Book Review: NATION BUILDING THROUGH QUALITY EDUCATION (2), by Professor MK Othman

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Reflections on the Leadership Role of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria II

This is the part two and concluding segment of the Book review of my book “NATION BUILDING THROUGH QUALITY EDUCATION: Reflections on the Leadership Role of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria”. As stated in the first part, two erudite professors of Art, A. K. Babajo, professor of Linguistic and M. K. Aliyu, mni, professor of Archeology reviewed the book and provided insight of the book contents. The reviewers did a good job and provided similar opinions. The review of Professor Aliyu was published last week and is continuing in this edition. Happy reading.

Read also: Book Review: NATION BUILDING THROUGH QUALITY EDUCATION (1), by Professor MK Othman

As stated in the first part, two erudite professors of Art, A. K. Babajo, professor of Linguistic and M. K. Aliyu, mni, professor of Archeology reviewed the book and provided insight of the book contents. The reviewers did a good job and provided similar opinions. The review of Professor Aliyu was published last week and is continuing in this edition. Happy reading.

Part three of the book titled “Contribution to Technological Innovations and Manpower Development”, discusses some areas the University has contributed in the area of Manpower development and Technological innovations. This falls within the core-mandate of the University. On manpower contribution to the nation and the world, Ahmadu Bello University, being the largest University in Nigeria, has cosmopolitan alumni strength of over 800,000. This figure may be a conservative estimate, when considering about 130 Colleges of Education and polytechnics affiliated to the University and issuing ABU certificates. In the area of research and development, the author opined that, in ABU, Nigeria has a window of opportunity to advance its development effort. This could be done through aggressive support to ABU’s breakthroughs in agriculture, pharmaceutical science, and engineering and computer science. The author presented in this section detailed technological and scientific achievements of the 3 most successful Agric-based centres of the University. Namely, Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), National Animal Production and Research Institute (NAPRI) and the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Service (NAERLS).

Part four of the book titled “Developing the Nigerian Agricultural Sector”, focuses on the contribution of the University in the over 30 years of Nigeria’s seed development and production. The efforts of Ahmadu Bello University in seed technology is recognized through its successes in the production of suitable seeds like maize, sorghum, cotton, cowpea and groundnut. These, according to the author, were achieved through intensive research and training by the agricultural complex of the University. The later part of the section discusses in detail on other aspects of the efforts of the University to develop agriculture in Nigeria. Such other areas are: Varietal Development and Release to Farmers, Low-Cost Greenhouse Technology for Vegetable Production, Improving the Outputs of Public Irrigation Schemes in Nigeria, Deployment of Agricultural Information for Increased Productivity, Operation of the National Farmers Helpline Centre, Perfecting Agricultural Products Development at IAR, Use of Adopted Villages for Agricultural Technology Transfer, and IAR, NAERLS and NIHORT’s Successful Fight against TutaAbsoluta on Tomato Production in Nigeria. According to the author, these interventions have greatly affected positively agricultural development in Nigeria as championed by Ahmadu Bello University.

Part five of the book titled “Socio-Ecological Interventions, Initiatives and Contributions to Africa’s Food Security Question” talks about the contribution of Ahmadu Bello University in the area of community services through innovation and technological inventions. This has helped to smoothen the relationship between the University and her neighbouring communities and catchment areas. One big intervention made in one of the University’s catchments area, Zamfara State, was made by the Student’s ENACTUS ABU Team. The team intervened by inventing a filter to clean water for drinking by some communities in the State that were affected by LEAD Poisoning. The team also planted Jatropha plant to clean and remediate part of the land poisoned by lead.  These are purely social interventions. There are several other interventions by ABU in social enterprise, but the author chose to present the Zamfara intervention and the following: the development of Remedies for Diabetic Patients by ABU Scientists; Genetically Modified Technology as a pathway for food security in Africa, Agricultural Revolution in Nigeria through Smart Farming and the Releases by IAR of the First GMO in Nigeria. The author’s presentation here made it easier for the reader to appreciate Ahmadu Bello University’s untiring efforts in providing social services to the general public.

Part six of the book titled “Tributes to a Few ABU Heroes” concentrated on paying tribute to some fallen heroes of the University and the contributions they made in their effort to advance knowledge and put the name of the Ahmadu Bello University among the best ivory towers to be reckon with all over the world.

The idea about documenting the Ahmadu Bello University’s achievements in different areas in itself is commendable. However the author is affected by his own biases as someone in the technology and agriculture based faculty. Most of the presentations in the book are on agriculture. He has only succeeded in documenting and presenting about 30% of the University’s achievements in breakthroughs even in the science, computer and engineering areas. In any case, Ahmadu Bello University has over 95 disciplines and each with its area of breakthrough and contribution to the society.

Looking at the title “NATION-BUILDING THROUGH QUALITY EDUCATION: Reflections on the Leadership Role of Ahmadu Bello University”. Leadership of the University connotes some fair assessment of what the University did or is doing as compared with other Universities in Nigeria or elsewhere around the world, which at the end put the University ahead of the rest even in the areas documented in the book. However, the book should have been titled “CONTRIBUTIONS OF AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY IN AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA AND SOME TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGHS”. The arrangement of the book in parts or chapters as would be prepared, needs much to be desired. There are lots of overlaps in the parts especially while documenting on agricultural innovations especially in parts one, three and four. Issues about convocation and convocation lecture by Dangote are misplaced in the book. The same goes to the whole of Part Six on tributes to some fallen heroes. As good as it may be written here, is misplaced in such a book.

The book in its present form is also a breakthrough; the type of which may not be found elsewhere in Nigeria. It is therefore a commendable effort. With greater attention to the above observations, the book will serve as a source material for the future on the great contributions of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to the ideals of its founding fathers in solving societal problems.

Prof A. K. Babajo started his review with commendation of the effort made to synthesize series of newspaper articles over three years into a single book for the information of readers. “The texts are interesting and reader-friendly with excellent pictures and illustrations” he asserted and added, “The title is broad, over-stretching and all encompassing whereas the focus was limited to few areas”. He further said “the book would have been enriched with literatures from ‘ABU@50’, past vice chancellors’ tenure reports and several others. The language of the book was observed to be ‘journalistic’, why not, communicative, bringing in emotions, perhaps nationalistic bent”.

My mission of writing the book is to bring out the huge investment potentials of Ahmadu Bello University, the quantum and qualitative manpower developed for the nation and abroad as well as development of solutions to our multiple challenges against the nation building. ABU Zaria nurtured and developed some of the second and third generation universities in the country. This is in addition to the continuous supply of academics to several tertiary Institutions. However, I am in total agreement with both reviewers that what the book contains is a fraction of the university’s contribution in nation building since establishment. The two professors are both ABU Zaria-home bred with wealth of experience and exposure of other universities in the country and outside and they are both from art and humanity, the areas which the book glossed over. Areas such as arts, humanities, environment, administration, finance and law received significant impacts from ABU Zaria. Suffice it to say that a second publication is required to catalogue comprehensive breakthroughs made by this giant university. The university’s directorate of public affairs can take up the gauntlet to advance the issue. I have done my little effort.

Professor Othman is the Executive Director of National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), ABU Zaria.

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