PLASU Convocation: Three, And The Rhythm


By Chamberlain Odey

A pre-convocation press briefing by the University authorities
indicate that a few first class honours graduates will be part of the combined but first convocation ceremony of the university. Three personalities in the state box of the gallery during the convocation tomorrow, however, will also look distinguished in varying degrees and no less varied pedigree in the historical narrative of the Plateau State University, Bokkos.
One is Governor Simon Bako Lalong, for whom it will also be debut cerebral outing as Visitor to the University. Two is the state deputy governor, Sonni Tyoden, who as vice chancellor of the University of Jos in 2007, provided the technical enablement for the Jonah Jang administration to bungle and emasculate the growth and future of the state university, thereby casting the template for its chequered history. Three is John Wade who is currently holding the amorphous position of Director of Research in the Lalong’s Government, but with the tearful and lugubrious experience of being the pioneer vice
chancellor who never graduated any student – having been sabotaged by the erstwhile Jonah Jang administration and the technical savvy of his latter day political accomplice Sonni Tyoden (it is also a story of two professors and two vice chancellors).
On the Founder’s Day last Thursday, which was also part of the
long-drawn convocation itinerary, Governor Lalong, after commissioning the university library, on his tweeter handle, ruminated to the effect that he was happy and grateful to God for witnessing that day, as the state university has apparently gone past a dream to a project with huge potentials for the development and transformation of the state.
Understandably; Lalong was speaker of the state House of Assembly when the state university was established by the Joshua Dariye administration, precisely on April 29, 2005 when the National Universities Commission, NUC, granted it official recognition as the 66th university in the country. With the foundation laying ceremony performed
by Gen (Dr) Yakubu Gowon on June 14, 2005, a total of 492 students were matriculated on May 26, 2006, with five faculties that were departmentalised as Schools.
On May 29, 2007, a political chapter had turned for both Dariye as governor, and Lalong as speaker, when Jonah David Jang took over as the state governor. For the fledgling university, it was a critical turn and cynical twist which was bound to alter the course of proceedings. In the ensuing days, academic progress in the institution was eclipsed by emergent and emerging politics and power play. The state government of Jonah Jang announced the “suspension of academic activities” in the institution in shrill circumstances, with the University of Jos under Professor Sonni Tyoden, lurking and subsequently waded precipitately into the absurdity by receiving the students ‘miscarried’ as a result of the “suspension of academic activities” in PLASU.
The ensuing days bore a lot of tendencies and ambiguities. Long knives would flex as passions and sentiments did flame. The resultant stagnation of proceedings in the University soon consumed the pioneer vice chancellor, John Wade; and an erratic culture that would bear a high turnover of vice chancellors without students graduating from the
institution took over. Under Jang, when “academic activities” were grudgingly restored in the University, none of three vice chancellors had the privilege of running his tenure full circle.
Lalong will properly earn his distinction and deserves the honour of worthy and worthwhile Visitor to the University during the ceremonies because his coming as governor of the state revived a culture of continuity and stability in the processes that culminated in the accreditation of courses, restoration of the present vice chancellor, upgrading of academic infrastructures, expansion of academic programmes and furtherance of staff development as a means of growing the university to global research and teaching standards.
One factor that would have frustrated the hard line posture of Jang and the closure of the institution in 2007 was if the University of Jos had frowned at the scheme and refused to give placement to the students displaced by that executive order. That is why many feel the state deputy governor, Sonni Tyoden, should be too morally burdened and saddened to sit among those gracing the convocation event. He contributed to the institution’s difficult and unenviable travelogue
and odyssey; and only became part of the other side when Jang ensured that his bid to succeed him as governor of Plateau was neutralised through electoral deflation and demystification in the PDP gubernatorial primary election of December8, 2014.
For John Wade, a professor of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management, who is already settled as Director of Research and Documentation in the same government that has resurrected the university and superintended over the imperative and delight of convocation, it is simply to say that all is well that ends well. Like a goat that chews the cud, some gnashing of teeth could suffice for him. After all, he looks more fulfilled and honoured especially today than Tyoden who put a stud on his VC tenure at UniBokkos.
This convocation of the Plateau State University, combined or not, is coming almost 12 years after the university was licensed, with a fabled life of having been in and out of existence, a crowded leadership background of five vice chancellors, with none that has both matriculated and graduated the same students.

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