Professor Victor Samson Dugga has touched so many lives. He uses every opportunity he has to impact lives and transform communities. Everywhere he works, he leaves a trail of impacted lives. I could go on and on about the many things I learnt from watching this man closely. The story of my life can never be completely told without the mention of Professor Dugga.
This is a sequel to an initial article with a similar title in celebration of Dapo Oyekunle Olorunyomi who clocked 60 on November 8, 2017, as one of the very exceptional human beings I have met. And I mean exceptional in every sense of the word. Another exceptional human being God has blessed me to cross paths with, in a manner that has impacted my life in no small measure is Professor Victor Samson Dugga, who clocked 50 on November 9, 2017. I was amazed to discover that these two iconic people in my life share very close birthdays, though having exactly one decade in between them.
Dr. Victor Samson Dugga is a professor of theatre arts. He holds a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Jos, and another M.A. from the University of Essex. He had his PhD in the University of Bayreuth, Germany in 2001. I must have met him around 2003. In addition to being a playwright and lecturer, he is also an excellent administrator. I remember him being given the responsibility for setting up the Advancement Office for the University of Jos, to initiate, raise funds and execute special projects, as well as coordinate alumni, among other things, for the development of the University. The Advancement Office, to a number of us a few years ago, was the most sophisticated and well-run department/office of the University. Everything about it was different; from the way the office was organised to the staff, and the way they carried out their activities. It was just distinct.
Prof. Dugga, as we now call him, is one of those rare Nigerians you would never believe existed until you crossed paths with him. In my search for worthy mentors and people to look up to, God directed me his way miraculously in early 2000 during my undergraduate studies at the University of Jos. As a member of the Global Leadership Interlink (GLI), a platform aimed at promoting value-based leadership among students and professionals, I had the mandate of setting up the GLI-Campus for students at the University of Jos. Somehow, I got introduced to Prof. Dugga, who was already coordinating a similar programme on campus then, called the Invaders, under the auspices of the Parliament Church.
I remember that first meeting with him to discuss my project. He had other students he was already working with at the meeting. One could hardly distinguish him from the students because he looked very young. He was actually one of the youngest lecturers with a PhD at the university then (I think), a time when having a PhD in Nigeria was like the biggest deal. There was no air around him whatsoever. You wouldn’t even know he was a lecturer. At the meeting, he gave me all the time I needed to share my plans of setting up GLI and thereafter told me about what they were already doing on campus then, which was similar to what I was going to set up. Eventually, we ended up working together, and that marked the beginning of a great learning experience for me.
In addition to his responsibility as a lecturer, researcher and the executive director of the Advancement Office, he was also an associate pastor at the Parliament Church that I also began to attend after meeting him. I became a member of Invaders under his leadership, and learnt a great deal watching him coordinate these different aspects of his life. He became my pastor, mentor, father and friend. As God would have it, we became quite close. He did not only open his heart to me, he also opened the door of his home to me, like he did to several other students and young people. I became a member of his family. His wife, Mrs Tonia Dugga was a perfect complement, as she also played a significant role in getting me out of my shell. Even though “Prof.” was my pastor and spoke to us from the pulpit several times, I learnt more from his personal life than from his teachings.
Just from watching his life, I learnt sacrifice and commitment to the things of God. He led us to organise conferences every semester on Campus, bringing students to the knowledge of God. I remember how he would relinquish his only car at the time for us move PA systems and other equipment around for our conferences. He would pick up the remaining bill after our meager student contributions towards the conferences. He spared nothing when it came to the things of God. He would even inconvenience his family to ensure we had successful events. He was passionate about and committed to the transformation of the life of students and young people on and off the campus. His efforts contributed greatly to many students renouncing cultism and giving their lives to Christ.
In addition to sacrifice, commitment to the things of God and young people, I learnt service and loyalty from him. He served the University community with all his heart and was dedicated to his job as a lecturer. Sometimes, it was difficult to see him as a lecturer because of the many other administrative and management responsibilities he had. He also served the leadership and the entire church community we were a part of at the time with diligence and loyalty. You can hardly see him complain or express frustration about anything. He was consistent in service all through. I remember Dr. Emmanuel Kanos, the Set Man of the Parliament refer to him as a man without guile.
Meeting Prof., working closely with him and having the opportunity to learn from him was one of the major highpoints for me as an undergraduate student. He had such a profound impact on life. I remember one incident that happened months after we met. I had no money to make it for Sunday service, and I decided to stay back at home. Even though I was not expecting him to notice or take it seriously, he called me shortly before the service started and asked where I was. I told him of my situation and he was really livid with me. He did not understand why I could not tell him ahead of time. I remember him telling me to get ready and make it down to the venue immediately, where he was already waiting for me outside with my transport fare. He did not only pay for my transport fare and gave me offering for that day, he still reached out to me afterwards to ensure I was fine. That was the last time I almost missed church service throughout my undergraduate studies.
Professor Victor Samson Dugga has touched so many lives. He uses every opportunity he has to impact lives and transform communities. Everywhere he works, he leaves a trail of impacted lives. I could go on and on about the many things I learnt from watching this man closely. The story of my life can never be completely told without the mention of Professor Dugga. Recently, as I was going to be ordained, I knew he had to be there. My Pastor here in Abuja reached out to him and he drove down to be a part of the ordination. He is one of our unsung heroes in Nigeria, and I consider myself and many others that have crossed path with him blessed. As a hard worker, who believes so much in this country, I know he has so much more to give towards the development of Nigeria.
Professor Dugga is presently the Dean of Arts at the Federal University, Lafia, Nasarawa State. I know his leaving the University of Jos must have been a huge loss to my alma mater. What was a loss for Jos has definitely become a gain for Lafia, where he has continued to serve with all diligence and dedication.
Prof. sir, I join your family and loved ones to celebrate you as you have clocked the golden age of 50 years. I also celebrate Mrs Tonia Dugga, who out of her own magnanimity released you and has supported you over the years to be a blessing to me and many more like me out there. My prayer is that your labour of love and sacrifice would be rewarded not just in heaven but right here on earth.
Fred Adetiba, a HR Practitioner, Researcher and good governance advocate, is Head of HR/Administration/Finance at Premium Times. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org and @fredor4c on twitter.