Crisis looms in Nigerian Universities as 50% of lecturers ‘japa’ for better working conditions

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A report by The Guardian indicates that government-owned universities in Nigeria may be in for tough times as lecturers continue to leave the system in droves for greener pastures abroad.

According to the report, the looming crisis, if not checked, would lead to an acute shortage of teaching staff and affect the quality of teaching in the institutions.

The report revealed that about 50 per cent of lecturers have resigned from the various universities, while others who are yet to leave are also warming up.

Factors fuelling the exodus include the desire for better working conditions, career fulfilment, insecurity, poor salaries, inadequate funding, and non-payment of outstanding salaries of university teachers, which accumulated during the period of strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), as well as the harsh economy, among others.

Recent data showed that as much as 80 per cent of the remaining workers are preparing to leave if the current situation persists.

Although President Bola Ahmed Tinubu recently approved the implementation of 35 per cent and 23 per cent salary increments for all federal tertiary institutions staff, the increment does not dissuade many from considering alternatives.

University of Ibadan (UI), University of Lagos (UNILAG), University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), University of Benin (UNIBEN), Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba- Akoko (AAUA), Ondo State; University of Uyo, Federal University, Otuoke; Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria; Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun (FUPRE); Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma; and Kaduna State University (KASU), among others, have lost several lecturers, while those remaining are planning to leave as well in search of greener pastures abroad.

A lecturer in UNILAG pleaded anonymity and said about 70 per cent of the institution’s best lecturers have resigned from their jobs following the government’s failure to tackle the numerous challenges confronting the sub-sector.

“Currently, more than 70 per cent of bright and promising young academics retained by the university through mentorship have all left the country for greener pastures due to the poor conditions of service in Nigeria. Those remaining are on the verge of leaving. This is unfortunate and a shame,” he said.

Last month, UNILAG Vice Chancellor Prof Folashade Ogunsola said five lecturers resigned from the university and warned that the situation may worsen if issues affecting university education are not addressed.

The situation is the same at UI, as up to 75 per cent of teaching staff have resigned and gone abroad. The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Kayode Adebowale, at the induction ceremony for the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), cited the case of a particular department, where out of 13 lecturers, nine resigned and left the country.

At AAUA, it was learnt that about 45 per cent of lecturers, drawn from the various departments, had already left for overseas, while many others are planning to go.

At the University of Ilorin, an official who pleaded anonymity confirmed that about 40 per cent of lecturers and some non-teaching staff have left the country for greener pastures.

It was also learnt that about 50 per cent of lecturers at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife; Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), and the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, had similarly resigned and relocated abroad.

An official of ASUU at the University of Uyo, Dr Happiness Uduk, confirmed that many of her colleagues had left the system. Though she did not mention the number of lecturers and professors who have left the institution, she noted that “professors and other lecturers in UniUyo who had opportunities outside have left, and more are leaving the country for greener pastures.”

An official of the Federal University of Technology (FUTA), Akure, said considering the sorry state of Nigerian universities and the non-payment of eight months’ outstanding salaries to lecturers, many had to look for alternatives.

Findings at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, and Kaduna State University (KASU) are similar. A staff at KASU disclosed that resignation or mass exodus of lecturers seeking greener pastures outside the country or elsewhere has become a common phenomenon among the workforce.

A lecturer at the Federal University, Otuoke, Dr Socrates Ebo, admitted that some of his colleagues had left the university for overseas, “where things work.”

Similarly, a lecturer in the Department of Science and Mathematics Education at Benue State University, Makurdi, Dr. Garshagu Atovigba, confirmed that about 35 per cent of lecturers had relocated from the institution.

Director, Centre for Open, Distance and e-Learning, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Musa Aibinu, described intellectual flight as “one of the greatest challenges” of the Nigerian education sector and Africa. He said about 23,000 lecturers emigrate from Africa to other climes yearly.

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