Reflections on the Leadership Role of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
Once more, I am craving the indulgence of my esteemed readers to permit me present an issue so important to me, to our educational sector and the nation. The issue is the vital information contained in a review of my book. I wrote the book on the critical roles played and still playing by my Alma Mater, employer and source of livelihood, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
I alongside over a million Alumni across the globe of this Citadel of learning, the most cosmopolitan, diverse and biggest university in Africa owe successes in our various endeavors to ABU Zaria. We can hardly pay back what the university did to us. You can’t pass through ABU without being proud that you did. In approximately the last four years when I started this column (Breakthrough), I wrote so much on ABU Zaria, tried to bring out the huge investment potentials and solutions to our multiple challenges against nation building. Some of these issues are catalogued into a book with the above title. Two erudite professors of Art, A. K. Babajo, Professor of Linguistic and M. K. Aliyu, mni, Professor of Archeology reviewed the book and I wish to share the contents of their review with my readers. Happy reading
NATION BUILDING THROUGH QUALITY EDUCATION
Reflections on the Leadership Role of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
By Mohammed Khalid Othman (PhD)
Reviewed by Professor Muhammad Kabir Aliyu, mni
Department of Archaeology
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Universities all over the world and throughout all times and by their callings are meant to intervene to solve society’s unending challenges in all spheres of life. To that end Universities in Nigeria are not left behind in anyway despite their own challenges in meeting their needs that may allow them to fully fulfill that mandate to the Nigerian society and the world. Despite the acute challenges of funding and adequate facilities, Ahmadu Bello University, as one of the first generation Universities in Nigeria, has performed quite excellently in several areas and has produced manpower for the country and the world. The University has also made breakthroughs in several areas through researches and inventions both by staff and students. It is some of these breakthroughs that is presented in this book put together by one of its great alumnus, Muhammad Khalid Othman.
Muhammad Khalid Othman is a Professor of Agricultural Engineering and currently the Executive Director of the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Service (NAERLS), an agricultural extension service center of the University. Most of the collections of the research outputs in this book have appeared in the LEADERSHIP Newspapers and the NEPTUNE Prime (online) Newspaper. They are now put together in a book form for posterity and accessibility by the academic community and the general public.
The book has been arranged in six parts. Part one deals with general introduction under the title “Giant Strides in Research and Development”. There is the general description of the Ahmadu Bello University as one of the First Generation Universities and all the qualities of its staff and students led by strong administration faced by challenges of having to deal with critics and controversial elements within. But by and large and at the end the University remained great as the most cosmopolitan in Nigeria. The section also presented some giant strides made by the University.
The first is the Mini Refinery that was constructed and funded by the University. This was initiated as an M.Sc work in the Department of Chemical Engineering. The refinery was designed to refine a barrel per day. It is now ready as a model for the training of both undergraduate and post graduate students. This technology was only developed by Ahmadu Bello University and the first of its kind. The second achievement by the University presented in this part is the development of a 15KW Solar Upgrade System by a staff of the University. It powers all lecture theatres, classrooms, libraries, heads of department offices and examination offices of Electrical, Mechanical, and Civil Engineering Departments. The innovation has the potential of saving the University N30 million annually when operated to full capacity.
The third breakthrough by the University in this section is the development of Layers and Meat-type Shika Brown Chicken. This is the result of over fifteen years of active breeding and selection work by the researchers at the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI), which is one of the research centres of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Shika Brown is well adapted to tropical climates and gives very high economic returns. The chicken is hardy and resistant to many diseases; hence, there is less investment in drugs. It was tested to give a very good performance in all the ecological zones of the country. The fourth innovation presented in this section is the development of Varieties of Groundnuts and Maize by the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) of the University. The varieties grow very well in the Sahel and Savannah zones of West Africa.
The fifth innovation in this section is technological breakthrough too. The Department of Mechanical Engineering innovated and fabricated through automobile engineering two marathon cars, namely ‘Abufeng’ and ‘Abucar II’. The block-bursting Abucar II passed all the technical tests, which included safety, ergonomics, energy efficiency and body and interior design tests as well as overall weight. Another scientific breakthrough by the University as number six presented in this part is the Development of Zeolite Catalyst from Kaolin. This was done from the abundant deposit of Kaolin from Kankara in Katsina State. Zeolites are useful in pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries and are used in catalytic crackers to break large hydrocarbon molecules into gasoline, diesel, kerosene, waxes and all kinds of other petroleum products. Finally in this section and number seven is the design and development of drone by some final year students of the Department of Physics. The drone was tested to delight of the University community. The drone can compete with any of its kind around the world.
The section closed with the convocation lecture delivered by AlhajiAlikoDangote for 39th Convocation of the Ahmadu Bello University in which looked at “The Role of Entrepreneurship in National Development: The Story of Dangote Group’. The lecture centred on entrepreneurship and the power of innovation, leadership and focus. It is simply the success story of the Dangote group and the richest man in Africa.
Part two of the book titled “Contribution to Bioenergy Revolution in Nigeria”, presented a picture of how Ahmadu Bello University is making its contribution in the area of alternative energy solution. The University is intervening in three ways. The first one is the Nigeria-German Energy Partnership for the construction of 10 megawatts from solar energy source. This is being implemented with a financial assistance from Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund). The second one is through a collaborative project with a Hungarian firm, Agrar-Biothanol Company, to generate power from farm produce and human wastes (faeces). The ABU – Agrar-Biothanol Company project targets to produce 2.66 million litres of ethanol per annum; 1,333 tons of liquid organic fertilizer per annum, and 1.2 megawatts of electricity. The third effort is ABU-BIONAS project; the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the University and BIONAS, a Malaysian Firm, was signed. The company will work with the University intelligentsia to produce and train students and entrepreneurs on renewable energy technology transfer to industries.
In concluding this section, the author presented Ahmadu Bello University’s scientific contribution towards revamping sugar cane production and sugar making in Nigeria. The University did that through the application of plant tissue culture to decuple national sugarcane production within a few years. In this regard, a sugarcane bio-factory was established by the Institute for Agriculture (IAR), a research centre of the University in collaboration with the National Sugar Development Council, Abuja.
Part three of the book titled “Contribution to Technological Innovations and Manpower Development”, discusses some areas the University has contributed in the area of Man power 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 a 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).
Professor Othman is the Executive Director of National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), ABU Zaria.