Nigeria’s university education system is facing a critical challenge due to a massive exodus of university lecturers seeking better opportunities abroad. This trend, which has intensified recently, is drastically reducing the pool of skilled professionals necessary for the country’s development and is threatening the quality of higher education.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Kayode Adebowale, highlighted the severity of the situation, revealing that in one department alone, nine out of thirteen lecturers resigned to move abroad permanently. This trend, according to Adebowale, is widespread across Nigerian universities and is being exacerbated by bureaucratic hurdles in the employment and retention of academic staff.
Prof. Adeagbo Moritiwon, a political scientist, criticized the government’s priorities, pointing out the underfunding of the education sector and the lavish expenditure on political luxuries. He warned that the percentage of lecturers leaving could increase to 65% in the next two years, further exacerbating the crisis.
Dr. Abdullah Yakubu from Kogi State University emphasized that if the government does not implement measures to retain lecturers, it will lead to a significant shortage of teaching staff and compromise the quality of education.
A survey by Business Hallmark indicated that about 50% of lecturers have already left various universities, and many more are in advanced stages of preparation to leave. The reasons for this mass exodus range from better working conditions, career fulfillment, insecurity, poor salaries, inadequate funding, non-payment of outstanding salaries, and the harsh economy.
Despite recent efforts by President Bola Tinubu’s administration, including salary increments for federal tertiary institutions staff and the partial payment of outstanding salaries, many lecturers are still considering leaving the country. Interviews with lecturers across several public universities revealed that a significant number are planning to emigrate next year.
The situation is similar across multiple universities, including the University of Lagos, University of Ilorin, University of Benin, Ahmadu Bello University, and others, where a substantial number of academic staff have either left or are planning to leave.
This brain drain poses a grave threat to the Nigerian education system, potentially leading to a decline in the quality of university education and hindering the country’s developmental aspirations. The government’s response to this crisis and its ability to implement effective measures to retain academic talent will be crucial in the coming years.