In view of the above, the Alumni Association needs to strategize to reposition itself as an interdependent partner in transit to an independent status. This, I understand, is the thinking of the current National Executive Council under the able leadership of Professor R.A. Shehu, the immediate past Vice Chancellor of this great University. I therefore wish to make the following modest recommendations to both the University management and National Executive Council of our great Alumni. In so doing, I will adopt some recommendations from my good friend and brother, Professor N.M. Yauri (2012):
The University Authorities should as a matter of urgency brand the university as a Centre of academic Excellence in Administration, Renewable Energy, Peace and Conflict Resolution; and Quranic Recitation and Interpretation;
The University Authorities and NEC of the Alumni should as a matter of urgency work out a formal administrative relationship and engagement terms, especially as it relates to funding of the Alumni and contributions to the university;
The University Authorities should come up with a five-year strategic plan with accompanying two-year operational plans and monitoring and evaluation template, The Plan should have clearly defined Alumni engagement policy and programmes,
The NEC of the Alumni should review the mission and vision of the Association to reflect the current reality that it is already an “Adult Association” with the desire to fend for itself and also contribute “house upkeep”;
The NEC of the Alumni should take good look at the constitution of the Alumni with a view to review it in line with the new vision and mission of the Association.
- Expand the alumni association to more inclusive alumni programme by including current and former students, current and former staff, and graduate in its membership. To attract the generosity of those who may not fit into any of the categories in the alumni definition, create “Friends of UDUS” and encourage individuals and organisations to contribute to alumni activities and University projects through this means;
- Develop an alumni relation strategic plan. This strategic plan will aim to achieve some targets over clearly stated period of time-target may be financial or projects;
- Intensify alumni engagement programmes. For example:
- Create membership of alumni in University Council;
- Print quarterly alumni newsletters and share with branches, a website is better (the University of Nigeria, Nsukka has an alumni website alumni.unn.edu.ng);
- Establish an alumni advisory committee to advise the Vice-Chancellor and the Development Office on alumni relations; and
- Appoint alumni and development officers in each faculties (they will facilitate contact and communications with graduates of respective faculties).
- Create and publish an alumni directory of all graduate of UDUS since inception; and
- Create alumni events that continuously mobilise alumnus and keep them in touch with the University. e.g. Annual homecoming, fundraising activities, alumni achievement awards etc.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I began this lecture by quoting profusely from Duderstadt, permit me to conclude unusually by quoting him once again; he said “Today, an array of powerful social, economic, and technological forces is driving change in the needs of society and the institutions created to respond to those needs. It is time once again to reconsider the social contract between the university and the nation, and federal policy and action will probably be required to shape this relationship once again”. Some 10 months ago Nigeria was at a crossroad holding a placard with the inscription “I came from where I know not in search of where to go, will someone please tell me where I should go”. On noting this, Nigerians collectively resolved to embrace change and mandated President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to pilot the ship of State to the harbor of self-sufficiency through self-reliance. Therefore, in line with Duderstadt’s counsel, we charge the Nigerian Universities to chart the path and lead the national renaissance: Produce the knowledge and we shall provide the enabling environment to transmit, transfer and transform it for beneficial use of society.
My most distinguished audience, Fellow Students and Alumni, please join me in congratulating the graduands and their parents and guidance for satisfying the Universities requirements for award degree in terms of both character and learning. By the grace of God, your efforts will be fully confirmed tomorrow being Saturday, 19th March, 2016 when the brand new Chancellor confers on you your well-deserved degree. But please note that the world of work is a rough and tough terrain, especially in recent times due to the declining oil prices. However, you should not despair because as new alumni of Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, you will never walk alone where ever you go; we shall always be there for you.
Thank you and God bless us.