Agaju Madugba, Katsina
For the Federal University, Dutsinma (FUDMA), Katsina State, relief may have come at last.
The Federal Government is set to establish army and police formations near the institution’s main campus. That would enable the university move to the place, which is located about 22 kilometres away from Dutsinma town.
FUDMA is one of the 12 universities established by the Federal Government in 2010. It began academic activities in 2011 at the temporary campus, with 23 courses across three faculties. However, some eight years on, the university has not been able to utilise the facilities provided at the main campus located at Sabon Garin Turare, a village which shares borders with the Rugu forest. The forest is reportedly a sanctuary for kidnappers, armed robbers, cattle rustlers and bandits, among other criminal elements.
With the anticipated intervention of the army and the police in form of constant surveillance, a ray of hope has finally come. The Chairman of the university’s Governing Council, Prof. Marliyya Zayyan, said the students and staff had already started enjoying limited access to the main campus as lectures and laboratory practicals in the Faculty of Sciences and Faculty of Agriculture & Agricultural Technology currently take place there.
Speaking during a recent media facility tour of the school, Zayyan, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, noted that two fully furnished hostels are already in place and ready for occupation. But she noted: “We will not expose the lives of our students to danger by accommodating them there until the security formations and fence are in place.”
According to her, “we intend to provide adequate accommodation for all students in collaboration with the private sector. For now, we have long vehicles donated by the Katsina State government they currently convey students from this campus to the main campus for lectures. The facilities for lectures, practicals and research are already in place there. We have just concluded student admission into 100 level, which happens to be the largest admission exercise since the establishment of the university. This therefore, made us to relocate part of the academic structure of the university to the Main Campus. Though we have to relocate some faculties to the main campus, we cannot allow students to sleep there because of security issues. At the end of each day, all students and staff return to Dutsinma town to sleep. The complete movement will come about when we have the fence, the intra-campus roads and security formations fixed.”
The institution is introducing new courses and expand the carrying capacities of the existing ones. According to Zayyan, the school will soon begin to offer courses in engineering and medical sciences, among others. For the proposed Faculty of Medicine, Zayyan said: “We are starting with nursing, in collaboration with the University of Philippines. It is going to be a nursing course with a difference.
“At the initial stage, we encountered difficulties in accessing funds from the TETFund for infrastructural development because of a challenge in 2013. However, the current administration has been able to surmount the challenge and the university has now been able to access funds from TETFund from 2013 to date.
FUDMA has made strides also in sports development and entrepreneurial endeavours, the hub of which is the robust Directorate of Sports and the Entrepreneurship Centre.
Moreover, with the establishment of a separate Centre for Desert Monitoring and Research, FUDMA said it is committed to contributing its quota towards addressing the vexatious issues of desertification and deforestation.
“We have opened this centre because of our location. This location is appropriate for desertification and climate change services and related issues,”Zayyan noted.
During the institution’s second and third (combined) graduation ceremony last January, 42 out of a total of 837 graduands had First Class degrees and the Governing Council approved automatic employment for them in the university.
Having taken off in 2011 with only 1500 pioneer students, FUDMA currently has about 5600 student population.
“The university authorities had to recruit additional academic and non-academic staff. This is the only university out of the 12 established at the same time that has done full employment.
“The University takes issues of staff training and development very seriously. We have sent some staff for training both locally and abroad, and when they return, they have to serve the school for a number of years as stipulated in the regulations.
:Our post-graduate school is bringing in quite a lot of money to the university.”
“We have also established a centre for continuing education and a centre for long distance learning. All our courses are critical for this area of the country,” she said.
But apart from security issues, all may not have been rosy at FUDMA, according to Zayyan. This is more so in view of certain forms of avoidable “distractions” which have tended to constitute a clog in the wheel of progress at the school. As she puts it, “there are a lot of distractions coming from petitions and allegations. The ICPC has made 26 visits to this university, in 21 months. They come asking for certain documents or that they want to check one thing or another.
“The delay in a court judgment is also hindering the appointment of a substantive Vice Chancellor for the university.