Bugaje’s stewardship at NBTE worthy of emulation

This writeup is not about praise singing or trumpet blowing but appreciation for patriotism and to encourage other office holders to put in their best in nation building.

A Hausa adage says, “to appreciate a hero is a must” and it takes courage and sacrifice for a leader to deliver selfless service, especially in Nigeria where tribalism, religious bigotry and other primordial sentiments reign supreme.

There are many people in Nigeria that worked and are working hard to make this nation great. The people are always passionate to contribute to the development of this country. These Nigerians sacrifice their comfort for others to live good lives. Though, appreciated by few their goals are to extend their favours to even their sabateurs because their target is for the comfort of all.

In this write up, I want to talk about an angel in a form of a teacher and a civil servant whose role manifests in the joy of people. This human builder and a pacesetter for a better Nigeria, is Professor Idris M. Bugaje, the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE). In him I found compassion, love, vision, empathy and patriotism.

Born in March 1958 at Bugaje, Katsina state, Prof Idris Bugaje holds a BSc and M.S. degrees in chemical engineering from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria obtained in 1980 and 1988, respectively. He obtained a Ph.D. in energy engineering from the University of Newcastle-Upon- Tyne, UK in 1993.

After serving the NYSC with the Nigerian Refinery, Warri, Bugaje started his career with the Nigerian Paper Mills, Jebba from 1981-1983, Energy Research Centre, Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto from 1983-1988 and Kaduna Polytechnic lecturer I and rose to the rank of senior lecturer and head, Department of Chemical Engineering in 1988-1995.

He joined the services of Ahmadu Bello University in 1995 and two years later left for the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1997-1999). He returned to ABU Zaria in 1999 as reader (associate professor) from where he was appointed rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Nasarawa in 2000.

At the end of his tenure in 2004, he proceeded to the University of Johannesburg, South Africa on a one-year sabbatical in the Department of Chemical Engineering after which he returned to his employers, ABU Zaria and served from 2005-2008. While at ABU, Zaria, he was the founding chair, Renewable Energy Research Group (2006-2008), head of Department of Chemical Engineering (2007-2008) and dean, Faculty of Engineering (2007-2008).

Bugaje was appointed professor of chemical engineering in 2006 by the University of Maiduguri but joined only in 2008 to become dean Faculty of Engineering in 2009. In 2011, he was appointed director-general of the National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT), Zaria.

On the successful completion of his tenure at NARICT in 2016, he went for a one­ year sabbatical leave at Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina and towards the end of the sabbatical, he was appointed rector of the famous Kaduna Polytechnic in October 2017. In April 2021 he was appointed Executive Secretary of the NBTE.

A scholar of international standing, Prof Bugaje has over 68 publications (journals and books) and 64 conference and seminar papers, with Google scholar citations as at January 2021 totaling 1086. Prof Bugaje’s major research area is renewable energy, especially biofuels.

With five patents to his name, Prof Bugaje, a COREN Registered Engineer is a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers (FNSChE), Fellow Solar Energy Society of Nigeria (FSESN) and Fellow, Materials Society of Nigeria (FMSN). He has received several awards in his 40-year service to humanity.

On assumption of duty as the executive secretary of NBTE, Professor Bugaje unveiled a 3Ss Road Map for the board, the 3Ss agenda, namely, Scheme of Service, Skills, and the NBTE Spirit, aimed to inject new life and fresh blood into NBTE.

Within four months, Prof. Bugaje established of six NBTE zonal offices across the federation to harness all NBTE potential and for speedy and efficient service delivery.

As part of his mandate to improve technical and vocational education, NBTE set 2023 as the deadline for all polytechnics in Nigeria to establish well-equipped and functional skills development centres. Thus, Bugaje gave a new theme for the NBTE: “Skills Not Degrees” aimed at achieving the objectives of monotechnics and polytechnics.

As part of his mandate to reduce unemployment rate in Nigeria, Prof. Bugaje is using polytechnics and monotechnics to assist out-of-school children, training and retraining programmes of craftsmanship, improved apprentice productivity (Panteka market and others are case study).

The launch of a National Skill Qualifications, NSQ, level 3 for articulated vehicle driving for truck drivers, among others, is a great effort by NBTE to sanitise our roads from accidents, and a golden opportunity for Nigerian truck-drivers to excel.

Another giant stride of Professor Bugaje in the NBTE, is the establishment of the NBTE TVET exhibition hall. The research and innovation hall is meant to showcase, exchange and disseminate knowledge on all research works that can be commercialised as a tool or key driver of the nation’s economy. The exhibition hall will facilitate the exchange of knowledge and innovations among all stakeholders, researchers, practitioners, regulators and investors and it will provide a platform to promote TVET Institutions Research and Innovation commersialisable research projects to groups that may have little or no knowledge of TVET Institutions Research and Innovation Research Projects.

Everything now at NBTE is working for the progress of technical and vocational education based on its mandate of practical education, and since the assumption of Professor Idris M. Bugaje as the NBTE executive secretary, everything has changed for good and as the ball keeps rolling Nigerian vocational and technical education will reclaim its glory for the country and for the people.

Auwal Ahmed Ibrahim,

lecturer, Kaduna Polytechnic,

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