Heart of Arts

Professor Mohammed Kuta Yahaya: Encounters and Reflections

Toyin Falola

On April 18th, 2024, I ran into Professor Yahaya at the airport in Abuja; he was going to Ibadan, and I was on the way to Sokoto. He demonstrated the respectful side of him, as he always does whenever we meet, three times in recent times at University Convocations. He facilitated my appointment as a Professor Emeritus at one of the universities in Niger State. It was at Abuja he also showed his respected side of him when he told me that he would be receiving the Fellowship Award from the National Executive Council of the Agricultural Extension Society of Nigeria. As he sat by me while drinking coffee at the airport lounge, I began to reflect more on him as an administrator and scholar, but more so on his passion to uplift Nigeria. Our relationships are episodic encounters. I did not even know until I was doing research for this piece that he is the Magatakarda, the Chief Scribe of the Nupe Nation.

One of the defining characteristics of valuable individuals is their dedication to a course they believe in and their commitment to grinding results out regardless of the challenges they face. Whereas facing challenges is almost synonymous with success in every area of human endeavor, result-oriented individuals always differentiate themselves from others by making their efforts count in areas of collective good. Professor Yahaya, as he is fondly called, belongs to the category of individuals with foresighted ideas whose dedication to rigorous academic engagements is impressive. For scholars like him, evidence of their academic propositions and claims does not lurk in an unending circle of verbal validation of their quality but is demonstrated in scientific arguments and postulations made through publications of reputable global images. Thus, Prof.’s diligence is illustrated by the numerous publications associated with his name in agricultural extension, thereby making him an important figure in the intellectual environment where debates on agricultural activities are generated, distributed, or transmitted. The contributions of this outstanding scholar to quality intellectual debate have proved to be transcendental, given the widespread influence of his academic research underscored by the allotment of national responsibilities that are imposed on him. These come from the awareness that the Professor has undertaken extensive research, and it is important that the quality of knowledge he has must be benefited from at a larger stage.

As an expert in agricultural extension that he is, Professor Yahaya has undertaken research engagements whose findings reveal the ineluctable significance of communication in the enhancement of extensive production of food crops, which would bring about the eradication of food scarcity in the country and the world and, by extension elevate the people from the pit of economic depravity. This uncommon egghead has authored numerous academic publications that reveal to us the critical importance of the media in the enhancement of information transfer to people as a means of educating them on the clinical significance of modern technology in the practice of agriculture. Suffice it to say that through that engagement, he gives very pragmatic solutions to otherwise intransigent challenges faced by the people in the farming sector to ensure that they combat head-on the challenges that have prohibited them from taking maximum advantage of the agricultural potentials of the country. This underscores why he concludes in one of his research projects that women are very crucial to productive agricultural activities in the rural environment as they are very active in the preservation of farm produce, and for that reason, they should be related, especially on issues that bother on the promotion of increased productivity for the benefit of themselves and humankind. Therefore, Prof. Yahaya concedes that such agents would facilitate the rapid development of the county’s agricultural industry by offering extension services.

Professor Yahaya understands that the possibility of exponential advancement in agricultural engagements depends largely on the sharing of available information, which consolidates what farmers already know and encourages them to operate their agricultural engagements in different formats. As an expert, there is no contention about his ideas, especially those that boil in food and animal production. Through cognate experience, this intellectual has spearheaded very many educational and informative undertakings that will see to the optimum upholding of sound agricultural principles, which will bring about the expected and desirable results. On several occasions, he has stated that one of the predominant concerns around farmers’ lack of effective agricultural business is the enduring conflict that farm activities have been circumscribed in because of the sensitive politics associated with land management and procurement. It is noteworthy to learn that when farmers invest their time and resources in agribusiness, they are often browbeaten by superior hands who sometimes exchange their worth for political correctness. When such problems are to be combated, the Scribe of Nupe Nation suggests that methodological structures and fluidity should be an important strategy used both by the enraged farmers and the forces that have brought destructive possibilities to their farms. Such ideas, therefore, have helped farmers to a considerable degree. They have come to the awareness that their undertakings deserve different operational strategies so that their effort would not be strangulated by whatever forces and for whatever reason.

Our resourceful professor has been involved in many programs where efforts are made to educate people on the importance of agricultural investment in the current age. The focus of such academic engagement is to expose the younger generation to the unending available opportunities that come with farming. They have always concentrated on other engagements apart from agriculture, given the fact that they are mostly undereducated about the operations of farms and their potential. Instead of continuing their evasion of agricultural engagements, they are thereby informed by this resourceful individual about the inexhaustible potentials that are lurking in agricultural activities. Meanwhile, that is effectively done through consistent information exchange between a source and the target audience. He has suggested that making a fortune in agricultural businesses and activities does not necessarily require active involvement in many agricultural services. In line with his experience, he has educated people that many agricultural businesses require individuals to commit to deciding how they would partake in the engagement. They should seek knowledge on the best agricultural practices they find useful and begin to invest their resources there so that they would benefit maximally in the end. In essence, he has been able to educate us all about how greatly valuable it is to pick specific aspects of farming and make necessary investments where needed.

More than one could have imagined, this very resourceful educator has always been an advocate for the adoption of technology in the conduct and promotion of agricultural engagements. Beyond what has already been noted, he states that the role of technology in the development of agricultural products, services, and activities cannot be overemphasized. The ICT has a lot to offer farmers in that it has very innovative methods to spread across their products while simultaneously being able to share information of values to the farmer community. Especially for the dwellers of the rural environment, the adoption of technology would magically increase their innovative drives to improve production and profits. He has highlighted a body of policies that could help transform the lives of people in rural environments. When the technology is adopted effectively in the agricultural sector, it would immediately reduce the penchant for rural-urban migrations that have ultimately contributed to the monumental decline of African social and economic lives. In essence, he has been a frontier for the advocacy of technological farming and activity that would principally involve communications of new ideas for the benefit of all. While he has always been an integral part of Nigeria’s agricultural extension campaign, he has also stated the potential challenges that could arise from it when it is not appropriately handled or taken care of. However, the professor has no hidden motive when he argues that farm engagement will flourish only when communication becomes more prioritized among farmers.

One cannot but celebrate the outstanding contributions of Professor Yahaya to quality intellection, for his academic strides are imposing and intimidating. No wonder, therefore, that his genius is being recognized from time to time, which has, among other things, facilitated his appointment to serve in greater positions so that he can use his cognate knowledge and experience to advance the collective aspirations of the people. When he served as a coordinator for the Northern States’ Governors’ Forum, he introduced ideas that helped in the rapid advancement of the Northern societies to the extent that they absorbed much of his ideas and helped them to achieve stellar success within a very short period. Professor Yahaya has never limited himself to state services; he has taken key positions in academia, where he functioned in its administrative and knowledge distribution system. No wonder, therefore, that his exemplary leadership is recognized in developing the Niger State University, where he offered contributions as a member of their committee. Having performed with credibility in both the public and educational sectors, there has been a general acceptance of his beautiful character of service demonstrated in his unwavering dedication to issues of collective progress. He has mentored several youths and continued to inspire a generation of agricultural scientists who now dedicate themselves to issues that bring value and resources to people. Nigeria is blessed with brilliant minds, and Professor Yahaya has earned his place in the country’s intellectual community.



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