Dr. Isiaka Zubair Aliagan, is the Acting Head, Department of Mass Communication, College of Information and Communication Technology, Kwara State University, Malete. Since he assumed office about a year ago, the department has witnessed a lot of transformations, as captured in this interview with Adegboye Mumeen, Abdulhameed Abdulsamad, Iwaluwa Rose Mary and Temitope Salawu. Excerpts:
What has been your experience so far as the Acting Head, Department of Mass Communication?
So far so good; I came in as the HOD on January 17, 2018. At that time, there were different issues on ground ranging from missing results, core course registration for students and so on. Immediately I went to work by calling on students who had issues with their results to write letters to the HOD, through their academic advisers, explaining the details of their problems. Thereafter, we started acting on the letters received, totaling over 100 from students at different levels. We also inherited problem having to do with 2016/2017 academic session. Some of the students had issues for not sitting for examinations in core courses and this issue had gone to the panel set up by the university to investigate such matters.
It was one of the critical problems we have faced, because up to this moment, we are still sorting out some of those issues. Some of the students are claiming someone gave them verbal instruction not to register those courses. Unfortunately, in the university record as presented by the department, there are many courses that are grouped under core courses and some under electives and part of the requirements for graduation is that you must sit for exam in all the core courses which some of the students have one or two courses standing against them. So, we are still working with the Student Disciplinary Committee that took up the matter, to resolve those issues.
As for the case of missing grades, we have done more than 90 per cent of that. By the end of this semester, we want to see a situation whereby there will not be any issue concerning missing grades at all.
Sir, we heard that the department has gotten a full accreditation from NUC, what are those things you put in place to achieve this?
At the time I came in, we were preparing for accreditation and when that came up, we had issues with inadequate documentation. There were some files dealing with results and some other issues on staff and student matters that we were lacking. We went to task by sourcing for the entire documents by putting them in appropriate files so that whenever we needed anything, we could go there and pick it up. Also, in the area of staffing, we had inadequate staff when I came in. We wrote a proposal to the administration that we lacked adequate staff to take the programmes we offer, such as regular, professional degree, part-term, Top-up and the MSc, which we started when I came in as Acting HoD. Fortunately, our request was expeditiously granted by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor AbdulRasheed Na’Allah. By and large, we have done very well but I know we still have a long way to go. However, I believe very soon, we shall get to the Promised Land.
The Vice-Chancellor had a visit to the College and announced that the Federal Government had granted the license for KWASU Radio. What are the preparations for the radio to kick start?
I want to believe that very soon, KWASU Radio and Television will be on air. On the 4th June, 2016, we did a test run transmission of the radio and it was received from several towns of the state but because of license, we don’t want to go to full operation but since then, the university management has been working towards the approval of the license.
During the last visit of the Vice-Chancellor to the College, he announced that approval had been given for the issuing of the license. What is left is to just issue the letter and the license will be given. I believe what is left is small compared to what we have gone through in the past. Very soon, the Radio and TV will go on air. Don’t forget the license is community license for the TV and Radio for the sake of broadcasting for the community. But our own studio is still intact for practical. I announced during the First Departmental Congress recently that students should practicalise what they learnt on IT in the studio that is set already. We are only waiting for the booster to enable the reception to be sharp and clear. I want to believe the booster has been ordered for.
MACOSA as a Student Association, what is its contribution to the development of the Department?
MACOSA is a very dependable student association and we are very proud of the activities and programmes of MACOSA. MACOSA has been very supportive, in terms of equipping the department to complement what has been provided by the university management; the narrow casting is supported by MACOSA by providing some facilities to enable transmission of practical and production done in the studio and to be received in different departments within the college. By the grace of God, in the next few days, the narrow casting will begin full operation and we thank MACOSA for the support.
On the issue of staff, what can you say about the department lecturers?
At a point in time, Mass Communication was the talk of the entire KWASU, whereby people believe that lots of things are going on in the department whereby students and staff were involved in an internal crisis. When I came as the HOD in January 2018, I was part of the crisis in the past, even though the bulk of it happened when I was abroad pursuing my second Ph.D. programme. When I came in, the issue got to the peak and led to the departure of some lecturers. Few people believe when I came in, the crisis would be worse but I believe in one thing that we all came from different environments but our major purpose of coming here is to work.
The university is a public institution and everyone of us has the duty and responsibility to work according to the tenet of our employment. So, I discouraged the continuation of this kind of crisis by ensuring that rumor mongering, gossip and the kind of intrigues and scheming obtained in the past were thrown into the dustbin of history. I make sure I relate with everyone on equal terms. I don’t allow disunity and indignity. I make sure I carry everyone along in the course of doing the work. Of course, you may think when I came in “we became fewer” so there is no need of continuation of any fighting. If I came in with that kind of mindset that people had in the past, we would be having the same issue that happened in the past but now in Mass Communication Department, we act as one big family. Of course, we emphasize work; there has been no time to even rest, so there is no time for any fight.
I can tell you since I came in, there has been no day for rest after the 2017/2018 graduation, as we participated successfully in the summer programme. And up till now, we are still working on supplementary list. None of our results is outstanding except those who have one problem or the other.
What is the contribution of the Vice-Chancellor to the growth of the department?
The Vice-Chancellor is the pillar of the institution; he has been the only VC so far in the history of KWASU and don’t forget he is leaving after the completion of his second tenure of five years by July next year.
There is this saying that he is the most senior VC in any Nigerian university, because the maximum numbers of years any Vice-Chancellor can spend in any institution is five years but the Kwara state government was gracious enough to give him the second term, because as the foundation Vice -Chancellor, they wanted him to fully implement some of the ideas and the programmes that he had for the university. I can say boldly that everything you see in KWASU today is by the grace of God and the grace of the VC because all the structures and facilities we have in place were by his ingenuity and of course, the support of the government.
If he didn’t have the vision and the foresight to initiate what we have on ground, perhaps it would have been difficult to have what we are having now but today, look at what we have on ground; people who come to the university think that the university had been founded for more than 20 years. You can go to other universities of the same age as KWASU and I bet you, you will be overwhelmed with what we have here compared with what others have. The Vice-Chancellor has done quite a lot in the university, particularly this college as one of the foundation colleges in the university.
The love for College of Information and Communication Technology has made him done his best to make sure we have everything that we deserve in this college right from the inception. This shows the kind of love he has for the college and the school at large.
What advice do you have for the students?
I want to believe that from the day of resumption, you prepare yourself for exam because if you look at the structure of the exam timetable, it’s structured one way approximately the same hour that you spend during a course, is the same number of hours you are going to use in writing your examination. That buttresses the argument some people are making that if you sit for courses in one week, then you should be able to sit for examination of those courses in one week. That is the philosophy behind one week exam in KWASU.
I want to urge students to read very well and to be sincere with themselves. They should do what they are expected to do, so they will not have any cause to regret.