By Marzuq Ungogo
The recent ASUU strike has unfortunately brought to the fore the real feelings of the government and general population about Nigerian lecturers. Contempt! Irreverence! I completely agree that the public is entitled to its opinion about university strike. However, the shock is how some graduates and current students celebrate the hardship lecturers pass through.
Being part of the system, I know how Nigerian lecturers work really hard. Of course there are bad eggs, but the majority I passed through or by are largely committed beings. These are crop of human beings who use their salary to buy software licence, carry out research and pay for journal publication in addition to teaching incredibly congested classes under highly unfavourable conditions.
Nevertheless, Nigerian lecturers continue to turn out quality graduates who run hospitals and laboratories in the Europe, Americas and Asia. When I recently joined a top UK university, I became the third Nigerian postdoctoral researcher in the prestigious institute. Interesting, we all graduated from the same Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. It is the same story whenever you go. Wouldn’t it be appropriate to reflect on the fact that Zaria graduates are competing with Cambridge and Oxford graduates? For the avoidance of doubt, the three of us had our postgraduate education in the UK, but wasn’t Zaria the starting point?
I think it’s simple. Nigerian lecturers may not be doing great in research because of limited (or just no) funding, but they teach in the best way possible for them. This is the reason why their students make wonders all over the world. I’ve observed that most First Class Graduates from Nigerian universities would graduate with another First Class at postgraduate level anywhere in the world. This is consistent with Second Class Upper graduates typically getting a Merit. Perhaps if the lecturers are so bad, they wouldn’t be able to produce graduates that can even gain admission outside our country.
That Nigeria-trained doctors easily pass medical licence exams all over the world is also another testimony to the quality of education Nigerian lecturers can give. This story is the same with engineers and accountants.
For me, I know exactly the value of the highly passionate and committed lecturers that transformed me. We can all do better if we start to appreciate all people, not only lecturers, who discharge their duties well. This is how we cultivate dignity for labour, and nation of responsible people. As for now, we have killed the morale of Nigerian lecturers with our ingratitude, and it is going to be long rough ride before they regain confidence and dedication!