A delegation from the World Bank, Association of African Universities (AAU) and the National Universities Commission (NUC), on 4 October, 2017, commenced a two-day supervision mission to the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria’s Africa Centre of Excellence in Neglected Tropical Diseases and Forensic Biotechnology (ACENTDFB). The aim of the visit was to, among other things, gain first-hand information on the progress recorded by ACENTDFB, in meeting the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the ACE project, since the last supervision mission.
Welcoming the team on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Centre Leader, Professor Yakubu K. E. Ibrahim, highlighted some of the achievements of the Centre to include exceeding its target for the enrolment of regional students, establishing collaborations with strategic partners and networking with other ACEs in the field of Health. Another major achievement was the resolution of the Centre’s governance challenges, with the appointment of a Project Coordinator, who is at par with the Centre Leader and reports directly to him on the ACE project.
The visit also featured a tour of the Centre’s facilities and an interaction with some of its national and regional students, to gain some insight into the impact of the ACE project on their programmes as well as challenges encountered.
Students of the Centre expressed satisfaction with the quality of education to which the ACE project exposed them. They commended the dedication of the lecturers, particularly those from the Department of Biotechnology.
The students however lamented the inadequacy of funds for the collection of samples as well as the absence of an animal house/college. Another major challenge was the recent six-week industrial action by the university-based unions, which had hampered academic activities in the entire university.
Responding to the students’ comments, World Bank Education Specialist, Ms. Himdat Bayusuf, informed them of the bottlenecks encountered by the Centre in activating the Project’s accounts, which were domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). She encouraged them to take advantage of the benefits of the ACE project and focus on making breakthroughs in Malaria and neglected tropical diseases, cognisant of their impact on the nation.
Ms. Bayusuf assured the students of the commitment of the Nigerian government to the improvement of the health sector as well as higher education. She encouraged them to continue to explore viable channels of communication with their lecturers, to ensure a hitch-free stay in the school.
The delegation commended the cohesiveness of the ACENTDFB team. It noted that the Centre had made remarkable progress since the last supervision mission, and was, gradually, yet steadily, surmounting its challenges.
The delegation, however, expressed concerns with the slow pace of the bidding process in the procurement of new equipment, considering that the Project was nearing expiration. It noted the need for faculty of the Department to be actively involved in the ACE Project. The team also advised the Centre to devise more aggressive means of creating awareness about the ACE project, not only within the University community, but also, among relevant stakeholders.
Others in the ACENTDFB team were the Project Coordinator, Professor Junaid Kabir; the former Deputy Centre Leader, Professor Mairo Inuwa; the Safeguards Officer, Professor Sani Ibrahim; Principal Investigator (Rabies), Professor Jacob Kwagga; Assistant Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Dr. Idowu Aimola and the Coordinator, Trypanosomiasis Unit, Dr. Gloria Chechet.
The WB/AAU/NUC team also had Professor Jonathan Mba (AAU), Professor Hadiza Galadanci (Country-Based Health Expert), Professor Michelle Niescierenko (World Bank Health Expert), as well as, both of Peter Tobrise (Project Management Office) and Yvonne Orekyeh (Communications Officer), both of the NUC.
R-L: Country-based Health Expert, Prof. Hadiza Galadanci, World Bank Education Specialist, Ms. Himdat Bayusuf,
World Bank Health Expert, Prof. Michelle Niescierenko and ACE Project Coordinator, AAU, Prof. Jonathan Mba
R-L: Staff ofACENTDFB: Mr. Silas Yashim, Prof. Yakubu K. Ibrahim, Prof. Mairo Inuwa, Prof. Junaid Kabiru, Prof. Peter Kwagga, Prof. Sani Ibrahim and Prof. Maman Mohammed