From a secondary school teacher to principal, Dr Asma’u Sani Maikudi crossed over to Kaduna Polytechnic as a lecturer and rose to become the Director of College of Administration and Social Science Studies. Last year, she was appointed the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Zamfara state by President Muhammadu Buhari. In this interview with RUKAYYA AYYUBA ADAMU, Dr Maikudi told the story of a humble beginning to a successful career.
Not much is known about you outside the academic circles, especially the Kaduna Polytechnic, before your appointment as the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Zamfara state. Can you give a brief background of yourself; where you were born and schools you attended?
My name is Asma’u and I was born in Malumfashi town, which is the headquarters of local government area of Katsina state. My father, Alhaji Dodo Malumfashi was among the civil servants that served under the Sardauna administration.
My father wanted all his kids to have sound western education that was why his wives never relented to make their children obey. My mother is a fulltime house wife. She is a Fulani from a settlement around Kabomo, in Bakori local government area of Katsina state and has never had the opportunity to go to school, yet she stood by us all through our studies with words of encouragement. I started my primary school at St Anns primary school in Kaduna but completed at Malumfashi in 1973. Among my classmates then were Binta Ajaja, who now works in Qafur L.G.A Secretariat in Katsina state, and Malam Tijjani Sule, who is presently working in Malumfashi Local Government Secretariat.
When we were at Malumfashi we attended a Qur’anic school, which we usually went to in the afternoon after we returned from primary school. I always remember Malam Isuhu who taught me how to read the Qur’an. I was taken back to Kaduna for my secondary school, where I completed in 1978. Among my class mates were Aisha Aliyu, who is now in Sacramento, California. I can still remember some of my teachers in Government Girls Secondary School Kawo. Mrs Baba , Safiya Tukur, were teachers I had always admired. We had Mrs Peters and Miss Dada, my English Language tutor, which was my best subject. I later did my I.J.M.B Examination at College of Arts and Science Zaria in 1980. I successfully did my first degree at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria and graduated from the department of History. After several years of teaching, I went back to school to obtain a Masters degree in Public Administration and subsequently a doctorate degree in Public Administration and Policy Analysis.
You didn’t say much about your immediate family in your brief narration.
My family is my happiness. I always thank God for the educational achievement of my children. My husband, Eng Sani Maikudi is a very important pillar to my success. We got married in 1981. I knew him as a friend to my brother even before he proposed to me. After my graduation from secondary school we got married, then he was a civil servant and now, he has a company of his own called Equinox. I gave birth to six children; three girls and three boys. I lost a male child last year. My first child who is a girl, has a Ph D in Law. She lectures at the Law department of University of Abuja, where she was once the Head Of Department. Three of my children have Masters degrees and are pursuing their careers. My last child will write her WAEC this year. I have three grandchildren; two boys and a girl. Alhamdullilah for Allah’s Rahma.
Raising a family and schooling must have been hectic. How did you combine the two and made success of both?
My husband is so supportive. He is so liberal. We have always had House helps around to do most of the chores. On weekends, I get busy with the kids in the kitchen to prepare our favorite meals. Now that most of them are away, we do that with Ruqayya my last born.
What have been your motivations in life; the things that drive you so much that you have become this successful?
I’m so passionate with my career. I enjoyed teaching from the first time I started. I knew I wanted to study History, but just after my graduation, I found out that teaching is the only convenient job for a woman. So I went for a Postgraduate Diploma in Education.
I started teaching at Government Day Secondary School Tafawa Balewa, Kaduna as a Grade II teacher. I later taught in Women’s Teachers College Katsina. Then I was appointed as a principal in Government Girls Day Secondary School Mani, in Katsina state. Later I was sent to GUGSS Jibiya to assist the principal. From there, I was taken back to the Ministry of Education in Katsina State, as a Principal Educational officer. In 1990, I got an appointment with the Kaduna State Polytechnic as lecturer II. And I rose up to the position of Director College of Administrative Studies and Social Sciences (CASSS).
As Director of College of Administration and Social Science Studies, what will say were your achievements?
There were so many achievements that were recorded during my tenure as the Director. When I assumed office, there was only one academic department in the CASSS campus. The others were at different colleges of Kaduna polytechnic but by the time I handed over, I`m happy to say that there are now six academic departments at the permanent site of the campus, complete with staff and students. Again, during my tenure, over 140 academic staff were able to get their promotions from one step to another.
I was also able to reach out to different organisations and agencies and because of those linkages, we built bridges for collaboration. In addition, we were able to enhance the academic activity, with the accreditation of most programmes. UNICEF also sponsored a resource inspection for the Department of Social Development in five options of its HND programme.
It was also during my tenure that the Department of Mass Communication obtained its radio license, “The spider radio“ for mainly practicals and the airing of academic issues for discourse. Also conferences were held on annual basis and using the proceedings, journals of national standard were published.
This is a major achievement in an academic environment. During my tenure, we were also able to send some of our staff for training on a full and partial sponsorship both nationally and internationally. We don’t believe in posthumous recognition so, every end of the year we held a get together lunch or dinner to honour our staffs who are either retired or still lecturing in the college.
This honour went to those who have in one way or the other, contributed to the success of the college; we believe that when you are alive and you do something remarkable, you should be commended.
How will you want to be remembered?
I hope to be remembered from the projects I embarked on as the Director of my college. I am happy that I was able to tar the main entrance road in the college. I also feel a sense of achievement by the providing modern equipment to the College’s Mass Communication department.
I am proud to mention that in the whole of the north, no institution is as equipped with modern means of communication as ours. We were able to get a radio license and we even started broadcasting within our college premises. I successfully hosted three national conferences and published reputable journals. Being a teacher, I know I have imparted knowledge which I hope I will be rewarded only by the Almighty. More so, I hope to be remembered by my students as someone who contributed to their success in life.
You were also once the Kaduna state chairperson of Nigerian Red Cross. How did you run the voluntary organisation?
I have been the Chairperson of the Kaduna state chapter of the Nigeria Red Cross in 2008 . The core mandate of the Red Cross Society is Service to Humanity. Basically, Red Cross renders assistance to people in dire need.
Like victims of the 2011 post election violence. Red Cross was on ground from day one, together with other philanthropic organizations; government agencies at federal and state levels. These government agencies include, the National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA) and Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency(SEMA), as well as the state Ministry of Health and state ministry of Environment.
These agencies also helped in providing most of the needed medical assistance and ensured environmental sanitation of the refugee camps. We put all our hands on deck in order to assist the refugees.
Various philanthropic organizations and religious NGOs assisted the Red Cross in attending to the various needs of the refugees.
In 2012, we celebrated 153 years of the existence of Red Cross in a big way. The theme was “Youth on the Move” and we reached out to the youth and enlightened and sensitized them on the virtues of voluntarism; we mobilized and made them know what they can do to help the less privileged in the society.
How are you coping with life outside the academia as Resident Electoral Commissioner?
The academia never really leaves you! You find that whatever you are, you are still an academic. I still publish academic papers and journals. I’m also currently writing a book. Also, INEC is a place where the commission is everyday looking for ways, methods and means to improve on its past performance and provide a level playing ground for all political parties and their candidates. It also ensures that citizens are not disenfranchised, as it constantly creates and widens the political space.
These things are usually researched into and discussed fully for successful implementation. This is academic. It may also interest you to know that INEC has an Institute – The Electoral Institute, specifically for research and training to enable it continue to improve on the Electoral process in line with global best practices. This also is purely academic.
So the answer to this question is that I’m still in academia because every day is a continuous learning process for us in INEC, to enable us deliver on our core mandate to conduct free, fair, credible and acceptable elections in Nigeria.
After your assignment at INEC, do you intend to plunge into politics or return to the academia?
Right now, my concentration is how to contribute my quarter in ensuring a credible and nationally and globally accepted 2019 general elections.
After my assignment, I intend to go back to the classroom because my life -long ambition is to become a professor, in Shaa Allah. As a child I dream to wear graduation/accademic gown. I’m always fascinated at its sight. Where ever I see somebody wearing it I wished to be the one. Alhamdulillah I’ve worn it Three times.
How do you spend your leisure time after a very hectic day?
At my leisure times, I like to watch documentary films. I like to know about tyrants and great leaders. I love to watch the rise and fall of past nations. Yet these movies demoralize me and to get piped down. I watch Tom and Jerry Cartoons, where you hardly see death without resurrection, very unlike the death in world war I or world war II.
What general advice will you give to women?
Women should not be lazy and redundant. They should strive hard to be self reliant and obedient to their husbands. I always tell women to support their kids with education. Every woman should know that her children are her source of happiness if she brings them up well. Women should stop street begging; they should try to be productive with the little capital they have.
Government should also be concerned with the affairs of women at every level, so that they can be comfortable and train our future leaders well.
In what way should government be concerned with women affairs?
Government should give priority to education. It should not only give free primary education but also secondary. More so, those in tertiary level should be supported and given scholarship to cover about 90% of their school fees. This will give our youths the opportunity to have access to sound education for the betterment of this country in the future.
What has been the biggest challenge in the course of your career?
My biggest challenge is battling with people around me that never care about changes in our lives. I am one person who accepts changes in life and so I want to see changes around me.