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Mr. Infrastructure: The Stewardship of Professor Muhammad Sanusi Liman (ViceChancellor FULafia) in Physical Infrastructure and Human Development

Abubakar Sadiq Aliyu Ph.D., Associate Professor of Nuclear Physics, Department of Phıysics, Federal University of Lafia.

1. Background
Professor Muhammad Sanusi Liman was named and celebrated by the students of FULafia as Mr. Infrastructure at their graduation party, held on 24th July 2019 at Ta'al Conference Hotel Lafia. This is the name the Professor had earned by merit from the students, who had found him worthy of appreciation and celebration, ensued by his giant contributions, which is an indicator to the fact that he had written his name with a prestigious golden pen in the pages of history. The focus of this treatise is not to eulogize the Professor for his stewardship but rather, it is to highlight the infrastructural deficit of FULafia and how he and his loyal team had put selfless effort towards addressing and curtailing such challenges and to pen down these challenges and how they were addressed under his stewardship.

2. The Existing Infrastructure before Liman and the Challenges Associated with them
Before the assumption of Prof. Liman into office in February 2016, the Federal University of Lafia had two campuses. The academic activities of the University were largely conducted at take-off site, while the permanent site was a mere sit of the administrative activities. The take-off site, which used to be the former State Secretariat for Nasarawa State when the State was first created in 1996, was donated for the take-off of the University by the people and Government of Nasarawa State. There were existing buildings, like the administrative building which was remodeled to provide less than eight classrooms and a number of offices for the University. New structures were constructed on the take-off site to address some other needs of the new University. Some of the new structures are the Block of Laboratories, Auditorium, Small Clinic, VCA building, General Studies Office, and the Faculty of Science extension building which is now the College of Medicine of the University.

On the permanent site, three buildings namely: Central Admin, ICT Complex, and the University Library were in use while the hostels were not, due to gross infrastructural deficit in terms of access road and bridges that would connect the Central Admin area with the students' hostels. The lack of bridges that will provide access to the larger part of the permanent site has been a major setback impeding access to the hostels and project sites. These highlighted deficits in infrastructure that will aid teaching and learning were curtailed (if not addressed) under the leadership of Mr. Infrastructure. The succeeding parts of this treatise will present the number of physical infrastructures that were constructed and feature how each of the projects had positively improved the pedagogical atmosphere in FULafia.


3. The Perturbation of Status quo through Admission
In Professor Liman's words, in one of his remarks as the Chairman of Senate, he mentioned that the Management had perturbed the system by increasing the number of fresh undergraduate intakes by 3 fold. This geometric increase had eminently perturbed the system as the challenge for lecture space and laboratory work space for the students become an alarming issue requiring immediate attention. The admission quarter for the year 2016/2017 academic session was increased from the traditional 300-400 fresh students to about 1200 students. What a discernible perturbation to the system!

The perturbation of system and profiling solution has now become a norm as, over the last four years, Professor Liman had introduced five new Faculties, with over 50 new academic programmes in the University. The newly introduced Faculties are: Medicine, Education, Administration (Management Science), Environmental Science, Agriculture, Engineering, and Computing. Other academic programmes that have been introduced under Liman's stewardship are the School for Basic and Remedial Studies and the Centre for Continuous Education. New academic programmes were also established in the Faculties of Science, Arts and Social Science, most of which have received the approval of the National Universities Commission either as full accreditation or interim. Of note is also the establishment of the School of Postgraduate Studies which now offers Ph.D., MPhil, MA/MSc, and PGD in over 30 programmes.

4. Addressing Infrastructural Deficit at the Take-off Site
In the dire quest to address the infrastructural deficit in the University, Mr. Infrastructure and his team constructed dual Lecture Theaters with a combined 500 seat capacity and named the halls after the then Governor Umaru Tanko Almakura. These theaters eased the challenge of students in terms of space for academic works. The construction of the theaters was funded through the IGR of the University. The facilities that were in use on the take-off site were overstretched and as a result, majorly dilapidating. The facilities were then rehabilitated and in the case of the canteen, it was remodeled to serve as an annexure ward for the small University Clinic. The Administrative Building (which includes offices, lecture rooms, libraries, and convenience), Interconnected Laboratories, Auditorium, and University Clinic were all rehabilitated under the years 2014-2015 [MERGED] TETFund Project Maintenance Intervention.

Upon the full-fledged commencement of the College of Medicine in late 2019, most of the facilities at the take-off site were vacated and Faculties of Science and Arts had to be relocated to the permanent site, in order to provide space for the new College of Medicine. The vacated facilities were remodeled to meet the accreditation requirement for medical science programmes. Professor Liman and his Management Team invested heavily in the procurement of laboratory equipment and books for the College of Medicine. Additional land was bought behind the take-off site, for the expansion of the campus as well as the construction of Anatomy Dissection Laboratory and Animal House for the Medical College.

Prior to all the remodeling, rehabilitation, and new construction work at the take-off site, the campus had, from the take-off of the University, been depending on diesel-fueled generators for electricity. Professor Liman and his team built a small substation for the take-off site and connected the campus to the national electricity grid which is by far economical compared to dependence on diesel. With the establishment of new programmes and the Faculty of Medicine at the take-off site, office equipment, and furniture were supplied and installed via TETFund 2016, 2018,2019 Intervention Projects, The equipment supplied under these interventions include: Ambulance, Fire Service Truck, Utility Van, Water Tanker, and Solar Street Lights, office equipment, furniture, and computers.

5. Infrastructure Deficit at the Permanent Site
The geometric increase in the number of new intakes, the start of graduate school, and the demand for more office space to accommodate staff beckoned for the need to relocate the Faculties of Arts and Science to their newly constructed faculty buildings at the permanent site.

The access roads, through the designated main entrance gate, was a major challenge for the staff and students of the two faculties that had just moved to the permanent site. Before the construction of the complete road network, two bridges (culverts) were constructed by Mr. Infrastructure and his team. These bridges linked the faculty buildings and students' hostels to the main entrance gate. As at this moment, a complete road network of over 5 km had been constructed to link all sections of the University. The newly constructed faculty buildings are now fully and operationally equipped for administrative and academic activities of the University.

In December of 2018, there was a case of an armed banditry-a group of armed men who invaded the University and burgled almost all the offices at the Central Admin Building, carting away valuable and sensitive documents. This act of criminality had cushioned the plan to construct a perimeter fence of over 7 km for that would serve as both physical protection against intruders as well as borders demarcation for the University. As at present, over 80% of the fence has been constructed.

At the 2nd-5th Convocation Ceremony of FULafia held 14th-15h February 2019, Professor Liman and his team led dignitaries and Government officials to commission 10 projects on both campuses. Among these dignitaries were the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State, His Excellency Engr. Abdullahi A. Sule, His Royal Highness, Justice Sidi Bage, the Emir of Lafia, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Emeritus Professor Munzali Jibril and the Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Professor S.E. Bogoro among others. The projects that were commissioned at the combined convocation were: Faculty of Science building, Faculty of Arts building, 500 Seat Lecture Room, 2 Blocks of eight classrooms, the new Sports Pavilion, Mallam Adamu Adamu Lecture and Office Complex, Muhammadu Buhari Institute for Research and Training (MBIRT), perimeter fence and gatehouse and road networks at the permanent site. The projects that were commissioned at the take-off site by HRH Hon. Justice Sidi Bage (rtd), during the combined Convocation Ceremony, were the Anatomy Dissection Laboratory Complex, Animal House Complex, and the Centre for Entrepreneurial Development.

Among the listed commissioned projects, the Mallam Adamu Adamu Lecture and Office Complex (MAALOC) and the Muhammadu Institute for Research and Training (MBIRT) stood out as two gigantic edifices that have changed the face of the University, addressing the challenges that are associated with lecture space, office accommodation for Professors and other ranks and the bench space for laboratory works. The MAALOC houses five 300seaters capacity lecture theaters and forty office spaces which are designed for Professors and a basement parking lot for 30 cars. On the other hand, the MBIRT is a complex which houses six 70 workspace capacity laboratories and 28 office spaces for staff.

The MBIRT is a state-of-the-art science laboratory facility that is housing cutting-edge research equipment for scientific and industrial research. The MBIRT envisions to steer and foster synergy in cutting-edge scientific and industrial research that will promote development in infrastructure, human resources, and financial sustainability to move towards a sustainable Centre for Excellence. In line with Professor Liman's quest to provide the best working and learning conditions for staff and students, elaborate landscaping and external works were done around the exiting faculties of Arts and Science, Central Admin building, The Ekanem Braid Library, and the ICT Complex. The external works and landscaping were done in order to mitigate the effects of flooding and provide easy parking and access to these facilities during rainy seasons.

6. Ongoing New Projects at the Permanent Site
Weeks to the February 2020 Combined Convocation Ceremony, site allocations and handing over were done for ten new gigantic projects on the permanent site namely: New Senate Building, Faculty of Agriculture, Faculty of Environmental Science, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Administration, University Health Centre, Faculty of Science Annex, Faculty of Arts Annex, Centre for Entrepreneurial Development and Multipurpose Hall with annexed Directorate of Management Information System. These projects have reached 60% completion as of October 2020 and will be due for commissioning by January 2021, before Mr. Infrastructure humbly bows out of the office for the new Vice-Chancellor.

7. The Federal University Lafia Teaching Hospital
On the 28th of July 2020, Professor Liman and his Management Team led members of the University community to the handing over ceremony of a befitting Teaching Hospital donated to the University by the people and Government of Nasarawa State, at Shinge in Lafia town. The hospital, which according to Governor A. A. Sule has reached about 70% completion, was transferred to the University and the Federal Ministry of Health for it to serve as a teaching hospital in line with the commitment the State Government to support medical education and produced more indigenous medical manpower.

Mr. Infrastructure commenced the rehabilitation works at the new teaching hospital and a gatehouse has been constructed, and the perimeter fencing of the Hospital has been completed. These efforts among others depict Professor Liman's commitment towards nation-building and selfless national service even with meager resources.

8. Human Development
In the area of human resource development, Professor Liman had invested a lot of resources in the training of old and newly employed staff of the University. The tallies currently indicate that more than two-thirds of a Billion Naira had been judiciously expended in the training of 200 staff (teaching and non-teaching) to attend local and international conferences as well as the training of 75 academic staff in foreign and local universities. Out of this number, only 15 of the academics were sponsored to obtain masters, while 60 enjoyed the scholarship for Ph.D. in their fields of academic interest.

9. Concluding Remarks
The servant leadership style of Professor M.S. Liman has proved to be both effective and productive. This Professor of Computational Plasma Physics has demonstrated that leadership is about willingness and commitment to service and one's ability to make others work for him at their own will under the leader's minimal supervision. How the Professor and his team, of highly committed Nigerians, are able to give FULafia the befitting look it deserves, in a short period, should be worthy of both genuine praise and prolific criticism.

How our Mr. Infrastructure, his Management Team, and support staff have combined efforts to transform a small University, faced with crass infrastructural deficit into a full-fledged citadel of learning and research with sufficient infrastructure, should be highlighted, celebrated, and documented. Achieving these milestones in a short period of fewer than 3 years demonstrates that Professor Liman had recruited a support team which is made up of trailblazers and dedicated Nigerians with goals that are in consonance to his dream of making FULafia "The Best".

Lastly, it is crucial to state herein that the opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Professor Muhammad Sanusi Liman or any member of his Management Team.

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The Federal University of Lafia (FULafia) was established in February 2011 by the Federal Government of Nigeria for the public benefit and it is recognized globally. Throughout our great history, FULafia has offered access to a wide range of academic opportunities. Read More