Niger State College of Education, Minna
   ...Second Best is not Good Enough.

Prof. Faruk Rashid Haruna: The Unsung Administrator per Excellence (Part I) - By Ismaila Hussaini (Dagash)

The most considered criterion set aside for the screening and appointment of the next provost of Niger state College of Education (prior to the appointment of the incumbent) was the number of their academic publications. First it was pegged at 15 publications but, later, it was reviewed to 22 publications and as of then, Professor Rashid Haruna already had 63 publications to his name” said my source.

And that was how Professor Faruk Rashid Haruna became the fifth provost of Niger State College of Education. He assumed office on the 1st of September, 2009 amid enormous challenges that would have consumed anyone’s confidence and zeal and perhaps, that will definitely puts him or anyone on a shaky footing. But he remained resolute, confident and determined to overcome them and above all to leave an indelible mark in the history of the college. With this burning determination and desire, having taken over an academic institution that had suffered perennial neglect from previous administrations, thus inheriting teacher-producing-institution that was marred with array of challenges such as: academic backwardness, staff redundancy, under-staffing, admission racketeering, outdated learning and teaching facilities, and general infrastructural decay among others , yet the professor was still blistering with the desire to contribute his quota to the development of the college and to add value to what he has met on ground. In fact academic stagnation of the staff of the institution was something else before now. As they rarely organize nor attend conferences, seminars, academic lectures as a result academic publication was a major issue and the lecturers saw it as an insurmountable task, then. This gory state at which Prof. Faruk met the institution was a direct contrast of the college’s motto: "Second best is not good enough".

Bearing in mind these pyramid of challenges staring at one’s face, a very large chunk of the public viewed his appointment as clearly a case of “square peg being forced into a round hole” simply because of his area of specialization. As a Professor of sport science, his capability was highly doubted if really he could turn around the fortune of the institution at a time like this, but on the contrary he was determined to prove a point: “an A.B.U student is naturally ahead of you” or “an A.B.U is a bank of IDEA”.

Professor Faruk Rashid Haruna is a soft minded and mild spoken individual, a quintessential, a meticulous planner and executor. He is a product of one of the most prestigious university in the West African sub-region and arguably the best University in Nigerian, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, with enthusiasm he set forth to reviving the fortune of the college.

Upon assumption of office, one of the giants and applaudable step taken by him was the clearing of the catalogue of students being pinned down due to one problem or the other and as such, were not certificated for over 16 years. As I write, these students, numbering over 17,000, have been cleared and certificated having met one condition or the other.

Improve Learning and Teaching Facilities and Book Development

On the obsolete learning and teaching facilities available since the creation of the institution, the provost renovated, upgraded the existing ones and in some cases discarded the obsolete ones and replaced them with modern types that will stand the test of time. Among them are:

  1. The renovation of the six school (Sciences, Technical, Art and social science, Vocation Education and languages),
  2. Renovation of the college assembly hall, construction of introductory technology centre,
  3. Renovation of the college library, equipping with more books as well as introduction of e-library.
  4. Construction of Education Technology Centre,
  5. Construction of 1000 capacity Lecture Theatre,
  6. Construction of fine and Applied Art Laboratory,
  7. Construction of Multipurpose Science Laboratory,
  8. Construction of physics, chemistry, geography and computer science laboratory, in fact the list is endless…..

One of the tough but yet important decision taken by the provost was the ban of sales of handout by the lecturer to the student. He, however, encouraged lecturers to go into writing books in their area of discipline instead. This was done with a view to eliminating academic laziness and inculcate the spirit of research in both the lecturers and the students.

Human Capacity development and Staff Welfare

Bearing in mind the dynamics of academic challenges globally thus call for the important need for the lecturers and staff to update and improve on their teaching techniques and knowledge in other to meet the national and international best practices, the provost thought it wise to encourage and sponsor the long over due lecturers and staff of the institution to update their knowledge after years upon years of service. In fact, one of the lecturers, my source, confided in me that in one of their academic board meetings the provost challenged them thus:

“…all you need do is just to secure admission any where and we will sponsor you. Scholarship grant for this year has not been exhausted and that of next year is rightly available. So secure admission and we will come to your aid”

As you read this, more than 50 lecturers have been sponsored for their Ph.D and at the moment more than 97 of the lecturers have equally been sponsored for their Master Degrees across the length and breadth of the world. And still counting. This, of course, is worth commending and appreciating of a sport scientist.

On the lecturers' welfare, especially their office accommodations: which hitherto have been like that of a match-box house occupied by two or three lecturers and where you find three occupants then such office hardly accommodate anybody again, in fact even where to drop their briefcase becomes a problem. To boost their morals, improve their standard as lecturers, bring out the best in them and giving them some sense of belonging for them to perform their duty professionally and optimally the provost, under his leadership, constructed one storey building containing 32 well furnished offices and toilets for the lecturers there by given room for the renovation and decongestion of the existing ones. Again this is one giant step taken at the right direction considering the condition of their offices and in some cases many out of the lecturers had since turned their vehicles into their offices, a pathetic sorry situation then.

Again on human capacity development and in other to meet up with global security challenges, the college security unit was also not left out as the security personnel of the college were international and standard training on how to handle security challenges at the famous and age long police training college Minna with view to acquainting them with necessary skills and technical knowledge of their job. In addition to that, uniform, security gadgets were provided for them.

Similarly, to boost the morale of the staff and that of colleges' principal officers, especially in the area of mobility, the college under the charismatic leadership of Prof. Faruk Haruna deemed it fit to provide a befitting mobility to the staff and other unit of the college. The two grounded buses of the school were repaired, three (3) 36 seater buses were purchased for students' use, four (4) Hilux vans were purchased for the consultancy service unit, 18 seater bus was purchased for student Union Government of the college, two (2) trucks were purchased for the college table water industry and that of block industry as well as new cars for all principal officers of the college and the chairman governing council.

Sources of Finance for this Monumental Achievements

One is left wondering the finance sources of these projects. In fact, a very large section of the students thought that the sudden rise of all these projects is the genesis of the high cost of their tuition fees. The same lecturer who confided in me of the mountainous achievements of this God sent professor that the college has been craving for since its creation, rhetorically, asked me when I put the question to him “how much is the tuition fees”? “Is it up to 500 million”? According to him these are projects of billions of naira and since the provost assumed office projects have been springing up here and there, particularly the ones financed by TETFUND. A uniqueness the college has not witnessed since 2004 and the mystery they are yet to unravel is how he (Prof. Faruk, as he’s fondly called) manages to access these TETFUND that his predecessor could not?

While he was busy putting into good shape and healthy condition the office accommodation of the lecturers, the provost was equally mindful of the only existing dilapidated and inhabitable female hostel as well as the vulnerability of the students bearing in mind the security challenges before the nation and indeed everywhere in the world. The hostel was given a new looks: it was renovated, fenced and furnished with the state of the art facilities and 24 hour security detail attached to it. In addition the construction of the male hostel is on going, in fact at the verge of completion. While still looking into the viability of constructing another female hostel to argument the existing one.

Prof. Faruk Rashid Haruna: The Unsung Administrator per Excellence (Part II)

Quality Control and Issuance of Admission

The standard of the college in the past was second to none. Renowned professors, PhDs, administrators, politicians etc were products of this amiable college, including the Prof. Himself. Before the coming of Prof. Faruk Rashid Haruna, the standard was compromised due to one problem or the other but today, the past glory has been re-establish hence the introduction of qualifying examination to would be students of the college.

This has invariably checked the calibre of students admitted into the college and thereby raising the standard of the college even more. On the admission system, in the past admission process was a decentralized type. From all angles one can get admitted into the college and in must cases through dubious means at the detriment of the unsuspecting students and, at a point in time, it later became monetized. But today, having dealt with the racketeering syndicates, the process has now been centralised and computerised with the introduction of online admission and registration. This, of course, has helped seriously in putting to rest issuance of fake admission in the college and from any part of the country you can purchase the admission form and process it.

Roads Construction

Before now, whenever it rains, as a pedestrian, you will have to tip-toe around the institution due to its bad road network, muddy and waterlog terrain. In dry season, the learning environment is often saturated with dust as well. All these have become a thing of the past as the provost has found it deemed fit to construct water drainages round the institution, culverts and also roads linking the institution, from one faculty to the other, have been tarred and modern streetlights have been erected round the college premises to further strengthen the security of the college and to brighten the environment at night. Planting of trees, flowers and carpet grasses have equally been done to arrest dust and desertification around the college and to beautify the college. The school, today, with the level of its development and the structural growth that it is now endowed with can favourably compete with any institution in the country. Intellectually, structurally, and what have view.

Water and Electricity

It is said that water is life. Without it our daily activities will virtually come to a halt. Before now these two items (water and electricity) have been a daunting challenge to the management of the college with no solution on site. Both water and electricity supply had transformed from epileptic to constant zero supply, a situation that had endangered the lives of the students (especially females) in the hostel and the residents of the college. But with the can-do-spirit of the provost he swung into action. First, by constituting a team of professional to look into the problem and to come up with strong action plan and recommendations on how to put an end to the constant zero supply of water and electricity in the college. Today, as it stands, the college power supply source has been upgraded from 11KV to 33 KV. Similarly alternative power supply stand-bys have been installed with automatic change over switch.

On the perennial water scarcity, the management, under the leadership of Prof. Faruk, connected the college with the main water board source and provision of alternative water supply were made through the sinking of boreholes and water tanks across the college.

Internal Revenue Generation

The foresight of the provost must be commended in this direction. Having understood the dwindling economy situation the nation and the state are faced with, the college under the dynamic leadership of the provost critically looked into how to increase on the internal revenue generation of the college away from the students’ tuition fees. So in his revenue drive orientation, the provost re-constituted and re-invigorated the consultancy unit of the college to make it more vibrant and functional in meeting its designed objectives and goals. It is on this note that the college Micro-Finance Bank, the College Block Industry, the College Table Water Industry sprung up. All are functioning at full capacity.

In addition, the college recently launched her Frequency Modulation (FM) Station to bridge the information gap within the students, School Management and the host community. Among other things the station will serve is to also generate revenue for the college through commercial activities and others.

Sports

Although Prof. Faruk Rashid Haruna tends to have made a significant improvements on all the facilities of the college but still one is left with no iota of doubt that the provost is indeed a Professor of Sport Science considering the monumental achievement recorded in this area. Having the understanding of the key role of sports in nation building and as a vital tool in promoting unity and harmony. The provost did not only renovate the dilapidated and abandoned sporting facilities but also constructed new ones to argument the existing ones.

The following are his achievements in this area:

  1. Construction of Mini Sport Complex and provision of sports equipment and wears,
  2. Construction of Handball Court and two Tennis Courts with pavilion, the college Mini Stadium,
  3. Construction Indoor Sport Hall.

The climax of his achievement in the area of sport is the hosting of the 18th edition of the Nigeria colleges of Games Association (NICEGA). The fiesta was tagged “TALBA 2013”. This is the first time ever in the history of the college to host a sporting event of that magnitude.

As it stands, today, there is virtually no sector of the college that has not been transformed to international standard that will stand the test of time. To juxtapose the above assertion right, at the moment, the college is on the verge of being converted into a State University of Education and so far the National University Commission (NUC) has accredited it and given the approval of the take off of the university. This, however, is not without some challenges. The dwindling economy and the financial burden the state is faced with, seems to be one major threat that will hamper the take off of the university. If the proposed move, for the establishing of University of Education, scales through the murky waters of politics then the unsung hero, the meticulous professor, the brain behind this monumental development is to serve as the pioneer Vice Chancellor of the university since he has been appointed before now by the else while administration and one prays that this administration finds the proposal worthy enough.

As Helen Keller once puts it, "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." Prof. Faruk came into the college with undiluted optimism and an ambitious confidence to make an indelible mark and has excellently done it.

- Ismaila Hussaini Ebbo Dagash works with Niger State Science and Technical Schools Board and ABU Alumnus. He can be reached via his email: stildagash@gmail.com

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Posted at June 26, 2017, 8:28:0

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