How Prof Abdallah Uba transformed NOUN – By Hassan Auwalu Muhammad

March 11, 2021
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I begin by thanking Almighty God for allowing us to witness the successful five-year tenure by our father, mentor and a double professor of two disciplines, Professor Abdallah Uba Adamu.

Recall that Professor Abdallah Uba Adamu was appointed Vice-Chancellor of National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN in February 2016, by President Muhammadu Buhari for statutory five-year tenure.

It was really great to have an academic amazon from Daneji Quarters in the ancient city of Kano as Vice-Chancellor of a University like NOUN with over 5,000 students.

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Upon his appointment, Prof Adamu realised that the University itself was considered more of a regional than a national institution. His first move was to nationalise it by ensuring that all the six principal officers of the University come from the six geo-political zones of the country. This is the only University with this administrative structure. He relocated the headquarters of the University from Lagos to Abuja. He also built numerous study centres across Nigeria, especially in the Northerner part of the country.

Prof. Adamu re-built the university’s FM station in Lagos to broadcast programmes like any other FM station in the country. Before becoming the VC, all students’ books and materials were produced from outside the university, which cost a large amount of money. Consequently, he set up the University printing press to cut cost. He has improved the school’s internet system so that students can read and undertake researches on various disciplines with relative ease.

During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, NOUN was the only university conducting online Pen-on-Paper examination using Artificial Intelligence software that detects cheating. The students did the examinations at home without going to any study center.

Professor Adamu found a mosque at the University’s headquarters in Abuja already built by the contractors building the university. To show his liberal attitude, when the Christian community asked for a place of worship, he allocated lands to the Protestant and Catholics for them to build their churches. Thus, one of his greatest efforts was to unite the staff of the university by working together without any discrimination based on race, religion or ethnicity.

The immediate past VC also collaborated with other major universities in the world to improve the academic system at NOUN. Adamu built a media centre for the university at its Jabi headquarters in Abuja. He encouraged politicians to use their constituency projects to build the centres.

Recently, he led a team of some University officials to Kano and commissioned 16 study centres built by three politicians, 13 by Senator Barau Jibril in his Senatorial District, two by Honourable Aminu Suleiman in Fagge and Kwaciri, and the biggest and most impressive of all, the one by Honourable Mustapha Bala Mai Gidan Ruwa at Dawakin Kudu. In fact, it is better than many universities, yet it is only a study centre. Other places he fought for study centres include Katsina, Jigawa, Delta, Ondo and Edo states.

As he ended his tenure successfully, may Almighty God choose a better place for him in the future, bless and reward him for the good services he rendered to his Fatherland, Nigeria. For students who learn English as a course, NOUN means names of persons, places or things, but for AU Adamu as the Vice-Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN means work (verb). He has devoted his life, time and energy to ensure NOUN becomes VERB (work) in another context.

Professor Abdallah Uba Adamu is a philanthropist, a man of the masses, easy-going, man of his words because no matter what, he will not lie to you about something he cannot do just to impress you. And above all, he is incorruptible. In the use of language, both Hausa and English, you can say he is an orator.

When he speaks Hausa, you would assume he cannot speak English, but when he addresses you in English, you would think Professor Abdallah is an English man. He was crowned Nze Okaa Omee, a traditional title in the Awene Ezema Olo Kingdom of Ezeagu local government area of Enugu state.

Professor Adamu’s tenure as vice-chancellor ended on February 10, 2021, and he has already returned to Bayero University, Kano and resumed duties. He has one wife and four children, and says he is not ready to marry another wife as the one he has, whom he married in 1987 as his first and last wife, is more than four wives.

His children are all grown up, except the youngest who is 13 years old. One of his children is a married computer programmer, another is a barrister at law and lives in the Diaspora with her family while the only male is a businessman.

Muhammad, a student of mass communication at Bayero University,  Kano, writes via m.shareef1980@gmail.com

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