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Adieu “Super HOD”! A tribute to late professor Balarabe Maikaba

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Balarabe Maikaba

Ibrahim Siraj Adhama

I must admit that I’m not good at writing tributes but as late Prof Maikaba’s student, supervisee, colleague and one of his closest friends and confidants of late, I feel personally indebted to write one this time around.

The dilemma, however, is where to start from given the avalanche of information that readers will be interested to know about him. Thankfully many of his former and current students have written excellently paying glowing tributes to their teacher and mentor, reminiscing about great moments shared together in the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano, where the late scholar spent his life teaching and shaping lives. They wrote about the Prof Maikaba they know, the academic giant he was, the research guru he personified as well as his relationship with students.

However, there is lot more that needs to be said about Prof Maikaba especially with regards to his leadership, his inclination towards doing the right thing, his love for academic excellence as well as his relationship with colleagues with whom he worked or was still working until his painful exit on 26th April, 2020.

Late Prof Maikaba started lecturing as a graduate assistant and rose through the ranks to become a Professor, thus reaching the peak of an academic career that spanned nearly thirty years.

He was opportuned to serve as the HOD Mass Communication for five consecutive years (two terms plus an acting period).

As the leader, he was able to steer the department to greatness through dedication and hard work.

A true leader

He proved to be a good leader both academically and administratively.

He led with passion and commitment, taking charge personally when necessary and delegating responsibility at the appropriate time.

His approach to problem solving was remarkable – always deploying tact, wisdom, foresight, consultation and a deep sense of responsibility.

Allah the almighty blessed his headship making it arguably the most successful as well as the most eventful in history particularly as it affects staff strength and development.

More than a dozen academic staff (including 7 at a go in 2012) were added to the Departmental workforce making Mass Communication, BUK reportedly the largest department in the country in terms of manpower.

So strong was the department that even when the new Department of Information and Media Studies was curved out and some important staff had to be transferred there, the mainstream Mass Communication was able to continue operating unperturbed.

I once wrote about how I always wanted to be a lecturer (though I considered it a tall dream knowing the job situation in the country) and how Prof Maikaba made it all too easy for me.

In 2012 (immediately after acquiring my Master’s degree) the then HOD saw in me what it takes to be a lecturer, considered me worthy of working in the Department and facilitated my appointment without being prompted by anyone.

Merit must always take precedence, for him.

The Bulldozer 

Similarly, there was never a time when staff acquired higher degrees as they did under Prof Maikaba’s headship.

Not less than 10 staff (including 7 in one fell swoop) acquired their PhDs in 2014 in addition to dozens of Masters’ degrees completed around that time.

This earned him the nickname “Super HOD” or “the Bulldozer of a HOD”, apologies Prof Abdalla Uba Adamu.

This feat though would not have been achieved without the push and support of such senior colleagues in the Department as Prof Malam, Prof Abdalla, Prof Pate, etc.

They must share in the credit.

Whoever worked with Prof Maikaba will know one thing about his insistence and inclination for what is right.

He wanted every single mark and every grade to be truly earned.

He was averse to favoritism or ‘alfarma‘ in whatever form or shape. He didn’t care if a particular student was Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba or Ibibio, and it didn’t matter to him if such a student came from Fagge of from Port-Harcourt: All he cared for was the student’s “capacity” and his/her ability to answer his questions.

He didn’t subscribe to the idea of “helping” students with free marks in order to graduate.

He believed that the system was accommodating enough to provide for two years of spill over to enable students make amends and that, before any talk about “help”, such opportunity must be fully utilized.

For Prof Maikaba, the position of a lecturer is a trust and every one of us will be held accountable.

A popular phrase of his which also underscores his penchant for due process is “things must take their natural course”, implying that what is right must be done under all circumstances devoid of unnecessary influence and interference.

Excellent Supervisor

Prof Maikaba’s attitude towards quality project was uncompromising.

His supervisees always found it a little more difficult to survive. They always had to work a bit harder to meet the standard set for them.

This is more so with postgraduate students on whom he always had higher expectation.

A Chapter could be written as many as five times until he was satisfied it approximated the quality expected of it.

Prof Maikaba has always warned against “cheapening” higher degrees because the name of the University was at stake.

Also, doing so could sink the name of the Department and its lecturers into gradual disrepute.

For him, a higher degree is not a life necessity and anyone who came for it must sweat to earn it.

Masters’ degree is not a “charity” he would say, and that only academic excellence, as against compassion, should determine who gets it.

One night he called me on phone and after exchanging the traditional pleasantries he said that he called purposely to appreciate my effort and that of other colleagues in adding value to our postgraduate defense sessions.

He told me that our contributions always made him proud as well as made him feel vindicated.

He urged us to always prioritize strengthening and improving the quality of work done by our postgraduate students.

At the end, he asked me to extend the same message to other colleagues he mentioned, something I did immediately after my conversation with him.

Since I became MSc Coordinator, there wasn’t a time we met without Prof Maikaba offering one suggestion or another to me on how to strengthen the program.

Sometimes he would call to offer his advice concerning how certain issues should be handled.

Honestly, I found all his advice useful, invaluably helpful as well as a great source of guidance.

Controversial Professor

Prof Maikaba earned the respect of all his colleagues.

He related very well with each and every one of them.

During meetings, his contributions were always invaluable.

His critical mind led him to see things differently from other colleagues thereby making his views subject to debate which he often won.

In situations where he couldn’t defend his position, he would laugh his way out and accept the majority decision.

He never harbored any ill feeling against his colleagues.

If he had any grouse against you, he would say it right in your face or to people he was very sure would convey same to you.

He believed in disagreeing to agree.

He was so outspoken and had always spoke his mind not minding whose ox was gored.

Humorous Person

He believed in reconciliation and compromise often making serious concessions in order to ensure that personal misunderstandings did not last long.

His sense of humor always helped to ease tension during stormy sessions.

This has often provided postgraduate students with some relief and helped them to stabilize or regain their composure.

He helped the Department and the University in various capacities where his assistance was sought.

He delivered on every responsibility assigned to him to the satisfaction of whoever gave him the assignment.

Prof Maikaba’s loss is a huge one.

He will be seriously missed by his students (former and current), his colleagues, the University Community, the communication family in Nigeria and world over, professional associations such as ACCE and ACSPN, media organizations in Kano who benefitted immensely from his resourcefulness, his visiting universities especially ABU Zaria and KASU as well as family, relations and many others too numerous to mention who are beneficiaries of his benevolence and philanthropy.

Allah ya jikansa da rahama, ya kyautata bayansa

Dr Ibrahim Siraj Adhama is a staff of Mass Communications Department, Bayero University Kano

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Opinion

Meet unsung court registrar, Ustaz Sunusi Khalifa

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Ustaz Sunusi Khalifa, Principal Registrar of Chief Magistrate Court 9, Nomansland.

Sunusi Umar Sadiq

When our courts’ business has for long become a cash and carry business, when the attention your case gets depends on the amount of money you give, when everything smells and breathes of money, when even the welcome you get depends on how much you give, there stands out one person, alone on a very high moral ground, and to whom public service is a sacred trust that must be discharged against all odds, without expecting any benefits in return. His name is Sunusi (Khalifa). He is the Principal Registrar of Chief Magistrate Court 9, Nomansland.

He doesn’t ask for money. He is too noble to do that. Not only that, he only takes what is necessary from lawyers to render the services they require, compilation of record of proceedings in most cases.

I once gave him money as ‘deposit’ with the intention of giving him more when I came back for the records. He insisted that the ‘deposit’ was enough and I shouldn’t care to pay anything more. At another time I gave him what other registrars will definitely ask for more. Khalifa insisted that I should reduce something out of it as the amount I gave was too much for what I wanted.

For Khalifa, his salary is his consideration for which he is under an obligation to discharge duties. While other registrars will demand thousand of Naira to enroll order and have it signed, Khalifa does that as a matter of course, a normal course of business.

It is a pity that this rare gentleman is unheard and unsung. I have not heard of any award of excellence for him from the Branches, the MULAN or any other organization or association.

Heaven rewards. The world appreciates. I will be glad if Khalifa gets appreciated though he is not in need of it. It will, however, send a very strong message to those who make our court some sort of market places and our machinery of justice (or is it machinery of law) a booming business in which every situation is exploitable.

Kudos, bravo and gracias to my namesake. We are aware of your gentle and sterling qualities and I personally always tell your story. And I do so in the most colorful of language. Something like this:

‘There is a court registrar that never asks for money. If you need anything he only takes the exact cost. If you give him more than that, he will return the surplus and say “wannan kudin ai ya yi yawa”.’

Barrister Sunusi Umar Sadiq is a legal practitioner based in Kano

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RE: In defense of Salihu Tanko Yakasai

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Salihu Tanko Yakasai

Salihu Tanko Yakasai

The above article written by Sule Yau Sule, the spokesperson of Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, might seem like a defence against my unlawful detention on 26th February 2021 in Kano, but soon after the first paragraph, it morphed into an attack on me while I was still in detention.

Though the writer superficially intended to “defend” me against the injustice meted against me for justifiably and conscientiously expressing my opinion on the current drift of the country toward cul-de-sac in apparent deviation from the vision of the ruling party to take the country away from the abyss in 2015, Sule Ya’u Sule ended up castigating me for simply exercising my constitutional rights of freedom of speech as enshrined in the constitution.

The article also bordered around ethics and professionalism of the work of a spokesperson as highlighted by the learned writer. If he had stopped there, one would have taken it objectively and picked all the lessons therein, which truly, are valid and worthy of being noted. Unfortunately, the writer digressed far away from the subject matter and delved into politics, bringing to the forefront a grudge he has been nurturing against me for over a decade, because we were on opposing sides politically with his principal when we were in the defunct ANPP.

To set the record straight, I joined APP back in December 2000 and a couple of years later, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau equally joined partisan politics and contested for the governorship election in 2003. When I joined politics, Alhaji Al-Amin Ibrahim Little was the leader of the party in the state, but when he lost the party to Shekarau and decamped to PRP, I remained in APP and went on to serve as the returning officer for Shekarau’s election, which he eventually won largely due to Buhari’s huge influence. But soon after that, Shekarau drew the line against us, Buhari’s supporters in the state, which birthed our rivalry with the Shekarau’s camp. My political mentor then was Hon. Balarabe Wakili who was instrumental in Shekarau becoming a member of the APP at that time. This was the genesis of our crises in Kano APP which led to our exit from the party in 2011 to form CPC.

I was in my mid 30s during the 2011 general elections and, of course, I went all out in my attacks on Shekarau which I later regretted and posted on my Facebook page, apologising for such a behavior; a post which is still there on my page if he wishes to look it up. I do remember Sule Ya’u Sule’s call one evening, a few days before I made the apology, and in that call, he gave me some sound advice on the choice of words whenever criticising Shekarau, a point I took to heart, and unlike what he has stated in his recent article, I have never attacked Shekarau again after that phone call till date.

Now back to the part of the article in which he has talked about ethics and what not. I am a person that take corrections to heart and I have picked all his points like a student in his class. But you see, the funny part about life is that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Let me refresh Sule Ya’u Sule’s memory about how when he was the spokesperson of the then Governor of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, he fabricated a letter allegedly from the EFCC claiming that Shekarau had been cleared of all charges, which turned out to be a big lie, thereby causing a huge embarrassment to his principal to the extent that he was suspended for six months only to be reinstated after several pleas and interventions.

As stated by Sule in his article, “A spokesperson’s best tools are decorum, decency, belief and passion.” So I ask Sule, is embarrassing your principal also among the tools of a spokesperson? May I also ask, what punishment did he receive from NIPR at that time? If he did not receive any, perhaps he should include it in his note to the professional body in order to come up with a suitable punishment against others that will try to emulate him and ridicule their principals with fake clearance letters.

Let me also take this opportunity to set the record straight on the issue of my comments that resulted in my unlawful detention. I neither planned it nor did I have the intention of provoking such reactions. It was a spontaneous reaction on my part triggered by a number of the recent rise of insecurity in the country particularly in the north. I have personally suffered two major security issues in the last four months; the murder of my younger sister’s husband in Bauchi in front of my sister and her kids and the kidnapping of my sister’s husband’s younger brother in his house in Kaduna. N5 million had to be paid as a ransom to secure his release and in the process of raising the money, armed robbers carted away N1 million of the amount. I was certainly not thinking about ethics when I reacted to the devastating news of the abduction of the over 300 Zamfara girls. I believe anyone with a tiny bit of conscience will certainly be moved by the abduction.

Perhaps Sule is too pre-occupied with enforcing PR ethics of a spokesperson that he has lost all his conscience to the extent that he cannot see that I am a human, which comes first, before any ethics or even a temporary position that I will not occupy for life.

On a final note, though Sule is a PhD holder in Mass Communications and a professional by all standards in the field, both in terms of qualifications and experience, when it comes to human relations, I believe he is merely a kindergarten pupil. If he truly regards me as a brother as he had claimed in the article, he would not have written such a politicised opinion at a moment when I was still in unlawful detention and my family and friends were equally terrified as to what might happen to me. Irrespective of whether I was out of line or not, that is certainly not the action of someone you consider a brother. I remember when I was first appointed as the Director-General, Media in 2016, the first thing I did was to pay a visit to my predecessors to seek for their blessings and guidance, namely: Baba Halilu Dantiye, late Umar Saidu Tudun Wada and Sule Ya’u Sule. Sule promised to provide me with all the support I needed to execute my work, but little did I know that he was holding a decade-long grudge against me. Indeed with friends like Sule, who needs enemies?

Salihu Tanko Yakasai (Dawisu) is the Founding Curator of the Global Shapers Community Kano Hub of the World Economic Forum. 

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Salihu Tanko: Ganduje playing politics with aides’ sack – Shaaban Sharada

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I read with dismay a statement by the sacked media aide of Kano state governor in the person of Salihu Tanko Yakasai that the All Progressives Congress led- government has failed Nigerians while calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign.

It is unfortunate to see such a controversial statement coming from an aide of a governor of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) despite efforts of the APC Extraordinary Convention Committee led by His Excellency Mai Mala Buni.

The statement is uncalled for and smacks of an attempted sabotage to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and it further brings to the fore the ignorance of the said aide on how security architecture works.

Since the abduction of the Jangebe Students, I have spoken with relevant security chiefs who have assured me of efforts they are making to rescue the girls safely.

In defense of Salihu Tanko Yakasai

My relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari – Salihu Tanko Yakasai

Instead of Yakasai to exploit his privilege by praying for the successful rescue of the school girls by security operatives under the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari, he is rather ridiculing their efforts through a series of unwarranted media attacks that are seen as an attempt to instigate fear in the victims’ parents and mislead the general public to tarnish the image of the APC led government.

Buhari has improved security

It is on record that the security situation of the country has improved since the assumption of Buhari as President.

Essentially, the nature of insecurity prior to the Buhari administration is different from the current security situation in the country.

If you could recall, there was a time when our daughters, sisters and wives of both basic and tertiary institutions cannot go to school without going through a thorough search.

The market was a no go place, places of worship became  places to  fear, while a one or two hours journey became a 10-hour journey due to stop and searches by security men on the roads.

All those measures did not stop terrorists from bombing mosques, churches, markets, and motor parks etc.

A typical example is the 2014 Kano central mosque bomb blast that claimed the lives of more than 1,000  people in a day.

The insecurity was not restricted to the North West and North East alone, as it escalated to the Federal Capital Territory where terrorists attacked the United Nations building in Abuja.

It is a mark of the improved security situation in the country that the recently abducted Kagara Students were released last Saturday.

The process that the government followed in ensuring the release of these students safely will be applied to rescue the Jangebe Students In sha Allah as I’ve been assured by the relevant security agencies and the governor of the state as well.

Yakasai playing Ganduje’s script

Yakasai’s attack is not surprising though, as he might be acting under the command of his principal, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje who is known for speaking from both sides of his mouth.

Ganduje had last year suspended Yakasai over a statement accusing the President of lacking empathy during the EndSARS protest.

Attack on Buhari: Ganduje suspends media aide

It was alleged that the governor planned the suspension like a movie where he promised to reinstate him back. This came to pass some months later.

It is obvious that his current purported sack has a political undertone.

It would be recalled that one of Ganduje’s Commissioners celebrated the death of Chief of Staff Mallam Abba Kyari last year.

The governor in his usual manner of playing to the gallery and after pressure by Nigerians decided to sack the Commissioner but later appointed him  to serve in various government committees including the Chairmanship of the  AKK Gas Pipeline implementation Committee in Kano.

This is how the governor is working closely with people that personally berate President Muhammadu Buhari.

Ganduje sabotaging the APC

Ganduje’s sabotage does not stop there; he has a good relationship with members of the opposition whom he appointed into juicy positions while other party members are kept aside.

Example of this is the Commissioner for water resources who is a card carrying member of the PDP.

His anti-party activities against the All Progressives Congress and other efforts he is making in frustrating party members in the state is an attempt to weaken the party because he has sensed that his political ambition in 2023 is looking unachievable.

A Commissioner for Education in his government was also seen displaying a ballot paper where he voted for PDP in the recent bye election at Kiru/Bebeji Constituency.

This is a sabotage to our party at a time we are trying to reconcile warring party members across states to further strengthen the capacity of the APC in the 2023 election.

The recent party registration and revalidation exercise in Kano was not a success as Ganduje was the decider of who should be registered or not as the revalidation documents were domiciled in the government house.

I’m a victim of this as I was denied revalidation of my APC membership at my ward in Sharada, despite being a stakeholder and member of the House of Representatives in the state.

Even an ordinary member of the party doesn’t deserve this, especially when the party is targeting 25 million members.

Why is this injustice being meted out on members of the defunct CPC and loyalists of President Buhari?

Of all the Commissioners down to local government Chairmen and top government appointees, there is none from the defunct CPC.

I’m in contact with relevant security agencies and I am aware of efforts they are making to restore the security of our dear nation.

Nigeria is one, we should keep ethnic, religious and political sentiments aside, and we should tell the truth in real sense and not personal attack.

As a loyalist of the President who has worked closely with him, I know his commitment to seeing a prosperous, peaceful and united Nigeria.

His patriotism, transparency, and accountability is a testimony to his love for this country.

Hon. Shaaban Ibrahim Sharada represents Kano Municipal in the House of Representatives and chairs the House Committee on National Security and Intelligence.

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