Nigeria: Salvaging Nigerian Universities – Ladipo Adamolekun

Since the posting of Independent Scholar, Professor Adamolekun’s Education Sector in Crisis: Evidence, Causes and Possible Remedies on this blog in January 2013, the paper has proved so popular that I re-blogged it in November 2014. The Lecture had been delivered as “Distinguished Lecture of Joseph Ayo Babalola University”, Ọṣun State of Nigeria in January 2013.

This new post was a convocation Lecture delivered by Adamolekun, a Nigerian National Order of Merit Awardee at the Federal University of Oye, Ekiti State last month, and deals with the same subject of Education in the country’s tertiary institutions.

While the 2013 paper deals with the problems in Nigeria’s universities using copious examples and causes as well as offering possible remedies, the new subject deals extensively with saving Nigeria’s universities from its now very low quality. Adamolekun draws  examples from his experience as student and teacher at Nigerian universities which contrasts sharply with what has been the downward spiral situation for many years.

In Part I, he looks at the state of university education during his time at the University of Ibadan (UI) and discusses how the university was able to turn out world-class students in an institution that is now worse than a shadow of its old glorious past.

“… before the prevailing decline, there was an earlier era of quality university education in the country.  The highlights of that era are presented in Part One of this Lecture.  Part Two is focused on the evidence and causes of decline. In Part Three, the main remedial measures introduced and implemented, in varying degrees, since the return to civilian rule in 1999 are summarised and assessed.  Finally, in Part Four, I provide six concluding thoughts and recommendations.”

While the grading of Higher Education to show which universities are “world class” and where such institutions stand on a scale started after the era of Nigeria’s glorious past in university education, Adamolekun’s  paper shows how we can compare the education at Nigeria’s universities like UI with those in other parts of the world at that time.

He lists some of the factors that made the competitiveness of UI education, for example, with top universities of the world as –

  • the availability of quality expatriate and Nigerian teachers,
  • good educational infrastructure, including well-stocked libraries at both central and departmental levels that met the needs of staff and students,
  • the availability of municipal services like water and electricity supplies in the hostels and lecture rooms, et cetera
  • students generally enjoyed stress-free good quality of life, including decent food in a decent environment that made their goals of being in a university to study, their only worry.

Adamolekun points out his personal experience that made him realize and appreciate the quality of education he had received at a Nigerian tertiary institution once he left UI for a world-class university:

“… the high quality of education at Ibadan in those days.  First, when my cohort of new students matriculated in November 1964, ten or more of us were male and female students who had completed their secondary education (“A” level) in the United Kingdom. Their parents (including one who later became the Vice-Chancellor at Ibadan before we graduated) had concluded that Ibadan was the equal of the top universities in the United Kingdom. Second, when I went up to Oxford to begin my graduate studies in October 1969, I felt that I was the equal of the other graduate students who matriculated that year.  And it was no surprise that I was among the group of postgraduate students in the 1969 cohort in St. Antony’s College that were awarded DPhil degrees within three years.”

  The paper looks at four of the remedial measures introduced since the return to civilian rule in 1999 to stall the decline in quality of education at Nigerian universities and remedy the situation : “restoration of university autonomy; increased access for qualified students; improved financial support; and enhanced research capability cum centres of excellence.” 

He points out Nigeria’s usual problems as being behind why the Restoration of Autonomy to universities which went as far as leading to a Universities Autonomy Act that was signed into law in July 2004 is still stuck at the National Assembly in over a decade: the relegating of any/all matters to political problems.

The National Universities Commission (NUC), the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB) and academic heads of universities – vice-chancellors – who, for many years have become “political office holders [who] lack high moral ground” and like others, including the Academic Staff through their umbrella union, the ASUU, as being all unable and/or unwilling to push for university autonomy because of personal agendas.

Salvaging university education in Nigeria is an arduous task which would require the will of political leadership in the country to bring about not only the finalization, by giving legal life  to the Universities Autonomy Act, to restoring autonomy to the universities.  This should bring back a measure of the quality that characterized Nigeria’s glorious past in educational achievement when graduates from the country’s secondary schools and A-Levels went on to top world-class universities: Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, et cetera, and when – the subject of this paper – the graduates of its universities proceeded to graduate (post graduate) schools (including many through academic scholarships and fellowships: Rockefeller & Ford Foundations; AFGRAD, ASPAU …).

This Lecture is even more readable (at least for a non-academic like this blogger), and definitely more interesting than the one in 2013. I’m sure it should attract a lot of readers like the earlier one which, as of March 30 – four years after its initial posting – had attracted over four thousand, seven hundred views [Source:]

Read the whole paper Here:

FUOYE Convocation Lecture 27042017


THURSDAY, MAY 4, 2017. 5:29 a.m. [GMT]

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