It is doubtful if nearly anyone in Nigeria today can afford to be indifferent to the cascade of news of violence, of threats of violence, of anger, frustration, of unchecked use and misuse of power and of humiliation of the Other person or groups, if not the total anarchy of traffic on Nigerian roads. No level of clarity immunizes anyone from the momentary madness all these can generate in each and every one of us. But, there was a time it wasn’t like this. There was the time when the society was working, whatever the imperfections. It must have its own healing touch to refresh memories about such times through its most unarguable signifier – Professor Adamu Baike.
This is a flashback to history triggered by the cover picture of this story sent to Intervention by a restless internet crawler. In itself, the picture is that of a technocrat simply known as Mr A. J Adeka and Adamu Baikie with their Academic Adviser during their Masters programme at the University of Indiana, Bloomington in Indiana, USA in the late 60s. The accompanying lengthy caption goes on to tell how, upon their return from their studies in the USA, they both became lecturers at ABU Zaria before Adeka became a Commissioner in his home State, then Benue-Plateau State. The narrative is that Prof. Ishaya Audu who had become the Vice-Chancellor of ABU urged him to return to base at the end of his commissionership but only for him to decline.
On the other hand, Prof Baikie was to become a Prof. of Education (first in northern Nigeria) and later two-term VC of UNIBEN (1978 to 1986), VC at the University of Lesotho, and later founding VC of Nasarawa State University. One person serving as VC in three different universities is not a common place accomplishment. But that is still a tip of the iceberg: in all cases, he was ignorant of his appointment until it became public. That meant he never had to visit anybody in the night, rally round townspeople or blackmail anybody to get the job. Above all, he came out unscathed in all three.
One of those featured in the lengthy interview series which made Weekly Trust popular in its early days is Adamu Baike. The interview was arranged by Mallam Kabir Yusuf, a fellow sojourner in Southern Africa during Baike’s VCship in Lesotho but who had transformed into Media Trust publisher by then. Baike told the story of his experiment with democratic governance of a university that must be told sometime soon.
For now, the companion to the flashback is rather a different and more recent interview with Adamu Baike by Daily Trust on Sunday, (February 17th, 2017) which is accessible through that link. So, why should we read an old instead of a new interview? Simply because it is the story of one, unusual person as told by himself. It is also an insider’s account of the days gone by!. Lastly, there is no way of summarizing it without losing sight of the tension that every interview embodies.