Former Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, Professor Abubakar Rasheed is a house hold name in the academia and journalism profession in Nigeria. Many have continued to applaud his well-deserving his recent appointment as the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC) by President Muhammadu Buhari. AMOS DUNIA and SALISU IBRAHIM profile this erudite Professor’s outstanding records of achievements over the years. Given his pedigree and track records, the new Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Rasheed is certainly on a mission of value addition and positive changes at the Commission.
An erudite scholar and administrator par excellence, his arrival at the supervisory and regulatory agency is already positioning it for a new dawn in mandate and service delivery. There are hints from insiders that administrative management acumen, through new strategies, good leadership style and policy direction, are currently being fashioned to reposition the Commission in line with the government’s ‘Change Begins with me’ mantra. With Professor Rasheed at the helm of affairs, stakeholders in the nation’s University system are on the same page that NUC is on its way to greatness and breaking new grounds given his usual inclusive style of administration that connects with people and institutions he knows, recognizes and is convinced will play vital roles in his desire to achieve set goals. Expectedly and given his recognized accomplishments, the Commission is set to experience new birth, like never before since its establishment, just as keen watchers of educational development argued there are many reasons to believe that NUC’s efficient delivery service will be guaranteed in terms of excellent quality under Prof Rasheed’s leadership. Pointedly put, his passion for excellence, robust and flexible leadership style formed the fulcrum of the reasons adduced by educationists for the fresh optimism and thinking that constructive engagement would henceforth propel the Commission’s crucial role in supporting innovations, inventions and community services at both public and private Universities across the country. It is not the first time that Prof Rasheed would be appointed to head key Federal Government organisations. For instance, his appointment as the Managing Director of New Nigerian Newspapers in 1993 brought a new lease of life to the company then at the brink of collapse. Indeed, his depth of administrative experience, unequalled human relations traits, education and proficiency resuscitated the ailing company in no given time; thus repositioning it among the most sort-after, robust and must-read newspapers titles in the country. However, with the advent of civil rule in 1999, Professor Rasheed opted for a return to his first love, the classroom and lecturing business. Many still laments that his sudden departure signaled the New Nigerian’s gradual decline in fortune to the present comatose level it has found itself today. At the Bayero University, Kano (BUK) where he held sway as Vice Chancellor from 2010 to 2015, Prof Rasheed did not only revolutionalized the tertiary institution but introduced far reaching changes that were hitherto never contemplated in the staffing, students, academic and physical structures. Owing to his acknowledged outstanding performance level, the Zaria-born University don is now referred to as the architect of modern Bayero University, Kano and to qualify for this position, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Tetfund) in 2015, acknowledged that BUK under Professor Rasheed was the only institution in the country that executed its projects 100 per cent and judiciously too. This singular act led Tetfund to identify and recognize BUK as its Corporate Centre of Excellence. Also, it is worthy of note that shortly after he was appointed as Vice Chancellor of BUK in 2011, the institution gained recognition as one of the eight Universities rated ‘A’ by the NUC during its first institutional accreditation exercise. His uncommon achievements and heroism in the academia have not gone unnoticed as Oxonia University, a network of universities from Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa accorded him a deserved honour of appointment as its President just as he was equally appointed as the Pro –Chancellor of Jigawa State University, Kafin Hausa. This humble, ever smiling but very calculating teacher and leader to many, deployed his ingenuity, unique perspective, and concern for effective and efficient results to productively transform BUK to the amazement of many. With clear vision, commitment, firm personal set-values, quality leadership style and positive approach to issues, the erudite Professor was not found wanting in taking measures that further advanced the development and growth of the University. Prof, as he fondly called, had reflected greatly and thoughtfully about some of the critical challenges confronting the ivory tower during his term as Vice Chancellor. So, deploying good diplomacy, his accessibility, extension of friendly hand and good virtues, he struck a cordial relationship with TETFUND that attracted to the institution huge development projects and services. These achievements and many others made him one of the most endeared leaders to his colleagues, the lecturers, students and the university community. Owing to his unique approach to issues, unbiased viewpoint and outstanding feat at BUK, Professor Rasheed is today revered at the University, like no other. No wonder, commentators that drew inferences on his tenure as former Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano and Managing Director of New Nigerian Newspapers, insist that the proficiency and vast experience he demonstrated in administering the two institutions would equally be replicated at NUC. Perhaps, as one of the foremost academics in the country, who established formidable reputation and linkages within the academia, Professor Rasheed would use this feat to open a new vista for the nations’ universities. For now, the global ranking of universities has remained a long-standing concern to the Commission’s past and present leadership. Most of the nation’s 143 public and 61 private universities are yet to feature in the first 100 and 1000 categories at both regional and world levels, an indication that they have only leaped forward in time but trailed behind in terms of visibility and quality service delivery. Here lies a major challenge before the new Executive Secretary. Experts say, no university can just excel because of its size or age; but that such recognition would only come based on consistent innovations and breakthroughs. Certainly, with Professor Rasheed at the helm of affairs, the Commission is without doubt on the path of realizing the vision of its founding fathers. Other challenges before the new Executive Secretary are the issue of knowledge flight, the need to attract international staff and students, addressing universities’ decrepit physical infrastructure, dysfunctional laboratories, and their dismal patronage of International Journals. A cultured Scholar with incisive and wider worldview, Professor Rasheed started his teaching career in July 1981 as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of English and European Languages, Bayero University, Kano and rose 10 years later to become a Senior Lecturer and Head of Department. Holder of a Bachelor of Arts degree, two Master of Arts, and a PhD in different aspects of English Studies, he was promoted to the rank of Professor in October 2001. As an author of several peer reviewed journal articles and technical reports, Professor Rasheed is also a Fellow of National Institute of Public Relations (FNIPR), Institute of Corporate Administrators (FICA) and Institute of Corporate Executives of Nigeria (FICEN) as well as Linguistic Association of Nigeria (FLAN). He holds the prestigious title of member of the National Institute (mni), and is a recipient of National Honour of Member of the Federal Republic, MFR. The University don is also a recipient of many awards for his intellectual erudition and humanitarian services with a strong sense of personal integrity and a drive to help others realize their potentials. As one of his former students, Faisal Aliyu, puts it, “I’m sure; if I say Professor Rasheed is a successful academic and an administrator par excellence, I believe, I’m speaking for so many people”. Born in October 1957 at Makarfi in Kaduna State, Prof’s major strength and greatest gifts are his general and humane approach and friendly acceptance of everyone. Being a great respecter of men and a valued team player, it is therefore not surprising when on resumption of duties, he told staff of the Commission that; “I have no enemies. I only have friends”. For those that know and have worked with Professor Rasheed, he is a committed, cherished, trusted and valued friend and leader.