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How We Created Africa’s Biggest University

November 4, 2012

How We Created Africa’s Biggest University

Sunday, 04 November 2012 00:00 By Tunde Akingbade Sunday Magazine Kaleidoscope
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Prof, Abdullahi, Vice Chancellor,  ABU, Zaria reflects on the legacy of Sir Ahmadu Bello, first Premier of Northern Nigeria and the University’s tree planting initiative and other ecological challenges. Excerpts.

Ahmadu Bello University has lush green forest that leaves a feeling of tropical rainforest even in the Savannah. What led to the achievement of the greens in the campus?

What you see in term of the greening of ABU can be traced to former vice chancellor of the university, Prof. Mahadi. He started it and we gave our support. When he started, people accused him of using the little water we had to drink to raise plants. But now everybody, who comes to this university is impressed by the beauty and how it has put the green on our alma matter.

We always claim that ABU is the biggest, largest university in Africa. In fact, we are one of the leading universities in terms of the development of human capital in this country. We always say that there is no single parastatal, company or multinational where you go and you will find out that one of the top officers there is a product of Ahmadu Bello University. We also say that we have produced a president, vice-president and many state governors.

So, I think that in terms of human capital development ABU has done very well.

What was on your mind during your own tree planting against the backdrop of the steps of Sir Ahmadu Bello, who planted tress in the campus 50 years ago?

Sir, Ahmadu Bello planted trees 50 years ago here. The grandchildren of the late premier witnessed the tree planting and the 50 years anniversary of the university. What we hope is that our children and grandchildren will also witness the centenary of this great university.

There was a time the university fined a professor N60, 000 for cutting trees?

Oh yes.

The dam, in which water swirls around a huge hole and percolates the ground in an incredible manner, speaks of the engineering ingenuity that created it…

Actually the dam was initially designed not only to give water to the university community but designed to generate electricity. If you go to the dam, you will see that was the idea. But unfortunately, due to the lack of funds, they were not able to realise that mission. We are now working towards making that a reality. But we hope we will produce a minimum of two megawatts within the next five to 10 years.

Will that be able to supply how many towns around here?

Our intention is to support what we have now. It’s a small amount of power. But if we can direct that to support the academic areas, our laboratories, the student’s hostels, that will be a great achievement.

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Author of this article: By Tunde Akingbade

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Mahadi: A Passionate Environmentalist

Sunday, 04 November 2012 00:00 By Tunde Akingbade Sunday Magazine Kaleidoscope
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DURING a chat with Professor Shehu Abdullahi, Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria had requested that I should see Prof.  Abdullahi Mahadi, the Vice Chancellor of Gombe State University, who was instrumental to the greening of ABU and the ecological transformation of the institution.

Everywhere I went, I got the feeling that my story will not be complete without meeting Mahadi. With my guides in the Environment Committee including Prof. Mohammed Balarade in the lead, we set out to reach Mahadi. In the end, we met him. His house has also become an ecological haven, a garden hidden under big trees. He kept rare species of plants, which he nursed and also reintroduced to the larger society either in ABU, where he was a former Vice Chancellor or in Gombe State University where he currently heads.

A lover of nature, ABU and Gombe State University remains the environmental babies of Mahadi that he nurses simultaneously. His legacy at ABU has taken root with many followers. Mahadi has created a zoological garden at Gombe State University and this has attracted many lovers of nature.

The Mahadi Foundation which carries out ecological projects and tree planting has been responsible to assisting ABU in stabilising some of its ecological zones as well as carrying out environmental protection in Gombe State.

Mahadi had sponsored many individuals and groups to receive environmental education and Abdullahi Sule of Department of Crop Science described him as a philanthropist.

Shy and unassuming, Mahadi was once the Chairman Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) in the days of the military before he became the Vice Chancellor. In those days, he had a raw deal under the military and still carries the scars of those dark days on his body.

Because of his love for nature, Mahadi has spread part of his salary over the years for the greening of the environment in Zaria and Gombe.

When we remarked that behind every successful man is a woman; inferring to his wife as his pillar of success, Hajia Mahadi, who overheard us replied on the contrary, that the professor has been her pillar and all. Both of them gave thanks to Allah simultaneously.


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Author of this article: By Tunde Akingbade

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