The Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin a private institution whose founders envisioned with the noble philosophy of promoting academic and moral excellence in Nigeria in choosing to honour men who had distinguished themselves in positions of trust, this young institution is punching above its youthful weight while making a strong case for a glorious reputation.
At its maiden Convocation ceremonies for the investiture of its First Chancellor on Friday last week, the institution voted to award an honourary doctorate degree (Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa) on His Excellency, the former Executive Governor of Kano State, Malam (Dr.) Ibrahim Shekarau, Sardaunan Kano, a decision seen as in tandem with the original vision of its founder, Alhaji Abdur-Raheem Oladimeji, in providing “high level qualitative education with a strong moral content”.
In life, timing is everything and therefore the significance of Al-Hikmah honouring Malam cannot be over-emphasized. Honouring Malam after he had left office in a blaze of glory is the kind of statement a University can make to cement its place among the greats and to show the world that its values are founded on superior moral judgment. Malam is indeed worthy of the honour in his capacity as a teacher, examiner, administrator and someone who has contributed immensely in the development of education in Nigeria. As Governor, Malam had been lavishly honoured at home and abroad, by his peers in education and by reputable institutions, and these are for obvious reasons.
As Governor of Kano State, Malam recorded giant stride in repositioning the state’s educational sector between 2003 and 2011. What his administration met in the education sector in 2003 was a shambles. Teachers had been sacked and morale was low. Local and foreign training had been suspended; where facilities like Laboratories, Libraries, Technical equipments and teaching aids existed at all, they were too few and obsolete. There were almost no Computers or modern equipments. However, in eight years, his administration recorded landmark achievements, especially in student enrolment, construction of new classrooms, equipment of laboratories and boosting teachers’ morale. In response to his administration’s policies to restore Kano’s lead in education and human development and the massive investments in infrastructures and especially Information and Communications technology in its school system, school enrolment increased exponentially during the period. Kano State under Malam increased students’ scholarship allowances by 25-50 % with effect from the 2004 – 2005 session and revitalized scholarship awards to 29 courses of study that were earlier rationalized by the previous administration. It spent over N2billion in direct scholarship/bursary awards/assistance to Kano State indigenes studying in tertiary institutions in Nigeria and overseas. Through sustained funding and capacity building, Kano State scored a resounding 100% in the accreditation, re-accreditation and resource inspection exercises on the Kano State University of Science and Technology, Wudil; and Sa’adatu Rimi College of Education, Kumbotso by the National University Commission, National Council of Colleges of Education and National Board for Technical Education. The administration constructed and rehabilitated thousands of classrooms in its Primary, Secondary and Tertiary schools, equipped over 500 Laboratories and Libraries. It recruited thousands of new teachers and paid them living wages. Through provision of ICT infrastructures, the Administration gave all academic staff of the six government owned tertiary institutions in the state with the latest Laptop Computers and has equipped the College of Arts, Science and Remedial Studies, the Aminu Kano College of Islamic and Legal Studies as well as the School of Technology with Internet/Cyber café facilities.
To Malam’s teeming supporters who trooped to the Convocation venue to witness history in the making, the honour done to him by Al-Hikmah University was particularly heartening because he is out of power. Popular thinking goes that once out of power, a man is deserted and forgotten. Malam’s rousing reception in Ilorin proved the lie to this aphorism. His reception was a spectacular display of affection for a former public office holder. It goes to confirm that integrity and honour is the sole base of character. It was a celebration of a man who served Kano and Nigeria with distinct honesty and without blemish. The recognition by Al-Hikmah University offers a ray of hope to Nigerians that the eyes of the world are beamed upon those holding public trust. If they discharge the trust with integrity like Malam, they will be remembered and honoured when they leave office.
The caliber of other eminent Nigerians honoured alongside Malam spoke volumes of the high moral standard to which Al-Hikmah aspires. The institution’s Pro-Chancellor is none other than a former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji (Dr.) Ibrahim Ahmadu Coomasie, Sardaunan Katsina, who was installed at the event. Others honourees include Al-Hikmah’s Founder, Alhaji Abdur-Raheem Oladimeji (Doctor of Business Administration) ; Dr. Salih Bin Sulyman Al-Wubay, Secretary General, World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), Saudi Arabia (Doctor of Science) and pioneer Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Related offences Commission (ICPC) and Chairman, the University’s Board of Trustees, Hon Justice Mustapha Akanbi (Doctor of Letters)
Malam’s acceptance address showed he was still in touch with the harsh realities of the Nigerian project. As Governor, he fought hard to reduce poverty but in Ilorin, he reiterated a strong voice against this phenomenon afflicting millions of Nigerians. “Nothing degrades the dignity, the image and the influence of a human being and a nation more than poverty. A poor nation is a weak nation and is always susceptible to the domination and marginalization by wealthier powers”, he said. Always a champion of the downtrodden, Malam made a passionate appeal against poverty and its negative consequences. He lamented a situation where Nigeria despite the country’s natural and human resources, a large percentage of Nigerians still lived in abject poverty. He challenged Nigerians on poverty, arguing that “the solution lies in our critical evaluation of our leadership and our readiness to modify our opinions on why we elect the people we elect”.
Malam, who flew the flag of the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) in the April Presidential election, described the vote as “the most divisive and polarizing in the history of the country”. “Coming at a time when patriotism and national unity are brutally battered, such a sharp rise in divisiveness and polarization could propel the country towards instability. Consequently, one major governance challenge is to cement palpable cracks amongst all sections of the country”. He challenged those in government at all levels to take their responsibility very seriously by providing power, jobs for teeming youths and reversing the trend in the country’s commercial and industrial decline.
As someone respected nationwide for refusing to enrich himself in office, Malam’s comments on the link between corruption and violence, while speaking to newsmen after the investiture, resonated with the segment of our population still seeking a way out of the insecurity conundrum. “The issue of insecurity in Nigeria is very unfortunate. There are many factors that could cause this. Though there is no community that could live without a crisis, but it should be minimal. One factor that is responsible for this is the role of the leadership. If the leadership is so ungodly, God will not allow their followers to obey such leaders. “Whether we like it or not, it is written in both Holy Qur’an and Bible that ungodly leaders shal
l be blessed with ungodly followers. Secondly, our security agencies welfare is not well taken care of. Many of them are always on the roads without one naira. Many years after they retire they could not claim their pensions. If these issues are not addressed, I do not see any solution to the problem of insecurity.”
These were the wise words of a great man who was honoured for living above board outside his own state. The honour done to Malam by the authorities of Al-Hikmah University was a s historic as it was timely. It goes to show that integrity still pays and that whatever good a man sows, especially when occupying a position of trust, so he will reap. It was a fitting and deserved tribute that the authorities of Al-Hikmah graciously asked him to commission the New Science Laboratory Complex of the school, perhaps in recognition that as Governor, he invested wisely on science education, building and equipping laboratories and technical schools, abolishing school fees and giving Kano’s once-foundering education sector a new lease of life.
SULE YA’U SULE is a Senior Special Assistant, Media and Public Relations to Sardaunan Kano/former Executive Governor of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau