The announcement in June of the establishment of a new federal university for Jigawa reopened ancient rivalries among the five emirate councils of Jigawa State.
The Federal University of Technology approved for the state was one of the four announced by the federal government.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, announced the development on June 21 in Abuja through the ministry’s permanent secretary, Sonny Echono.
The government said they were being established to address a shortfall in technology education in Nigeria.
Mr Adamu also said a National Institute of Technology (NIT) would be established in Abuja to serve essentially as a postgraduate centre devoted to research and innovation.
According to him, the new universities will draw the best graduates from the six existing universities of technology as well as other exceptional graduates from reputable universities within and outside Nigeria to form their academic staff.
The minister said President Muhammadu Buhari also approved a take-off grant of N4 billion for each of the Universities of Technology from the funding resources of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
The announcement was received with excitement in Jigawa. But it also started the debate on where the university should be located in the state.
Reason for Debate
Between June 21 when the universities were announced and August 4 when the exact emirate in Jigawa where the insitution will be located was announced; an intense debate occured among residents of the state.
Jigawa was carved out of the old Kano State on August 27, 1991, by the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida and is the eighth most populous state in Nigeria with a population of over four million people, according to the 2006 census. It has 27 local government councils, 30 state constituencies, 11 federal constituencies and three senatorial districts.
The state’s five emirate councils are Dutse – which hosts the state capital and also a federal university – Hadejia, Gumel, Kazaure and Ringim. The state is fairly homogeneous with the Hausa and Fulani ethnic groups found in all parts of the state, the Mangawa (a Kanuri dialect) in Hadejia Emirate and some Badawa mainly in the northeastern part of the state.
Although each of the three dominant groups has maintained its ethnic identity, Islam and a long history of inter-marriages bind them together. Islam is the predominant religion, with over 99 per cent of the population adhering to the Sunni (Salafist) doctrine, according to a report by the United States Institute of Peace, and the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD).
Notwithstanding its reputation as one of the educationally disadvantaged states in Nigeria, Jigawa has many tertiary institutions spread, although unevenly, across the five emirates.
Tertiary institutions in Jigawa emirates
1. School of Business and Management Studies, now (Jigawa State Polytechnic, Dutse).
2. Federal University, Dutse.
3. School of Nursing and Midwifery, Birnin Kudu.
4. School of Health and Technology, Jahun.
5. National Open University, Dutse Centre.
1. Sule-Lamido University, Kafin-Hausa.
2. Bilyaminu Usman Polytechnic, Hadejia.
3. School of Nursing and Midwifery, Hadejia.
4. Assalam International University, Hadejia (Private under construction).
5. National Open University, Hadejia Centre.
1. Federal Polytechnic, Kazaure.
2. Jigawa State Informatics Institute, Kazaure.
3. College of Education, Kazaure.
1. Jigawa State College of Education and Legal Studies, Ringim.
2. College of Remedial and Advanced Studies (JICORAS), Babura.
3. School of Midwifery, Babura.
4. Khadija University, Majia (Private).
5. National Open University, Ringim Centre.
1. Federal College of Education (FCE), Gumel.
2. Ahmad Sani College of Health Technology (Private).
3. National Sport University (under construction) owned by National Olympics Committee.
4. Livestock Investigation and Breeding Centre (under state government).
Announcement renewed emirate rivalry
Following the announcement of the new federal university, individuals and groups in Jigawa began to campaign for it to be located emirate councils.
Ahmed Ilallah, a public affairs commentator from Hadejia Emirate, hailed the federal government for the decision to site one of the new universities in Jigawa, which he noted is one of the most educationally disadvantaged states in Nigeria. He said that status was due to alleged poor treatment of the parts that eventually became Jigawa, when they were in the old Kano State.
Mr Illallah said following its creation in 1991, the state inherited only a campus of the Kano State College of Education, which was later upgraded to College of Education Gumel by the new state government in 1991. He said it was during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo that Hussaini Adamu Polytechnic was established in Kazaure in the Northwest Senatorial District of the state.
In 2011, when former President Goodluck Jonathan established 12 federal universities, he sited one in Dutse in the Central Senatorial District of Jigawa.
But Mr Illallah said the federal government set the stage for the current debate over the appropriate location of the new university. Unlike the case in Bauchi State where Azare was immediately announced as the location of the new university, the government left the site of the one in Jigawa to conjecture.
“This confused the people of Jigawa and has shaken the long peaceful coexistence among the people. While some reasoned that the Ministry of Education headed by Mallam Adamu Adamu could not agree on the appropriate location in Jigawa for the university, others believe a political game is being played.
“There is no town called Jigawa, the name of the state. Jigawa was picked because of the hills in the state. The major towns are Kazaure, Hadejia, Gumel, Ringim and Dutse, so it is a huge challenge to the minister, despite his knowledge of the state and coming from a neighbouring state, to determine the best location of the university in Jigawa,” Mr Illallah said.
“In the whole of Northern Nigeria, it is only Hadejia Emirate in the Jigawa Northeast that has no federal tertiary institution, despite its long history. During the time of native authority, Katagun emirate was under Hadejia district office.
“We appeal to the ministry and honourable minister to locate the institution in the northeast senatorial district,” Mr Illallah had said.
But a former chairperson of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Jigawa, Baffa Alhassan, said the institution should be sited in Ringim Emirate which he described as the most central in the state.
Mr Alhassan also said President Buhari has not executed any federal project in Ringim Emirate, so siting the new university there would give “the people who gave tremendous support to the president” a sense of belonging.
“Ringim Emirate has the least number of tertiary institutions in Jigawa State. It will balance the equation if the Federal University is placed in Ringim Emirate,” Mr Alhassan said.
For Rabi’u Ibrahim, a lecturer at the Department of Agricultural Education in the College of Education, Gumel, the new university should be hosted by Gumel, using the existing structure of the College of Education.
Mr Ibrahim said the N4 billion approved take off grant will not be enough to start the university on a new location, more especially if it is to start in 2022 as proposed.
Hr argued that the college has all the needed material and human resources. “It has 10 modern mega lecture theatres, each with the capacity to sit 500 students, and mini lecture classes.”
He said the college also has “about four kilometres of road network, well equipped modern laboratories, administrative block, ICT centre, clinic, security unit, digital library complex and centre for technology among other facilities. It also has large male and female hostels, and many staff quarters.
“If this is done, the Jigawa State College of Education, Gumel should be moved to Jigawa State College of Education and Legal Studies, Ringim, which is also an N.C.E-awarding state-owned institution,” Mr Ibrahim said.
But the coordinator for Arewa Youth Consultative Council in the state, Adamu Maidalibai, wants the university sited in Kazaure Emirate at the existing state-owned Informatics Institute.
“For the sake of fairness, the government should upgrade the Informatics Institute in Kazaure to a full-fledged University of Technology. The N4 billion takeoff grant will be adequate for the upgrade of the school,” he argued.
“The teachers in the Informatics Institutes specialise in sciences and technology, many of them with expertise in Computer Science. With this, establishing the new Federal University of Technology in the school will fast-track the school’s development,” Mr Maidalibai said.
How debate was ended
However, on August, the state government said the university would be sited in Babura, the hometown of Governor Muhammad Badaru. The town is located in Ringim Emirate in the Northwest Senatorial District of the state.
The governor’s media aide, Habibu Kila, in a statement, said President Buhari had approved the town as the location of the university.
Mr Kila said this was conveyed by a letter of July 2 to the governor from the Minister of Education, Mr Adamu, requesting Mr Bagudu to propose at least two sites in Babura with a minimum land area of 100 hectares as the site of the university.
He said the minister said the proposed site should be adequately linked to essential infrastructure, such as access road, national power grid and proximity to a source of water.
“In the meantime, Technical team comprising officials from the Ministry of Education, National University Commission and other stakeholders will be visiting the state for on the spot assessment and consultation with the Jigawa State officials to facilitate speedy implementation of Federal University of Technology, Babura,” the official statement said.
No location has so far been announced for the siting of the university in Babura. The university is expected to admit its first set of students in the 2022-23 academic session.
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