My plans for Nasarawa State University - VC
Prof. Suleiman Muhammed is the Acting Vice Chancellor of Nasarawa State University Keffi, NSUK. In this interview with Ateed YUSUF, the Professor of Political Sociology and Development, gives insight into how he intends to run the university. Excerpts:
You were recently appointed as Vice-chancellor of Nasarawa State University Keffi, what are your plans?
My intention is to work with all the staff by ensuring that we build the institution that everyone will be proud of as well as a world class school, this will go a long way in forestalling strike and students’ unrest.
I consider the appointment as an act of God and a call to service. Also as an opportunity to put to practice some of ideas and views on university governance and administration, and also how to move the university system forward.
I have taken the appointment as a challenge since I assumed duty on the 9th of October 2018. I have settled down and received handover notes which I’m still studying them. There are a lot of challenges like I pointed out, but I‘m determined to introduce reforms because the university was founded on very sound foundation.
We are blessed to have Professor Adamu Baike as a pioneer VC. At a certain point, the university was among the top four best universities in the country but at present a lot of things have gone wrong.
We are studying the situation and we are going to do our best. Therefore, I will reciprocate this appointment by ensuring that we make NSUK where we produce students that are globally competitive.
We will ensure the system works through committees and fight unethical conducts as well as learning and teaching is driving by ICT. We will also make sure students welfare is taking into consideration.
In specific terms, what programme and policies would you bring in to enhancing the university’s standard?
My plan is to raise the quality of teaching and learning, when I came on board I had meetings with the professors, heads of department, Senate meeting was equally held.
I set up two committees, one to look at the operation of the Senate. The other one is to look at the operation of departments which will give us a better direction on how to fight unethical conducts, how lecturers teach and also participate in examination and also not to engage in all kinds of sorting.
We are awaiting the reports of these committees. We are going to deliberate after the strike. Whatever recommendations they pass on, we are going to accept them and we are going to use them to clean the system.
We will ensure that lecturers deliver on their mandate through teaching, conduct good research works and by supervising students. We will ensure students have a decent atmosphere to learn.
We are going to ensure that class rooms are maintained, broken seats are replaced; fans are also working for students to have a befitting learning environment. Also results are released as at when due, so that students will have their results at hand and have no cause of having any anxiety.
Our thinking in the first place is in the area of teaching and learning pari pasu making the system to work which is part of the challenges many universities face. The system is not working as it ought to be.
My vision is to ensure that there is a system and the system is working according to rules and regulations that will be guided by rule of law.
We will ensure there is accountability and transparency in whatever we do. We believe that once these ones are put in place the system will regenerate itself and it will become very productive and will be able to attain the mandate of the university.
Having served in ASUU in various capacities, what measures are you adopting to ensure harmonious management-unions’ relationship?
When I assumed duty, I had meeting with executives of different unions such as ASUU, NASU, SSANU and NAAT. We have all agreed to be partners in the progress of Nasarawa State University, Keffi.
I told them of my vision and my pogrammes, which they had no difficulty in accepting because as union leaders they anxious is about seeing that the university is governed on the basis of rule of law.
Equally I told them that we will operate an open door policy. I f they have suggestions they should forward them while on the other hand challenges should be tabled so that we can dialogue and agreed.
And if there are demands that we cannot meet it could be tabled and proffer solutions. I believed they have understood my vision and mission for the university and they have also seeing that those are not really contradicting with their own.
I hope we will achieve that cordial relationship that will be very productive for the university.
You were one time Dean, Students Affairs of UniAbuja, as well as Head of Department of Sociology. What do we expect to see in terms of management and students relationship?
I also met with the leadership of the students’ union government; executive arm and parliament as well as other students association on campus.
Generally, I believe that we should have good working relationship with them. Because I told them their interests is to see that there is a system which is working to enable them graduate with good results.
They have informed me of the challenges they faced which has to do with internal rancor among them. And I have set up machinery to reconcile them to ensure that we work together.
I told them about the challenges confronting Nigerian campuses to include cultism, insecurity and examination malpractices among others. They have given me assurance that we can work together to fight these vices and so far so good I have been receiving good cooperation from them.
I have been interacting with them and carrying them along on issues they want me to tackle.
Moreover, I also appointed a friendly dean of students affairs who is active and coordinating the affairs of students administration efficiently.
How could you tackle the challenges of admission racketeering in the university?
The question of admission racketeering of recent we have never had that problem. The university has a central admission committee comprising of deans, that normally sit down and considers submission from faculties.
By the time I came they have already done the first list and they offloaded it to the JAMB central admission system. Now we are working on the second list before on ward submission to the committee before we released the second and final list of the admission.
I think on admission, the university has been doing well because they ensured the committee handles the admission process and I’m satisfied to continue with that laudable tradition.
What of infrastructure. Are you satisfied with what you met?
Structures are ongoing phenomenon. There are a lot of structures that are still at the level of construction certainly there are challenges with facilities.
I have received about sixteen accreditation teams and part of their complaints really bothered on the quality and space of the offices of professors and other ranks. I’m confident that with time we are going to overcome those because if you go round the campus you see that there are ongoing structures.
In terms of staffing there are also issues we don’t have enough staff but of course no university can boast of sufficient staff at this point. But at least the number we have is adequate fairly enough to enable us discharge our mandate based on the NUC standard but as a young university that is desirous of expanding, it is our wish we have more staff both academic and non-academics so that we can expand very well and discharge our mandate without much stress.
So our plan are that we going to look into the question of staffing and identify vacancies available and try to advertise and follow due process so that we will recruit the moment we get permission from the government.
What will be the future of the university under your watch?
Under my watch this university is safe, because I intend to ensure the system is working. I intend to ensure there is rule of law, transparency and accountability becomes a favourable slogan in the university.
In fact when I addressed the senate and the congregation, I told them clearly that were are going to be fair to all staff and students in respective of religious and ethnic affiliations.
And also to run an inclusive government that has no room for sycophancy, bootlicking and opportunism. And I believe that if we carried out time tested principles we will certainly succeed.
If we leave whims and caprices, arbitrariness and impunity and go by the side of the law we are going to succeed and that is exactly what I intend to do.
I believe that by the time I finish my acting, at least these principles would become manifest.
Initially I had some level of resistance but I think the resistance is gradually dying down people are beginning to understand that I mean well for the university and operating on the basis of these principles.