Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum’s Special Adviser on Public Relations and strategy, Malam Isa Gusau, yesterday obtained Masters’ Degree (MA) in Media and Public Relations with the highest classification of Distinction at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.
Unlike Nigerian Universities which only classify graduate degrees, UK Universities classify Masters degrees starting with Pass classification for ‘C’ students, Merit for ‘B’ students, and Distinction for ‘A’ students.
Gusau had in 2020 requested one-year study leave which was graciously granted by Professor Zulum after which he moved to the UK in September 2020, from where he was overseeing the governor’s media activities on a daily basis by remotely working with his colleagues, coordinating his own office with daily inputs on publicity materials, working with and mentoring dozens of social-media associates and bloggers, and relating with more than a hundred journalists while also studying at the University of Leicester.
The University of Leicester has 100 years of history and it is one of the UK’s highly respected academic institutions where only extreme commitments result in students graduating with the highest grades after every module’s assessment undergoes simultaneous double markings by different lecturers whose different gradings must reasonably tally on each grade before marks are approved by academic boards.
Yesterday’s graduation ceremony was held from afternoon through evening at a famous De Montfort Hall around the University of Leicester’s campus in Leicester city. The graduation was held in person for the first time since the pandemic.
Malam Isa Gusau had previously obtained a Bachelors’ Degree with the highest classification of First-Class in Media, Public Relations and Advertising from Middlesex University in London. He holds another master’s degree and a Postgraduate Diploma in Labour and Public Relations from the University of Maiduguri. He also holds OND and HND in Mass Communication from the Kaduna Polytechnic where he had hit 4.35 out 5.0 in his final semester examinations.
Gusau also holds certificates from campus-based courses on Leadership and persuasive communication at Harvard University’s Division of Continuing Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States; on Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education in Cambridge, UK; on Reputation Branding, Media Relations and Political Campaigns and Communication at Thompson Reuters in New York, United States. He had also at different times, undertook intensive online certificated courses organised by Harvard University on Communication Strategies, and Crisis Communication.
Gusau had also attended dozens of other media relations, communication and journalism courses within and outside Nigeria.
Gusau is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, UK; the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations; the Public Relations and Communications Association, PRCA, UK; the International Public Relations Association, UK and the African Public Relations Association.
Malam Gusau had attended several conferences, summits and bilateral meetings across 18 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa for purposes of government media relations, professional networking, trainings and journalistic reporting. He had, at different times, visited 16 states across the United States for similar purposes.
During his one-year programme at the University of Leicester, Malam Isa Gusau’s secondary literature resources showed that in the course of writing academic essays and dissertation, he cited a combine number of 461 peer reviewed books and journals on wide range of subjects especially in relation to strategic communication (including risk and crisis communication), terrorists’ propaganda, ethical persuasion & propaganda, emotional intelligence, critical writing, print, broadcast and online journalism, political communication, development communication, media relations, branding and advertising, media audiences research, social science research methods, the new media, the social-media, PR in reconciliation and peace-building, lobbying and public affairs amongst other areas.
In his Master’s dissertation, Gusau investigated the identities of parliamentary lobbyists in Nigeria’s National Assembly and analysed the implications for PR and democratic governance. In the course of the research which scored an ‘A’ after different levels of assessment, Gusau discreetly interviewed senators and members of the House of Representatives from Nigeria’s six geo-political zones, who served in the 8th National Assembly from 2015 to 2019 being the case study. Gusau also interviewed public relations practitioners in both government and private sectors, from the six geo-political zones before applying research methods to arrive at significant findings.
Tutors at the University of Leicester described the research as ground-breaking for PR academic research and for practitioners in Nigeria and by extension-Africa, given Nigeria’s leading role in the continent.
With the completion of Masters in Media and Public Relations, Zulum’s media strategist, Malam Isa Gusau, may have become the first government spokesperson in Nigeria to combine graduate and postgraduate degrees with specialization in Public Relations, which professionally deals with media relations. While majority of past and serving spokespersons in and outside government are graduates of mass communication and other areas, some do hold postgraduate degrees specializing in PR.
Gusau, however, now holds both graduate and postgraduate degrees in Media and PR in addition to being a graduate of Mass Communication like majority of spokespersons.
Except in the UK, United States and other developed countries, Nigerian universities do not offer Bachelors’ Degree programmes specializing in Public Relations unless for postgraduate programmes in less than five universities. The NUC’s plan to unbundle Mass Communication as done in developed countries is expected to create room for universities to offer Bachelors degree programmes in PR to enable students begin specialization at that level.
Meanwhile, Gusau also practised as a journalist for years before moving into PR.
At the Daily Trust, Isa Gusau was the first to win the Board Chairman’s star award and cash prize for integrity in the journalists’ category. He was also recipient of the Editor-in- Chief’s letter of commendation and cash reward for integrity. He had received series of commendations from the Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer for prudence, transparency, accountability and productive management of regional offices in the Niger Delta and the Northeast, Nigeria. He also received performance-based incentives and accelerated promotions.
Gusau resigned from Daily Trust in March, 2012, the same week he was promoted to the rank of Deputy Editor, to venture into public relations activities following his appointment by Governor Kashim Shettima as Special Adviser on Media and Publicity.