By: Nathaniel Nongu
There is a popular saying, that leadership is ordained by God and he gives to anyone he pleases. The truth of this saying cannot be doubted as it has once again manifested clearly in the appointment of Professor Msugh Moses Kembe as the 5th Vice-Chancellor of Benue State University, Makurdi out of 11 other distinguished professors who contested the exalted position.
Since the establishment of Benue State University 22 years ago, it has had 4 past Vice Chancellors. They include: Professor Emeritus, Charles Gbilekaa Vajime who was the Pioneer Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Iyornongo Ker, Professor Paul Akase Sorkaa and
Professor Charity Ashimem Angya, the 4th and 1st Female Vice-Chancellor whose tenure expired on Monday, November 2, 2015. It was in this line of succession that on Thursday, October 15, 2015, the Executive Governor of Benue State and Visitor to the University, Dr. Samuel Ortom appointed Professor Kembe as the 5th Vice-Chancellor of this citadel of excellence established in 1992 by the then Governor, Reverend Father Moses Orshio Adasu as the First State University in Northern Nigeria.
The circumstances surrounding the appointment of Professor Kembe as the substantive Vice- Chancellor of Benue State University is rather very significant. The new Vice-Chancellor keenly contested the race with other distinguished professors and erudite scholars who were also eminently qualified to occupy the office, but God who ordains leadership and uses human beings as instruments to effect the divine call to leadership chose Professor Msugh Moses Kembe for the position.
The new Vice-Chancellor has a tall vision for the institution which according to him is “to reposition the University as an Information and Communication Technology-driven centre of excellence impacting on the State, National and International development by producing ‘cutting-edge’ innovation and training manpower capable of competing anywhere in the world”. This vision according to the 53 year old Professor of Statistics is targeted at attaining the founding mission of the University which is “To be a Centre of Excellence in creating knowledge and developing a complete person who is capable of not only responding to the cultural, social, political and economic needs of the environment but also setting the agenda for change”.
It is very delightful to note, that following the official announcement of Professor Kembe as the new Vice-Chancellor, those who were in the race with him demonstrated maturity as they came forward to congratulate him on his appointment and pledged their total support for the attainment of his vision as the 5th Vice-Chancellor of the prestigious institution. This show of uncommon solidarity by Prof. Kembe’s co-contestants is commendable because in other environments, their camps could have chosen to strategize to frustrate or sabotage his administration but we are confident this will not be the case since the new Vice-Chancellor’s co-contestants promptly expressed their readiness to team-up with him for the development of the University. This singular development is a good omen for the success of Professor Kembe’s tenure as the 5th Vice-Chancellor.
The Professor of Statistics also demonstrated a great sense of responsibility as a leader with an open mind following his appointment. In an open letter of appreciation he posted on his social media account to his friends, Professor Kembe gave special recognition to his co-contestants. He also pledged to carry all stakeholders of the University along in his administration. Part of the letter reads:
“I wish to in a very special way thank all the contestants who stood in the race for the position of Vice-Chancellor, Benue State University. Special recognition goes to Professor Nicholas Akise Ada and Professor Julius Begha Ashiko, who keenly contested the office of Vice-Chancellor with me and have called to congratulate me and pledge their support for the growth of the Benue State University, Makurdi. It was indeed a brotherly contest.
“Let me clearly state here that there is a lot of work to be done by all stakeholders of the University. Let us all dedicate ourselves diligently to the course of building a more robust citadel of excellence where generations will acquire knowledge for the liberation of our society as captured succinctly in the motto of the University “Scientia Liberatio Populorum”- Knowledge for the Liberation of the People”.
Born about 53 years ago in Binev Council Ward of Tombo Mbalagh in Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State, Professor Kembe began his educational career at the famous Bristow Secondary School, Gboko in 1974 and graduated in 1979 with the West African Senior School Certificate. He gained admission into the prestigious University of Jos in 1980 and obtained a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) Degree in Mathematics in 1984.
The quest for more knowledge took Professor Kembe to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka between 1990 and 1992 where he diligently pursued his academic dream and earned a Master of Science (M.Sc.) Degree in Statistics specializing in Operations Research. With a great zeal to reach the zenith of his academic pursuit, Professor Kembe again attended the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi from 2006 to 2009 and obtained a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Statistics. To sufficiently prepare himself for the management of human and material resources, he again studied and earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) from the University of Mkar, Mkar in 2014.
Professor Kembe cut his teeth in the teaching profession in Igueben Girls’ Secondary School in the old Bendel State now Edo State during his National Youth Service from 1984 to 1985. Upon completion of his mandatory one year of National Service to his fatherland, Professor Kembe took an appointment as an Assistant Lecturer with the College of Education, Katsina-Ala, Benue State where he lectured and rose to the rank of Lecturer I in 1991.
Professor Kembe joined the services of the Benue State University, Makurdi in 1993 as a Lecturer II in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and rose through the ranks to become a Professor of Statistics in 2012 following his track record of excellence in scholarship. At the Benue State University, before becoming Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kembe held various administrative positions including Member of Senate, Dean, Faculty of Science, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Science, Head, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Examinations Officer, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and membership of several committees of the University. In all these positions, he offered dedicated and meritorious service to the University community.
During his tenure as the immediate past Dean, Faculty of Science, Professor Kembe contributed immensely to the expansion of the Faculty by bringing on board six new academic programmes and students have already been admitted to study these courses. The courses include B.Sc. Statistics, B.Sc. Industrial Chemistry, B.Sc. Environmental Management and Toxicology, B.Sc. Zoology and Environmental Biology, B.Sc. Microbiology and B.Sc. Plant Science and Biotechnology. These courses have already been granted accreditation by the National Universities Commission (NUC). The introduction of these academic programmes under the leadership of Professor Kembe propelled the Faculty of Science to an unrivalled position in the University as it marked the first in the recent history of the University that up to six new academic programmes were introduced in one Faculty at the same time.
Professor Kembe has many years of research experience as a consultant with local and international organizations. He has consulted for the British Department for International Development (DFID), Benue State Health Systems Fund and the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Makurdi. He played an invaluable role on the technical team that competed and won World Bank grant for Benue State University for the establishment of the Africa Centre of Excellence for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER) specifically devoted to the Control of Post Harvest Losses in the Sub-Saharan African region. This development won accolades for the University considering that out of the ten Universities that won the grant in Nigeria, only Benue State University is owned by a State.
Professor Kembe is an astute and versatile scholar who has attended many conferences, seminars and workshops and has published in reputable national and international journals. The new Vice-Chancellor has special interest in operations research which is essentially concerned with optimal allocation of resources and how this can be applied in education, business, industry, commerce, healthcare and many other fields of human endeavour.
Professor Kembe has rendered many community services and received many awards from corporate organizations and communities for his enormous positive contributions to humanity. He is a member of several professional organizations and associations including Statistical Association of Nigeria, the Institute of Mediators and Conciliators, Contact Friendship Club 1994, Makurdi, member Makurdi Club 1930 and the immediate past President, Benue State University Senior Staff Club. He is widely traveled and his hobbies include playing tennis, football and listening to cool music. Professor Kembe is a devout Catholic. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus in the Roman Catholic Church. He is happily married to Professor Elizabeth Kembe and the marriage is blessed with four children.
As Professor Msugh Kembe settles down to his new assignment as the 5th Vice-Chancellor of the prestigious Benue State University, we call on all stakeholders and development partners in the education sector to key into Professor Kembe’s lofty vision for the University through collective will. It is our prayer that the Good Lord who chose this humble man for this exalted position will endow him with wisdom and good health of mind and body for the onerous task of leading our dear University to conform to global academic best practices.
Nongu is a Postgraduate Student for Master of Science (M.Sc.) in the Department of Mass Communication, Benue State University, Makurdi, Nigeria