By Baba Isa
While reviewing my collection of photographs, I stumbled upon a significant historical image that reminded me of a momentous event during a public lecture in Sudan. It was during this event that distinguished figures such as Prof. Salisu Shehu, Prof. Sagagi, and Prof. Maqari embarked on a special joint visit to Sudan some years ago. Their visit aimed to understand the exceptional approach Sudanese institutions took in providing training to Nigerian students on their soil, enabling them to return to Nigeria as productive individuals.
During this lecture, Prof. Salisu Shehu said, “The educational experience for Nigerian students in Sudan extended beyond academic excellence. These students, who received education in diverse fields, also imbibed qualities of respect, commendable attitudes towards their communities, and a sense of understanding towards various religious doctrines. This was different to their counterparts studying in different foreign nations.
Prof. Added that the Nigerian Sudan-educated students exhibited unmatched expertise and skills compared to their counterparts in Nigeria. Therefore, the Council of Ulama of Nigeria felt compelled to delegate us to come to Sudan and delve deeper into brief research and learn more about strategies employed by Sudanese institutions and their communities to empower these students. So that we can take back reports to Nigeria and put it into practice”.
The lecture was delivered at the International University of Africa (Indimi Hall) during this insightful visit, and I captured the picture.
Regrettably, the Sudan we love, the Sudan we learn from and once held in high esteem, an exemplar of a hygienic educational environment, now stands ravaged by conflict. It’s disheartening that we have not extended a helping hand to a nation from which we have drawn knowledge and inspiration. Sudan, which significantly contributed to the growth and development of our region through its educational support (like its massive Scholarship scheme to everyone in any course without exception)and enlightened Islamic scholars, medical doctors and other professionals, remains in dire need of our attention, prayers, and support.
Northern Nigeria has encountered setbacks in the realm of girls’ education. In the past, we lamented the shortage of female doctors, resulting in inadequate female doctors in healthcare for women in our hospitals. Our parents in the Northern region were hesitant to enrol our sisters in local institutions, let alone consider overseas education, given concerns about religious beliefs, cultural norms and environmental disparities.
These barriers hindered the prospect of sending our sisters abroad for education. This predicament led us to lag in conventional education and the attainment of female medical doctors. Recently, a positive shift has occurred as our parents have become more receptive to sending our sisters to study medicine and various other disciplines, especially in Sudan, due to the conducive educational environment and Islamically oriented. However, it is disheartening to note that challenges mar the current situation in Sudan.
The aftermath of the evacuation of Nigerian students from Sudan – more than 2000 – medical students, primarily females from the north- has left us searching for alternatives that can provide the same nurturing educational environment. Regrettably, no such choice has presented itself, leaving us feeling powerless.
Recent events have highlighted the impactful role that Northern Nigerian scholars have played in resolving crises, as evidenced by their intervention in the unrest following a coup in Niger. Drawing from this, I earnestly beseech our esteemed Northern scholars to extend their benevolent interventions to Sudan. While Sudan may not be a member of ECOWAS, its historical and cultural ties to us cannot be taken away. Just as we stand by Niger, we must stand by Sudan.
In this challenging time, I humbly implore our esteemed Ulama to exert their influence and restore peace and tranquillity in Sudan. Just as they have done in our region and Niger, their intervention could serve as a beacon of hope for a nation that has been an invaluable contributor to our growth and development.
Pharm. Baba Isa, Former President of the National Association of Nigerian Students in Sudan.