Prof Abdalla and the Soaring Image of NOUN, By Gidado Yushau Shuaib

If the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) lasts until the end of time, and there is every likelihood it will, the name ‘Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu’ will never go into extinction. It will face no compromise. Professor Adamu, the Vice-Chancellor of NOUN has paddled the university out of the doldrums to its present admirable position as a reputable citadel of learning. One won’t be wrong to call him ‘the changer of fate.’

Established in 1983 as a springboard for open and distance learning in Nigeria, the institution had to be suspended a year after. However, its resuscitation began on 12 April 2000. Ever since the institution had been witnessing one stride after another in the hands. Notably, the administration of Prof. Abdalla which started in 2016 has been eventful especially as the institution is seen to be witnessing a what may aptly be described as the transformation to a ‘giant’ institution.

Starting from the swift relocation of its headquarters from Lagos to Abuja, the country’s ‘administrative capital’, up till the point of making the institution to have a blossoming student population unrivalled in Africa, all of which were made possible by Prof. Adamu’s leadership ‘notoriety’. In ensuring a smooth relocation, Professor Adamu had to quickly fix the infrastructural gaps in the permanent site which was then under construction.

Concerned about qualitative education relevant to the modern world, Adamu introduced professional courses with ‘attractive’ modules including degree programmes in International Relations, French and Development Studies. He also introduced Master of Law (LL.M), Master of International Law and Diplomacy (MILD), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Law, M.Sc Public Health, Postgraduate Diploma (PGD) Economics, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Mass Communication, Master of Science (M.Sc) Cyber Security. Others include a Master of Science (M.Sc) Artificial Intelligence, Master of Science (M.Sc) Management Information System, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Cyber Security, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Artificial Intelligence, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Management Information System as well as its over 22,000 facilitators spread across the country.

Before Prof Adamu assumed office, the university was facing a hard time over the accreditation of some of its courses by the National University Commission (NUC). With his Midas Touch, the school’s Law programme is being fine-tuned for accreditation so as its students would soon be able to enrol in the Nigerian Law School. This, before Prof Adamu’s coming, was deemed arguably impossible.

Also, under his leadership, in 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari assented the amended NOUN Act. With this recognition, the university is placed at par with all recognised universities in Nigeria under the various Acts that amended the provision of higher education in Nigerian universities. The act opens a vista of opportunities for students of the institution that they did not have before.

Going back to the institution’s infrastructural achievements under Prof Adamu, one can beat his chest that it never had it better. And it is not solely at the headquarters that the infrastructural transformation has taken place, it is across its 78 study centres. At the headquarters, there is a 3-storey faculty building billed to house the remaining faculties in Lagos. Other structures built by the professor include: a magnificent library, a brand-new printing press, a convocation ground and a media centre.

The institution also unveiled its newly redesigned Olusegun Obasanjo Centre for African Studies, OOCAS, the centre was opened to collaborate with local and international scholars willing to dissect Africa, towards the goal of producing cutting-edge research that would showcase the African story.

Apart from academics, the professor has a strong passion for sports. This is apparently why he is seeing to the building of a recreation centre at the university’s headquarters. In the centre are two courts for basketball, one for volleyball and another one for football. These facilities are being routinely used by both staff and students; hence the institution stole the show at the recent NUSSA Games at the University of Ilorin and smiled home with the highest number of medals. NOUN had more athletes in the competition than any other university.

Daily, both global and local players in the sector of education troop into the university for all sorts of collaborations. Many a university in Nigeria and beyond are now using NOUN’s template because of its efficacy. Little wonder, the Society for Peace, Conflict and Practice and Canada-based Commonwealth of Learning conferred their fellowship this workaholic Professor.

These aren’t all the achievements of Prof Adamu at NOUN. These are only a few, yet they loudly position him as a man with the Midas Touch.

Gidado Yushau Shuaib, the editor of Youths Digest and The News Digest, can be reached on giddyshuaib@gmail.com