Professor Rauf Ayoade Dunmoye is of the Department of Political Science and International Studies, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. In recognition of his contribution to scholarship in Nigeria and abroad, two books (festschrifts) were written in his honour by the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) and ABU, which were presented to the public recently. In this interview, Professor Dunmoye speaks about the secret behind his successes. Excerpts:
Sir, can we start with your brief background?
I was born on January 24, 1950. I was able to know,because my father wrote it down. Before he died, I saw the date with him. This is how I know my actual date of birth and I didn’t do anything to change that date. In 1957,I started primary school. When we were growing up, we will go to primary school in the morning and in the evening, we would go to Makarantar Allo (Islamic School). Also, at that time most of the conventional schools in my town were missionaries’ schools, but they did not convert any of us to Christianity, until 1958 or 1959 when Ansaruddeen also started their schools.
I finished my primary school in 1964. At that time when you are in primary 7, you start buying forms for all secondary schools in the North. So, I bought form for Saint’s Paul College, Zaria, now Kufena College. I also bought form for Urogo Grammar school. Examination is usually conducted and these schools will pick the best. So, I was taken to Urogo Grammar School where I did my secondary school from 1964 to 1968.
What happened thereafter?
Youth exuberance led me to lead a demonstration against the principal. So, I was expelled when I was in form 5. Fortunately for me, there was this examination for federal government colleges where best students were picked. I did the exam and I passed. I also registered for WASC and I passed. So, I went to Federal Government College, Sokoto between 1969 and 1970. That was the best period of my life at Sokoto. After the civil war, some Igbo students were brought to the college. We were pampered with best teachers, free food and free transport fare. Most of our teachers were white people and many of our teachers had PhD.
When I finished in December, I had to wait for nine months, because that was the convention, as universities usually start lectures in October. As a result of this, I taught in Sokoto Teachers’ College under a scheme they tagged Temporary Upgraded Teacher. After that, I decided I wanted to work more. However, initially I wanted to study Business Administration, but the admission came late, hence I decided to do something else. Therefore, I joined Radio Nigeria, Kaduna as Studio Manager and Announcer in 1971/72. I worked there for about three to four months. A controversial report I wrote led to my transfer to Katsina. In Katsina, I also enjoyed myself, as I became popular. I became well known to people like late Mamman Shata, as I had to record him most of the time.
At what time did you decide to further your education?
People thought that I have failed HSC and that was why I was working. My mother therefore started complaining. So, I applied to many universities, because that time there was no JAMB. I was therefore given admission by three universities. But before then, Federal Radio of Nigeria, Lagos headquarters has seen my HSC with very good grades and they therefore requested that I should be transferred to Lagos. I said I was not going to Lagos. I therefore, decided to come and do History in the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
I was doing well with some of my classmates like Professor Mahdi, a one-time Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Hamman et cetera. One day, I just decided that I didn’t like B.A and I wanted to change to B.Sc Government. At that time there were only two classes of degrees B.A and B.Sc with specialisation in Government, Sociology and Economics. I therefore changed from B.A History to B.Sc Social Sciences,specialisation in Government. Because they felt I was intelligent, the Dean then asked my whereabouts, as they were not seeing me. I told them that I have changed my course. It was easy to know the students that were not around, because we were not many. They told me that I can’t change my course without application. So, I wrote and they approved, hence my change to Government. This was in 1972.
I graduated in 1975 with 2.1 and I was posted to Sokoto. Then, looking for job was not difficult at all. Before we graduated, Customs came to interview us, Civil Service Commission et cetera. I think I was picked by Customs. However, the department wrote me that I have been appointed as Graduate Assistant. I didn’t apply. It was the period of the nationalisation of academics. This was when Professor Ishaya Audu was the Vice Chancellor. Most of us were sent abroad. This was why after my masters in 1979, I went to Canada and came back with PhD, Political Economy. At that time Kwara State government gave me scholarship and ABU also gave me scholarship.
How was life on campus like during your days as undergraduate students?
Beautiful. We had what we called campus papers. I wouldn’t mention name, but at that time one person, who is a big man now, was the editor of one of the papers where we exposed many wrong doings, especially by lecturers, particularly sexual harassment. The papers were very popular and they came out anonymous without the names of editors and reporters.
There was no problem of food at that time. They will just give you ticket. So, nobody was hungry. Our cloths, we had washermen who washed them for free. We were not many, so we knew each other. Life was so pleasant.
Is there any basis of comparison with what was obtained academically during your days and now?
A lot of differences. I think things are getting worse now. The way we were taught was quite different from what is obtained now. The quality of instruction and the lecturers are quite different. I do compare my students now and what was obtained before. I still have my notes of the 1971/72, but after every examination now, students will just abandon whatever note they had. This is why it is difficulty for a 200-level student to show you his 100-level note. Students now will not attend lectures; they will not take notes; they will photocopy other people’s notes et cetera. Students now are not serious with their studies.
On the other hand, with due respect, some of our colleagues, they don’t take their work seriously. Some lack passion for the job. I think lack of good pay is also a factor, but once one has passion for his job, it is all the motivation he needs.
What happened after your return from Canada with PhD in Political Economy?
I was in Canada when I was promoted to Lecturer I. I came back from Canada to meet the radical scholarship environment I left, which the old Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) was known for. There were radical scholars always on the left, while people like Talban Bauchi, late Ibrahim Tahir, always on the right and many others. Many students followed the trend by belonging to the left or right.
For me, I decided to be a Marxian scholar not Marxist, because I did Political Economy in Canada. I know Political Economy, I therefore decided to be realistic by not being too hard on the establishment.
One of the interesting aspect of your scholarship is the number of postgraduate students you produced…..
Yes, I do harass students under my supervision to ensure that they produce their work. As a result of that they fear me and I like it, because it makes them to work hard to finish their work. I don’t do any other job apart from this work. I also realised that when one is supervising, he is also learning. I know many things about journalism, because I have supervised four masters’ students that researched in that field. So, it gives me joy.
I don’t keep students’ work. I write the date a student submits his work to allow me treat it in good time. This work is a trust and therefore it touches on one’s conscience. Again, I treat assessment sent to me the same way I treat the works of my PG students. Other people did my assessment when I was growing up in the academicsand there is no basis to delay anyone’s assessment.
It is important to know that when a supervisor picks a student after assessing his topic, the supervisor will also learn. A lecturer cannot develop if he doesn’t supervise and he will not have a legacy to leave. Students realisedthat I don’t hold them unnecessarily, so, they trooped to me and I can’t say no, because this is my job.
One of my students has been a Vice Chancellor and many are eminent professors all over the country. I don’t think there is no any university, especially in the Northwest and Northeast, where I don’t have students.
I have supervised 47 PhD scholars who are now working in different universities and other institutions across Nigeria and abroad. Many of them are now professors. For M.Sc, I have supervised about 100 students. These are those who have successfully completed their researches. The number of students I supervised at PG level will be running to hundreds when internal and external assessments are considered.
How is life now in retirement?
I think I have paid my dues. We allow the younger ones to also contribute their quota. I am presently working in Federal University Gusau on contract. I went there, because they wanted me to assist in developing their postgraduate programmes. However, I want to follow the philosophy of my father. When my father became old and he was still going to farm, we advised him to stop. He told me that if he stops going to farm, he will die, because it was going to the farm that kept him fit being the only thing he did all his life.
I am happy the way I am leaving ABU’s Political Science and International Studies Department. We are all friends and brothers, but we also have our disagreements, which is good, because it is political science. I don’t think there is any department in this university that enjoys the kind of friendship that we enjoy. I want my colleagues to keep the flag flying.