Nigerian Public universities may be in for tough times as lecturers continue to leave the system in droves for greener pastures abroad, thereby putting the future of Nigeria’s tertiary education in jeopardy.
The looming crisis, if not checked, would not only lead to acute shortage of teaching staff, but also affect quality of teaching in the institutions.
Already, 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, according to investigation, include the desire for better working conditions, career fulfillment, insecurity, poor salaries, inadequate funding, non-payment of outstanding salaries of university teachers, which accumulated during the period of strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), as well as harsh economy, among others.
Recent data gathered 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 of salary increment for staff of all federal tertiary institutions, the increment does not appear to dissuade many from considering alternatives.
This is as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has described the government’s gesture as a far cry from what the university lecturers were negotiating for.
In a letter dated September 14, and addressed to the Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, the Chief Executive Officer of the Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Ekpo U. Nta, said the federal government had issued a circular on the implementation of the adjusted salary structure.
After the eight-month strike by ASUU and government’s refusal to pay them for the period they were on strike, many lecturers relocated abroad, either to seek lecturing jobs or other vocations in foreign countries.
Investigations by The Guardian showed that the institutions, particularly 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, who pleaded anonymity, 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.