As Confronter Of UniAbuja’s Crisis Bows Out…

Professor AbdulRasheed Na’Allah

There’s no doubt that when on June 30, 2024, the vice chancellor of the University of Abuja, Professor AbdulRasheed Na’Allah, ends his five-year tenure, he would be remembered as someone who never failed to confront the many challenges that came his way. He never shied away from tackling them as he attempted to turn around the fortunes of the university once described as a “mockery of university education” by a panel. Not new to university administration, Na’Allah’s steadfast commitment in propelling the university to its present envious status, as manifested in the present vast infrastructural development, saw the university relocated from its temporary Gwagwalada campus to its permanent site.

When in 2019 he was appointed vice chancellor, the erudite professor saw himself on familiar terrain, as he had spent 10 years holding the same position in Kwara State University, Ilorin, where he committed himself to the development of the then newly established university. He would become a success story as many programmes in the then new university were accredited and unprecedented infrastructural development was achieved. As vice chancellor of UniAbuja, Na’Allah went to work to prevail on some of the problems faced by the university since its establishment in January 1988.


Defying the odds

If the present strides of the vice chancellor are anything to go by, then, without any iota of doubt, University of Abuja under Na’Allah has witnessed great development strides that primarily re-aligned the status of the university system as centres of research. Before his appointment as its vice chancellor, UniAbuja had gained notoriety for its endless strike actions, sexual harassment and cultism, among other vices. Though not a stranger to problems haranguing tertiary schools in Nigeria, the playwright and scholar of national and global repute, who, for a decade (2009 – 2019), was also a vice chancellor at the Kwara State University, Ilorin, saw his appointment as an opportunity to broaden the physical and academic development of the federal-owned university in the Nation’s Capital school.

The Kwara-born academic led the way in changing the infrastructural landscape of the ivory tower and vigorously pursued the accreditation of new courses, as well as re-accreditation of old courses that had been withdrawn by the National Universities Commission (NUC). Trailing behind in the deployment of digital technology in running the affairs of UniAbuja, Na’Allah spearheaded the digitalisation of the school that ultimately rendered null and void the use of the manual system fraught with payment discrepancies made worse by underhand dealings. At the end of the automation, processes of admissions and payments of fees by both new and returning students became transparent and hassle-free.


Symbol of leadership

Under Na’Allah’s watch, the Abuja Leadership Centre (ALC), was established by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), with the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Professor Phillip Afaha, appointed as the pioneer director of the Centre. Fashioned in the Kennedy School of Government, the Centre runs postgraduate studies in various courses, including Public Governance and Leadership, Security, Military Strategies among others. More to this, as a basic requisite for their graduation, PhD students in Public Governance and Leadership are expected to organise leadership clinics for secondary school head prefects and other aspiring leaders to strengthen and sharpen their leadership acumen.

The ALC is to serve as a platform in evolving effective leadership templates in surmounting the myriad of problems haranguing national development. With some of the finest scholars of unquestionable national and global credit appointed as resource personnel, the ALC is poised to introduce deep intellectual discourse in ending our nation’s sojourn in the woods. Na’Allah’s tenacity of purpose led to the activation of ALC academic activities after two years of fudging attempts at breathing life into the centre. That the Centre is now active and has admitted three batches of students for its programmes is an attestation of Na’Allah’s indomitable devotion in broadening leadership skills to salvage Nigeria. In appreciation of his performance profile at the UniAbuja, the Abuja Leadership Centre will today, Saturday June 1, organise a Special Leadership Dinner in honour of Na’Allah, with the famous History teacher, Professor Toyin Falola,  delivering the keynote address.


No rest

There’s no doubt that having spent no fewer than 15 years in managing university administration, there’s no doubt that Na’Allah is a firm and tested hand with enormous knowledge on how best to eliminate the many plagues facing Nigerian universities. This global scholar of distinction has become a beacon of hope in reviving university education that is in drought of visionary and transparent university administrators. No doubt, Na’Allah has not only demonstrated unbridled dedication and worked round the clock to not only rebrand the University of Abuja into a global academic institution, but also, he has placed UniAbuja on a firm footing for future growth.

As the confronter of UniAbuja’s challenges ends his tenure on June 30, it’s obvious that despite the problems he met on ground, Na’Allah has given a good account of himself and turned into a David that fought the Goliath on many fronts. He may not have eliminated all the problems he met on ground; but he has set a record that would be difficult for his successors to surpass. What President Bola Ahmed Tinubu needs to do now is to ensure that this scholar of disarming humility is not left to rest. Na’Allah should be appointed as the next Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) to head the regulatory arm of the university system in Nigeria.  Thereafter, he should be capped with the responsibility of overseeing the nation’s education ministry in the years to come! 


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