulating the university for having another professor as that suppose to be a plus to the university’s profile in terms and grant-winning, capacity building, and national/global ranking. The university at that level is supposed to be relying on you, as a professor, to attract research grants and mentor its seasoned academics and researchers.

I think the best form of individual celebration of the promotion to that exalted rank is an Inaugural Lecture where you present how far you have come to earn the exalted position and the future research path you have created for the younger academics (your mentees) to fit it in. That path is supposed to bring funds to the university. But that is sometimes not the case here. Instead, we hold onto university politics.

The first time I had close contact with a Professor was in the late 80s when I got to know that Dr. Sunday Asun, my father’s cousin was a Professor at the University of Jos. I was like wow! Professor in our family? He was like a superhuman to me. He was much adored and held in high esteem by all of us till he passed away and he is still a reference point till today. Whenever he travelled home, as a child, I always wonder what was in his head. To me, he knows everything as a Professor. He co-authored a Biology textbook for Senior secondary students, that was shortly after 6-3-3-4 was introduced, and his nephew, who was my classmate, got some copies while we were in SS1. I was so excited to see the name of someone I know as the author of a book. We were so happy to show the book to our classmates and with an emphasis that the Author is our uncle.

I rated academics very high right from the time I was a child. I had little or no exposure but I admire Teachers/Lecturers and the only Professor I know. Their characteristic afro-like hair with those patches of grey hair was so adorable to me. Professors are to me, the finest people to have existed and Professor Asun was my idol.

I got to the university with that mindset and found myself in Physics by accident. I was first taught by a Professor in my second year at the university. Though I didn’t like the idea of studying physics at that time, but I was so pleased to be taught by a Professor. It was an unbelievable experience receiving a lecture from a Professor. The quality of thought is different. You can feel that thing that made them Professors. In my final year, one of the Professors was able to make me find something to love in Physics. That was the first time I heard of “optical fibre” and the role of physics and the concept of “total internal reflection” in endoscopy in medicine and optic fibre communication. And further interactions with him made me start considering the idea of choosing academia as a career path. His humility was unbelievable. There is nothing like a nonsense question. He was prepared to answer all your questions. Professor N. Hariharan doesn’t wait for you till you come around, he looks for you if the need arises.

Then I eventually got into academics in 2005 and I realized it wasn’t as I had fantasized over the years. The reality I met was not exactly like my idea of academics over the years. I realized that what existed up to the late 80s and possibly mid-90s was quite different. The university system has degraded seriously and has affected the quality of thought. Underfunding and poor welfare had impacted negatively to the system over time. As at the period I joined, academics were just trying to survive. No research fund, no motivation. The quality of teaching and research had eroded. I was sort of disappointed and discouraged.

Of course, it is publish or perish in academia. Even though the research output was near zero for lack of funds and incentives, nobody want to perish. So everyone still publishes anyhow in order not to perish. All sorts of so-called university journals were floated for promotion’s sake. Publication in journals abroad used to be considered during the promotion to professorial cadre but it became silent. For those that still want to have a feeling that they have international journal papers, predatory journals like Journal of Innovative Research in Computer Science & Technology (IJIRCST), International Journal of Innovative Research in Engineering & Management (IJIREM), etc, were floated where you pay and get your paper published without proper peer-review.

There is this one that Prof Sa’ad Tukur, the former VC of FUT Minna termed as “communal effort”. One talented individual did work but helped colleagues come along by putting their names on the paper and called it group research and publications. This is possibly one of the reasons why some Nigerian universities discourage group publications. It is in reality, not a group publication.

All these have possibly led to the production of Professors that may not exactly be qualified for the rank judging from the quality of their ideas. They have the journal requirement for promotion but may have never attended an international conference or publish in any indexed international journal or won any research grant. Of course, these may not be part of the promotion requirements in that university.

There have been efforts to address this issue and some Vice-Chancellors are now emphasizing the need to publish in index journals. It will internationalize the research work of Nigerian academics and also enhance the visibility of the researcher and the affiliated universities in the research World.

The University of Ilorin for example has ranked journals in their promotion guidelines. The value attached to an article published in Q1 is like 4 times higher than the value attached to an article in a non-index university-based journal. We hope other universities will tow the path of Unilorin.

While these VCs are making efforts to take us back to the path of glory, a university recently appointed a serving Minister as a Professor. The last academic rank of the Minister was an Assistant Professor in a university in Saudi Arabia. The Nigerian University was either misguided in the appointment or somebody was convinced that an Assistant Professor in Saudi Arabian university is equivalent to a Reader in a Nigerian university. And interestingly, the people that often criticize the rot in our university did not see anything wrong in the unusual academic appointment but congratulating the “Professor” and calling the criticism envious or what they call “Hassada” in the Hausa language. I never knew our moral values have gone this low.

Envy? Academia is our constituency and we have the responsibility to defend it from internal and external aggression. If we don’t defend our constituency, no one will. If I need to envy anyone in this government, I think it should be the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Gambari. He was a distinguished academic and diplomat that was still found worthy of service in his 70s. I read profiles like his and their academic achievement and I wonder if I will be proud to be called a Professor looking at our limitations and my research output. He was a visiting professor to 3 universities in the US between 1986 and 1989. Can my academic and research output in our current setting earned me such when I become a Professor?

I read the biography of Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and I realized how much we have lost it. Prof Gambari who received his BSc (Econs) degree from the London School of Economics (1968) and his MA and PhD in Political Science/International Relations (1970, 1974) from Columbia University, USA was employed as a Lecturer at Queen’s College, the City University of New York in 1969 and later became an ASSISTANT PROFESSOR at the State University of New York from 1974 to 1977.

He returned to Nigeria to work as a SENIOR LECTURER at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, in 1977, where he rose to become a professor in 1983. He was appointed as a Minister and returned to Ahmadu Bello University in 1985 before he was later appointed the Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations.

The point to note is that the revered and highly respected Prof Gambari returned to Nigeria as an Assistant Professor to pick the job of Senior Lecturer and not the job of a Professor. Even though Prof Sa’ad Tukur said there is no generalized NUC rule on promotion/appointment, and that every university decides on who to appoint as a Professor, but there seems to be no documented evidence that any university in Nigeria has appointed a politician or any other person who was an Assistant Professor with papers in predatory journals as Professor. FUTO is possibly setting that pace for others to follow.

Now that politicians are now feeling that the title “Dr.” is getting too common among themselves and the PhD holders among them are now interested in the title “Prof.” to distinguish themselves, we can possibly create honorary professors in our universities to make the acquisition of the title easier and less controversial. It may even be a source of revenue generation for our underfunded universities.

Anybody can have the “Dr” title at the moment. So, anyone should also be able to acquire the “Prof” title too. Let’s just pantamize the title and make it easier to be acquired. We can all be Profs!

Meanwhile, we are not envious of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim. Some of us in academics just want to set the record straight. He can still be a Professor, there is no doubt about it, but he needs to take the path of the likes of Prof. Ibrahim Gambari. The title does not make a man but what is in him.

©Amoka

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”.

Mining Site Massacre And The Military’s Muffled Messages

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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