The 16 year old University of Mkar in Gboko, Benue State in Central Nigeria has a new Vice-Chancellor. He is Prof Professor Zacharys Anger Gundu, a Professor of Archeology with the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in the Northwest of Nigeria.
Prof Gundu obtained his PhD in Archeology from the University of Ibadan in 1999, becoming a Professor in 2013. He has been the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Benue State University, Makurdi since 2016.
A scrutiny of the new VC shows that he has published on Archeology, Archeology in Nigerian universities; colonialism and African knowledge system/endogenous knowledge system, the Bantu problem; the Nok culture; looted Nigerian heritage; the Niger-Benue Confluence; Christian – Muslim Dialogue; peace and conflict in Plateau and Kaduna states of Nigeria; methodological and epistemological problems of researching the Tiv/Tiv identity; Gboko town and similar themes.
A notable intellectual commander of the ‘Fulanisation’ narrative of generalised insecurity in contemporary Nigeria, Prof Gundu has seen academic work in Nigeria, the UK, Germany, the United States, Japan, Jordan, Israel, South Africa and Ghana where he has been an external examiner at Legon.
Prof Gundu has been the Vice Chair of the Committee of Pro Chancellors of State Universities in Nigeria (COPSUN) since 2020; President, Archaeological Association of Nigeria from 2010 to 2018); Vice President, Pan-African Congress of Prehistory and Related Studies between 2014 and 2018; Council Member, World Archaeological Congress (WAC) from 2013 to 2016; Secretary, Archaeological Association of Nigeria as well as Secretary, Ushongo Local Government Area of Benue State from 1991-1993.
There are no obvious reasons why the University of Mkar is poaching the Chairman of Council of Benue State University, Makurdi but there will be no surprises if the change of leadership comes with a spurt of fireworks. Some observers of the university claim it is still locked in teething problems after 16 years of being in existence. While it is widely acknowledged that this might have been the toughest time to run a university in Nigeria, a system confronted by administrative and systemic challenges and then compounded by COVID -19 pandemic, others are saying crises should also be the time to revalidate the university’s vision and mission, taking into account opportunities available today as a result of technology.
How this will unfold remains to be seen but Intervention understands there is a determination to raise the bar in a few areas quickly while fixing a few priority areas. Creative mobilization of resources by expanding admissions and mounting high impact programmes is specifically understood to be on the agenda along with Research; Postgraduate (PG) and Undergraduate Learning and Development; Entrepreneurial University Branding; University of Mkar Foundation. Rigorous internal analysis including consultations with the proprietor, staff, students, alumni and other stakeholders might be underway towards the realisation of these efforts.
A key document making the rounds asserts how the University of Mkar was established in 2005, with the vision ‘to be a world class university that is committed to the advancement of knowledge through quality teaching, research and holistic education that puts God at the centre of all learning’; that it commenced academic activities with the mission ‘to develop change agents through learning in the academy, church and society, using our knowledge based on God’s word for service’; that the Philosophy of the University is ‘to develop a total person through a university education that is qualitative, comprehensive, relevant and which propels the individual to be self reliant’