...Redifining Journalism for Development

The Sweep with Hassan Alhaji Hassan: Dr. Shu’aibu’s Term of Remarkable Value


Who is he? I have known him as an academic, and I never allowed that knowledge of him change for anything because the man has remained so all the time. He was my teachers’ teacher. When my lecturers were graduating, he was already a graduate assistant in his own Department. But he always sees them as colleagues.
He was an academic of the Attahiru Jega’s firebrand ASUUist that saw the worst of university lecturers’ struggle against impunity of military rule and got the best for the system. Nothing more anybody in ASUU can do again to last the test of history and posterity. TETFUND, then ETF was their idea. See what it is doing for education in all tertiary. And what have we made of it?
They forced a continual increase in the wages of lectures across the board, over the years that followed. Any more salary review to come will just be a function of the imprint of their sweat of the 1980s and 1990s. I had not even started then. But I was watching, listening and following. And I can tell the difference, the differences among men.
The Rector, Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, Dr Shuaibu Musa, is ending his eight year tenure this December. It has been an eventful, fruitful and wealthy period for the place we knew before and after. The joy of writing the truth is to do it on first account. I hold the privilege to have witnessed his start, and, by Allah’s mercy, I may see the end in a couple of months. It is a mark of invaluable gratitude to the Lord, for the opportunity, privilege and blessing.
I joined the services of the Polytechnic two years earlier, assumed the Headship of the Department I was brought to nurture. Challenges. Yes.  Even if you do not ask, that was the reason of leaving the university to the polytechnic. It was an opportunity to go out, to leave home, to struggles, to face life. That is how our teachers, the 1980s firebrands have taught us. They say tough conditions toughen our ability to do more, to be better.
I have long been perturbed by the culture of ‘homemade’ graduate public servants in the north. All schools in the state capital redeploy national service to the state and start working in there. The circumference of their reasoning and character is cyclic, narrow.
And if you happen to be a lecturer, you will build your frame of references of life within the four walls of the university only. Exposure becomes an essential, costly commodity. But if you care to buy, that is. For those care not, it is a lifetime loss, which they, unfortunately would not understand its cost.
This November 2nd is my tenth anniversary in that service. Dr. Shu’aibu met me there and continued with me on his board. Four years later, I was elected Dean of School which brought me closer, in Management. For the outsider, it is the gradual growth of an ambitious young man. To me, it was an opportunity to learn, to improve, to grow, yes. I have never lost my sense of the fact that no matter who I am, I must listen, watch and follow.
In learning, you falter. You sit up. Continue. Leap. This is annoying to the teacher, especially if they happen to be the intelligent types. My boss has grown from academic to an education/university administrator and a renowned manager of human and material resources. But my watch of him as a teacher never let my academic spectacle of the man shift. It helped. I learnt much from the teacher in management.
I remember how colleagues shook off shoulders and walked high that a university man knows nothing about the polytechnic system and must come to learn from us, forgetting that he was previously a Rector of the Bauchi State Poly, ATAP. But again they said this is different, a federal polytechnic. All this turned null. The man was an exceptional genius, better at anything in your thoughts
Watch. Listen. Follow. If you look at yourself, assess your capacity, knowledge and delivery, no one has to claim anything. It will be a simple self definition of everything about each of us. Do what you can. Ask about what you can’t do. Seek the help of others who know better. You will improve. This simple principle of development of academic spirit was long lost to many factors of different yardstick to measure success. I make sure I kept my idea of it.
At his inception, different strokes welcomed him with different feelings and expectations. I had a new boss and here it was an opportunity for me to improve, to be better. First, it was gratitude to Allah for the opportunity to be carried along term after term. May be you are good. May be you are better. But certainly not the best. The best is not there. There is nothing best in the capacity of human delivery. That has a divine explanation we can’t delve into.
But I will not stop to be thankful for having served under three bosses. With two of them – Surveyor Saidu Ibrahim Jahun, the Galadima of Bauchi, a great source of inspiration and Engineer Ndububa – as head of department. And with Dr Shu’aibu as head of department and dean of the largest School in the Polytechnic.
Because of his bar of confidence and expectations, I tried to work hard to scale through his assessment. He was a driving force in me that propelled my relevance to other bodies such as the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and the Society for Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP). With his every support, I served the two as State chair.
Once my boss settled for work, I searched for my line in his chance to build, to improve, to accomplish.  And with a sincere intent of just that, I was certain, by His Mercy, to meet every expectation and keep the confidence. Some of us who have the flare to tell ourselves the truth and laugh at ourselves off saw that actually the man knew much more than just a polytechnic system. He knew far more than most of us about this Polytechnic itself. No argument. No lies. No hiding.
Whatever you raise or explain, you receive three times what you wanted to say about it, from the new man. Gradually, the high shoulders dwarfed, the mouths shut and the eyes tinied. Those who understood and listened found the ease, simplicity and compassion in a leader who motivates and encourages them to do more, to make the difference. With him, everyday must bring value to the system.
And so work began. Management of scarce resources is the 101 of any manager in Nigeria. Anyone who doesn’t understand and respects this is unfair to the world. Prioritising. First things first. All round effect. And at the end, an all round agenda of four themes has balanced a service of eight years into a remarkable difference in a place, in every part of it, in every sense of it.
But how? How possible so much effects in so less a time characterised by falls in grant, downfall in the naira against import the currency of import, a harsh time of recession, and mounting needs and expectation from all directions?
Simple. Belief. Commitment to results from anything. And by the help of Thy Lord, he would say. For Dr. Musa, nothing is too small to do. And in the bits of the little you do, you will find so much to count at the end.
How did I know all these when am not the manager? It is because I watched things done. I listen to things said. And I followed the joy of seeing men at work. All the years I have worked with him, I am proud to say I paid my dues to the rights of a leader from the follower. I believed. I listened. I followed.
And in the process, I learnt much. I saw much. And the wealth of experience I talk about, is a treasure not just on my CV. It is a value of live, given to me by Allah and by the will of a good man who has hope in me. And because of his magnanimity, I feel obliged to also give a chunk of it to others at different times anywhere. Others who will be willing to watch, to listen and to follow
What I may say about what we have seen in the years of tremendous service may not be the complete thing to say about an era. But for modesty and the impossibility of saying everything, this account may portray the light on much many have not known, have not seen.
So much may still remain behind my words and the self-evident structures. Like it is often said in some cycles, some of the achievements and the differences Dr. Musa has made are only recountable to the Almighty Allah, Whose ways of attaching importance to even an atom is most amazing.
I am privileged to be part of the story. I may not have said it in the best way. But I know that every word counted for something and for a good reason. And much more will still remain – even if it is just up my only head – to be told by a generation yet to be born.
The best of all his achievements, I think, is the set of work and work ethical values of a man and how those values shaped not only the construction, installations, purchases, linkages, provisions, but also how they shaped the mind and hearts of those working with him. A set of different work values crept through the years to improve service delivery in efficient ways
How much of value influence Dr. Shu’aibu bequeaths us and how much we appreciate and use it in life depends on individual choices. It depends on what you choose to take important, what you choose to remember and what you choose to tell the next generation.
I have personally and officially benefitted from an enduring working relationships and strong work values that we did not take serious before he joined us. The joy of telling a story is the fact that you are an accountant of what was before and what followed.
I am eternally grateful to the golden opportunity of a golden era, because all I hoped for was to grow in capacity, to improve and finish to term in peace and amid cheers. I don’t know where I stand. But I know that by December 21, when Dr. Musa stops, my stand is certain.
This story is different from that of those who chose to have something outside values – materials – the scarcity of which is already a point of understanding among the system, the leader and the followers who are all responsible to giving the system the best in the best way, and even at that our best was never best enough, because new demands accrue on the system’s old stocks. At that point, the common ground was to do the best, do something, everyone do something.
Selfless service is a scarce commodity in our society. It hardly sells. But thank God that it is still appreciated, recognised and sometimes rewarded by the visionary, real leadership, owing to emphasis of men like my hero. I have got much of my own lessons of selfless service from him.
Deliver first before complaining or asking. Always be ahead in thoughts and action. Always stand by the truth, Always take side with the good and the popular. Talk less, work more. Ignore problems and convert challenges into opportunities.
And never put money a priority in everything you do. There is huge payment – material and immaterial – when you give more time, resource, energy and ideas than when you ask more for them.
I have not only read those virtues and life tracks on the pages of a book or the platforms of the social media. I have observed them in a man at first and saw them in his words; in his silence; in his actions and in actions; since that first time I met him, and all through to the end of his stay. It depends on what you are looking for in life.
I saw an academic, formed the same opinion about him and judged him all along by same standards. The story of those who saw him as an opportunity for materialism and money may not be the same, because I am sure, now, they are tamed by the chains of those same problems unsolved, because there was no money ever, anywhere to solve every bit of needs and wants, not of a man but of the whole system.
To me and the few like minds, Dr. Shuaibu is a hero who came, assumed, worked hard, gave much and now leaves a minus to his health and a plus to his stress. He invested much of his life in the system he leaves behind for those of us still active in service. What does he get back in appreciation?
The cost of paying him the dues of recognition, appreciation, respect and honour is cheap with me and few of us who saw much of a man’s success beyond our personal caprices. We can never pay enough dues of gratitude, no matter much we say. His dedication to service was just invaluable. We leave his appreciation with Allah.
Thanks and gratitude for a man who worked for all and for the system is actually expensive, scarce – nowhere to find in the minds and hearts of mean men. It is a treasure with those whose view of life is today a radical idea that shakes the pillars of even the godliest household. Even the educated, the academic of no value, goes round to beg for it.

Dr Shuaibu Musa

But I am content that Dr. Musa has given me an understanding of who I am and what I can do and how. He has shown me the difference that is there between myself and the other mean folks. I cannot understand some of those differences until a time he is not there for me to see or meet, may be a time when he is too far out of public life – no more to be found by anyone, for gratitude or for apology.
I have reaped the bunch of the gift from every experience, meet and chat. In each interaction, I get what I want to see: a word, an idea that lifts my spirit up for the day or for life, and I get the approval of a leader dealing with me within his generous frame of mind.
I have got the privilege of doing something anyone could do; the chance to participate in what most are there; the recognition of mention as one of the many listed, listed. I cannot be thankful enough.
He gave me much. He showed me how I can improve every time I try do something each time I am chanced to. I rediscovered a more me as a result. A perfectionist expects only the possible best.
I construed that opinion about the man and remained on the believe all through that if you work hard for two ideas, he will ask for a third one, soon. So get ready.
I have put myself on the toes. He did not put me. I set the standards of what I wanted to gain from the man. And today the pay is much. I have grown through a life process of self-checks, caution and restrain. Many saw it as cowardice of a man from man. I know what my fear was from.
I fear disappointment, failure, heartbreak of even my little daughters, not to talk of a man, a leader of my hero’s calibre. I will keep my cowardice for life. I am human, weak, mean, coward. It is after all these years that I find the essence of my life blessed with the approval of a point of highest standards.
He has given me much. He taught me to always find and keep a backup, for anything important to your career growth. I prepared myself for it first day and have seen the applicability of the theory of no possible second chance of go and come in life. His eight years have gone, forever. Never again. What you got you keep. What you lost, you miss for life. There is no second chance of Dr. Musa as Rector.
He has given me much. He gave me patience. I never imagined I would ever challenge my hot degree of impatience. I even made theories early in life that certain roles, leadership roles were not for me. I lacked patience to run them, until I met the man that is an embodiment of patience. He was patience himself. Every time I see him, he talks about what is possible, what we can do. But not who did or said what.
I am priding the self-evident truth that I hardly, he hardly, discusses the who in the affairs of management. He always stresses the what and the how instead. When he reads in your eyes your will and zeal, it is already marked possible. He supports you to do it. It all depends on how you see the man. It depends on what you wanted in a man, a leader, a role model.
In the years that your guts and values take you higher, I pray to find you somewhere, sometimes, so I can be reminded about the stock of lessons your life embodies. The sky is the limit for you, and you as you wage up, we are right behind watching, listening and learning from your ways. Sincere wishes and best regards to a man of remarkable measure.
Hassan is the Head of Mass Communication Department and Dean, School of General Studies, Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi and can be reached at:
08032829772/08050551220 (text only with full names and address)

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