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Re: Nuhu Yaqub, Uni-Abuja and reality

Kyari was reacting to the interview granted by the former Vice Chancellor of University of Abuja, Professor Nuhu Omeiza Yaqub, to the newspaper on January…

Kyari was reacting to the interview granted by the former Vice Chancellor of University of Abuja, Professor Nuhu Omeiza Yaqub, to the newspaper on January 3, 2010. For the benefit of those who didn’t read the interview, the former VC provided remarkable answers to questions that were put forth to him by his interviewers, ranging from his educational background, the state of university education in Nigeria, ASUU strike, Uniabuja after he left and others.   

To start with, the so-called rejoinder was needless and reckless, because it was a reaction to an ordinary and straightforward interview, but since Kyari needed to do a hatchet job on Professor Yaqub, to ingratiate his “new master” in the University, that interview provided a baseless point of take off for him.   And in doing this, he singled out the comment of Professor Nuhu Yaqub to the effect that the new Vice Chancellor, Professor James Sunday Adelabu, was warming up to recall some expelled cult members.

But what are his reservations about Professor Yaqub’s interview and the facts, if any?  Kyari frowned at what he assumed was an attempt by Professor Yaqub “to depict himself as a high-flying administrator”, accusing him of  having taken credit for the series of wars waged against cultism when he was the Uniabuja VC (2004 – 2009).  Kyari claimed that Professor Yaqub created a fresh atmosphere for cultism, by reinstating some cult members expelled by his predecessor and admitting many candidates who had tendencies to cultism during the 2005/2006 admission exercise.  Earlier, in 2001(three years before Yaqub came), Kyari boasted that he (then president of the student union) had “with the full backing of, and collaboration with, the police, the State Security Service and the University security service unit effectively extirpated and rooted out cultism in the University of Abuja”.   

The reality of the matter is that the so-called raid which the “Kyari regime” carried out then, was to say the least a media hype, as only a few innocent students were expelled, while the “big cult guys” remained untouched and given four sure legs to prowl. Between 2001 and June 2004 (when Yaqub came), new prospective cult members were still being admitted through massive admission racketeering which was the characteristic of that era.  Thus, there were essentially, a sufficient camp of cultists in the University before 2004, and which had continued to grow steadily on campus and the environs until a relentless war against them was waged by the administration of Professor Yaqub, to such effect that until he left no fewer than 60 cult members had been effectively expelled from the University by his administration.  It is on record that as a consequence of the avowed war against the cults, some of their members even threatened to burn down his office and roast him alive. But he remained undaunted because of his commitment to the success of that war.

By the way, in the said interview, Professor Yaqub, was humble enough to give much credit to  his Chief Security Officer – a  retired military officer (whose appointment has since been unjustly terminated by the present administration) to stamp out cultism on campus. Now, how apt was Kyari’s description of the former VC’s war on cultism as being “uncoordinated and overpersonalised!”

Whether the likes of Kyari believed or not, the issue of cultism had been largely evaded by previous administrations in the University which lacked the political will and moral courage to tackle it headlong – the way and manner in which Yaqub did.

Kyari also mentioned the expulsion of some leaders of the students’ union by the former VC, and described it as illegal. In fact, in 2006, when some of the union leaders, including the president, were expelled after a needless protest blew out of proportion, the Senate gave its full support. Besides, these expelled students even went to court to seek justice. Now, you ask, if the expulsion was “illegal”, as Kyari claimed, why didn’t the court say so, and immediately compel the University authority to recall the students?

That the former VC resorted to expelling some of the students’ leaders should not be wrongly seen as a sign of high-handedness. For sure, no government worth its salt would allow pockets of disgruntled elements in the name of student unionism to hold the university community to ransom. And Yaqub had shown that his administration was a no-nonsense one.  It must be understood that, Professor Adelabu’s recent attempt to recall these expelled unionists was not so much out of love or sympathy for them, or even conviction that they were unjustly punished, as it was of a desire to score some cheap political point by creating a false impression that the former VC was high-handed and autocratic – dummy which our “beloved” Kyari had already swallowed hook, line and sinker.

I know that it would be easier for the devil to repent and abandon his wicked ways than cynics to avowedly appreciate good leaders like Professor Yaqub (particularly when they feel that certain administrative policies had personally hurt them). At least, cynics like Kyari should have the courtesy of simply keeping mum, instead of labouring to cast aspersions on respectable personalities and achievers.   

Candidly, Professor Yaqub, as Uniabuja VC, achieved in five years what his predecessors could not do in more than fifteen years.  The landmarks of these achievements include his movement of the University to the permanent site, fight against cultism and exam malpractices, and creation of conducive academic environment, among others.  

As for Kyari’s ranting about Yaqub’s position on ASUU, he should be informed that Professor Yaqub had long before becoming a VC taken position on the need for ASUU to create alternative ways to strike and, also strive to ensure that the university system in the larger context was funded by the government. It takes courage and sharp understanding to take such a position. Kyari, please, Professor Yaqub doesn’t need to make “noise” to get political appointments, his individual worth has always spoken for him.

I appreciate Sunday Trust for seeking the views of professionals and tested administrators like Yaqub, on issues. However, that it gave its precious space to some individuals who do nothing but attempt to smear the names and good image of credible personalities, just to draw undue attentions to themselves, is mind-boggling.

Gofe wrote in from the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Abuja.

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