Professor Hussaini Marte: Governor Zulum’s Strategic and most import Appointment
By Tada Juta (Maiduguri) Abubakar Mohammed,Muhammad Sani (Abuja),Auwal Ahmad (Gombe)
One of the important appointments of the Professor’s Zulum’s administration was the appointment of Professor Isa Marte Hussaini as commissioner last year. The appointment was applauded by all and sundry; the academia, elders, youths, and peasants in Borno State. This is because the good professor is one man that Borno State had hitherto ignored, bypassed, and under-utilized. The ability of Professor Zulum to identify him and bring him into government is a clear indication that the governor has the rare gift of identifying competent lieutenants which is a mark of all great leaders. The chief of staff to the governor is a very strategic and important position whose duties and responsibilities can either make or mar a government. His work is to assist the Governor in the formulation and implementation of his policies through legislation, the budgetary process, and the supervision of state agencies. The statutory responsibilities of the office are contained in the assigned ministerial responsibilities of the office which spell out its functions as follows:
- Serve as Governor’s liaison with cabinet and other agency directors
- Review policy initiatives for political and “strategy” dimensions
- Administer the management of the Office of the Governor and its staff, with support provided by the Director of Administration/Fiscal Policy Advisor
- Serve as the Governor’s alternate for state, regional or national commissions or organizations as requested by the Governor
- Serve as liaison between Governor and staff
- Develop agendas for and conduct staff meetings as necessary
- Co-ordination of schedule of Governor’s Activities
- Serve on Legislative Steering Team
- Administer the personnel function of the Governor’s Office
- Protocol and Administration of Government House.
Becoming Chief of Staff
Early in August, Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, approved Prof. Marte’s appointment as his new Chief of Staff (CoS). Marte’s appointment was announced on Wednesday evening, August 12, by Governor Zulum‘s spokesman, Isa Gusau. According to the statement posted on the governor’s official Facebook page, the new Chief of Staff was the State’s Commissioner for Higher Education until his latest appointment.
“Zulum’s choice of Professor Isa Hussaini Marte is in recognition of his proven capacity, a strong passion for development, unbending principles that align with the governor’s, and above all, his proven integrity,” the statement read.
As Borno Governor’s Chief of Staff, Prof. Marte is expected to work round the clock to efficiently coordinate all affairs of the government house. He was sworn-in on Monday, August 17.
Governor Zulum’s choice of Professor Marte as his Chief of Staff is very apt because the new Chief of Staff is an academic and technocrat and not a career politician like the numerous commissioners in his cabinet who are already nursing the ambition of clinging the exalted throne inside the Government House, Maiduguri. Professor Marte, although older and more experienced than the Governor, is no doubt going to give him absolute loyalty and protect his interest. He also has the guts to face the Governor and tell him the bitter truth. The new Chief of Staff is a man of integrity who cannot be bought, bribed or enticed by fifth columnists. In a State like Borno, the Governor needs a resolute personality as his Chief of Staff.
Meet Prof. Isa Marte Husseini, Chief of Staff (CoS) to Borno State’s Governor
Born in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria on November 10, 1959, Isa Marte Husseini is an acclaimed scientist, pharmacist, medical researcher, and professor of pharmacology, pathology, neuroscience, and oncology. He is widely known for his research efforts and findings on the use of medicinal plants in the treatment of cancer.
He had his elementary education at Yerwa Central Primary School Maiduguri, thereafter he proceeded to Yerwa Government Secondary School Maiduguri for his secondary education. His brilliance and leadership qualities distinguished him from his peers and he was appointed the Head Boy (Senior Prefect) of the school. He graduated in 1975, obtaining the West African School Certificate (WASC).
He is a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (FAAS), Nigerian Academy of Science (FAS), Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (FNAPharm), and Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (FPSN).
In 1976, he was admitted into Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria to study Pharmacy and obtained his bachelor’s degree in 1979. He had his pharmacy internship, at the General Hospital, Maiduguri, from 1979 to 1980 before he proceeded to the General Hospital Kontogora, Niger State for his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme from 1980 to 1981. He served briefly as an assistant lecturer at the Department of Pharmacology, University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) from 1981 to 1982.
He later obtained a master’s degree in Pharmacology from Chelsea College, the University of London in 1983, after having earlier completed the compulsory one-year National Youth Service at the General Hospital Kontogora, Niger State in 1981.
Husseini received his doctorate (Ph.D.) in Pharmacology from King’s College, London, in 1987 and 1997, he received an MBA from Averett University, a private non-profit college in Danville, south-central Virginia, USA.
The Professor of Pharmacology joined the Department of Pharmacology, College of Medical Sciences, the University of Maiduguri in 1981, but left in 1982 when he went for his Ph.D. programme at Chelsea College University of London. On his return to the country in 1987, he joined the services of ABU Zaria.
Husseini’s flair for research soon took him away from the university to join the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Development (NIPRD), Abuja as a chief research fellow. He was later appointed Head of Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology.
As an international scholar and researcher, he was invited to join the University of Virginia School of Medicine as a research associate in the Department of Pathology. He served in that capacity for two years before he was appointed in 1995 as a professor of research. After serving for five years in that capacity, he was appointed as visiting professor, Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacy, ABU Zaria.
In 2010, Husseini relocated to Nigeria as Dean of Pharmacy and Professor of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Maiduguri, a position he held till 2014. A year before in, 2013, he had been elected as Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), as well as visiting professor at the Department of Pathology, University of Virginia. In November 2015, he became a Fellow of the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAPharm).
It is worthy of note that Prof. Husseini was a postdoctoral fellow with the University of Virginia, later a tenured Associate Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Neuroscience from 2001 – 2010 and a member of the Pharmacology, Pathology, Cancer, Neuroscience, and Biotechnology graduate training programmes.
Prof. Husseini’s $4.6m Grants
Between 1997 and 2010, Professor Hussaini was awarded four independent research grants (R01) totaling 4.6 million US dollars and he trained four PhDs and seven postdoctoral fellows in his laboratory and was a member of 10 other Ph.D. thesis committees.
Professor Hussaini participated in teaching and research at the University of Virginia. He was also a regular reviewer of grants for the National Institutes of Health (NIH, Bethesda, MA, USA) and the American Cancer Society (Atlanta, GA, USA). In 2010, he relocated to Nigeria as a Professor of Pharmacology and Dean of Pharmacy at the University of Maiduguri.
Under his leadership, the Faculty of Pharmacy was given accreditation by both the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC). Professor Hussaini has established a cancer research laboratory and tissue culture facility investigating the scientific rationale for the folkloric uses of Nigerian Medicinal Plants with funding from the Tertiary Education Trust fund (TETFund) and General TY Danjuma Foundation.
Training Ph.D., MSc students
He has trained four Ph.D. and five MSc students in the University of Maiduguri and 15 Ph.D. students at Ahmadu Bello University where he was a visiting Professor (2004-2016). Professor Hussaini published 110 peer-reviewed papers and five book chapters which have been cited over 3,300 times by other researchers with h-index of 33 and 10-index of 59 (Google Scholar).
He is a reviewer for several international journals including Neuro-Oncology (Founding Member), Cancer Research, Biological Chemistry, Neuroscience, Pharmacy, and Pharmacology among others. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Nigerian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences.
Prof. Hussaini has spoken at over 20 international conferences and symposia and he has been invited as a guest lecturer in many universities throughout the world.
A Consultant, Grants’ Reviewer
He has been a consultant and reviewer of grants for several international agencies, including; American Cancer Society (2008-2011), National Institutes of Health (2003-2010), the Qatar National Research Fund, and the Israel and French Science Foundations.
Hussaini, is a scientist with a focus on the use of herbal plants in the treatment of cancer and has made several presentations and findings locally and internationally on the subject. In recognition of his several findings and works, he has received numerous awards and fellowships to his merit.
The renowned professor of pharmacology and fellow of NAS, was inducted into the academy in 2013. His report to the Nigerian Academy of Science on the use of local herbs for Cancer therapy suggested that herbal plants are more efficacious than the current drugs used in cancer treatments. In May 2015, he presented a paper entitled: “The mining of Nigerian medicinal plants for cancer therapy” in Abuja at the induction of Fellows of the Nigeria Academy of Science where he stated the predictions of the International Agency for Research on Cancer that annual global new cases of cancers are expected to rise from 11 million to 16 million by 2020, with 70 percent of them coming from developing countries.”
Feats in Cancer Treatment
Prof. Hussaini’s achievements in cancer treatment are best appreciated when one considers their manifold significance and the massive relief they have brought to many cancer patients and their loved ones. Usually, contemporary methods of treating cancer, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and immunotherapy, have been known to be very expensive (especially to patients from low-income countries) and sometimes inefficient in the treatment and management of cancer.
Prof. Hussaini also is a member of the Society for Neuroscience; American Association for Cancer Research (AACR); and the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, to mention but a few. In April 2014, he contested for the seat of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri but lost the seat to Professor Ibrahim Abubakar Njodi, the immediate past VC of the university. He re-contested again in 2019 and lost to the incumbent VC, Prof. Aliyu Shugaba. He was once, the National Vice President of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria Alumni Association.
To present his contributions to cancer research, he was hosted by Professor Louise Serpell through the Sussex Nigerian Society, the University of Sussex, in an event titled “Meet the Nigerian Scientist”, four years ago. On 12 February 2016, at the university’s Genome Damage and Stability Centre, he presented a lecture, titled “Exploitation of medicinal plant compounds in the search for novel cancer therapeutic agents”. In attendance was Michael Farthing, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex and the (then) Nigerian Acting High Commissioner in London, Adah Simon Ogah. Prof Husseini is happily married and blessed with six children.
Research and Conference Papers
Among the research and conference papers, together with journal publications he solely and co-authored with other researchers, are Ethanol Extract of Securidaca longipedunculata Induces Apoptosis in Brain Tumor (U87) Cells; Preliminary studies on the behavioral effects of the methanol extract of Leonotis Nepetifolia linn stem in mice; Improving Brain Tumor Research in Resource-Limited Countries: A Review of the Literature Focusing on West Africa; Isolation of bergenin from the root bark of Securinega virosa and evaluation of its potential sleep-promoting effect; Mechanisms of Anticonvulsant Action of Residual Aqueous Fraction (RAF) of the Ethanol Root Bark Extract of Carissa edulis; Ethnobotanical survey of anticancer plants in Askira/Uba local government area of Borno state, Nigeria; Sorafenib tosylate as a radiosensitizer in malignant astrocytoma; Phytochemical constituents, antimicrobial screening and acute toxicity studies of the ethanol extract of Carissa edulis Vahl. root bark in rats and mice; Regulation of smooth muscle -actin expression and hypertrophy in cultured mesangial cells; Epidermal growth factor differentially regulates low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein gene expression in neoplastic and fetal human astrocytes; In Situ Visualization of Intratumor Growth Factor Signaling; Embryonic Fibroblasts That Are Genetically Deficient in Low-Density Lipoprotein receptor-related Protein Demonstrate Increased Activity of the Urokinase Receptor System and Accelerated Migration on Vitronectin; Central Depressant Activity of butanol fraction of Securinega virosa root bark in mice; STAT6 expression in glioblastoma promotes invasive growth; and, A novel fixative for immunofluorescence staining of CD133-positive glioblastoma stem cells.
Others include, Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor-Mediated Regulation of Urokinase Plasminogen Activator Expression and Glioblastoma Invasion via C-SRC/MAPK/AP-1 Signaling Pathways; An Extensive Invasive Intracranial Human Glioblastoma Xenograft Model Role of High Level Matrix Metalloproteinase 9; Improved ATM kinase inhibitor KU-60019 radiosensitizes glioma cells, compromises insulin, AKT and ERK prosurvival signaling, and inhibits migration and invasion; Immunohistochemistry of COUP-TFI: An adjuvant diagnostic tool for the identification of corticotroph microadenomas; ADAM-10-Mediated N-Cadherin Cleavage Is Protein Kinase C-alpha Dependent and Promotes Glioblastoma Cell Migration; PROTEIN KINASE C (PKC)-ALPHA-MEDIATED REGULATION OF MMP-9 INCREASES GLIOBLASTOMA INVASION; DIFFERENTIAL EXPRESSION OF STAT-5 AND ITS ROLE IN GLIOBLASTOMA MULTIFORME; EGFR- AND EGFR VIII-MEDIATED REGULATION OF UROKINASE PROMOTES ASTROCYTIC TUMOR INVASION VIA THE C-SRC/MEK/AP-1 SIGNALING PATHWAYS; Regulation of smooth muscle -actin expression and hypertrophy in cultured mesangial cells; Embryonic Fibroblasts That Are Genetically Deficient in Low Density Lipoprotein receptor-related Protein Demonstrate Increased Activity of the Urokinase Receptor System and Accelerated Migration on Vitronectin; and Urokinase directly activates matrix metalloproteinases-9: A potential role in glioblastoma invasion.
There are others too such as H-Ras Increases Urokinase Expression and Cell Invasion in Genetically Modified Human Astrocytes Through Ras/Raf/MEK Signaling Pathway; Protein Kinase C- Mediated Regulation of Low-Density Lipoprotein Receptor Related Protein and Urokinase Increases Astrocytoma Invasion; Regulation and function of N-cadherin post-translational cleavage in glioblastoma cells; Matrix Metalloproteinase-9 Is Differentially Expressed in Nonfunctioning Invasive and Noninvasive Pituitary Adenomas and Increases Invasion in Human Pituitary Adenoma Cell Line; Transformation of Normal Astrocytes Into a Tumor Phenotype; PKCη as a therapeutic target in glioblastoma multiforme; Phorbol 12-Myristate 13-Acetate Induces Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Transactivation via Protein Kinase C /c-Src Pathways in Glioblastoma Cells; Aeder SE, Martin PM, Soh JW, Hussaini IM.. PKC-eta mediates glioblastoma cell proliferation through the Akt and mTOR signaling pathways. Oncogene 23: 9062-9069; Jun blockade of erythropoiesis: Role for repression of GATA-1 by HERP2; Subcellular Translocation of Protein Kinase C; Protein kinase C- regulates resistance to UV- and -irradiation-induced apoptosis in glioblastoma cells by preventing caspase-9 activation; Euphorbia hirta leaf extracts increase urine output and electrolytes in rats; and, Stable Antisense RNA Expression Neutralizes the Activity of Low-Density Lipoprotein receptor-related Protein and Promotes Urokinase Accumulation in the Medium of an Astrocytic Tumor Cell Line.
At the Higher Education Ministry
It would be recalled that in August 2019, Prof. Husseini was appointed Commissioner for Higher Education by incumbent Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum. And at a recent press briefing on the achievements of Governor Zulum in the Educational Sector of the State, during his one year in office, Prof. Husseini said on assumption of office last year, he discovered that the state of the offices in which the staff of the ministry was operating was very poor and unacceptable for smooth operations for a civil servant. Hence, he immediately requested for funds from the state government to renovate all the offices of the ministry, which were released to him by the Governor. He then swung into action by awarding contracts for the renovation of the whole offices.
The institutions and agencies under the jurisdiction of the Borno State Ministry of Higher Education include the newly established Borno State University; Ramat polytechnic, in Maiduguri; Sir Kashim Ibrahim College of Education; College of Education, Waka Biu; Mohammed Goni College of Legal and Islamic Studies (MOGOLIS), in Maiduguri, and Mohammed Lawan College of Agriculture.
Others are the Borno State College of Science and Technology, in Bama; College of Business and Management Studies, Konduga; Agency for Mass literacy, Maiduguri; Nomadic Education Agency; Scholarship Board; Borno Library Board, in Maiduguri; and the Special School for the Blind, also in Maiduguri.
He noted that, presently, all the offices in the Ministry have been given a world-class facelift befitting an office that could be found anywhere in developed nations.
“Information Communications Technology facilities were supplied and installed in all the offices, which includes desktop computers, and laptops which were provided to all directors. Again, photocopiers, and printers, among others, were provided to every office. Also, internet facilities were installed and connected. A website was designed and staff were trained to update their knowledge on ICT,” Prof. Husseini then said.
He further pointed out that the days where government vital and secret correspondences are photocopy and printed in commercial business centers is now over in the Ministry of Higher Education.
In the newly-established Borno University, the ministry has completed all the faculty buildings that were started by the previous administration including roads, and staff quarters. At the moment, some students’ hostels are under construction. In Ramat Polytechnic, the ‘Accountancy and Quality Assurance Departments’ which were destroyed by fire some years back and abandoned, have been renovated by this administration.
In Mohammed Lawan College of Agriculture, the administrative office, and classrooms were renovated. Also, new Biology, Chemistry, and Physics laboratories were built and equipped with modern science equipment and facilities.
The College of Science in Bama, which was destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents during the last administration has been completely renovated, and put to proper shape within one year of Zulum’s Administration and Prof. Husseini, as Higher Education Commissioner. At the Agency for Mass Literacy, three blocks of classrooms are currently under construction and work has reached an advanced stage.
The Ministry also carried out some construction and renovation works at the Special School for the Blind. An abandoned administration block and staff offices have been completed, while the students’ hostels which were in the deplorable state have also been renovated. A Perimeter fence has been constructed around the school premises, just as the school now has a newly-built entrance gate, while landscaping work is going on right now inside the school.
According to Prof. Husseini, an ultra-modern two-storey building library complex has been built, and will soon be equipped with modern facilities such as E-library services. He said: “This modern library, which is one of the best in Nigeria, is the best in this part of the country.” Similarly, thousands of VHS educational video collections donated to the State Library by late elder statesman, Alhaji Ali Monguno were digitalized for easy accessibility by library users.
On the Scholarship Board, Prof. Marte, then as Commissioner, said apart from the complete renovation of all the offices at the board, Governor Zulum approved the sum of N624 million for the payment of 2020 bursary to Borno-indigene students. He said in the first tranche, over N300 million was been disbursed to about 23, 775 students studying in 49 institutions across the country.
Interestingly, students who were entitled and paid N25, 000 during the last exercise got N50, 000 this time around. This shows an increment of 100%. The scholarship disbursements were done via e-payments for the first time in the history of the board.
Prof. Husseini, while drawing the curtain of his speech at the press briefing, described Governor Zulum, as a strategic and focused leader. “He is a people and result-oriented Governor who truly cares about his people rather than for his personal interest.”
In a congratulatory message, the African Science Literacy Network (ASLN), while felicitating with Prof. Isa Husseini Marte, said in a post: “Prof. Marte, ASLN is solidly behind you, more wins in your new capacity as Chief of Staff to Nigeria’s Most Active and Impressive Governor.”
ASLN, described Prof. Marte Husseini’s appointment as well deserved and highly merited, expressing confidence that he will bring on board his exceptional leadership pedigree and outstanding administrative expertise, as he settles down on his new job as Governor Zulum’s new Chief of Staff (CoS).
Loyalty for Borno, Gov. Zulum
In his acceptance speech, Prof. Husseini, after he was inaugurated, said he is not the type to trade-off loyalty for any material or monetary incentive. According to him, his loyalty to the State and Governor Zulum is beyond any other thing.
He remarked: “Your Excellency, thank you very much. From the bottom of my heart, I never expected it and I do accept to serve as your Chief of Staff. I pledge my total support and priceless loyalty to you and to the people of Borno State. There is no amount of money, whether billions or trillions of dollars which will compromise my loyalty to you.”
He assured that his office will anchor the actualization of Gov. Zulum’s campaign promises, as they relate to security, food security, agriculture, education, job creation, and most importantly good governance, among others.
“God has given us a strategic leader, a leader who always thinks of the people, a leader who is focused, a leader who is always trying to find solutions for our problems and a leader who wants to uplift our state and the lives of our people,” he said.
The new Chief of Staff assured all and sundry that efforts targeted at security and development of the State will not be left to Zulum alone. According to Prof. Husseini, his new position is not for him alone, but for every citizen of Borno who is after development. “So join me and the Governor to move the State to a level that it has never been before,” he said.
With New CoS, What’ll Borno Gain?
Prof. Marte, according to many who have acquaintance with him, is deeply patriotic, meticulous but also rigorous in whatever he does and organizes. He is someone who values the training of the next generation of youths and emerging scientists, says Dr. Mahmoud Bukar Maina, a Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, in the United Kingdom (UK).
According to Dr. Maina: “Prof. Isa Marte Husseini so much invests in young people. He likes to see young people develop their capacities. He is someone who does not compromise, even as he is always after excellence. He is a stickler for due diligence and due process. He is a selfless giver who gives for the development of society. He is always concerned about the progress of his immediate society, Borno and Nigeria, in general.”
Maina, who is the Founder of Science Communication Hub Nigeria, in a chat with this writer, expressed firm belief that Prof. Husseini will give back to the society in his new job like he has been doing before his emergence as CoS.
His words: “Prof. Marte Husseini’s project management skills will enable him to understand what line of action will be best for the Borno State Government. He will surely be able to identify who are the State Government’s best friends and what areas should the government invest in to secure the best future for the people of Borno State. He will bring on board a scientific methodology of problem-solving and also deploy his critical thinking ability while helping the Borno State Government implement its programmes and policies. These are needed to drive the agenda of Prof. Zulum in Borno.”
Again, what stands Prof. Hussaini out is that he invests his personal funds into noble human development projects and causes. He also has good project management skills, and which he will bring on board as the new Chief of Staff (CoS). There is no gainsaying, the Prof. Zulum-led administration in Borno truly found in Prof. Marte Husseini someone who is pragmatic, accountable, visionary, and incorruptible. Indeed, Prof. Husseini is someone who has succeeded in his chosen field of endeavor. He is certainly someone who is not out there to enrich himself at the expense of serving the Borno State government and teeming masses in the State.
The new CoS will again be bringing to the table his vast international experience having worked in Europe, Africa, and America. Hence, he will be looking and assessing the implementation of government’s policies from an international prism, and what obtains in developed climes. As someone who has a wide network, been a member of several organizations, Prof. Marte Husseini will surely be able to attract international collaborations for the present administration in the State.
It is pointless to assert that his phenomenal reputation as a prolific scientist and academic will attract confidence, especially from persons and organizations outside Borno, in Nigeria, and even beyond the shores of the country. Additionally, Prof. Husseini is a detribalized person who cannot easily be influenced by ethnic or religious sentiments. Above all, the new CoS, who is humility-personified, is also straightforward and open-minded to issues, and various shades of opinions.