Professor Mahmood Yakubu was born in Bauchi in May 1962. He attended Teachers’ College, Toro, Bauchi State from 1975 to 1980 and obtained the Grade II Teachers’ Certificate in 1980 top of his class. He undertook his undergraduate studies at the University of Sokoto (now Usmanu Danfodiyo University) from 1980 to 1985 and was Federal Government Merit Award scholar from 1983 to 1985. He graduated with a first class honours degree in History in 1985, winning the Waziri of Sokoto Prize for the Best Graduating Student and setting an enduring record as the first student from Northern Nigeria to graduate with a first class in history. Following his one year NYSC in 1985/86 as an academic assistant in the Department of History, University of Jos, he enrolled at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom in 1986 with the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholarship and obtained the Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) degree in International Relations in 1987.
He then proceeded to the University of Oxford in the same year with the Commonwealth Scholarship and obtained the Doctor of Philosophy (D.Phil) Degree in History in 1991 at the age of 29 years. At Oxford, he was a three-time winner of the Overseas Research Students’ Award of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of United Kingdom Universities and the Beit Fund Research Grant.
Professor Yakubu began his academic career as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Jos in 1986, from where he proceeded to the United Kingdom for his postgraduate studies. He returned to the University in 1992 as Lecturer I. In 1993, he moved to the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna as a Senior Lecturer and rose to the rank of Reader in 1995 and Professor in 1998. At the NDA, he was Head, Department of History from 1994 to 1995, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Director of Academic Planning from 1998 to 2000, Member, Armed Forces Selection Board from 1998 to 2003, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences for a second time from 2002 to 2004, Chairman, Management Board of the Staff School from 2004 to 2006 and pioneer Dean, Post Graduate School in from 2004 to 2006. He has more than 50 publications to credit.
From 2006 to 2007, Professor Yakubu was the Task Team Leader responsible for tertiary education at the Federal Ministry of Education and a member of Presidential Technical Committee for the consolidation of Federal tertiary institutions. In 2007, he was appointed as the Executive Secretary of the Education Trust Fund (ETF), which later became the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund). In this position, he served as a member of the Federal Government team on the Renegotiation of the Federal Government Agreement with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) under the Chairmanship of Deacon Gamaliel Onosode. He was also member of the Presidential Task Team on Education, the Committee on Presidential Scholarship for Innovation and Development (PRESID), Implementation Committee on the Presidential Fund for the Revitalization of Nigerian Public Universities, the Ministerial Implementation Committee on the establishment of nine new Federal Universities, the Almajiri Education System and Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Needs Assessment of Nigerian Public Universities.
At the expiration of his term at TETFund in 2012, Professor Yakubu had within a period of five years surmounted several challenges to introduce several innovations in the country’s tertiary education system. These innovations include the Academic Staff Training and Development programme, under which over 6,000 lecturers from various Higher Education Institutions were sponsored for postgraduate degree programmes at various Nigerian universities and over 2,000 in Universities overseas; the Special High Impact Intervention Project, directed at the systematic development of the teaching, learning and research facilities in selected HEI, with 20 Universities, 12 Polytechnics and 12 Colleges of Education across the six geo-political zones as beneficiaries; the National Research Fund to enable Nigerian academics undertake advanced research for national development and the National Book Development Fund to support the publication of research findings, as well as the resuscitation of the publication of over 100 HEI-based journals and 18 exceptional doctoral theses.
Professor Yakubu was co-opted in 2013 as a technical member of the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) on the Presidential Special Intervention Fund for the Revitalization of Nigerian Public Universities and served as the Assistant Secretary in charge of finance and administration during the National Conference in 2014.
He is a Fellow of the Historical Society of Nigeria and the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations. He delivered the convocation lecture at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in 2009 and the participated in the Colloquium to mark the 30th Anniversary Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State in 2013. He holds the Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) from the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, as well as the Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) from the Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki and Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.