Thirteen of Nigeria’s current 44 ministers graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, details of their educational information culled from online searches as well as the review of their curriculum vitae show.

A PREMIUM TIMES’ review of the details further shows that all the 13 obtained only their first degrees from the 58-year-old institution formerly named the University of Northern Nigeria, save FCT minister Muhammad Bello, who bagged both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business administration from the university, in 1980 and 1987 respectively, after which he graduated from the International University of Africa, Sudan, in 1994.

State environment minister Sharon Ikpeazu on her part went to ABU for IJMB in 1981.

The alumni of the university include the minister of education, Adamu Adamu; industry (state), Maryam Katagum; power (state), Goddy Jedy Agba; water resources, Suleiman Adamu; finance, Zainab Ahmed; agriculture, Sabo Nanono; defence, Bashir Magashi; FCT (state), Ramatu Tijjani; foreign affairs (state), Zubair Dada; sports, Sunday Dare; police affairs, Maigari Dingyadi; humanitarian affairs, Sadiya Faruk.

Now studying for masters in artificial intelligence at the University of Manchester, Nuhu Ibrahim, Ahmadu Bello University’s best graduating student in 2018 and overall best valedictorian (4.94 CGPA) in the 58 years history of the university, said this could be because of ABU’s long heritage and prestige.

“The universities are super old and you would expect that they will have grownup past students,” Mr Ibrahim said over the phone.

“I won’t also deny the fact that graduating from some particular universities has a little impact on the networking factor which has a further impact on overall success,” he added.

Choice universities

University of Lagos placed second, with eight of the nation’s current ministers having obtained at least a degree from the university. Three of them had their formative educational qualification from the university, while the other five enrolled in the school for further studies.

Four other ministers attended University of Jos, but only women affairs minister, Paulen Tallen, had her first degree, in sociology, from the school after which she graduated from John Kennedy School of Government in 2002. Emeka Nwajiuba, state education minister, has a law PhD degree in view from the university.

Likewise, the University of Maiduguri has three alumni among the ministers.

University of Benin, University of Port Harcourt, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Obafemi Awolowo University and Ambrose Alli University have each produced two graduates among the current crop of ministry heads.

University of Ibadan, University of Calabar, Imo State University, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University and the University of Nigeria each have one ministerial alumni on their roll.

Both President Muhammadu Buhari, who doubles as petroleum minister, and defence minister Bashir Magashi attended the Nigerian Defence Academy.

Although Mr Magashi would later obtain an advanced diploma in public administration at Ahmadu Bello University before studying law at the same university in 1983, Mr Buhari pursued his military career by attending Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot, UK, where he graduated from in January 1963.

Foreign trained

While 18 of the ministers bagged various degrees from foreign institutions, four of them had their formative higher educational degrees from institutions outside the shores of Nigeria.

Of the quartet, state transportation minister Gbemisola Saraki, who holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Sussex Falmer in 1987, had all her education outside Nigeria.

For health minister, Osagie Ehanire, after completing his primary school education in Benin and secondary school in Ibadan, he proceeded to Ludwig-Maximillian Universität München, Germany, to study medicine, and then to the Royal College of Surgeon, Ireland, where he bagged a diploma in anaesthetics.

Environment minister Muhammad Mahmood earned respective bachelor and master’s degrees in microbiology in 1983 and resources management in 1985 from Central Washington University. In 1990, he bagged a PhD in watershed management from the University of Arizona.

Foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama earned two bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in political science and law. He obtained them from Columbia University, Cambridge University, and the University of London, where he got his second masters honour.

Other institutions

A member of the Chartered Institute of Certified Accountants, England, the Niger Delta minister for state, Tayo Alasoadura, earned varying accounting honours from Nigeria.

Interior minister Rauf Aregbesola had his ordinary and higher diplomas from The Polytechnic, Ibadan. Power minister Sale Mamman finished from Kaduna Polytechnic in 1988 before he proceeded to the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, to study electrical engineering in 1991. He would later earn a master’s in human relations from Bayero University, Kano.

The state minister for mines and steel, Ikechukwu Ogah, attended the Institute of Management Technology, Enugu, while aviation minister Hadi Sirika had stints in the College of Arts and Tech and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Training Centre, both in Zaria.

Alumni funds amidst funding shortfall

Despite having a rich alumni base, most Nigerian public institutions still grapple with a myriad of challenges, with arguably the most nuanced challenge being poor funding.

This year, the federal government will again fail to fulfil its financial obligations as allocation to education is the lowest in 10 years, when measured as a percentage of the total budget.

The dip in the funding going into the nation’s federal institutions (whose tuition fees and staff salaries are heavily subsidized) has contributed to the deplorable state of the infrastructure in the schools and the incessant faceoff between the government and the institutions staff unions.

In one of her articles, Ngozi Edeagu, a professor of history, suggested that Nigerian universities need an alternative income source to boost their internally-generated revenue like alumni giving without necessarily increasing their tuition fees.

“It is no longer reasonable for alumni of the public universities in Nigeria to believe that the Nigerian government is financially capable of funding all aspects of higher education from paying staff salaries to heavily subsidizing student fees just because the institutions are publicly funded,” she wrote.

For instance, alumni donations to U.S. colleges totalled over $11 billion in 2019, according to a 2020 research by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

The average alumni giving rate of the 1,451 ranked colleges in the U.S. during the 2018 and 2019 sessions was 8 per cent, according to the data, and some schools raked in an average of about 55 per cent alumni giving rate.

Likewise, through its Oxford Thinking Campaign which ran from 2004 to 2019, where alumni were encouraged to make donations through post, phone, wills, stocks and shares, the University of Oxford was able to raise £3.3 billion.

This explains why UK-based Bath University, and Harvard University in the U.S. have designated portals where alumni can give back to their schools.

On the contrary, checks on the alumni pages of the University of Ibadan, the University of Nigeria and Federal University of Technology, Akure showed no clear-cut directive on how their respective alumni could make remittances back home. The page for Obafemi Awolowo University is down.

Although the University of Lagos has an alumni giving portal, the contact number provided for enquiry “does not exist” when it was dialed.

Ahmadu Bello University has arguably the most structured alumni donation portal among the universities checked.

Ms Edeagu argued that poor record keeping by, and online presence of, Nigerian institutions as well as unsatisfactory student experience and weak learning environments are limitations institutions must address to get their alumni on their sides.

“I believe public universities in Nigeria can considerably increase their funding through their alumni. Nigeria has the power of numbers to accomplish this feat. Let’s first find them, engage them, then unleash the financial floodgates,” Ms Edeagu wrote in her article.

Nigeria’s ministerial list as of 2021

MinisterPortfolioStateAgePrimary schoolSecondary schoolUniversityHonourQualificationCourseOther schools
Muhammadu BuhariPetroleumKatsina78Katsina Middle School in 1953Katsina Provincial Secondary School from in 1961NDA in 1962.Mons Officer Cadet School, UK
Muhammad BelloFederal Capital Territory, FCTAdamawa62Our Lady’s High School, Kaduna in 1971Barewa College, Zaria in 1976Ahmadu Bello UniversitySecond Class UpperBsc in 1980 and Msc in 1987Business Admin for both degreeAhmadu Bello University for MSc in 1987 and International University of Africa in 1994
Godswill AkpabioNiger DeltaAkwa Ibom58Methodist Pry Sch, Ukana, Akwa Ibom in 1974Fed Govt College, PH in 1982University of Calabar in 1987LLBLaw
Chris NgigeLabour and employmentAnambra68St. Patrick School, Ogbete, Enugu in 1964St John Sec Sch, Alor, Anambra in 1972University of Nigeria in 1979BM.BCH and Diploma in Hospital ManagementMedicinePakistan National Public AdminInstitute of Peshawar, Pakistan in 1990
Sharon IkeazorState, EnvironmentAnambra59St. Mary’s Convenant School, Lagos in 1974Kano Community College in 1978University of Benin in 1984LLBLawAhmadu Bello University (IJMB in 1981)
Adamu AdamuEducationBauchi66Nasarawa Primary School, Azare in 1967Government College, AzareAhmadu Bello UniversitySecond Class LowerBMA and MMAAccounting; JournalismColumbia University
Maryam KatagumState IndustryBauchi66Ahmadu Bello University in 1976BA, MA and Graduate Certificate in EducationEnglishMA in Administration and Planning at the University of Lagos in 1985; Certificate in Social Development Policy, Planning and Practice at the University College, London
Timipre SylvaState for PetroleumBayelsa56Ajeromi Central IA School in 1976Government Secondary School, Brass in 1981University of Port Harcourt 1986Second Class UpperBAEnglish
George AkumeSpecial DutiesBenue67Tiv Native Authority Pry Sch, Wannune in 1966Government Secondary School, Otukpo in 1971University of IbadanSecond Class LowerBSS and MSS Sociology (BSS); Labour Relations (MSS)Oxford University, UK; Queens University, Cananda
Mustapha Baba ShehuriAgriculture and Rural DevelopmentBorno59Gamboru primary school, Maiduguri in 1978Government secondary school, Damagun, Borno in 1983University of Maiduguri 2007Second Class LowerBSc and Adv DipSociology and Anthropology
Goddy Jedy AgbaState, PowerCross River62Ahmadu Bello UniversitySecond Class LowerBSc in 1983 and MILD in 1989International Studies; Law and DiplomacyUniversity of Lagos for Masters
Festus KeyamoState, Labour and EmploymentDelta50Oharisi (Model) Primary School, Ughelli in 19811981, Government College, Ughelli 1986 Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma in 1992Second Class UpperLLBLawChartered Institute of Arbitrators, UK where he qualified (Fellow)
Ogbonnaya OnuScience and TechnologyEbonyi69Mary Knoll College, Cross River in 1967Izzi High School, Ebonyi in 1970University of Lagos in 1976First ClassBSc and PHDChemical EngrUniversity of California
Osagie EhanireHealthEdo74St Joseph Catholic School, Benin in 1959Government College, Ibadan 1965Ludwig-Maximillian Universtät München, 1973MD and DAMedicine; Diploma in AnaestheticsRoyal College of Surgeon in Ireland
Clement Ikanade AgbaState for BudgetEdo55St Vincent Pry School, Auchi, 1974Avianwu Grammar School in 1979Ambrose Alli University in 1985Second Class LowerB.Sc and MBAEconomics in 1985; Business Administration in 1995; Supply Chain Management in 2006University of Benin; Arizona State University
Richard Adeniyi AdebayoIndustry, Trade and InvestmentEkiti53Corona School, Yaba in 1968CMS Grammar School in 1974University of Lagos in 1981Second Class LowerSchool of Basic Studies, Kwara in 1975; Davies Tutors, Hove in 1977LawSchool of Basic Studies, Kwara in 1975; Davies Tutors, Hove in 1977
Geoffrey OnyeamaForeign AffairsEnugu65Columbia University; Cambridge University2BAs and 2MAsPolitical Science, 1977; Law in 1980 and 1982 and 1984University of London for second maters
Ali Isa PantamiCommunicationGombe48Pantami Pry Sch, 1987Govt Science Sec Sch in 1993Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Federal University of Tech, BauchiSecond Class LowerBTech and MTech and PGertComputer ScienceRobert Gondon University, UK
Emeka NwajiubaEducationImo53Umuehie Pry School, ImoUboma Sec Sch, ImoImo State University in 1988LLB and LLM; PhD in viewLawUniversity of Lagos and University of Jos (in view)
Suleiman AdamuWater ResourcesJigawa57Ahmadu Bello University in 1984Second Class UpperB.EngCivil Engineering and Project Management
Zainab AhmedFinanceKaduna60Queen Amina College, Kaduna in 1977Ahmadu Bello University, 1981Third ClassBSc and MBAAccountingOgun State University in 2004 (MBA)
Muhammad MahmoodEnvironmentKaduna64Central Washington UniversityBSc, MSc (CWU) and PhDMicrobiology in 1983; Resources Management in 1985; Watershed Management in 1990University of Arizona in i990
Sabo NanonoAgriculture and Rural DevelopmentKano74Governemnt College, Kano, 1968Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria in 1972Second Claass UpperB.Sc and MScBusiness Admin; Public Policy and AdminUniversity of Wisconsin in i977; Harvard Business School, USA, in i994
Bashir Salihi MagashiDefenceKano75Nigerian Defence Academy in 1968Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria in 1983Advanced diploma in public admin, LLBLaw
Hadi SirikaAviationKatsina56Shargalle Pry SchGovernemnt Sec Sch, ZariaCollege of Arts and Tech, Zaria; Nigeria Civil Aviation Training Centre, ZariaDiploma and MScAviationDelta Aeronautics Inc; Petroleum Helicopters Training Institute; Flight Safety Int; City University London
Abubakar MalamiJustice/Attorney General of the FederationKebbi53Nasarawa Pry Sch, B/Kebbi in 1979College of Arts and Arabic Studies in 1984; College of Legal and Islmic Studies in 1987Usmanu DanFodiyo University in 1991LLB and MLBLaw; Public AdminUniversity of Maiduguri in 1994
Ramatu TijjaniState, Federal Capital Territory (FCT)Kogi50Dawaki Pry School, Niger in 1982Federal Government College, Minna in 1988Ahmadu Bello University in 2000Second Class LowerBSc, MSc, PhD in viewUrban and Regional Planning; Public Administration; Peace and Security StudiesNasarawa State University (MSc in 2014) and PhD in view since 2015
Lai MohammedInformation and CultureKwara69Native Authority, Igbaja in 1962Governemnt Sec Sch, Okene in 1970Obafemi Awolowo University in 1976Second Class UpperBA and LLBFrench; LawUniversity of Lagos in 1985
Gbemisola SarakiState, TransportionKwaraThe Cheltenham Ladies College in 1982Brook House College, Market Harborough in 1984University of Sussex Falmer in 1987BAEconomics in 1987
Babatunde FasholaWorks and HousingLagosBaptist Academy, IkoroduIgbobi College, 1982University of Benin in 1987Second Class LowerLLBLaw
Adeleke MamoraState for HealthLagos68Obafemi Awolowo UniversityBScHealth Sciences and Medicine
Mohammed H. AbdullahiState, Science and TechnologyNasarawa52Central Primary School, Uke, 1979Government Secondary School, Uke, 1984Usamu DanFodiyo University, 1990LLBLaw
Zubair DadaState, Foreign AffairsNiger68Gwari NA Pry Sch, Minna, 1964School of Basic Studies, ABU, Zaria in 1970Ahmadu Bello University in 1974BA and MAFrench; Law and DiplomacyUniversity of Jos in 1998; School of Basic Studies, ABU, Zaria in 1970
Olamilekan AdegbiteMines and Steel DevelopmentOgun58Government College, Ibadan in 1987University of Lagos, 1985Third ClassBES and MESArchitecture
Tayo AlasoaduraState, for Niger DeltaOndo71Ajuwa Grammar Sch, 1967Institute of Chartered Accountants of NigeriaICAN, FCA, ACCA, FCCAAccountingChartered Institute of Certified Accountants in England and Chartered Insrtitute of Taxation of Nigeria
Rauf AregbesolaInteriorOsun63Akoko Grammar School, Akoko in 1975The Polytechnic, Ibadan, 1980Lower CreditHNDMechanical Engineering
Sunday DareYouth and SportsOyo54Baptist High School, Jos in 1983Ahmadu Bello University in 1991Second Class UpperBSc, MSc and NCEInternational Studies; International Law and Diplomacy; Government, Economics and GeographyUniversity of Jos in 1996; New York University; Harvard Niemen Journalism; Oxford University, UK; Oyo State College of Arts and Science, Ile Ife
Paulen TallenWomen AffairsPlateau62Sacred Heart Pry School, Shendam in 1971Government Girls’ College, Kano in 1076University of Jos in 1982Second Class LowerBScSociologyJohn F.N Kennedy School of Government, 2002
Rotimi AmaechiTransportationRivers55Theresa’s Pry Sch, Ubima in 1976Government Secondary School, Okolobiri in 1982University of Port Harcourt, 1987Second Class LowerBA and MAEnglish
Maigari DingyadiPolice AffairsSokoto68Aboro Baraya Pry School in 1967Nagarta College, Sokoto, 1972Ahmadu Bello University in 1978BScPolitical Science
Sale MammanPowerTaraba63LEA Pry School, Taraba in 1973Government Technical College Kano in 1983Kaduna Polytechnic in 1988; Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, 1991OND, HND; Diploma; MBA; PGDMElectrical Engineering; Masters in Human RelationsBayero University (Diploma in 2003 and MBA in 2015, MEng in 2010, PGDM in 2012)
Abubakar D. AliyuState, Works and HousingYobe54University of Maiduguri in 1999Second Class LowerBEngCivil and Water Resources
Sadiya Umar FarukHumanitarian Affairs, Disaster ManagementZamfara48Township Pry Sch, Gusau in 1983Federal Government Girls’ College Gusau in 1989Ahmadu Bello University in 1998 to 2011Third ClassBSc, 2MScBusiness Administration (BSc in 1998 and MSC in 2011); International Affairs and Diplomacy in 2008
Ikechukwu OgahState Mines and SteelAbia51Ishiagu High School in 1989Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu; attended University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN); Ogun State University; University of LagosDistinctionHND, 2BScs, MBAAccounting; Banking and Finance; Business Administration


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