Nigerian Army University Biu: A reflection – Part 2
On the Army’s part, as a national defense outfit, NAUB would serve as “laboratory” of sort in the research and study of insurgency/national security, among others, in Nigeria and beyond. It would also underscore the army’s quest for the transformation of the army into one of the best in the world through technological development and innovations. The NAUB location is ideal for this task, in terms of access and serenity. Within the host North East region of Nigeria, Biu is an equidistant from the extreme ends of the states that constitute its catchment area of the university namely; Toro (Bauchi) to Biu, Nguru (Yobe) to Biu, Gashaka/Bali (Taraba) to Biu, Mubi (Adamawa) to Biu, Damasak (Borno) to Biu and lastly Gombe. On the part of the host community, Biu people, the development is humbling for which they will forever be grateful. The community had for long been yearning for a university given the fact that apart from agriculture, the pursuit of education is the next industry in Biu and indeed Borno South.
Successive governments in Borno have, arguably appreciated the critical role of education in engendering sustainable human development. Presumably, most governors of Borno appreciated this fact but failed to act beyond rhetoric. No thanks to the fact that governance in Borno is usually held captive by the state’s power structure and socio-cultural forces. Thus instead of adopting holistic approach to educational development the government focuses attention largely on the state capital Maiduguri, to the exclusion of the northern and southern axis of the state. This is a trend that started even before the rise of Boko Haram insurgency in 2009 or there about.
Today, aside Maiduguri, even relatively safe parts of the state have been rendered desolate as capital projects in tertiary institutions, are concentrated in the capital. While security challenge has been cited as a major factor in the uneven distribution of capital projects, geopolitical sentiment is at its core, especially with regard to the southern part of the state. There has been this long held view that persons from that region constitute the bulk of the lower and middle manpower cadres of the state civil service. As a consequence, larger chunk of the state resources is spent on wages, salaries and pension. It is thus felt in certain quarters that extending capital projects to the southern axis of Borno would amount to “undue favor”. Plausible as this argument may seem on face value, it has serious down sides.
For instance, meaningful development is never achieved in environments where parts are held-down for others. Such approach retards the whole and renders it vulnerable. It’s like neglecting one’s backyard, forgetting that the security architecture of the compound would become compromised. Furthermore, manpower-stock advantage is a temporary phenomenon, as time progresses policies of governments have a way of balancing things out.
Many states in Nigeria are succeeding in addressing manpower imbalance devoid of penalty, thus reducing feeling of alienation and frustration in the polity. A handy illustration is the distribution of tertiary institutions especially universities within most states of the country. Closer home, Yobe State University is in Gujba while the Federal University is at Gashua. Adamawa has Modibo Adama in Yola and state university in Mubi. Bauchi has ATBU in the capital and Itas-Gadau hosts the one owned by the state. The two state universities in Kano are located in Wudil and Gwarzo respectively, while BUK is in the capital.
Further away, Kogi state university is in Ayangba while Lokoja the state capital hosts the Federal university. The list goes on and on. In Borno State for inexplicable reasons 90% of tertiary institutions are concentrated in Maiduguri metropolis. The latest being the Borno State University. The list includes; University of Maiduguri (Federal), University Teaching Hospital (Federal), Ramat Polytechnic, Kashim Ibrahim College of Education, School of Health Technology, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Elkanemi College of Islamic Theology, Borno College of Legal and Islamic Studies.
This development, despite its perceived negative consequences for unity, may not be unconnected with Borno geopolitics and policy deficits. For, ordinarily Kukawa/Monguno axis should host the state university. Or better still Biu in Southern Borno where the facilities at College of Education, Waka-Biu are more than enough for a cost effective take off of such institution. The college’s infrastructure comprising hostels, Staff quarters, classrooms, lecture halls, recreational facilities, etc were put in place by American missionaries in the 1930s, before it was taken over by government in the 70s. Had it happened that way, the current College of Education could move to Gwoza or Uba (Askira/Uba LGA) using existing post primary schools for takeoff.
Furthermore, if security challenges permit, Monguno or Kukawa could have Borno’s second state university which maybe dedicated to science and environmental/ecological studies, similar to the Kano State Medical University, Gwarzo. However, should resources constitute a constraint, the existing state university in the metropolis could be moved to either Kukawa or Monguno at the appropriate time.
By so doing, the perception of governance deficit in the state would be redressed, thereby fostering even development, peace and security in the polity. It is probably out of realization of this fact, and the quest for sustainable peace and progress in Borno that the Nigerian Army, under Lt. Gen. Tukur Y. Buratai established the “Nigerian Army University” in the state. We salute the General, a nationalist and a proud son of Borno from Biu. Similar salute goes to Dr. Bukar Usman, a literary giant. Their unprecedented contributions to the development of education and knowledge in Nigeria shall forever be cherished.
• Abubakar, a former director, National Directorate of Employment (NDE), wrote from Kaduna.
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