Home » Articles, Columnists, Education, NNP Columnists, P » The Shame of Nigerian Professors and Universities – By Phil Tam-Al Alalibo

The Shame of Nigerian Professors and Universities – By Phil Tam-Al Alalibo

By Phil Tam-Al Alalibo, NNP – Sept. 26, 2011 – Last week, the long awaited list of university rankings in Africa was released, specifically, the top one hundred high performing universities (in Africa). The list was published on the http://www.newnigerianpolitics.com website (see complete list below) and when I saw it before glancing through, I was very confident without an iota of doubt that at least two, perhaps, more Nigerian universities will be named in the top five. But my confidence was soon transformed most unceremoniously into shock and awe at the glaring absence of any of the so-called top universities in Nigeria. Not even the much revered great “ife” (now the Obafemi Awolowo University) could be found in the top ten tier not to mention the University of Ibadan which claims to be the top university in Nigeria. What has indeed happened to these once great universities that were the epitome of academic excellence and the medium for great innovations and inventions?

As I inspected the list closely, I was further horrified and no less infuriated to find that a certain never before heard of university in Somalia, Mogadishu University was named well before any universities in Nigeria. Thinking this must be either an expensive joke or a serious typo as it was virtually impossible for any university in Somalia to eclipse even a secondary school in a Nigerian village not to mention university, I rushed online in search of Mogadishu University and to my surprise found a flourishing university. My depression deepened when I further learned that universities in relatively poorer countries such as Kenya, Zimbabwe and once war-torn Mozambique all claimed bragging rights over Nigerian universities that produced the likes of Prof. Wole Soyinka, Nobel Prize laureate, Chinua Achebe, the most prolific writer in modern literature, Chika Obi of the two-thirds of nineteen fame and many more that have taken the world of science and arts by storm. With all due respect these were countries that once ate freely from the palm of our hands, countries submerged in a medley of social and political albatross that have invariably mastered the art of educational excellence to be so reckoned in the top percentile of the ranking at our expense.

What is intriguing about the ranking of Mogadishu University over all Nigerian universities is the fact that in spite of wanton death, hunger, anarchy and chaos that have attended that country since the departure of its president Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991, it managed to maintain a university worthy of the top thirty honours in Africa at the 29th position, three positions above the first named Nigerian university – Ibadan. Here is a country that has not known peace in twenty one years with no functional ministry of education or minister but yet managed to best Nigerian universities. It might be useful for our minister of education and the administrators in the educational sector to rush to Mogadushi University and learn how they have managed to maintain excellence in such reckless society. I suggest that the trip should be kept silent to avoid further shame and opprobium, they should learn silently and return to Nigeria under the cover of darkness to re-enact the honourable feat of Mogadushi Univeristy.

In all these, I could not help but begin to ponder the dwindling and dissipating fortunes of Nigerian universities and by extension post-secondary education in the country. Though I am not a product of any Nigerian university having studied in America and given the antecedent I have to be grateful for this fact, I began to think of the better days long gone when Nigerian universities were the cream of the crop in Africa and scholars from all walks of Africa and indeed the world flocked to Nigeria to partake jealously in the cesspool of the Nigerian academic rigor. With scholars who trained in the US, UK and elsewhere and eminent professors like Tam David-West, Tekena Tamuno, ex VC of University of Ibadan, FMA Ukoli (RIP), Professor of Zoology at the University of Ibadan and first VC of Delta State University at Abraka, Claude Ake (RIP), my mentor and professor of political science at the University of Port-Harcourt, Grace Alele-Williams the first female VC of any Nigerian university, of University of Benin, Prof. Tolu Odugbemi, recently retired VC of University of Lagos, currently VC of Ondo State University of Science and Tech, a well renowned medical doctor and capped academician, Jubril Aminu, Ibrahim Gambari and a host of others, Nigerian university education was the envy not only of Africa but the world. These scholars and educators put Nigerian education on the map with their endless affinity for excellence, research and scholarship.

Then, a degree from any Nigerian university could be easily recognized in the US, Canada and European countries. In fact, I remember well how the US and British universities were competing furiously for the Nigerian graduate to pursue graduate studies in their countries. They offered scholarships and grants to ensure that they recruited the best Nigerian universities had to offer. When I arrived in the US for my university education, I met some of those students who were heavily recruited by American universities. And interesting enough, most of them graduated with high honours in the hard sciences and one in particular was immediately recruited by NASA, the American space agency designing space rockets and what have you.

But these days, depressing enough, the antithesis is very well the case. Nigerian universities are stigmatized and blacklisted and foreign universities are shying away from admitting the Nigerian graduate. Any degree and transcript from a Nigerian university is immediately suspect and put through a series of verification processes. Even after such processes are successfully completed, the student is still questioned periodically about his academic experience in Nigeria to ensure that his degree is legitimate. Recently, a Nigerian immigrant forwarded his resume to me to assess and provide feedback on how he could improve his job opportunities. As I reviewed it, I noticed that in spite of earning a doctorate from a prominent Nigerian university, the gentleman deliberately omitted the name of the institution on his resume. When I inquired, he indicated that most employers would not consider his candidacy should they realize that he graduated from a Nigerian university as Nigerian degrees are now generally known around the world as “STDs” , that is, ‘Sexually Transmitted Degrees.’

What is even more disappointing is the unequivocal trend of the dearth of quality of the Nigerian graduate. As a professor having taught some graduates from Nigerian universities who managed to make it to this part of the world to further their studies, I am left to ponder the abject mediocrity that now pervades the Nigerian educational system at all levels. We have graduates that cannot put together a sentence without causing colossal damage to the Queen’s language and many more are devoid of critical thinking abilities, skills set and logical composition that were taken for granted in time past.

Nigerian students these days I hear are even going to Ghana and South Africa for university education when these countries (especially, Ghana) once depended on Nigerian intellectuals and scholars to develop their tertiary institutions. I recently visited the campus of a top Nigerian university and was aptly surprised at the level of infrastructural dilapidation, hardly anything functioned at that university and the computers in the labs were as old as the university and the shelves at the library abundantly naked with grossly outdated books. It was evident that the university had been overrun by unrepentant thugs, gangs, cult members and pimp daddies who were well complimented by student prostitutes. With such alarming conditions, are we surprised then that Mogadishu University had consigned the reputation of our universities to the dustbin?

The current tribe of Nigerian professors in Nigerian universities with no scruples nor a modicum of integrity has compounded this problem with their incessant demands for sexual favours from female students in exchange for passing grades. They have thrown to the wind the tenets of scholarship that once defined the Nigerian educational landscape and remain the vanguard of academic excellence in most parts of the world. In this regard, a female student can ‘sleep’ her way through her university education and earn a degree in ‘sexciology’, a discipline that is not recognized in any part of the world and this means she would wade her way through life’s challenges deficient and utterly incompetent. Some, I hear go as far as hiring someone to attend classes and take exams on their behalf and ultimately, the degree would go to the one that hardly stepped foot in the classroom.

In spite of the billions of naira spent on post secondary institutions in the country, we cannot compete with the likes of the Mogadishu University and there lies the paradox that aptly captures the decadence of the Nigerian educational institutions. The problem therefore remains the quality of the administrators in the country, I mean those that run the educational system are themselves novices with no clue of how to ensure a functional system that would produce graduates to meet the challenges of the 21st century. This is our national challenge!


Dr. Alalibo is an American educated  political scientist, professor and a frequent commentator on this site. He is author of three books and several scholarly publications.

“Top 100 Universities and Colleges in Africa Top 100 Universities and Colleges in Africa by the 4icu.org University Web Ranking:

1 University of Cape Town South Africa
2 Cairo University Egypt
3 University of Pretoria South Africa
4 Universiteit Stellenbosch South Africa
5 University of the Witwatersrand South Africa
6 University of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa
7 University of South Africa South Africa
8 The American University in Cairo Egypt
9 Mansoura University Egypt
10 University of the Western Cape South Africa
11 Makerere University Uganda
12 Rhodes University South Africa
13 University of Johannesburg South Africa
14 University of Nairobi Kenya
15 University of Dar es Salaam Tanzania
16 Cape Peninsula University of Technology South Africa
17 Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University South Africa
18 University of Botswana Botswana
19 University of Ghana Ghana
20 Helwan University Egypt
21 Ain Shams University Egypt
22 Université Cadi Ayyad Morocco
23 University of Khartoum Sudan
24 Tshwane University of Technology South Africa
25 Al Akhawayn University Morocco
26 Addis Ababa University Ethiopia
27 Universidade Eduardo Mondlane Mozambique
28 Université Cheikh Anta Diop Senegal
29 Mogadishu University Somalia
30 University of Namibia Namibia
31 University of Zimbabwe Zimbabwe
32 University of Ibadan Nigeria
33 Polytechnic of Namibia Namibia
34 University of Ilorin Nigeria
35 Zagazig University Egypt
36 Assiut University Egypt
37 North-West University South Africa
38 Université Mentouri de Constantine Algeria
39 Presbyterian University College Ghana
40 University of Benin Nigeria
41 Universiteit van die Vrystaat South Africa
42 Kenyatta University Kenya
43 Université des Sciences et de la Technologie Houari Boumediène Algeria
44 Obafemi Awolowo University Nigeria
45 Université de la Reunion Reunion
46 Sudan University for Science and Technology Sudan
47 Strathmore University Kenya
48 The Hubert Kairuki Memorial University Tanzania
49 Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Ghana
50 United States International University Kenya
51 Université Abdelmalek Essadi Morocco
52 Tanta University Egypt
53 The German University in Cairo Egypt
54 Université de Batna Algeria
55 Université d’Alger Algeria
56 South Valley University Egypt
57 Menoufia University Egypt
58 Al Azhar University Egypt
59 Université Abou Bekr Belkaid Tlemcen Algeria
60 University of Mauritius Mauritius
61 Central University of Technology South Africa
62 Ahmadu Bello University Nigeria
63 Université Hassan II – Aïn Chock Morocco
64 Université Hassan II – Mohammedia Morocco
65 Université Mohammed V – Souissi Morocco
66 Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Kenya
67 Durban University of Technology South Africa
68 Université Ibn Tofail Morocco
69 University of Zambia Zambia
70 University of Jos Nigeria
71 Université Abdelhamid Ibn Badis Mostaganem Algeria
72 Université M’hamed Bouguerra de Boumerdes Algeria
73 Nile University Egypt
74 University of Education,Winneba Ghana
75 International University of Africa Sudan
76 University of Fort Hare South Africa
77 Université Mohammed V – Agdal Morocco
78 University of Limpopo South Africa
79 Uganda Christian University Uganda
80 Vaal University of Technology South Africa
81 Université Hassan Ier Morocco
82 Université Saad Dahlab Blida Algeria
83 Walter Sisulu University South Africa
84 Moi University Kenya
85 Université Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah Fés Morocco
86 MISR University for Sience and Technology Egypt
87 Université d’Antananarivo Madagascar
88 October 6 University Egypt
89 École Nationale Polytechnique Algeria
90 Université des Sciences et de la Technologie Mohamed Boudiaf d’Oran Algeria
91 Egerton University Kenya
92 Université Mouloud Maameri de Tizi Ouzou Algeria
93 Université Djillali Liabes Algeria
94 University of Cape Coast Ghana
95 Université d’Oran Algeria
96 University of Garyounis Libya
97 National University of Rwanda Rwanda
98 Université de Ouagadougou Burkina Faso
99 University of Zulu land South Africa
100 Kigali Institute of Science and Technology Rwanda”

Source: 4icu.org University Web Ranking:

Short URL: http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=13188

Posted by on Sep 26 2011. Filed under Articles, Columnists, Education, NNP Columnists, P. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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