By Lydia Legbo
Indeed, time flies when you are happy. It was the award winning writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who once said that in her debut novel titled Purple Hibiscus. It was just like yesterday when Prof. Musbau Adewumi Akanji FAS, FNSBMB, assumed office on December 3, 2012 as the 6th substantive Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Minna. His appointment was received with mixed feelings, most especially those who had wanted a “home boy” Vice-Chancellor. Some even went as far as asking; Prof. Akanji who? This particular group of people had hitherto seen him as a dark-horse in the race because they were oblivious of his academic and administrative credentials.
But for many who had followed Akanji’s antecedents right from his halcyon days at the University of Ilorin knew him as a thoroughbred academic with immense substance and nobility. This particular group of people knew FUT, Minna had gotten the best person out of the eminently qualified candidates that vied for the position. The few who took to the streets to protest his appointment in 2012 did not know that his appointment was ordained by God. One could pardon them because at that point in time, they acted out of ignorance.
The age-long saying that after the storm comes the rain is apt to describe how Prof. Akanji was able to change people’s perception about his appointment. The courtesy visits to notable personalities in the State and the openness of his administration were key to changing what hitherto was hostility to acceptance within two months in office.
Despite the agitation that greeted his appointment, he was so kind to extend hands of fellowship to some of the contestants within the University. The inclusiveness of his administration stands him out among many. He is a detribalized Nigerian and exemplary leader with a firm belief in merit as against any other primordial considerations.
He treats all issues on merit, devoid of ethnic, religious or tribal sentiments. He is a man who believes that the best man should get the job, irrespective of his/her tribe or religion. This policy, to some extent, is responsible for the landmark achievements recorded by the University in the last five years.
For those who believed and saw Akanji as the messiah that would take FUT, Minna to greater heights among comity of universities in Nigeria and the world at large. In 2012 when he was appointed as Vice-Chancellor of the University, they have been vindicated based on the milestones recorded by the University in the last five years under his reign.
As a Vice-Chancellor that has his people at heart, he operated “an open door” policy. This style reduced the administrative bottlenecks that usually characterize such offices in Nigeria university system. His humility and simplicity of purpose are second to none.
As a foremost Biochemist with numerous publications in reputable journals, Akanji has contributed immensely in manpower development across various sectors of the country. He has trained many researchers who are now professors and have also trained other professors who are now adding value to the quality of education in Nigeria and other countries.
His induction as a Fellow of Academy of Science in 2016 brought the name of the University to the limelight again for good, judging from the revered nature of the award and its credible selection processes based on empirical research breakthrough. As Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Minna in the last five years, he has brought honour to the University based on his dealings within and outside the institution. It would not be out of place to describe Prof. Akanji’s tenure as a blessed reign that is devoid of blemish and corruption.
He is an incorruptible leader to the core and one of the few Vice-Chancellors in Nigeria who have made their financial transactions public. This has been demonstrated through the publication of the University’s weekly financial transaction on its Campus News, the University official news bulletin. This singular act has endeared him to staff, students and other stakeholders in the country.
When the history of the University would be told in many years from now, Prof. Akanji is assured of a place in that history book. Based on his massive transformation in the infrastructural landscape of the University, research, staff training, promotion, welfare and ease of running a university. His template of running the affairs of the institution is novel and should be emulated by other Vice-Chancellors in Nigerian Universities. From 2012 to 2017, it has been evolving stories of projects commissioning and foundation laying ceremonies of key projects that have added value to learning, teaching and research. It is not surprising that Prof. Akanji has bowed out as Vice-Chancellor of the University without any trace of abandoned projects.
Despite the well-known problem of funding that has affected the effective running of most universities in Nigeria in recent times, Akanji can hold his head high among comity of Vice-Chancellors in Nigeria based on the numerous projects and policies that were initiated and executed by him before the expiration of his tenure.
The issue of academic accreditation of programmes in Nigerian universities has not been given the much needed priority in the past which has resulted in many universities floating programmes without taking into cognizance the National Universities Commission (NUC) guideline. This has culminated in many public and private universities in Nigeria running programmes that are not accredited and thus subjecting students to psychological and emotional trauma before graduation. FUT, Minna case is different because as a university of Technology, we need both academic and professional accreditations for most of our programmes.
Under the administration of Akanji, the university has enjoyed full accreditation status for all the courses offered. As a former Director, Academic Planning at the University of Ilorin, Prof. Akanji understands the importance of accreditation status and he brought his wealth of experience to bear in ensuring that all the departments in the University run programmes that are accredited by NUC.
Indeed, Akanji has made the Federal University of Technology, Minna to become a household name in Nigeria which has culminated in a large number of students jostling for admission slot in the university. Based on his achievements in the last five years, it hoped that he will continue to offer dedicated service to the nation in whatever capacity he may find himself. At this point in time, Nigeria needs more men that can serve the country with dedication and commitment like him.
Lydia works with Public Relations
Unit, FUT, Minna
No doubt, the last five years of Prof. Akanji has witnessed impressive infrastructural upgrade that cut across different Schools in the University. The level of the University’s infrastructural impediments in 2012 was sorely perceptible despite successive administrations efforts in addressing the problem. Due to poor funding and inability to access the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) largesse for project construction as well as other critical areas. Before his assumption of duty, the University was faced with accommodation problem. The hostels at the Bosso and Gidan Kwano campuses could only provide 2550 bed spaces for students, thereby making over 75 percentage of the students to operate from Off-Campus. Considerable efforts were made in the past by former Vice-Chancellors to address the problem with series of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) and Build-Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreements that were signed with private firms that did not see the light of day.
Through the Presidential Needs Assessment Fund, Prof. Akanji was able to build a world class student hostels that is second to none in Nigerian universities. This hostel building has been described by many as “5-Star hostel”. The two blocks of hostels boasts state-of-the-art-facilities. The project was commissioned by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Rasheed Abubakar during the University’s 26th Convocation ceremony and 34th Founder’s Day celebration.
To address the perennial water problem faced by students at the Gidan Kwano campus of the university, the Vice-Chancellor in 2015 flagged off the construction of Earth Dam to provide water and electricity supply for the University. The project is being funded by the Federal Government. The pace of construction work at the site is marvelous and the project would soon be completed. Other construction projects initiated and completed by Prof. Musbau Adewumi Akanji through Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and TETFUND interventions in the last five years include;
Prof. Akanji had maintained, at different fora, that a university should not be judged by buildings alone; rather, but it should be judged based on the quality of its research output. As a renowned researcher, he has raised the bar of research and development in the University since 2012 when he assumed duty. His decision to upgrade the former Board of Research to a Directorate status has culminated in the University winning many research grants, both locally and internationally. Based on his support for research and innovations, the University now has different research groups that cut across different fields.
It is on record that staff promotion in the last five years has been given top priority by the University under Prof. Musbau Adewumi Akanji’s reign. The issue of promotion arrears is a thing of the past in the university because staff get their promotion as and when due, except for professorial cadre staff whose promotions are determined by assessors. There are no more delays as call notice for promotion are advertised as early as five months to the promotion date.
In the area of staff training, a large number of staff of the University have benefitted from the well harmonised training programmes. The Vice-Chancellor has ensured fairness in the selection process of staff to enjoy the training programmes with funds allocated to Schools based on their population. This has resulted in many staff attending different local and international conferences and workshops aimed at boosting their productivity. Through judicious management of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) intervention on staff training and development, the University has sponsored many academic staff to undergo their doctoral programmes in Nigeria and abroad.
On assumption of office, Prof. Akanji pledged to launch the University to international recognition. Five years down the lane, the enviable position is a clear evidence of his goal with distinction. The doyen of Biochemistry has kept to his promise. The University that was number 28 in Nigeria and not among the best 100 universities in Africa in 2012 when he assumed duty is now number 5 in Nigeria, first among the specialised universities in Nigeria and 45th in Africa out of over 4, 325 universities that were subjected to the scrutiny by many world acclaimed ranking agencies.
The education world today is ICT and internet driven. The importance of internet connectivity in teaching, research and learning cannot be downplayed. The out-going Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Akanji acknowledged this right from the day he assumed office. He has increased the University’s 50 mbps in 2012 to 310 mbps. This accounted for high speed internet service on campus.
Before the assumption of duty by Prof. Akanji in 2012, the University has many memoranda of understanding that were not functional. He requested for details of all the university’s collaborations with a promise to revive all the dormant MOUs. Looking back, five years after, the University now has vibrant collaborations with universities and industries in Nigeria, Asia, Europe, America and other African countries.
As a sports aficionado, Prof. Musbau Adewumi Akanji has contributed tremendously to the development of sports in the University. It is on record that the university staff and students participated in all Nigerian Universities Staff Games and The Nigeria Universities Games (NUGA) with all allowances paid. The University Gymnasium has been given a face-lift during his administration. Sporting facilities were also upgraded at both campuses to boost students and staff participation in sports.