Ahmadu Bello University recently held its 77t h (Ordinary) Meeting of Congregation at Mamman Kontagora Square at which the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Ibrahim Garba, presented a 27-page situation report on the university from 7th September, 2016 to 14th March, 2019 bordering on, among many others, students intake, research and grants, academic collaborations, staff development, infrastructure and security matters.
The report contained achievements and successes the Vice-Chancellor recorded during the period under review. And this was clearly in fulfillment of his pledge on assumption of duty on 1st May, 2015 to reform, refocus and reinvigorate ABU for better performance as well as reclaim its lost glory in terms of production of quality outputs in form of graduates, scholarship and services towards upholding and sustaining the lofty objectives set by its founding fathers.
The Vice-Chancellor’s situation report was presented soon after the reading and correction of minutes of the last congregation (76th Ordinary Meeting of Congregation) held on Tuesday, 6th September, 2016.
Presenting the report, the Vice- Chancellor said the congregation remained the official platform for dialogue among members where issues and challenges facing the university were discussed to provide greater understanding on matters at hand and where possible develop common strategies for addressing them.
The gathering, according to him, was also to initiate the process of nomination of members into the University Governing Council, Senate and other statutory committees, an aspect which was being handled by a standing committee on congregation under the chairmanship of Deputy Vice- Chancellor, Academic.
The Vice-Chancellor said the university was particularly grateful to a number of its alumni for their various donations to the university between 2016 and 2018, saying the more prominent was from Dr Dauda Lawal worth about N230 million for the upgrade and renovation of Department of Political Science and International Studies and the purchase of a 26-seater bus for the department.
Prof Garba also said the Nigerian Ports Authority through its Managing Director and Executive Director Engineering Services, both alumni secured funds for the renovation of Department of Civil Engineering and the purchase of two buses for use by the alumni association.
Similarly, Department of Polymer and Textile Engineering received a bus and 10 desktop computers from the Managing Director of Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMDC) to support teaching and research, he said.
No sooner the Vice-Chancellor rounded off the presentation of his report than the Ahmadu Bello University Alumni Association came under intense scrutiny when members of the University 77th Congregation took turns to comment on the structure, functions and relations of the former students body with the University Management.
This came at the heels of growing anxiety and reservations among members of the University community over the manner in which the association is run, which prompted a widespread plea for greater openness and inclusiveness.
It was a moment of instantaneous debates shortly after the Vice- Chancellor presented the issue of ABU alumni association as an item on the agenda.
A motion that sought for the re- structuring of the ABU alumni association was passionately moved by a member who expressed concern that officials of the alumni association were running it so unilaterally that stakeholders could not differentiate between resources solicited for the advancement of the University and those allegedly used for the personal comfort of the officials.
However, reason and legal considerations were introduced to challenge the proposal when a cross section of members noted that the Congregation did not have the statutory power to re-structure the alumni association, which was duly registered as an entity.
Rather, it was decided that the Congregation should raise a committee and mandate it to, among other things, look into the activities of the association with a view to enhancing its relations with other organs and stakeholders of the University.
The committee, to be chaired by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Administration, Prof Kabir Bala, has Dr Al-Mustapha A Liman, Barrister Hadiza Dije Kabir and, or, Mr. Joseph Dabo as members.
It should be noted that Congregation is one of the statutory organs of the university. The instrument establishing this body is contained in the 1990 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria Cap. 14, Statute 7. And the University Law provides for a congregation of all senior members of staff of the university holding recognized degrees.
The Vice-Chancellor is the chairman while the Registrar is the secretary. The congregation normally meets two or three times a year. Its function is primarily to enable the staff, as a body to express their views on any matter whatsoever. Its concern is in all matters affecting the well-being of the university.