Farewell remarks by the Outgoing Vice-Chancellor, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Dr. Abdalla Uba Adamu, to the Governing Council of the University, on Wednesday 10th February 2021

By Abdallah Uba Adamu
Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu

I started with Bismillahir-rahman-Rahim (In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful) in February 2016. I end with Alhamdulillah Rabbil Alamin (Gratitude to Allah Most High) on 10th February 2021.

It has been five years since Allah, in His infinite Wisdom, entrusted on me the leadership of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). These five years have been extremely intense and allowed me an opportunity to contribute the little that I can to widening access to higher mass education for the people in Nigeria. It was an assignment I took with spiritual vigor, knowing very well that "(e», though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil" for my Lord would be with me every step of the way. My Lord has guided me, corrected me and directed me to fulfil the mandate He entrusted in me. I will spend the whole of Eternity in gratitude to His glory and mercy.

Our lives seemed to be measured in chunks of three to five years, and each chunk represents a defining moment in our journey through life. I leave NOUN with fond memories of five years of a chunk of my life. In these five years, I have been in situations where I have thought, "It is really special that I am getting to experience this." These situations, of challenge and requiring fortitude, represented what I have truly appreciated about the job. These defining moments included processes that gave the university its soul and direction to the future.

Although there are many achievements that have given me pride during my tenure, there are certainly matters I wish had gone better. As an organizational leader, one must embody humility and take ownership for shortcomings of the organization, not just its successes.

The release of the outside independent review report Needs Assessment of the Students (which I refer to as the Okebukola Report) was a seismic event for NOUN, representing one of the greatest challenges facing NOUN as I leave it. Addressing the lessons learned from this report will be a focus for yearsto come in the University. My sadness was that such activity will take place after I have left, for I feel responsible for the status of the University described in the Repot. My overwhelming focus on stabilizing the university in terms of its structures, flow of funding, staff progression, infrastructural development, internal control of data workflows, do not seem to have left room for me to focus on the needs and perceptions of my clients - the students - to address them, until the tail-end of my tenure. I am happy, though, it has been possible to identify the problem, and thus the incoming Vice­Chancellor can aggressively pursue this phase of the development of the University.

Running a complex university such as NOUN posed another challenge to me on a personal level. I was worried that my kinetic research energy might be diffused by the myriad problems i would face on taking over in 2016. Happily, the Lord granted me strength to combine both administration and leadership. As of February 2021, I have published, both nationally and internationally 29 journal articles and book chapters, including one on our Glorious Chairman of Council, Prof Peter A. Okebukola. This was published in Pivotal Issues in Higher Education Development in Nigeria: Essays in Honour of Distinguished Professor Peter Okebukola, OFR. I also feel humbled that the Faculty of Education NOUN published a festschrift in my honor titled Educational Issues, Developments and Innovations: Festschrift in Honour of Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu.

In discharging my responsibilities as the Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, I am completely humbled by the incredible array of people who made an equally incredible of array of resources available at my disposal, ranging from sheer goodwill to opening up doors to opportunities - all geared towards ensuring my massive success as the Vice-Chancellor of NOUN.

Encounters with legislators at the National Assembly provided effective opportunities for engaging the political class in narratives about education and social responsibility. NASS Committees on Budget and Appropriation as well as the spectrum of TETFund leadership shared my vision and provided the necessary funding to actualize it. The National Universities Commission (NUC) excellently gave me the roadmap to quality assurance in our programming. The Council of Legal Education reasoned with my arguments concerning the quality our l.aw products and broke the NOUN Law Jinx that enabled our Law graduates to proceed to Law School.

At the home front, I was extremely lucky and blessed to have a Dream Team that worked with me flawlessly for five years - both as a leader, but most significantly to me, as a friend, thus creating a harmonious atmosphere which enabled us to achieve a lot. In particular, the Registrar, Sir Felix Edoka; the Bursar, Dr. Ernest Odeigah; the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Acad), Prof. Uduma Oji Uduma; the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Admin), Prof. Justus Shokefun; and the University Librarian, Dr. Adam Gambo Saleh constituted the arrowhead of success that we gained as the Dream Team at Management level.

However, my greatest thanks and gratitude go to the Chairman of the Governing Council, Distinguished Emeritus Professor Peter Akinsola Okebukola for believing in me for over 20 years and for being there for me in the past, now and in the future. I will use this opportunity to reveal the special place Prof. Okebukola occupies in my heart. First we were 'joined as brothers' by the late great Science Educator, Prof. Sam Tunde Bajah of blessed memory right here in Abuja some 20 years ago, when the grand teacher put his arms around the two of us and declared to the whole gathering of Science Teachers Association of his making us brothers. Secondly, Prof. Okebukola was the one who rescued my 'professorship assessment when it mysteriously disappeared after he had sent it. As the then Executive Secretary of NUC, he demanded for my papers to be sent again and he happily endorsed my application for professorship to Science Education which was backdated to 1997. He was a mentor and will always remain a mentor. Sir, words cannot express my gratitude to you. May the Lord bless and sustain you, and cause His light to shine upon you.

I will like to also extend my special thanks to the other members of the Council, both internal and external for being part of the process that promises to radically transform the National Open University of Nigeria and the massive support I. received from them. I strongly believe that this Governing Council, with Prof. Okebukola at the top, remains the best and most blessed Governing Council this University ever had - making the Council part of my Dream Team. I thank each and one of you for the camaraderie, understanding and support in discharging our responsibilities without rancor.

I believe I leave a University well-positioned to meet the opportunities and challenges of being a national and international leader in African and global Open and Distance Learning in the 21st century. It has been a privilege to serve you and be part of the Dream Team.

Alhamdulillah Rabbil Alamin.