Spotlight on Prof Tanko Ishaya's Achievements As VC


NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF PROFESSOR TANKO ISHAYA AS THE 10TH SUBSTANTIVE VICE-CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF JOS WRITTEN BY ABDULLAHI ABDULLAHI, DEPUTY REGISTRAR, INFORMATION AND PUBLICATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF JOS.Admin Block

When Professor Tanko Ishaya assumed office as the 10th substantive Vice-Chancellor of the University of Jos on 1st December, 2021, the feeling around the University and beyond was that of relief, elation and eager anticipation. This was because in the minds of many, a painstaking but at times difficult process had now come to an end. The world had waited with bated breath anticipating the announcement given that the last process of selection had stalled for about six months without a definite outcome. An interim arrangement had then been put in place where an Acting Vice-Chancellor held the forte before the announcement on Friday 12th November, 2021 by Chairman of the University’s 14th Governing Council, Professor Attahiru Jega that it had approved the appointment of Professor Tanko Ishaya as Vice-Chancellor of the University.

The sense of optimism was evident and palpable as members of the University community welcomed someone they considered as having the requisite pedigree to the mantle to superintend over their affairs for the next five years.

Although Professor Tanko mounted the saddle of leadership at a most challenging period in the life of the University due mostly to the uncertainty that surrounded activities around the Institution, the atmosphere remained upbeat as there was widespread belief that the new Vice-Chancellor was the man for the occasion and eminently qualified to navigate the Institution through any difficulties. Afterall, Professor Tanko’s vast experience and pioneering achievements in academic circles both in Nigeria and Internationally came with added significance because he was a significant player in the successes recorded during the immediate-past administration in the University. He was thus armed with first-hand knowledge of the University environment where he had served for many years as Director ICT, Head of Department, Computer Science and erstwhile Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic). This stirred a sense of confidence among many stakeholders.

Now about a year later, the consensus among most discerning observers is that the choice of Professor Tanko Ishaya as the current occupant of the exalted office of Vice-Chancellor, University of Jos was never misplaced.

Going through the Vice-Chancellor’s scorecard for the period under review, it has been a story of overcoming the odds to record many important successes.

The difficult circumstances that confronted him during his early days in office could potentially have dampened his morale and derailed his vision towards providing quality leadership to an institution that was in dire need of inspirational direction. However, his uncanny ability to rise above adversity and his firm resolve to make the University a bastion of excellent scholarship left him not only undeterred, but better motivated to deliver on his mandate.

Professor Tanko’s tenure so far has endured such travails as the destruction of some buildings and facilities at the Naraguta Campus by rainstorm, inferno at the University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the Polo Roundabout, industrial action by the various University Staff Unions as well as dwindling internally generated revenue despite huge operational cost of running the University.

While defying these and many more challenges, Professor Tanko has pursued his agenda of promoting “Integrity, Openness and Accountability” with uncommon vigour and sincerity of purpose. By anchoring his message on this tripod, the “Game Changer” as Professor Tanko is fondly called, has continued to champion the cause of impactful Academic enterprise through effective human resource development and cutting-edge Research activities with high community focus. As a platform towards achieving this, the University has now secured Full Accreditation Status for Sixty-Nine out of its Seventy-Five Undergraduate Programmes which translates to an outstanding Ninety-Two Percent of its Programmes now Fully Accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC). This is the highest Full Accreditation Percentage ever achieved by the University since the NUC introduced the exercise during the 1999/2000 Academic Session. Before Professor Tanko assumed office as Vice-Chancellor, only Fifty-Seven point Three Percent of the University’s Undergraduate Programmes enjoyed Full Accreditation Status.

To go with this feat, Professor Tanko has presided over the promotion of a substantial number of Academic Staff to the rank of Readers and Professors in various Academic disciplines. As at the last count, there were 158 of them, Seventy (70) Readers promoted to the rank of Professor and Eighty-Eight (88) Senior Lecturers to the rank of Reader. By any standard, this is truly impressive.

It is such motivation that had inspired many Academics in the University to remain active even during the last ASUU strike which resulted in their ability to attract both national and international Research grants. Notable among such Research activities and breakthroughs are the TETfund and National Research Fund (NRF) Project on Emotional and Psychological Impact of COVID-19 Outbreak on Frontline Health Workers in Nigeria worth over 34 Million Naira, French Embassy/IFRA Grant on FSPI e-Health Project worth 30,000 Euros as well as Erasmus Plus/Piraeus University, Greece Project that sponsored ten Unijos Staff for an International Staff Week in Greece. The University’s Office of Research and Development also secured a 110 Thousand Dollar Grant to train Research Administrators in Nigerian Public Universities.

Being himself a quintessential Scholar and internationally acclaimed Researcher, Professor Tanko Ishaya has within the past one year sought to build collaborations, partnerships, affiliations and networks with many local and foreign Universities, Research Institutions, Government and Non-Governmental Agencies through visits, signing of MOUs and strategic engagements among others.   

Students’ welfare is another key area that the University administration is giving serious attention to. The Tanko Ishaya administration has shown sufficient commitment to the creation of a conducive environment for the Students to further their academic pursuits through adequate provision of utilities like power and water as well transportation through the operation of shuttle buses and accommodation through the building of two 144 bed capacity modern Male and Female Students Hostels at the Naraguta Campus.       

As a pilot project to assist indigent Students earn some stipends to pay their way through school, the University Management under Professor Tanko has introduced a programme where such Students are engaged in cleaning services such as fumigation and mowing of grass under the supervision of the University’s Cleaning Contractors. The early signs look promising which indicates that the programme is gaining wide acceptance and thus may be expanded to cater for more Students in the near future.

Being one of the most sought-after Institutions in the Country, the University early this year, inducted newly qualified Pharmacists and also inducted the pioneer set of Veterinary Doctors and Surgeons for the first time in the University’s history. At the same time, the University is encouraging its Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students to pursue entrepreneurial activities and participate in competitions with their peers around the world which has seen several of them record remarkable successes including emerging tops at the North Central Regional Zone of the National Enterprise Challenge and third at the 2022 National Entrepreneurship Competition. A Veterinary Medical Student of the University also carted home the second prize at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Conference International Award where he was only beaten to the First position by a candidate from the United Kingdom.

One of the Administration’s signature achievements was to secure the hosting rights for the 27th Edition of the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) competition to be staged in 2024. After many years of trying, this was the first successful bid by the University to host the Games. Already, the Management has commenced the process of developing a design concept and Masterplan for an Ultramodern Sports Complex that would host the Games.

In terms of infrastructural development and provision of facilities and equipment, several projects are at various stages of completion while others have been completed and commissioned.

Buildings such as the Visiting Scholars Residence and Vice-Chancellor’s Residence among others, were rehabilitated and furnished. This is in addition to the construction and furnishing of the Deanery Block at the Faculty of Agriculture, Construction of a 500 capacity Auditorium and Classrooms at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine as well as tarring 480 Meters Road at the Vie-Chancellor’s Residence.  

Other important areas where attention has been directed include the upscaling of the security apparatus around the University geared towards protecting the lives and properties of members of the University community. The University is strengthening its collaboration with external Security Agencies while also improving the capacity of its internal Security Personnel and equipping them with the necessary communication gadgets and kits to effectively perform their duties. The Security Personnel have only recently been provided with Drones and Two patrol vehicles to enhance their surveillance capabilities. Furthermore, the University has constituted a Committee on Community Relations and University Engagement consisting of both internal and external members to promote harmonious coexistence with the University’s neighbouring communities and improve its Security Architecture.

The past one year in the University of Jos under the able stewardship of Professor Tanko Ishaya has no doubt recorded a host of challenges but many more successes and achievements. Nonetheless, with the cooperation, continuous support and prayers of Students, Staff, Alumni and other Stakeholders of the University, the remaining period under his tenure portends nothing short of an unprecedented harvest in the attainment of greater accomplishments.