Mr. Joseph Garba Sule is the Provost, Niger state College of Nursing Sciences, Bida, an academician and unionist. He spoke with our Minna correspondent Yakubu Mustapha on the challenges, achievements and prospects of the school. Excerpts.
How has it been since you assumed office as Provost?
I assumed the mantle of leadership of the school in 2008 and as at that time the school was under Niger State Ministry of Health and Hospital Services but in 2008 we moved into the Ministry for Tertiary Education Science and Technology. I inherited a lot of decay and most of the facilities were outdated while some where not in place. The staff offices were not too conducive and funding for the school was not encouraging. The school fees which up till today stand at N5,000 was remitted to the revenue purse, so it was very difficult to meet the demands of the school. In 2008 when we moved into the new ministry, the institutions asked to be allowed to use the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to at least, improve the structures and facilities of the school and we were by principle, allowed to use such resources and I thank God that they were used judiciously to ensure condusive environment for teaching and learning.
Now we have renovated the staff offices, library, administrative block and few street light were installed. We have also purchased official vehicle for the school which was lacking. But I must say that even with this intervention with the limited internally generated revenue, the school is only allowed to index 50 students and most of them are indigenes of the state.( When you admit between 70 to100 students and collect N5,000 as tuition fee, you will find out that you have token resources at the end. We do not generate more than N2million to N5million in a year, to this we can add other revenue that comes from the use of the college’s hall making it possible to put some of these facilities in place.)
How have you been able to maintain peace in the school?
The school is relatively peaceful. I tackle the problems with the resources at my disposal. I would say that I mostly use the situational leadership approach to ensure peace.
What strategies have you adopted to reduce or totally eliminate exam malpractice?
Exam malpractice is one of the terrible situations most institutions battle with as well as dmission fraud. In our own case, we have had few cases of examination malpractice and fraud during admission and this is because nursing is a discipline profession and there is a law that any student caught cheating during examinations or who brings prohibited items into the examination would be dismissed outrightly. Those caught in the act were punished, thus serving as deterrent to others. That way we were able to curtail it.
On the issue of admission, we ensure that forms are sold in the banks and lecturers have no access to them while admission is handled by the committee members comprising of staff of the school, ministry of tertiary education and some of the sister agencies such as School of Midwifery in Minna. Admission racketeering has thereofre reduced tremendously.
What are the other challenges confronting the school?
we need to constantly ensure conducive environment both for the staff and the students, we also need more manpower to function properly. We need to address these issues and many others to improve the accreditation status of the school. For instance, we cannot index more than 50 students if our infrastructure are below standard. If manpower is adequate and funding of the school is increased the results would be better than we have today and the level of staff commitment to their job will also be better.
What are some of the measures put in place to enhance sustainability of the progress made so far?
When I became the head of the school, one of the biggest challenges I was faced with was lack of motivation to encourage staff to further their studies. I made sure that any staff who got the opportunity to further his or her studies was motivated by paying at least 50% of his/her tuition fees by the school. The staff also benefit from workshops and seminars and their allowances are paid accordingly.
What is the level of government support to the school?
Government is doing its best by intervening through MDGs and health system fund in terms of infrastructure and supply of facilities. I believe that much still needs to be done by the government to help the school. Even with the said intervention we are still unable to get full accreditation of the school to enable it move forward.
How much is needed annually to run the school effectively?
If we want to talk of budget for running the school, it is not only the capital project that matters but even the recurrent budget and the overhead. The school will need about N200 million annually for it to function effectively.
What are the legacies you would like to be remembered for after your tenure?
I think for every leader who successfully exit from an organisation he would want to see that he has left an organisation that has achieved positive results. I will like to be remembered as a leader who did not condone laziness and participated in ensuring that the school achieved her stated objectives. I want to be remembered as a transparent leader with accountability. And as a leader who gave the school his best.