My Score-card: Professor Msugh Moses Kembe

On assumption of office on 3rd November, 2015 as the 5th Vice-Chancellor of Benue State University, Makurdi, I envisioned to reposition Benue State University as “an information and communication-driven centre of excellence that will impact positively on the development of the state and nation by producing ‘cutting-edge’ innovation and training manpower capable of competing anywhere in the world.” This vision was subsequently broken into eight actualisable points. These included:-

  • transforming the University Information Communication (ICT) structure in line with the above-stated vision;
  • running an all-inclusive administration that will be open to inputs from members of the university community and beyond, particularly on issues pertaining to compliance to administrative best practices and the strengthening of the University’s academic programmes through:
  1. successful accreditation of programmes,
  2. quality service delivery,
  3. transparent conduct and handling of examinations,
  4. timely processing and release of examination results,
  5. proper conduct of staff and students;
  • expanding the University’s carrying capacity.
  • complying with due process in all businesses of the University;
  • ensuring prudence in the management and administration of the resources available to the University;
  • providing new physical infrastructure as well as renovating and upgrading existing infrastructure;
  • providing facilities and utilities that will engender and strengthen a conducive environment for teaching, learning, and research both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels; and
  • securing Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) agreements as well as Build, Operate, and Transfer (BOT) arrangements to enhance infrastructural development in the University.

In all honesty, achieving such a vision requires the essential ingredients of commitment, dedication, innovation, and teamwork on the part of all stakeholders. I have, for the past two and half years, been driving this cause as the steward-in-chief.

 

 

ACHIEVEMENTS

Academics

When I came on board, the University was running fifty undergraduate programmes in addition to sub-degree and preliminary programmes; and 211 postgraduate programmes: PhDs, Masters, and Postgraduate Diplomas. Of the 50 undergraduate programmes, seven programmes had lapsed accreditation since 2012. In fact, Law had a back to back interim accreditation status – an NUC euphemism for denied accreditation; thirteen were to lapse in 2015; one was to lapse in 2016; twenty-six were to lapse in 2017; while three were to mature in 2018.

During my time, 32 programmes have got Full accreditation status, 5 have Interim status while 10 are currently at various stages of accreditation by NUC accreditation teams, and the other three will mature for accreditation later in 2018. It is also noteworthy that it is during this administration that LLB got full accreditation status since the establishment of the programme in the University. In the College of Health Sciences, MBBS got full accreditation; it is also gratifying to put on record that the five sets of medical doctors produced by Benue State University, Makurdi, graduated during my stewardship. Here is a breakdown of accreditation status of other undergraduate programmes by faculties.

  1. A. French in the Faculty of Arts also got full accreditation. B. Sc. Accounting and B. Sc. Business Management got full accreditation in the Faculty of Management Sciences. In the Faculty of Education, B. Ed. Integrated Science, B. Ed Educational Management, B. Ed Guidance & Counselling, B. Ed Pre-Primary/Primary Education, B. Ed Pre-Primary/Primary Education (Social Studies), B. Ed Pre-Primary/Primary Education (Science), B. Ed Pre-Primary/Primary Education (Mathematics), and B. Ed Pre-Primary/Primary Education (English) got full accreditation. The Faculty of Social Sciences is not left out; B. Sc. Psychology, B. Sc. Sociology, B. Sc. Mass Communication, B. Sc. Economics, and B. Sc. Public Administration got accredited. And in the Faculty of Science, B. Sc. Chemistry, B. Sc. Physics, B. Sc. Mathematics, and B. Sc. Computer Science also got full accreditation.

Apart from the accredited academic programmes above, resource verification has been done and approved by the National Universities Commission (NUC) for a number of other courses or programmes in the University. In the Faculty of Science, for example, we have M.Sc. Food Processing Technology, PhD Food Processing Technology, M.Sc. Food Science and Technology, and PhD Food Science and Technology. In the Faculty of Education we have PhD Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology while the Faculty of Social Sciences is not left out with M.Sc. Agricultural Extension and Rural Sociology, and PhD Agricultural Extension and Rural Sociology. The accreditation of these programmes, some for the first time since the University’s inception, will run uninterrupted for a period of five (5) years.

Furthermore, four new undergraduate programmes were established in 2017. These are: Bachelor of Nursing Science, B.Sc. Biochemistry, B.A. Ed. Religious Studies, and B.Ed. Social Studies. New Postgraduate programmes (PhDs, Masters and Postgraduate diplomas) have also been introduced and existing ones reviewed to strengthen learning and academic research at that level.

Relatedly, NUC resource verification for the following programmes is being awaited:

  1. Splitting the Department of Religion and Philosophy into Department of Religion and Cultural Studies, and Department of Philosophy.
  2. Establishment of Department of Nursing Science (Bachelor of Nursing Science and Bachelor of Science Biochemistry)
  3. Affiliation to College of Education, Oju.

 

In addition, we established the Centre for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER). CEFTER is housing a World Bank funded project with a mandate to develop technologies to control post-harvest food losses through quality higher education training and research in sub Saharan Africa. The Centre has full national accreditation to run the following programmes: M.Sc. Analytical Chemistry; PhD Analytical Chemistry; M.Sc. Organic Chemistry; PhD Organic Chemistry; M.Sc. Food Chemistry; PhD Food Chemistry; M.Sc. Biostatistics; and M.Sc. Post Harvest Physiology & Management of Crops. The University is pursuing international accreditation status for Food Chemistry and and PostHarvest Physiology of Crops and management. The Centre also offers four (4) PGD Programmes.

 

The Centre also has incentives and support schemes to assist students and researchers. Since inception, the Centre through her Programmes has given over 250-student support to students. In addition, our programmes have unique internship opportunities where students visit more than two places to gather industry experience.

 

In addition to the accreditation and establishment of new programmes, we have also made giant strides elsewhere. Under this administration, the University has successfully organised two Matriculation ceremonies and one (1) combined Convocation ceremony. During the 2015/2016 and 2016 sessions, a total of 12,895 candidates (6,495 and 6,400 respectively) were matriculated into various undergraduate programmes in the University, while the 16th and 17th Combined Convocation Ceremonies of the University witnessed the conferment of degrees and diplomas on 12,388 graduands.

In the period under reference, there has also been an expansion of the carrying capacity of the University from 4,655 applicants during the 2014/2015 session to 6,495 applicants during the 2015/2016 session. That is, we offered an additional 1,840 applicants an opportunity to get higher education. It must be noted that five sets of medical doctors totalling One Hundred and Seventy (170) have also been graduated from the College of Health Sciences.

In 2017, the use of modern teaching techniques and facilities for teaching at Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels commenced. To achieve this, the University upgraded a theatre complex housing offices and twenty (20) lecture halls to smart lecture rooms where smart boards, with modern power point projectors were installed. Each of these lecture halls had a computer for the lecturer and 25 laptops for use by students. All relevant software programs were installed for both teaching and learning. The University also procured two additional rechargeable projectors for outreach trainings and set up an additional e-learning centre with 152 PCs for easy access to e-resources.The lecture halls are fully air conditioned for comfort of both the student and lecturers with a 30KVA generating set as back up split into three units was also installed for use in case of power failure.  The University also subscribed to 155Mbps NgREN internet service and has powered fibre optic broadband network links on campus.

The University also launched a smart ID card and inventory scheme that is comparable to those used in top ranked world Universities. The scheme harmonises all student records and links them to one digital database that can be accessed using the staff or student cards. These cards are now used for attendance records at examinations and other student trainings. By just scanning the card, students ID and attached records are pulled out to generate attendance and score sheet within 30mins of any examination. This has improved the quality of invigilation of examinations in some departments and it will expand to all departments soon. The same card is used for access at the library and University entry gates. The current ID card database has the capacity to pull out a student record within less than a second and can tell whether a student has paid fees or not or whether they have any criminal record. To ascertain the commitment of lecturers on this modern teaching scheme, the University also introduced a biometric attendance checker for lecturers to check anytime they attend a lecture. Compliance to this attracts a compliance allowance to the lecturers. This has worked well at CEFTER and we hope to extend it to other departments of the University.

All these are in fulfillment of my commitment to make the University an ICT-savvy institution. And in order to make effective use of these facilities, the University embarked on the following trainings on:

  1. the use of modern teaching facilities for both staff and students;
  2. e-learning for both staff and students; and
  • modern student-focused research for staff in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

We currently have a PC to student ratio of 1:55 and a wi-fi availability of 24h/day.

Another area where this administration has recorded an achievement is in the area of examination reforms. As part of efforts to reform the examination process, an electronic module for the computation of examination results has been introduced. In addition, we have supported and promoted conference marking to ensure the timely release of examination results. We have also instituted a scholarship scheme to reward the best performing students in all academic programmes of the University. It is intended to serve as a catalyst for academic excellence among students of the University. So far, a total of eighteen (18) students have benefited from the scheme. A similar scheme for Indigent Students has also been introduced.

Members of staff have also been trained academically. A total of 46 senior non-teaching staff and 163 Academic Staff were trained locally while 17 Academic Staff went overseas. There has also been a sponsorship of many staff to Conferences and Workshops locally and internationally. One of such trainings of note was on effective PG supervision for Masters and PhD supervisors where 50 senior academics were trained by experts from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark conducted in 2018.

On monitoring of post graduate students, the University introduced a progress monitoring form which is completed bimonthly for PhDs and monthly for Masters Students. This form provides the opportunity for staff and students to report and access the progress of the joint student research work. To further encourage postgraduate research, the University instituted student-lecturer joint research scheme where funds up to N1,000,000.00 are normally provided for research activities. This has improved on joint publications. There is a conference grant for both staff and students.

In addition to this, we have organised Inaugural and other Distinguished Public Lectures/Research and Publications. In order to institutionalize academic culture in the University and enhance research output, Inaugural and Public Lectures as well as TETFund sponsored Researches and Publications by the following have been recorded:

  • Hagher, Iorwuese. (2017). “The Un-Element in Nigeria’s Democracy”;
    • Ada, Nicholas Akise. (2016). “The Dilemma of the Science Teacher in the Implementation of Science Education Curriculum Reforms at the Basic Education Level in Nigeria”;
    • Kur, Jar Joseph. (2016). Intellectual property Law aspects of Entrepreneurship: Principles and Practice in Nigeria;
    • Usue, Ordue Emmanuel. (2016). Features and Values of the Ancient Near Eastern and Abrahamic Covenants;
    • Jombo T. Godwin. (2016). Assessing the usefulness of Widal test in the Diagnosis and Management of Typhoid fever at Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi;
    • Efosa Kenneth Oghagbon. (2016). Comparative analysis of Students’ Perception of learning Environment at the Benue State University College of Health Science and 13th – 16th Generation Medical Schools in Nigeria;
    • Fyanka, Kaase. (2016). Nigerian case Law method;
    • Saalu, Chia Linus. (2016).Determination of the diagnostics Value of sperm DNA Fragmentation among Infertile Males in Benue State;
    • Ikese Oche Chris. (2016). Proximate analysis and formulation of infant food from Cereals obtained in Benue State, Nigeria;
    • Ahile, John Ungwanen. (2016). Development of Low Cost Adsorbents from Agricultural Waste for curbing Antibiotic persistence ;
    • Ajiki Terwase Pius. (2015).Understanding World Religion;
    • Ajiki Terwase Pius. (2015). Troubling Ethical Waters.

 

Finally, in order to critically examine the unfolding violence in Central Nigeria with a view to proffering solutions against the terror, we organised a Conference on Herders and Farmers Conflicts in Central Nigeria in the University from 13th-16th March, 2017. This conference dwelt on the deteriorating security situation and the real threat of hunger and starvation in Nigeria as a result of the attacks on the farming communities, especially in Central Nigeria, which is undoubtedly the food basket region of the country.

 

Administration

We also recorded some milestones on the administrative side of the University. One of such is the establishment of the Procurement Unit. This was done so as to enhance quality service delivery and due process as well as ensure prudent utilization of resources available to the University. Official and utility vehicles were also procured for relevant officers and offices to enhance efficient and effective running of the University.

Another area of note is the constitution of vital University committees. Committees like Environment and Sanitation Task Force, Task Force on Utilities on Campus, Management ICT Committee and Computerization of Departments, Directorates and Centres were constituted. These committees have, and will continue to enhance and strengthen the wellbeing of staff and students, ICT-compliance and the administrative apparatus of the University. Other committees include: Committee on a Five-year Strategic Plan (2016-2020) of the University, Inaugural and other Distinguished University Public Lectures. For instance, the University’s Strategic Plan Committee has completed its work and presented a final report, the recommendations of which are already being implemented.

My two and half years in office also birthed an online integrated system for the payment of school fees via Interswitch. With this integration, students/candidates can now make payments to the University anywhere in the world, unlike a few years ago when they had to come to Makurdi to make such payments.

My stewardship also caused Faculty Examinations Record Officers to be appointed. Their appointment was engendered by my abiding desire to ensure the integrity and safety of students’ examination records as well as effective and timely administration of examination related issues. We also updated the Students Information Handbook with the inclusion of the Code of Conduct for staff and students as well as the Regulations Governing the Conditions of Service of Staff of the University. This is with the aim of regulating their behaviour and conduct with respect to the University system in particular and the society at large.

To ensure staff are developed, motivated and their welfare taken seriously for optimal performance, there is a deliberate policy on continuous promotion, training and retraining of staff. For instance, within the last two and half years, seventy five (75) Academic Staff have been promoted and confirmed to the Professorial rank. Similarly, despite the current economic situation in the country, special consideration was given and per diem allowance for staff of the University reviewed upwardly by over 50% across the cadres.

We have organized a retreat for members of the Governing Council of the University on Repositioning the Benue State University for Greater Development on Friday, 17th and Saturday, 18th June, 2016. Similarly, an expanded Management retreat for Principal Officers, Deans and Directors, Heads of Departments, and Coordinators of academic units was held on Friday, 16th  and Saturday, 17th September, 2016 to put them on the same page with the Governing Council on the new BSU project.

 

Establishment of the BSU Liaison Office, Abuja

The University has established a Liaison Office at the Nation’s capital, Abuja. The office which is located at No. 12B, Jesse Jackson Street, Plot 247, Zone A04, Asokoro District, Abuja was officially commissioned by the Vice-Chancellor on Friday, 25th May, 2018.

 

Apart from serving as a contact office for the University to link it easily with sister organisations and stakeholders outside the State, the establishment of the BSU Liaison Office in Abuja officially marks the presence of the University in the Nation’s capital.

 

Physical Infrastructural Development

A reasonable number of infrastructural projects have been carried out through user-charges of the University by either constructing new ones, or upgrading/renovating existing ones. We were also able to complete TETFund and Presidential NEEDs Assessment projects that were taken over from the last administration. Details of these projects are:

  1. Projects executed through user-charges
  1. Renovation of Quarters No. BSU/Q/03
  2. Construction of a Drivers’ office block
  3. Renovation of a block of four class rooms at BSU Science & Technical College
  4. Renovation of Quarters No. BSU/TECH/QTR/03
  5. Service of boreholes on campus to ensure constant water supply
  6. Treatment of all the Septic Tanks in the University
  7. Installation of Backup Transmitter at BSU FM 89.9
  8. Installation of CCTV Cameras on campus
  9. Construction of collapsed fence at the BSU Guest House
  10. Furnishing at the University Guest House
  11. Construction of drainage gutter at the Eastern wing
  12. Renovation of block of offices housing Physics, Biology & Social Sciences Library
  13. Remodelling of 1 No. Junior Staff housing block
  14. Construction of additional toilets to Professors’ offices.
  15. Renovation of Senate Chambers
  16. Renovation work at Pre-French Secretariat
  17. Renovation of BSU Establishment Division building
  18. Renovation of Quarters No. BSU/QTRS/NO.5
  19. Construction of a Handball Court at the Western Wing
  20. Construction of office block for the Task Force on Sanitation
  21. Renovation of Quarters No. BSU/TEC/03/BQ
  22. Renovation of Quarters No. BSU/QTRS/NO.17B main campus
  23. Renovation of Quarters No. BSU/QTRS/TEC/06
  24. Installation of Digital Intercom System within the University Campus
  25. Total renovation of the BSU Senior Staff Club encompassing “Ate”, Gymnasium/Table Tennis Hall, Kitchen, and Fence
  26. Extension of the Vice-Chancellor’s office
  27. Renovation of Quarters No. BSU/QTRS/17A
  28. Renovation of Quarters No. BSU/TEC/04/BQ
  29. Renovation of Quarters No. BSU/TEC/04
  30. Construction of perimeter fence at Mrs. Funmi Tolufashe’s Quarters
  31. Construction and installation of four (4) Students Bulletin Boards
  32. Construction of a toilet facility in the labour market
  33. Landscaping of the Professors’ offices and classrooms
  34. Renovation of 3-bedroom flat (block No. 23) Staff Quarters
  35. Renovation of BSU Science & Technical School SS 2 block
  36. Renovation and furnishing of the Pro-Chancellor & Chairman of Council’s lodge at North Bank
  37. Renovation of the Sewage Unit
  38. Department of Economics building (under construction)
  39. Completed TETFund and Presidential NEEDS Assessment projects

 

  1. Physics/Chemistry Laboratories (Each laboratory has a carrying capacity of 100 students, offices, prep rooms and store);
  2. 160 Capacity Students’ Hostels (Eastern Wing of the campus);
  3. 500-Capacity Lecture Theatre Complex (Behind Geography Department);
  4. Biological Sciences Laboratories (Each with a carrying capacity of 120 Students); and
  5. Professor’s Block (with 8No. offices for professors, 1No. 200-Capacity Classroom, 2No. 100-Capacity Classrooms and 8No. 50-Capacity Seminar Rooms).
  6. 2 Twin Lecture Theatre Complex (2000 Capacity each)
  7. Postgraduate School extension
  8. Lawn Tennis Court
  9. Equipment of the Virtual Library, Departmental Laboratories and staff offices.
  10. Installation of LAN, Campus Fibre-Optics Network and 5 Smart Classrooms
  11. Local Area Networking & furnishing of MBA Building
  12. Provision of Sub-Station and Upgrade of Electrical Network
  13. Faculty of Social Sciences Building
  14. 100-capacity Computer Centre
  15. Centre for Entrepreneurship Study
  16. University Ultra-Modern Library

 

However, worthy of mention is the commissioning of the University’s Library Complex which has a vibrant Information and Communication Technology Centre offering expanded physical and virtual access to library and information services to facilitate teaching, learning, research, general administration and global outreach. Not only that the Library was commissioned, its terrazzo floor was rewashed, blinded and polished with the construction of six (6) cubicles to enhance maximum utilization of the facility. The Library has also since 2015 embarked on repositioning of Faculty Libraries to be more responsive to teaching and research needs. Also worthy of mention is the award of contract for construction of the Postgraduate Centre, Centre for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER). Work on this project is at advanced stage. To ensure proper siting of new projects in the University by the Directorate of Physical Planning, the University Master Plan is currently being reviewed to accommodate all existing natural and physical infrastructure in the University.

 

This administration also encourages Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs), Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs). The PPP, BOT and MoUs are aimed at development and linkages, academic research, general administration/management and infrastructural development in the University. Although the University is yet to make headway in the areas of PPP and BOT, it has been able to enter into several MoUs with corporate bodies and individuals to engender a multifaceted development and growth of the University.

For instance, one of such MoUs is with the University of Georgia, Athens, USA for cooperative educational, services and research activities for mutual benefits of both the University of Georgia and Benue State University. Recently, I attended the 5th International Conference on Africa and Its Diaspora (2017 BICAID) at the University of Georgia from 8th-10th November, 2017 where I was a Lead Paper Presenter on International Migration and African Development: Challenges and Opportunities in a New World Order and was honoured with the Asante Award for Outstanding Research by the University. I would like to humbly dedicate this award to all lovers of scholarship in Benue State University, and beyond.

 

Religious Activities

The University is committed into the hands of God through the institution of monthly prayer sessions on rotational basis between the two churches on Campus: The Good Shepherd Catholic Chaplaincy and The Good News Chapel. On the last Sunday of each month, we pray for peaceful co-existence of staff and students as well as their peaceful retirement and graduation from the University, respectively. Similarly, we commit the commencement of each academic session into the hands of God through thanksgiving services and offering of prayers for uninterrupted academic work and God’s protection.

 

Security and Peace on Campus

Under my stewardship, we have achieved relative peace and security on campus. These have been achieved through several interactive sessions with the host community (traditional rulers, youth, women etc.) and security operatives as well as advocacy visits to relevant stakeholders of the University towards peaceful co-existence, security of lives and property in and around the campus. We have also engaged the services of external security personnel and are in constant dialogue with Unions in the University. This has engendered a peaceful and harmonious working relationship.

Corporate Social Responsibility

We have collaborated with the present administration in the State led by His Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom on the Benue Students Annual Festival (BENSAFE) through the Office of the Special Assistant to the Governor on Student Affairs to realise its educational policy. We are hopeful that the University will continue the collaboration on this BENSAFE project which is aimed at developing the physical and intellectual abilities of our pupils and students right from the primary to tertiary institutions. We also partnered with Mzough u Tiv to organize the 1st International Conference and Round-Table with a view to reviving the Tiv culture and reuniting the Tiv Nation. These are in addition to the provision of a borehole for the host community at Akpehe, Makurdi; procurement of a braille machine for a blind student, Mr. Ukah Emmanuel of the Federal College of Education, Obudu; and the construction of a Water Fountain in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office by Zenith Bank.

Still on community service, the University has, through the Centre for Food Technology and Research and the Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies, carried out the following activities:

  1. Training on food safety and hygiene for food vendors where over 4000 food handlers have been trained;
  2. Training on farming practices and post-harvest handling of crops;
  • Feasibility studies on average food produce in Benue state;
  1. Opening of the University clinic to the host community;
  2. Provision of portable water (Borehole);
  3. Extension of public power supply to the host community;
  • Contribution to victims of Fulani herdsmen attack;
  • Enlightenment through public lectures
  1. Training of Cameroonian refugees on basics food Hygiene and food handling.

 

CHALLENGES

One of the biggest challenges I have faced as the steward-in-chief has remained inadequate funding with its concomitant effects: lack of a comprehensive, effective and functional pension and insurance scheme; as well as lack of private interventions in the development of infrastructure on campus through Public Private Partnership (PPP), and Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT). This is despite efforts on the part of the University Management in this regard.

 

THE FUTURE

My future plan for the University is to work with all its relevant stakeholders, prudently deploying both human and material resources available to the University towards achieving greatness by: a relentless pursuit of academic excellence, infrastructural transformation of the University, improved welfare and social life of both staff and students, peace and tranquillity, and a firmly established administrative structure based on the enshrined procedures and norms for which universities worldwide are known.

Moving forward, we shall adopt and adapt innovative teaching methods based on inquiry, research, and students’ response systems such as 5E+F: Elicit ­‑» Engage ­‑» Explore ­‑»Explain­‑»Extend and Feedback and other tested models. Such models shall be modified for larger classes as we have in our systems. Interestingly, these models have proven useful and reliable in enhancing learning which is student centred as opposed to teacher-centric approach.

 

This administration also hopes to make teaching and learning more enjoyable for both lecturers and students by providing larger lecture halls, procuring electronic boards, installation of smart doors among other technological innovations. As a team that appreciates the ideals of collective responsibility, our doors are ever open to positive/progressive suggestions as we invite public spirited individuals and corporate bodies with the might to intervene through the PPP and BOT by building hostels, guest houses and housing estates around the campus for renting to staff, students and guests of the University.

 

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