PROFESSOR TANKO ISHAYA, THE 10TH SUBSTANTIVE VICE-CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF JOS: AN ACCOUNT OF 1ST YEAR IN OFFICE
DECEMBER 1, 2022
Precisely a year ago, I assumed office as the 10th substantive Vice-Chancellor of the our great-University of Jos. Since then, we have not taken anything for granted to ensure that we continue building on the legacies that our predecessors have left. We came on board with a clear vision of nurturing a world-class institution for academic excellence and innovation with local, national and global impact. To achieve the vision, we promise to create a conducive academic environment that promotes and strengthens creative and innovative teaching, learning, research, and services responsive to local, national, and global needs. We promise to operate on a core principle of Purpose, Process and People that should be guided by the core values of transparency, accountability and integrity adhering to the University Act and Statuses. Indeed, the journey thus far has yielded some benefits even amid some obvious challenges that we have done our best to overcome regardless.
So far, all we have been able to achieve resulted from a pluralism of efforts and team approach to getting things done. We must at this juncture, express our most profound appreciation to all necessary stakeholders that have graciously rendered assistance and/or support in this regard. I particularly express appreciation to the Pro-Chancellor and members of the Governing Council; distinguished members of University Senate, members of staff, the leadership of the various Staff Unions and our most important stakeholders- our students, the Student Union Government (SUG) and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).
Externally, we have received tremendous support from our parent Ministry and some of its agencies. The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and National Universities Commission (NUC) have also made a lot of impact on our journey thus far. There are many other government and non-governmental actors that have equally played key roles and we shall give account of our interactions with them during our reportage.
By and large, we have enjoyed a cordial and harmonious working relationship with virtually all the parties mentioned above. We do not take it for granted when we have such partners in progress and fail to reciprocate same. We will not rest on our oars until we attain our set goals and actualize our mission and vision for the University of Jos.
Having stated the above, permit us to give an account of stewardship and progress report for the pass one year as follows:
2.0 BUILDING A COLLEGIAL UNIVERSITY
We believe that building a collegial environment in the University is the fundamental requirement of excellence since every system's success depends on the strength of the people.
We are building and maintaining a harmonious working relationship with all stakeholders - including but not limited to the University Governing Council, the Senate, members of the administrative team, and all the Unions on campus.
2.1 FOSTERING INDUSTRIAL HARMONY IN THE UNIVERSITY
One of the very first things we did upon assumption of office was to ensure the actualization of one of our main objectives; that is to engender a more cordial working relationship with the various staff unions on campus. As at that time, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had suspended all postgraduate activities because of the lingering issue of non-payment of backlogs of claims for resource persons. Management, together with the ASUU leadership put heads together and came up with modalities that resolved the matter amicably.
We have also continue to engage the other staff unions and are working in cordiality for the progress of our great University. Even during the industrial action that engulfed all public universities from the 1st quarter of this year until about two (2) months ago, they have all in their respective rights shown a great deal of empathy and togetherness. We will ensure that this relationship flourishes for the overall good of the system.
2.2 APPOINTMENTS IN THE UNIVERSITY
Appointments in the University is based on merit and inclusivity. The composition of Principal Officers in one that I believe that the University is very pleased to have.
3.0 STAFF AND STUDENT WELFARE
3.1 STAFF WELFARE
Another cardinal area of our administration is the welfare of our esteemed workforce. We have continued to align with their respective unions with a view to ensuring that the welfare of their members are mainstreamed and sustained within our purview. The industrial action that took a chunk of our time this session has hindered some of the actions we had in mind. With the return of normalcy, we shall ensure that our workers are fully motivated and their welfare taken seriously.
Be that as it may, we have just announced the promotion of over 200 academics to the professorial cadre, 143 Senior and 399 Junior Staff. The Registry and all complexes are currently working round the clock to ensure that (both teaching and non -teaching members of staff) who are due for promotion and other form of career advancements are attended to without delay.
3.2 STUDENT WELFARE
We have introduced a work study programme where interested students are involved in cleaning services and cutting of grasses within the campuses to enhance their means of sustenance while in school.
4.0 ACADEMIC MATTERS AND RESEARCH ACTIVITIES
4.1 NATIONAL UNIVERSITIES COMMISSION (NUC) ACCREDITATION EXERCISE
As a part of our mandate, we had promised to ensure that the high academic standards that the University of Jos is known for is sustained and improved upon. In that regard, at the beginning of the Session in January 2022, the University had forty-three (43) programmes that were due for accreditation. We ensured that adequate preparations and necessary measures were taken to ensure successful accreditation of all our programmes. At the end of the exercise, 90% of our undergraduate programmes were granted full accreditation status by the NUC. This was an increase from the 57.3% of programmes on full accreditation status in the university before the last exercise.
In addition, as part of the accreditation exercise, two (2) postgraduate programmes namely MSc Accounting and MSc Business Management were also accredited and they were granted full accreditation.
As for programmes that were not granted the full accreditation or denied, we are committed to ensuring that they are fully accredited at the next exercise.
4.2 IMPROVED RANKING OF THE UNIVERSITY
On assumption of duty last year, one of our core objectives was to improve the University’s ranking. We are pleased to announce that our ranking has started improving. Universities were ranked in the country by NUC and we await the result of that ranking. On the other hand, we joined the High Times Ranking for World Universities for the year 2022 and were noted as reporters. The University has also had professional ranking this year. For instance, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) has just finished accreditation of the College of Health Sciences and we await the outcome which we think is going to be favourable. We shall ensure that this continues to improve until we get to the top. We enjoin all relevant stakeholders to partner with us as we seek to achieve this loft objective of high academic standards and excellence for our university.
4.3 RESEARCH ACTIVITIES
Despite the strike action by the Unions, some teaching staff and relevant units were gainfully engaged in research activities that yielded positive outcomes for the University. Through their activities, they were able to attract research grants/funds. The following are worthy of mention:
4.3.1 TETFund NRF Funded Project
We currently have a total of 11 NRF ongoing research projects. All totaling about N383,948,928.00. Four have been defended successfully and currently awaiting awards.
4.3.2 Professor Hayward Babale Mafuyai and Others
French Embassy/IFRA Grant on FSPI eHealth Project University of Jos (
N13,123,520.83 NGN equivalent to €30,000.00)
4.3.3 Advancement Office and Others
Erasmus+ along with University of Piraeus, Greece sponsored ten (10) members of staff of the University of Jos for International Staff Week in Greece.
4.3.4 Office of Research & Development (ORD): Professor Bawa
ORD was awarded a grant, worth one hundred and ten USD ($110,000) to train Research Administrators in public universities in Nigeria. It organized the following workshops and seminars:
- Training workshop/seminar on research administration, April 26 – 28, 2022 at the Miango Rest House
- Training workshop/seminar on research administration, August 21 – 26, 2022 at the Miango Rest House
- Training workshop/seminar on Grant and Finance Management,
September 27 – 29, 2022, APIN old JUTH
In addition to the four (4) research grants awarded above, there are also four (4) Research groups that have successfully defended their proposals in TETFund and are awaiting award letters and release of 1st Tranche.
4.4 INDUCTION OF THE FIRST (1ST) SET OF VETERINARY DOCTORS IN UNIJOS
Perhaps one of our greatest achievements within this period is the successful induction of the first graduands from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine on Thursday, November 24, 2022. With due respect to my predecessors who worked hard to ensure that the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine was established in the University, the pioneer Dean of the Faculty, Professor Lami H. Lombin and all other stakeholders who made this come to pass, I am honoured, to have been the one at the helms of affairs to accomplish this task for the University..
We shall leave no stones unturned in making sure that we consolidate on the gains made thus far. Possibly, it is our desire to improve on the gains and we hope to maintain and achieve a level of excellence and quality service delivery in line with global best practices.
5.0 PROJECTS AND INTERVENTIONS
5.1 RECEIPT OF FOUR (4) TETFUND SPECIAL INTERVENTIONS PROJECTS
Since I assumed duty as Vice-Chancellor, we received four (4) TETFund Special Intervention Projects namely:
- Perimeter fencing of the University.
- Further works at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
- Further works in the Faculty of Agriculture and Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
- Upgrading of Renal Dialysis Facility at the Teaching Hospital
Some of these projects have since been concluded while others are still ongoing.
6.0 PROMOTING STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATION
6.1 SIGNING OF MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDINGs (MOU)
- Public Private Partnerships with Messrs Royal Choice Inn
In our bid to mainstream one of our core values, we started off by engaging in strategic partnerships, collaborations and/or affiliations. We have signed an MOU with Messrs Royal Choice Inn. The MOU was for the lease of the old Council Guest House located at the Naraguta Campus.
The guest house would be remodeled to meet global standards and a hotel would be constructed at the same location for public use. This move is to boost the drive for public private partnership (PPP) and other means of internally generated revenue (IGR) in the University.
- Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with a number of higher institutions
The University signed an MoUs with a number of institutions including:
- University of Iowa, United States on educational, training and research cooperation in the Faculty of Education.
- University of Piraeus, Piraeus Greece - 19th October, 2022
- Nigerian Immigration Service
- Nigerian Custom Service
- Voice of Nigeria
- Tukus Buratai
These MoU are agreements that allows for the following general forms of cooperation:
- Joint educational, training and/or research activities.
- Exchange of invitations to scholars (faculty, research personnel, and graduate students) for lectures, visits and sharing of experiences.
- Exchange of invitations to scholars for participation in conferences, symposia and seminars.
- Exchange of information in fields of interest to both parties.
- Exchange of faculty, research personnel, and graduate and undergraduate students for short-term study and research.
- Practical training in pre-identified or otherwise selected field sites.
6.2 COURTESY VISIT TO THE NIGERIA IMMIGRATION SERVICE (NIS) HEADQUARTERS
Additionally, we spread our tentacles and reached out to the Nigeria Immigration Service Headquarters. This was in our bid to continue the drive on strategic partnerships with relevant bodies. During the visit, we had fruitful deliberations on areas of possible collaboration and signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would be mutually beneficial.
6.3 COURTESY VISIT TO THE NIGERIA CUSTOMS SERVICE (NCS) HEADQUARTERS
In furtherance to our drive on strategic partnerships, we paid a courtesy visit to the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) sometime in February 2022.
At the meeting, we also explored areas where the Service could partner the University of Jos and the aspect of Forensic Analysis towards building the capacity of the NCS personnel was considered. As soon as an MOU is worked out, the two (2) parties would sign and agree to enter a mutually beneficial relationship.
Sequel to this partnership, the University was able to get four (4) auctioned vehicles allocated to her and the have since been acquired and added to the pool. The vehicles are:
- Toyota Landcruiser Prado
- Toyota Sienna
- Lexus E350
- Toyota Corolla
We intend to leverage on this partnership and get more vehicles and other things we need; thereby maximizing our opportunities optimally.
6.4 COURTESY VISIT TO THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES (BPE)
Similarly, we received a letter from the Director-General of the BPE inviting us for an exploratory meeting with officials of a firm, United Kingdom Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility (UKNIAF). The meeting was facilitated by the Bureau in Abuja. During the meeting, we deliberated on the possibilities to collaborate on areas of providing energy efficient building infrastructure in the University and improving the infrastructural deficits especially in terms of accommodation for both members of staff and students.
Discussions are ongoing and we shall reach agreements that are mutually beneficial to both parties.
6.5 COURTESY VISIT TO THE VOICE OF NIGERIA (VON) CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS
In the same vein, we paid courtesy visit to the Corporate Headquarters The Voice of Nigeria. During our deliberations, we proposed certain areas of possible collaboration and the VON authorities expressed willingness to strengthen partnership with us in the aspects of Information & Communications Technology (ICT), manpower and media exchange programmes where our students in relevant disciplines could get seasoned professionals directly from the industry to mentor them on the practical aspects of what they are studying.
At the end of our visit, both parties pledged to partner and explore more potentials that would be mutually beneficial.
6.6 SIGNING OF MOU WITH THE TUKUR BURATAI RESEARCH CENTRE (TBRC)
In a like manner, as we continued to embark on our aggressive campaigns to enter into strategic partnerships, collaborations and/or affiliations, we have commenced the processes of signing an MOU with the Tukur Buratai Research Centre.
The African Centre of Excellence in Phytomedicine Research & Development (ACEPRD) is spearheading that aspect. We could not conclude the processes because of the industrial disharmony that stalled activities in public universities. With the return of normalcy, we hope to conclude same.
6.7 COURTESY VISIT TO THE VICE-CHANCELLOR UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER UNITED KINGDOM
Furthermore, during an official visit to Manchester earlier in the year, we were received by the Vice-Chancellor/President of the University of Manchester. Whilst at it, we explored various avenues through which we could align our areas of comparative advantage and enter partnerships that would be mutually beneficial.
We are working out the terms and of the MOU and once the processes are concluded, we shall announce same.
6.8 HOSTING THE 27TH NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY GAMES ASSOCIATION (NUGA)
As a way of strategically marketing the University of Jos, we bid for the hosting rights of the 27th Edition of NUGA and same was granted having competed favourably amongst sister institutions. The event would be held in the first quarter of 2024.
We could not start early preparations for the hosting because of the strike action by University based unions. However, with the resumption of academic activities, we have made moves in that regard and we want to ensure that this great feat achieved.
6.9 CONSITUTION OF A COMMITTEE ON COMMUNITY RELATIONS AND UNIVERSITY ENGAGEMENT
To engender a culture of good neigbourliness and peaceful coexistence with members of the immediate communities bordering the University, we had it as one of our cardinal points of action, to ensure that the essence of the concept of the town and gown that the founding fathers of this institution envisaged came to fruition. This was considered bearing in mind the precarious security situation that permeates the University community whenever there is any form of unrest in Jos and its environs.
To achieve these, we deliberated on the issues and thereafter constituted the above-mentioned Committee with membership drawn from within and outside the University to achieve its purpose. So far, this arrangement has started yielding positive outcomes as witnessed during the construction of the perimeter fence that was funded by TETFund.
Added to the above, the constitution of the Committee also facilitated and ensured that the Plateau State Ministry of Lands, Survey and Town Planning successfully reestablished beacons along the University land boundaries.
5.10 INTRODUCTION OF THE WASH PROGRAMMME IN THE UNIVERSITY OF JOS
We have keyed into the Federal Government’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector which was declared to be in a state of emergency by the Government. As declared by the World Bank, in 2019, a combination of inadequate infrastructure, a lack of required human capital, poor investment, and a deficient enabling regulatory environment; amongst other challenges, meant that approximately sixty (60) million Nigerians were living without access to basic drinking water. Eighty (80) million people had no access to improved sanitation facilities, while one hundred and sixty-seven (167) million could not access basic handwashing facilities. The benefits of this include:
- Visibility of UNIJOS
- UNIJOS becoming a Specialist in WASH
- Opportunity for Upgrading WASH Facilities in UNIJOS
- Attract Public Health Funds to UNIJOS
- Linking the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on Education, SDGs 4 to 6, on WASH and contribute to meeting such a Goal
- Opportunity for UNIJOS to become a Research and Development Hub for Nigeria and possibly West Africa.
Indeed, achieving these feats did not come without attendant challenges like almost every aspect of life. Whilst using some of these setbacks as steppingstones to greater heights while; we are still grappling with some of them; anticipating any form of assistance that would enable us to overcome same. The following are the major challenges we encountered since my assumption of office:
- THE INDUSTRIAL STRIKE ACTION BY STAFF UNIONS OF THE UNIVERSITY
We had barely spent two (2) months in office when ASUU declared its national strike on February 14, 2022. Not too long after, the other staff unions joined the strike action and all public universities in the country remained closed until about two (2) months ago when the strike was suspended albeit in a staggered manner.
When I assumed office, UNIJOS had been struggling to adjust her academic calendar that was already hampered in 2020 by the COVID pandemic and prior industrial actions. These have left a gulf between our reality and where we want to be. Most unfortunately, some of our students have been adversely affected with telling effects on their years of graduation, which have also affected their eligibility to be mobilized for the mandatory National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) Scheme and other basic pursuits.
Additionally, there is a backlog of admission exercise for candidates who applied since 2021. This is against the backdrop that those who had been admitted since 2020 just had their matriculation a few weeks ago.
The lack of activities also dented our revenue generating mechanism. Resultantly, there were many projects and ventures that we hoped to have executed within this period; the reality is that we can no longer immediately achieve them. The overhead costs like the payment of some bills and utilities still went on regardless of the lull in University system.
It would require a great deal of time and the availability of resources to facilitate a recovery of the time wasted and the resources missed. We so rely on our wonderful workforce, friends and other major stakeholders to assist us as we do our best to address this unfortunate situation.
- THE DESTRUCTION OF SOME BUILDINGS AND FACILITIES BY RAINSTORM
On the morning of April 24, 2022, we woke up with the unfortunate information that some of our buildings had been destroyed by rainstorm the previous night. The buildings included:
- The new Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
- The new Faculty of Natural Sciences
- The newly donated Taekwondo Gymnasium
- The JT Useni Mini Stadium
All the buildings mentioned above are located at the Naraguta Campus and neigbouring themselves.
On our part, we reacted by mobilizing resources to ensure that those buildings were repaired and ready for use ahead of resumption of academic activities. I am happy to report that those buildings been repaired and commissioned on Monday 21st November, 2022.
- INFERNO AT THE UNIVERSITY OF JOS VETERINARY TEACHING HOSPITAL
On another unfortunate note, on the morning of June 9, 2022, we woke up with distress calls and informing us that our well-established Veterinary Teaching Hospital located at Gada Biyu had been destroyed by an inferno caused as a result of an accident by a tanker that was conveying petrol but lost control and drove through the fence of the Teaching Hospital and virtually all parts of the premises were engulfed in flames from the exploded truck.
Indeed, that incident has been a major setback. The University, through the brilliance and commitment of the Dean of Veterinary Medicine and other stakeholders had put in their best to ensure that we have a teaching hospital in line with global standards. Unfortunately, this mishap means that we must rebuild from almost the scratch.
Like the issue of the rainstorm earlier discussed, Management is seeking ways and means of intervention from the government through some of her agencies to assist us.
I wish to conclude by once again thanking you all for the tremendous support and understanding thus far. Indeed, we would not have had anything to show if not for your acts of altruism and camaraderie towards us as we forge ahead to actualize our goals and aspirations for our great University.
The first (1st) year has gone by, we have a few more years to render our services and stewardship to UNIJOS. We covert your further support and prayers. We need each and every one to contribute in their respective capacities because we are partners in progress.
On our part we assure you that we shall neither relent nor rest on our oars until we attain our desired goals.
May I conclude with the famous quote of Harry Truman, the 33rd President of the United States to the effect that:
“Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” – Harry S. Truman
Let us together make history and make UNIJOS a Centre of Excellence and a place of pride for all.
Distinguished Senators, Ladies and gentle, thank you once again; we have a date with destiny.
Professor Tanko Ishaya