The Bayero University community and Kano state in general waited desperately for the outcome of the Vice Chancellor-ship election that produced two competent educationists who scored the same number of votes. Announcement ceased to come on time and that gave way for rumours to be peddled by its mongers.
The word came at last from the First Citizen and the Visitor to the university who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Ibrahim Babangida, that the appointment of Professor Mohammed Sani Zaharadeen as the new Vice Chancellor of the University had been approved and to take immediate effect.
The euphoria had however been burning before the formal report was published in the Bayero University official bulletin on Thursday 2nd May 1991.
In his more than 20 years of academic activism and leadership in many organizations, Professor Zaharadeen emerges as one of the most familiar names in the country and has served nationally and internationally. If we haven’t forgotten, he served as member, Political Bureau in 1986. He was Chairman, Kano State Committee on Destitute; a founding member, Nigerian Association for Religious Tolerance (NARETO) and a member, Board of Governors, Kano State Polytechnic.
The personality of Professor Zaharadeen was exemplary and his status endeared him to his many peers and contributed to the many leadership positions he has occupied within the university community. From Faculty Examination Officer in 1970-72, he was Chairman, Investigation Committee on Examination Irregularity in the Faculty of Education. He was Chairman I and J Staff Committee; Chairman Staff School Management Board, elected Dean of Faculty of Art and Islamic Studies and held the headship of the Department of Islamic Studies in 1976 to the time of his recent appointment. Under him, his department earned the appellation of being the best Islamic Studies department in the whole of West Africa.
He is active and hardworking due to his commitment to human welfare as well for being very religious. All these are coupled with his tenacity, sagacity and sincerity of purpose, just like that preacher, Ahmed Deedat. For some good reasons, he was called to serve as Executive member of the International Association of Islamic Universities; Secretary to the Advisory Committee on Hajj Affairs, patron, Muslin Students Society of Nigeria; member, Council of Ulamah; patron, Islamic Youth League; indeed, the list is endless.
Being a man of highest level of dignity, he has demonstrated leadership qualities in terms of in-depth knowledge of social activities, politics, all seen in many of his services outside the Bayero University community when he was appointed as Kano State Commissioner of Education in 1976. He also worked as external examiner for some Nigerian universities, including Universities of Ibadan, Ilorin, Jos, Maiduguri and Sokoto. He was at one time an External Examiner in Ghana and was a visiting professor at University of Bayreth, West Germany.
Being a fundamental researcher and skilled speaker, he is one of the authorities in comparative study of religion, politics and social affairs. He has several publications to his credit and participated in several television and radio programmes, as well as in public lectures.
Born on 22nd June, 1940 in the ancient city of Kano, his early education started with the Qur’anic school, a basic in the upbringing in the Northern Muslim State. He later embraced western education that took him to the Kano Provincial Secondary School. Like his colleagues in the academia, such as Professor Suwaid, Professor Munzali and Dr. Yadudu, Professor Zaharadeen attended that prestigious law school known as School for Arabic Studies. After passing out in flying colours, he went to the then Abdullahi Bayero College, ABC (known as Bayero University) and came out with a First class degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies. He didn’t waste time as he got into another educational bandwagon as a postgraduate student in the University of Khartoum and Mc-Gill University and later Montreal Quebec, Canada from where he bagged a Ph.D in his field of specialization, Islamic studies. Indeed, no doubt, his recent appointment is a true testimony of his relentless effort at keeping the flag of the country flying.
In spite of all his achievements and having suppressed many attempts by students to embark on demonstration via his fatherly advice, eyes are on him to discover if he will allow himself to be carried away by a particular group or club in the university community.
As patron of one of the powerful societies on the two campuses, total liberation of students from the suppression of other students must be his priority. This is one of the serious loose ends that should be scrutinized and rectified for total peace to be achieved on the campuses.
The new Vice Chancellor’s exemplary life, to all without discrimination or segregation; and justice without fear or favour and real devotion to assignment, are needed in tackling Ustaz-Comrade imbroglio on both campuses and other known issues disturbing the students like the transportation problem. A stitch in time will indeed save not only nine, but prevent many student commotions.
There is also the need for the completion of the abandoned projects in the university. The proposed, yet to be completed new site library is one example and the construction of hostels to accommodate some of the many off-campus students whose spirits are dampened by the off-campus burden are also essential. There are also other problems to be addressed, which include shortage of water supply, electricity failure, transportation, just to mention a few.
Of great concern is also the mass communication satellite dish that fell down sometimes ago after a heavy rainstorm and which tore it into pieces a month after it had been installed. The purpose of having the satellite was to enlighten the public on current happenings across the globe. Quick repair of the apparatus will help a lot in entertaining the university community and broadening their knowledge on international issues. Financial mismanagement, lopsided staff recruitment, shortages of qualified lecturers, as well as mass exodus of qualified staff from the university community need to be looked into as a matter of urgency and to bring out a lasting solution as to ensure a smooth administration.
In conclusion, for B.U.K. to come out of seclusion in the research field and publication and bring to the school the glory of being one of the best high institutions in the country, not only as it is known in Arabic Language, Islamic studies, Mass Communication and Hausa, but also in other fields being offered in the university, including medicine, science, technology, law and other fields, the Vice-Chancellor has to provide adequate teaching materials, and qualified staff to embark on that objective.
Indeed, the new Vice-Chancellor faces many challenges. Any step he takes will be judged in that manner by the people. My advice, therefore, to the new Vice-Chancellor and other contestants whose determination to serve the university is recognized but who failed, not for lack of good qualities or competence in the bid but of chance, is to employ tenacity, patience and perseverance in their acts and deeds. These will indeed help Bayero University grow better than expected.
This article by Yushau A. Shuaib was originally published in The Pen May 31, 1991 and The Democrat June 4, 1991