Nok University: Providing Courage and Impetus for Development in Southern Kaduna
Southern Kaduna is a melting pot of diverse ethnic groups. Together, they have woven a rich tapestry of interconnectedness through religion, marriages and also culture. Instructively, a lot of the groups are known to bestraddle shared boundaries therefore effectuating cultural assimilation. And, they ‘re known to possess engaging identity and vibe that makes them stand out.
Needless to say, the zone is a rich field of human and mineral resources. It’s home to luminaries in different fields of endeavour; and at least the last time i checked high grade Nickel in commercial quantity was found in Dangoma which is in addition to many others that are strewn all over the zone.
Also, it has the climate and soil that’s supportive of the growth of different important crops and, what’s more, it possesses exciting tourism potentials. Discussions on Southern Kaduna are incomplete without the mention of ginger which is globally sought after on the strength of its distinctive quality.
However, the area is stuck in deep socioeconomic morass. Infrastructures are almost non-existent and where they exist, they are subpar. As a result, the area will be doing itself a great disservice waiting for government which appears not in a hurry to jump to its rescue. The list of the many ghosts it has to exorcise in its long walk to development is long and remains public knowledge.
So, in bridging the development gap not a few well meaning and public-spirited individuals have been making generous contributions not least within their immediate domain. I couldn’t agree more that such people with proven community development drive needs to be harnessed to unlock change.
Interestingly, a refreshing departure from the negative narratives on its development has emerged through the agency of Chief Antony Hassan (Dokajen Jaba) with the establishment of Nok University situated in the somnolent town of Kachia. Aside his prowess on the political chess board, he has proven himself as a social entrepreneur with the power to dare to do great things!
Here is a man that’s not living in the bubble of galling qualities that characterizes the average BIG MAN. Instead, he has elected the disarming path of humility and “ordinariness” to launch himself into the pantheon of great change agents - those who are bothered on how to better society.
The zone is sorely in need of social entrepreneurs of his ilk- those who are willing to buck the trend through the admixture of “idealism, grit and determination.” Bill Drayton asserted that the job of a social entrepreneur is to recognize when a part of society is stuck and to provide new ways to get it unstuck.”. This is what the Dokajen Jaba has done. His encounter with a young man whose desire was to study medicine but couldn’t secure admission to a University despite his glittering result kindled the fire in him in finding the means to solve the shrinking admission space and further fill the gaping development space in the area.
Nok University is oriented towards his ‘first love’- Sciences and which i deem is strategic owing to the import of science as the pivot of future development.
Jawaharlal Nehru of India, has always been enamoured of science. Thus, he made it the corner stone of economic development no sooner than he came on board as Prime Minister. In declaring his faith in science, he asserted that “politics led me to economics and this led me inevitably to science and the scientific approach to all our problems and to life itself... it was science alone that could solve these problems of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, superstition and deadening custom and tradition, of vast resources running to waste, of a rich country inhabited by starving people.”
Today, India has a record number of graduates with science and engineering degrees making it one of the countries with the largest Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates in the world. Thus, conferring on it the distinction of being one of the powerhouses in innovation and technology.
Also, instructive, is Thomas Friedman’s 2012 article: Pass the Book- Hold the Oil wherein he quoted Andreas Schleicher, who oversees Program for international student’s assessment exam for O.E.C.D that “knowledge and skills have become the global currency of the 21st century economies, but there is no central bank that prints this currency. Everyone has to decide on their own how much they will print.” he quoted further that “Sure, its great to have oil, gas and diamonds. They can buy jobs. But they will weaken society in the long run unless they’re used to build schools and a culture of lifelong learning.”
It is against this background that Dokajen’s laudatory investment on human capital development is to all intents and purposes a lodestar. The potential gains and multiplier effects this will have in the zone is going to be phenomenal. So, the idea is not only a boon for Southern Kaduna but the country by extension.
Apparently, Nok University is a game changer and should provide a new thinking and orientation towards the development of the zone- private investment especially in productive enterprises is the path to follow. Investment of this significance requires collective supports and buy-in from the area, state and nation at large. So, eyes should remain fixed on the ball in evolving a world class institution.