IBRAHIM ABABAKAR NJODI: A Systematic Bridge Builder. By Prof. Sola Fajana.

By Professor Sola FAJANA
Former Vice Chancellor, Joseph Ayo Babalola University, Ikeji Arakeji
Department of Employment Relations and Human Resource Management,
University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, Lagos-Nigeria.

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…” John Donne (1572-1631)

Professor Ibrahim Abubakar Njodi and I spent a few years together as members of the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU). We however came into
closer contact in 2017 when he paid a visit to Professor T A Olowokure, a professor of Accounting serving at Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU), where I was the then Vice Chancellor. Professor Olowokure had worked meritoriously at the University of Maiduguri in
the 1980s, up to the level of Deputy Vice Chancellor, and was enjoying his retirement
through visible contributions to the growth and development of JABU from 2010 up to 2018
and beyond.

The action of Professor Njodi to visit JABU to see his former DVC was symbolic and worthy
of emulation. In some private sector organisations, notably in the Nigerian oil sector, a practice has emerged whereby retired staff are exposed to welfare packages that assured
employees of a pleasant retirement. This motivation strategy works positively not only for retired staff, but also serving employees.

With the assurance that post-work life will not be
characterised by trauma and poverty arising from a deceleration in the quality of life after retirement, current employees could concentrate on their jobs and leave the future into the hands of a caring employer. As a student of human resource management, this was the model that came to my mind on that beautiful day when Professor Njodi showed up at JABU to look
for Professor Olowokure, who in 2017 was already in his late 80s. I learnt quite a lot from that visit. I would mention just a few of the lessons.

No man is an island. No university can afford to be an island; and no vice chancellor as the
prime face of his university can afford to be an island. There must be networks and interconnecting bridges. Bridges must be built at interpersonal and organisational levels.
Universities as universal institutions must build bridges which could be future connectors to
fortunes with old students, current and old staff, high networth individuals, royalty, contacts and networks, local and abroad. It is evident that most of the achievements of Professor Njodi while in office as Vice Chancellor at University of Maiduguri are to be explained by his
adopted bridge-building strategies. Thus, we found building projects, hostels, roads, and kindred donations given to the University of Maiduguri because Professor Njodi did not absolve himself into an island, but systematically built and maintained critical bridges with significant stakeholders.

On 02 May 2019, I was privileged to give a public lecture at the University of Maiduguri. I accepted with utmost enthusiasm the invitation to give the lecture which was part of the
activities marking the successful completion of the vice chancellorship of Professor Njodi,.
This was an eager response to a very good turn which proverbially is said to deserve another.
If the VC had visited JABU, far back in 2017; then the least I could do was to maximise the
opportunity of the invitation to lecture, ignore the security challenges of the environment, and
return the visit of a good man, celebrate him and showcase him as a man of integrity whose pleasant lifestyle and productive bridge building could be recommended to other chief executives.

While some leaders get into exalted positions and remove the ladder (or bridge) that facilitated their advancement, so that others would be delayed or even denied, Professor
Njodi would always pursue, prosecute and promote the advancement of others in his role set. Staff, students and other members of the Unimaid community copiously testified to this
character of Professor Njodi. A vice chancellor who routinely engaged in dancing with his
staff and students at university functions, cannot but be awarded the title of most-student friendly vice chancellor, because he insisted on maintaining the bridge of friendship and
excellent human relations he had built with his students and staff. There are about four major trade unions in Nigerian universities. Staff unions in most progressive organisations, including universities, characteristically pursue the ideals of social
justice, equity, and fairness, as they struggle to achieve the best welfare dividends for their members. A method of building bridge with staff unions is for a chief executive to be
sensitive and responsive to the feelings and challenges of workers, follow the path of honour by being accountable with funds, prudent and judicious in spending, and obtaining value for money when public funds are being expended and for the purpose for which the funds were
collected in the first place. Professor Njodi did excellently well in all of these. I learnt reliably
that he recovered funds that would otherwise have been looted and applied same to create a structure that remained a historical landmark on the campus. Congratulations: that’s what great bridge builders do.
I took a guided tour of the campus upon my arrival on 01 May 2019. I noticed the serenity of the environment, the campus roads were well paved with asphalt, lighted with solar panels, aside from old buildings that had been renovated, and several new projects that were visible campus wide. But more importantly were the ongoing building of roads with construction
equipment visibly dotting major roads.

This time was the twilight of the tenure of the vice
chancellor, who had only a few more weeks in office. Again, I was persuaded that only a vice chancellor who believed unrepentantly in building bridges would do this. These last set of
projects may not even be credited to him. Nevertheless, he continues to spend quality
supervision time and energy to ensure that his successor would inherit a healthy institution. Memories of my visit to the University of Maiduguri in May 2019 would for a very long time
remain evergreen. If permitted, I shall make my testimony available to business schools
around the world as ‘a case study of a man whose life mission is to build bridges’.
I wish to congratulate Vice Chancellor Njodi for allowing himself to be used to do all of these things for humanity.I wish to congratulate even more the leadership of this institution, and the staff and the students for availing the vice chancellor a conducive and peaceful environment to do that which he was passionate about. Without the cooperation of the
community, it may have been very traumatic to accomplish so much, especially in a security
challenged environment. Congratulations to all.
I wish the legacies of teamwork, bridge building between town and gown, between units within the university; legacies of equity, fairness, justice,
accountability, prudence and resultbased management, generously released to the University of Maiduguri by Professor Njodi and his team, will subsist for sustainable development of the University.

Like,share and come back for more news update.

Published by Sahel Onlione News

Sahel Online News is an online news platform, dedicated to building media consciousness for the changing world...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: