Monday, February 3 2014, Professor of Medical Bacteriology and Molecular Biology, Roland Ndip was catapulted from his busy science laboratory in the University of Buea, UB, to the University of Buea Central Administration as the Registrar, thanks to a Presidential Decree, signed Paul Biya, President of Cameroon. He takes over from another distinguished academic, Chief/Prof. Samson Negbo Abangma, retired, after serving the people of Cameroon and the world in many capacities. In this maiden and exclusive interview, Prof. Ndip gives an insight of his academic profile, where he is coming from and what he knows so far of his newfound responsibilities.
Until February 3 2014, you were a regular lecturer of UB, when President Paul Biya appointed you Registrar of same university. How did you receive the appointment?
It came to me like a big surprise. However, I thank God for the recognition. For over 20 years, I have been one of the pillars of the university. I took up service in UB in 1995, when I got my Ph.D from Edo State University, Nigeria. I have been Head of Department and Vice Dean at the Faculty of Science. Along the line, I took up service at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa. I came back to Cameroon in 2013 after being promoted to a full Professor in South Africa. In December 2013, I was also confirmed full Professor in the Cameroon higher education system.
In which area of study are you?
I am a Medical Bacteriologist but I do a lot of work in molecular biology, especially in molecular epidemiology. I work a lot on bacterial infections and I try to look for treatment. We have a lot of problem on anti-microbiolar resistance. I also use alternative and complementary medicines to source for lead molecules for medicinal plants to substitute resistance, which is building towards classic anti-biotics.
Have you been looking forward to that position in UB?
I would not say soo, but being in the university milieu for a while, I think we can always give our contributions to where we are called to serve. It depends on how you can master the missions and objectives of the university. The experience I have gained as Head of Department and Vice Dean, and subsequently group leader in a university in South Africa, I think that this is a new challenge. And with God and my collaborators around me, we will contribute our bit to make things better.
Did you lobby for that position?
I thank God for everything that has happened to me. I would not say anything out of what I am telling you. It came like a huge surprise to me.
A Scientist getting into the heart of varsity administration, how are you going to blend the two?
It is a challenge! Especially for people who are interested in career development. I am a career scientist. Since I move up to the doctorate level, I have been working tirelessly, publishing lots of papers and graduating many Ph.D students. Although I have been in administration, my career as a micro-biologist is paramount to me. Blending my newfound responsibilities and the scientist that I am will not be an easy task. The Registry, being a strategic office in the university, demands a lot of efforts from me. But I pray the good Lord will be able to guide me as I embrace this task in my career path.
Registrar, University of Buea, do you know what that office is all about?
The Registrar is responsible for the daily administrative and financial management of the university, keeping in pace with the Vice Chancellor, since the Registrar is directly under the Vice Chancellor. And to assist the Vice Chancellor ensures that administrative and financial matters are properly handled. I have an insight but time will give me the opportunity to get into the details of the system.
Twenty-years of service into the University of Buea, which has been a mix of ups and downs, what do you have new to offer?
In recent years, it has been a lot of trouble for the University of Buea but we can now see calm has returned to the campus. We hope that it will continue the way it has been. I do not have a magical card in my pocket, but I believe that ideas which I have, I will put them in what I say is transparency, assiduity and objectivity. Then I would have made a contribution that will make a difference in the university.
It is also about working closely with the approximately 17,000 students in UB, what are you telling them?
I will advice the students in the university to take the various opportunities placed under them and embrace their studies religiously. What brought them to the university is to make a better life for themselves and for humanity. They should put in their all in their studies. And get the qualifications that will make them responsible citizens. It is also our collective responsibility to build UB, our communities and Cameroon in general.
How do you intend to work with your colleagues, with whom you are all members of the university lecturers trade union known in the French acronym as SYNES?
All lecturers in state sponsored universities in Cameroon are members of SYNES. It is not as if the moment you are appointed to an administrative position, you lose your membership. No! It is matter of understanding how people appreciate facts, be able to dialogue with each other where we disagree in ideas. As colleagues, there is no need for any confrontation. We have to talk amicably and reach a consensus agreement, no matter the grievances we have. And I pray that we do not have them. Being in a citadel of learning, there will always be clash of ideas but calm has returned to our campus, this is responsibility and for the betterment of us all.
How will you react to some observers who hold that some lecturers will foment trouble so that they will use the opportunity to get to power? But you came from a quiet background to be appointed the Registrar. What did you do to get that position?
These are allegations that are difficult to rely on. What matters in all we do in this life is hard work. If you work hard and show proof of integrity in the society, you will always be seen. You will be a torch bearer and it is said when you put a lamp on top of the table, nothing will be hidden.
With your international contacts in South Africa and more is this position of yours now a greater opportunity to bring more into UB and continue to put the university in the international scene?
This is only a greater opportunity for me. I am an Adjunct Professor in University of Fort Hare in South Africa. I have been working since I returned home on a research with the University of Fort Hare to have an MOU with the University of Buea. Fort Hare is the oldest black university in Southern Africa. It has graduated lots of eminent personalities like; the late Neslon Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Julius Nyerere, President Robert Gabe Mugabe of Zimbabwe. These are alumni of the University of Fort Hare, where I have taught for the past six years.
As you begin a journey into the heart of UB administration, what is your message to the UB community?
I urge all of us to make UB the place where the country and the international community want us to be – THE PLACE TO BE.
Thanks Prof. Ndip!
You are welcome!!
Interviewed by Walter Wilson Nana