By NBF News
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Professor Musa Alabe is the Vice Chancellor of the only ivory tower in Yobe State, the Bukar Abba Ibrahim University (BAIU). The university which was established in 2006 is situated about 6.5km towards the eastern part of the state along Gujba Road that leads to Biu in Borno State and down to Yola, Adamawa.

In an interview with Daily Sun, the VC revealed the magic behind the fantastic turnaround of the university which was almost closed down by the late governor of the state, Senator Mamman Bello Ali. But within short period of his ascension, the university became the fastest growing university in the Northeastern part of Nigeria with over 25 new physical structures of high quality put in place within a year.

In fact the university has some of the best structures with exquisite laboratories, lecture halls/classes among others in the whole country. What's more, it boasts of being the only university in the country with a world-class Desert Monitoring and Control Centre as well as the second university after the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) with a Law department in the Northeast.

Why late Senator Ali stopped degree programmes in 2007/2008

According to the VC, the university took off with just two blocks of classrooms and administration block. He said the idea for the establishment of the university was a good one but that the bad side of it was lack of funding and that the little fund was mismanaged and wasted as there was nothing on the ground at the university to show for the little money given. Yobe is the poorest state and as such funds should be well managed, he said.

Professor Alabe said with just two blocks of classrooms, the university matriculated 100 level students and that there were no further developments even while more students were admitted and the 200 level students were coming. He explained that the late governor of the state decided to put on hold all degree programmes so that standard and adequate facilities could be put in place before the restart of degree programmes. However, he said Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim has taken the credit of establishing the university while serving as the state governor.

Governor Gaidam – a blessing to Yobe
The university, the VC said, was getting nothing from the state government apart from the money for payment of salaries. He noted that Gaidam became appalled with the situation when he assumed office as the state governor, and thus asked him to send in a proposal which he did.  He said Governor Gaidam approved the proposals for the development of the university and has been releasing money regularly, a situation which has necessitated the sudden development of the institution with few structures to the over 25 new standard structures provided within a year. 'Yobe is lucky to have Gaidam', he said. The VC noted that the governor's concern for the development of the university was a major challenge to him to work hard day and night to provide qualitative and quantitative infrastructures and other facilities. 'The attention of government, the regular and punctual release of funds and the latitude given was a big challenge', he said.

The fastest growing university in the Northeast sub-region

Professor Alabe said the university has been rated as the fastest developing institution of higher learning in the whole of the northeast. The university which took off with just two blocks of classrooms and administrative block has constructed 25 new physical structures in less than a year. Apart from these, he disclosed that the management of the university has started the construction of some new structures to accommodate the Law department, Natural Sciences among others. The law students were to commence studies in the next academic session with the completion of the mock court, he said. According to Professor Alabe, the Law department of the university would be the second one in the whole of the northeast adding that, the one for the University of Maiduguri has been overstretched because of the number of candidates going in for Law in the region. He further disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan would soon be invited to commission some of the projects.

The only university with a comprehensive development plan

Professor Alabe explained that the BAIU has taken note of the mistakes of many of the universities in the country to guide the development of the state university. He said the university would be a reference point to other state universities in the country. Professor Alabe mentioned that he has visited many universities in the country and had wide consultations with very experienced educationists and university managers in an effort to provide the university with the best structures and facilities. To do this, the management, according to the VC, set up various committees involving all the management staffers to deal with every aspect. He disclosed that the university was spending less to get the best and added that it has its own block factory among others to ensure the purchase of materials at market prices while experts at the university convert them to useful forms. The management, he said, would not compromise standard as each kobo would be judiciously spent and accounted for.

Fighting desertification with a world class control centre

The university has taken a bold step towards dealing with desertification and other ecological problems ravaging substantial parts of the state and some states of the country, by establishing a Desert Research Monitoring and Control Centre (DRMCC).  The VC said the centre was built by the Education Tax Fund (ETF) at the cost of N250 million. The centre, according to Professor Alabe, which is of international standard and the first of its kind in the country, has a laboratory equipped with VSAT for 24 hours monitoring, modern ICT facilities and other state-of-the-art equipment. 

Professor Alabe argued that desertification was a major ecological problem of the such states as Borno, Katsina, etc. He pointed out that it was of great importance for institutions of higher learning to take cognizance of the problem of its host community and to make attempt to deal with it for the benefit of the society. He explained that activities of the desert centre would be integrative and would need the support of international communities, other institutions and governments especially of the North towards achieving the objectives of its establishment.

He further explained that universities in the country only have desert study centres but the BAIU desert centre would be a proactive one intended to pragmatically arrest desertification in the state and other parts of the country. Professor Alabe noted that the university would seek the approval of Governor Ibrahim Gaidam to recruit experts from Arizona that would train members of staff of the school and of other state governments to handle the centre. The centre would come up with new methods, among others, in collaboration with development partners and governments in the country, to effectively implement and execute reclamation of lost land and vegetation, he noted.