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EDUCATION

Excitement, Fear As Dutsinma Varsity Moves To Permanent Site

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With the recent spike in the rate of kidnapping and banditry in Dutsinma and environs in Katsina State, there is the need to construct perimeter fence at the permanent site of the Federal University, Dutsinma for security reasons. ANDY ASEMOTA writes.

The idea of establishing the Federal University Dutsinma (FUDMA) in Katsina state and eleven other universities across the country was announced in 2010 by the then President Goodluck Jonathan. However, the proposal did not materialized until 2011 when academic activities began at the take-off campus of FUDMA with 23 courses across three faculties.

Within nine years, especially in the last few years of its existence, the institution earned for itself great recognition among its peers.

Some years on, the university started the process of developing its main campus located about 22km away from Dutsinma town, when it directed its efforts towards building hostels, lecture theatres, state of the art laboratories and library among others infrastructure at the main campus.

Towards the middle of last year, the development process of the new campus could be said to have materialized with two fully furnished hostels and other building infrastructure.

The Pro-Chancellor and chairman of the Governing Council of FUDMA is Marliyya Zayyan, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. By this, the journey of the new university piloted by a passionate doctor, erudite academic and seasoned administrator commenced.

The achievements of the university since she came on board are legion.

For instance, the funds the university could not access under the previous administration from TETFund between 2013 to 2016 have now been accessed and put to use.

The works in the permanent site being transformed into a modern campus courtesy of the normal TETFund grants include 150 seat capacity theatre each for the faculty of medical sciences and faculty of agriculture, the university clinic, additional classrooms, laboratories for the faculty of sciences and furnishing of presidential prototype senate building, faculty of agriculture complex and faculty of science complex.

The recent spate of insecurity in parts of the state has brought to the fore the urgent need for the construction of a perimeter wall fence around the permanent site of the university if government is truly serious about moving the university to its main campus. The university is having a sigh of relief as it is about to have military and police formations by the main campus to beef up the security of lives and property on that campus.

“We would not expose the lives of our students to danger by accommodating them there until we fairly resolve the issue of security. In other words, when we ensure that the security formations and the fence are in place,” Prof. Zayyan, the chairman of FUDMA governing council, said in a chat with newsmen on facility tour of the university.

She said students and staff of the ivory tower have already started enjoying limited access to the facilities in the main campus as lectures and laboratory practicals in the sciences and agriculture are currently taking place there.

“For now, we have buses donated by the Katsina State Government that currently convey students from this campus to the main campus for lectures. The facilities for lectures, practical and research are already in place there.

“We have just concluded student admission into 100 level, which happens to be the largest admission exercise since the establishment of the University. By the time ASUU withdraws its strike action and returns to work, we will not have enough space at this takeoff campus.

This, therefore, made us to relocate part of the academic structure of the university to the main campus.

“Though we have to relocate some faculties to the main campus, we cannot allow students to sleep there because of security issues. At the end of each day, all students and staff would have to return to Dutsinma town. The complete movement will come about when we have the fence, the intra-campus roads and security formations fixed,” she assured.

The need for a secured perimeter wall fence as well as military and security agencies outposts around the main campus is never more pronounced than at this time of general insecurity in some parts of the state including Dutsinma environs resulting from criminal elements and kidnappers operating from Rugu Forest which share borders with Sabon Garin Turare, the village where the university’s permanent site is located.

The relevance of the massive infrastructural development at the main campus, she argued, would help to resolve the challenge that surrounds the expansion of the university following the introduction of courses and facilities as well as the carrying capacity of the existing ones.

FUDMA, at the moment, is set to begin courses in engineering, medical sciences and post graduate studies among others. Zayyan said: “We are starting faculty of medical sciences with nursing in collaboration with the University of Philippines. It’s going to be a nursing course with a different.”

Signs are evident that the university is determined more than ever to fulfill the dream of its founding fathers. For instance, when the ivory tower faced mandatory accreditation of its courses in May 2017, only three out of its 23 programmes had full accreditation. Sadly, some courses like food sciences were at the verge of being closed in the university. Now, all programmes offered by FUDMA have full accreditation of the National Universities Commission (NUC) accreditation.

Since the suspension of the former vice chancellor of the university in April 2017, the indication emerged that it may not yet be uhuru for the university after a major crisis that rocked it to its foundation before that incident.

As Zayyan expressed concerned over the prolonged and restrictive case against the university over the choice of substantive vice chancellor following the court case filed by the former vice chancellor, she decried ICPC invitations or visits on at least 25 occasions meant to investigate issues including the number of meetings the university/management hold per annum.

“There are a lot of distractions through fictitious allegations and petitions. The North West of the ICPC seems to have a special interest in this institution because its 25 visits in 21 months are rather abnormal.

“FUDMA is very a small and new government agency and these intense harassments especially to external council members, the council chair and the acting vice chancellor has been very distractive and

unsupportive,” she frowned.

Her acceptance to serve as the university governing council boss was a confirmation signal that the institution has actually begun a journey to a new dawn with the composition of the new council. Interestingly, if her laudable programmes are anything to go by, she is obviously a square peg in square hole.

She spoke on a wide range of issues as it concerned the university development and challenges, assuring that it is a new a dawn for the staff and students. For instance, she said no fewer than 200 lecturers sacked by the former vice chancellor in one fell swoop have been re-absorbed under the present vice chancellor, Prof. Armayau Bichi.

In recent years, the staff and students that represented FUDMA in different tournaments including inter-university and regional games in neigbouring Niger Republic have returned with broad smiles on their faces.

“The importance of sporting activities to staff and students’ well-being cannot be over-emphasized. We are building a strong sporting base in the university, providing facilities, encouraging students and tournaments.

“Last year, we came first in volley ball march in Nigeria Republic and second in volley ball tournament in Zaria. We won three gold, five silver and 11 bronze medals in the Inter University Staff competition in Ilorin last year,” she revealed.

On entrepreneurial training, the renowned gynecologist cum academic disclosed that the entrepreneurship centre of the university had been re-organized and re-invigorated, adding that “a structure is being built for the centre as the activities started in the temporary site have been very commendable. For instance, at a recent national competition with 25 Nigerian universities participating, our centre won first position in the competition held in Lagos.”

The university could go, in the north, for a model in desert monitoring and research with a dedicated centre. The present administration has demonstrated strong ability to enhance the possibilities of the institution. Through its plant a tree project,

FUDMA is being transformed into serene modern campus of beauty and ambience.

According to the pro-chancellor, “We have urged students to plant at least a tree each. If any student plants and nurses more than a tree, he or she gets certain incentives. It is not just any tree. There are appropriate trees for each ecological zone. But you need to maintain the trees up to a certain stage of growth.”

But, the efforts to recreate FUDMA as eco-friendly institution and fulfil its much needed service in desertification, afforestation and

climate change through research, training, collaboration advocacy and public outreach have not come without some attendant gain. The first harbinger of good tidings is the Ecological Fund Office in the Presidency. The agency has approved the released funds to the university in respect of its proposal for research grants.

In the same manner, the fast growing tertiary institution has given life a moribund consultancy firm opened by its previous administration. The company, according to Zayyan, is operating on a sound note and is a source of internally generated revenue to the university.

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