By Musa, Mohammed
“Some were born great, while others had greatness thrust upon them”. Shakespeare
I can’t grade Prof Mustapha Zubairu on the graph of extraordinary Nigerians that have lived and served Nigeria selflessly, but all I can bear to is, he is a marvelous Nigerian, and a great Nigerian.
He is of the fifth generation of northern Nigerian civil servant. Born on the 25th June, 1953 in Kano state. He hails from Bida Local Government Area of Niger State. Married to Prof Stella N. Zubairu, they are happily married with three children. He attended Tudunwada, Kuka and Gwagwarwa Primary Schools, Kano. Then Government College Bida. He moved to School of Basic Studies, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria were he obtained an equivalent of A-level certificate. He holds Bachelors of Architecture (B.Sc.) and Masters of Architecture (M.Sc.) from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. He also bagged a M.Sc. and PhD in Urban & Regional Planning from the University of Strathcylde, Glasgow, Scotland.
His work experience spans from a pupil Architect in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Niger state to becoming the General Manager Niger State Housing Cooperation, a specialist in low income/ social housing and Urban Management. It was during his period that he pioneered the use of local building materials and direct labor in building, planning and designing Sites and Services Housing Projects in the Urban Areas and the Ten Local Government Headquarters in Niger Sate.The famous Bosso Estate, in Minna typifies this effort. The projects covered about 700 Hectares of land.
He also pioneered the sale of government staff houses to the occupants, on owner-occupier basis. The best part is he still lives in one of such houses. Other projects he initiated include:
o Urban Renewal Programme in Minna and delineation of the City Center Boundary. Project implementation was undertaken by Niger State Housing Corporation;
o Design and Supervision of the construction of Central Market in Minna, Suleja, Bida and Kontagora – the four principal urban centers of Niger State;
o Design and Supervision of the construction of Niger State High Court Complex;he was involved in the design of 5260 low cost housing in Minna, Suleja, Bida and Kontagora;
o The revolution he brought into the Niger State Housing Corporation included the building of major commercial structures still standing in the city center of Minna and the famous Progress Court-a block of twelve three-bedroom flats, near Zarumai Primary School. Minna.It was a deliberate effort to build the asset base of the Corporation, to enable it operates on a self-sustaining basis.
I still remember, with nostalgia, the story of how he designed and supervised the construction of the famous Aguda House in the Presidential Villa in Abuja. In 1978, he was asked to design a befitting Presidential Lodge for the Niger State Government, to accommodate President Shehu Shagari, who was to officially visit the state.President Shagari was “impressed and astonished with the accomplishment of this young architect” in the words of his boss Alhaji Bawa Bwari the then General Manager, Niger State Housing Corporation. The President invited the Architect to design a bigger version of the one in Minna, which was later named after Justice Akinola Aguda House, who chaired the Presidential Committee on Abuja, the new Federal Capital Territory. Meanwhile identical version of the one in Minna was constructed in Makurdi, Bauchi and Yola, at the request of the State Governors.
He later became a General Manager in Urban Development Bank of Nigeria PLC, from 1992 to 1999. It was no surprise that the then military government of Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar appointed him Managing Director/Chief Executive Federal Housing Authority. At FHA, he developed an effective strategy for completing the famous National Housing Programme; and Gwarinpa Housing Estate with it’s over 8,000 housing units. He supervised the completion and handing over of 1,500 housing units to their owners; and the completion and sale of Kubwa Phase IV Housing Estate where FHA made a profit of over N 200 million, for the first time in the history of the organisation.
A member of the Royal Town Planning Institute of UK; Nigerian Institute of Architects; and Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners.
It was in 2002, he decided to pass the knowledge and experience to the younger generation and his immediate environment by joining the services of the Federal University of Technology Minna, as a Senior Lecturer. He was subsequently promoted Associate Professor and Professor in 2010. During my undergraduate days in FUT Minna, the name of one lecturer kept recurring in students discussions in the both the Town Planning Department and School of Environmental Technology-Dr. Mustapha Zubairu (now Professor). He became a rolemodel, and a source of inspiration to me and many students. He behaved like a typical“oyinbo”; he was never seen as a lecturer but a father figure to all. I remember that he went out of his way to pay school fees for many indigent students; gave many poor students weekly stipend for feeding; and was exceptional in his interaction with students of the School (Faculty). His generosity will forever remain in our hearts. No wonder the government of late Eng. Abdulkadir Kure saddled him with the responsibility of Architectural Design and Master Plan preparation for the new Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai.
Some of us that have been privileged to be admitted into the Postgraduate Degree programme in Sustainable Urban Development, pioneered by the Centre for Human Settlements and Urban Development, in FUT, Minna. Professor Mustapha Zubairu is the Director of the Centre. We are now among the new generation of City Managers trained by the Centre.
Among his numerous novel ideas on the development and management of cities in the 21st Century are that state governments must rethink the management, financing and governance of their cities to ensure their viability by making them to operate on a self-sustaining basis; capacity of our local governments must be developed for them to become transparent and accountable to their residents and to operate of a self-sustaining basis. Cities must, out of necessity, become compact, connected and socially inclusive; and that state governments must institutionalize justice, equity and inclusivity to give their residents a sense of ownership and proprietary pride in their towns, cities, states and country.
Among the research interest of Professor Mustapha Zubairu, especially in the three northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency is how to predicate the development and modernisation of the villages, towns and cities on a detailed understanding of the religious, social, economic and psychological impact of the insurgency of the residents of the area. He is also strongly of the view that the Chibok Secondary School should be developed into an International Girls’ Secondary School; and that an INSURGENCY MUSUEM should be developed to serve as a permanent reminder of the atrocities of Boko Haram to Nigerians and the international community.
We the people of Niger State want to use this medium to thank President Muhammadu Buhari GCON, for finding our illustrious son worthy to be nominated as a Resident Electoral Commissioner representing Niger State. To the Niger State Governor we say a big thank you, and to Professor Mustapha Zubairu Congratulations Sir, may God continue to guide and protect you as you accept this great responsibility to serve your father land.
NO 56 Behind Govt Girls Day Secondary School Suleja local government of Niger state.