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Why are Nigerian Lecturers Leaving their Jobs?

Before proceeding, note that I am not an advocate for Nigerian universities. I desire nothing about learning obsolete theories and thoughts. Like Layi Wasabi said, ‘This is not my entire life. I have problems that I am tackling as a boy.’ In the following paragraphs, we would carefully review why Nigerian lecturers are leaving their jobs.

My thought, however, was that only lecturers enjoyed being in school. What a surprise it was when my cousin informed me that Dr. Igbalode (real name withheld), one of his lecturers, resigned from his teaching job.


Dr. Igbalode is a polarizing figure among students. Some admire his book obsession and complex vocabulary, while others find them challenging. Despite his eccentricities, he is a great teacher who wants the best for his students. Why would someone like him flee our ivory tower?

Many students have a Dr. Igbalode story: Brilliant minds and passionate teachers who got frustrated with the education system. Understandably, people continue to find different life paths, but people like Dr. Igbalode do so against their will. In this article, we’ll discuss some motivations behind this decision.

Nigerian lecturers

Traveling Down the Bumpy Nigerian Road

Before we discuss the motivation behind lecturers’ exit from our universities, let’s travel down history to understand our trajectory in education. Though a senator has pointed out the deplorable state of Nigerian roads, we should be able to get around with an Innoson SUV(not 160 million Toyota). So, let’s go for a ride:

●    Our First Iteration

According to history, the British government came to Nigeria with Western education. Nigerian youths thus became eager to learn from them, with their education seen as the highest level of human enlightenment. The impact of this interest in Western education consequently led to the establishment of the first Nigerian University, the University of Ibadan (formerly University College, Ibadan). 

However, Nigerian university lecturers were a rarity in the colonial era due to the strict qualifications imposed by the colonizers. To solve staff problems that resulted from Nigerians’ unavailability, the colonial government introduced incentives to attract more expatriate lecturers. 

●    The Localization Post October 1st

The end of colonialism opened the Nigerian world to Alakowes (scholars). These groups enjoyed easier lives, securing jobs once held by expatriates and receiving benefits extended to university lecturers.

Thanks to agricultural development, universities like Obafemi Awolowo University were established. Lecturers were well-paid, and teaching facilities improved. 

●    When Oil Greased Our Palms

The crude oil discovery opened even more doors to the Nigerian economy. Only a few countries can boast, like the former Nigerian head of state who famously said, “Nigeria’s problem is not money but how to spend it.”

Ah, the good old days of oil money and politicians ‘spilling’ it in their usual fashion! Though they established more universities, the rapid influx of students outpaced the supply of lecturers and facilities, leading to a decline in educational standards.

Against this backdrop of declining educational standards, some lecturers retired or found better opportunities elsewhere. Those who remained had to contend with the capricious military governments and the narrow-minded politicians that dominated this period.

Why are Lecturers Leaving?

I’m glad we made the journey through the Nigerian road. Having done a recap of Nigeria’s educational journey, let’s get into the motivation behind our lecturers’ exit from our ivory towers: 

●    Unfavorable Working Conditions

Despite ASUU’s struggle since 1978 with countless strikes, meetings, and resolutions, the Nigerian government has failed to address our education problems.

Lecturers still receive relatively poor salaries, and the working conditions are largely below global standards. While ASUU has its inadequacies in our system breakdown, the truth remains that the Nigerian government hasn’t shown seriousness in solving the education problems.

Why will lecturers not leave their jobs when their students drive Benz to classes, and the lecturers move around in jalopy? lol

●    Japa Wave

Some of the country’s most brilliant minds migrate in thousands because there seems to be nothing for them in Nigeria. We enjoy subsidized education, but we also pay for it in other negative ways, such as strikes and poor educational infrastructure. Even Lecturers encounter the same level of inefficiency as students during their research.

Nigerian lecturers are simply taking their craft elsewhere. They’re tired of teaching students who drive Benzes while they, the lecturers, can only afford jalopies! 

●    Who School Help?

“Who school help?” a lecturer asked in class, shaking his head. At this moment, I said to myself, “Wrap it up, bro.” Who am I to explain how education is the key to people’s success when Burna Boy said, I’ll only explain without evidence?

Student apathy towards learning is increasing, as evidenced by the recent decline in national examination results and the increasing number of university students who do not see a future in education. Therefore, lecturers’ hard work is going to waste.

●    Corruption

Corruption, including diversion of funds, ghost workers, and corruption in recruitment, promotion, and favoritism, has undermined educational improvements in Nigerian universities.

Corruption has also taken a toll on lecturers, especially those who refuse to pay bribes. This menace is evident in a recent incident where staff celebrated the resignation of their incorruptible vice-chancellor. 

●    Lack of Autonomy

The Nigerian government needs to allow the universities to breathe from their chokeholds. We can all agree that no one feels comfortable being choked, right? Well, except for those exchanging body fluids. You Gerrit? lol

On a more serious note, it is ironic that politicians who only need secondary school certificates are those teaching lecturers how the school system should operate. We were all in the country when Buhari imposed a new payment policy on University lecturers, eliminating the intricacies involved in lecturers’ salary payments. What is the value of a “research allowance” to someone whose livestock business recorded no increase in eight years?

In Conclusion

The government reduces the education budget yearly in a country of many semi-literates. Classes remain congested, and teaching is difficult for lecturers in overcrowded classes. Like Brymo (blame Burna Boy), our education system has fallen, and lecturers continue to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

The system takes more from lecturers than it is giving them. We want the results of Chef Baci’s cooking with the tools of Chef Dami. Instead of simply eating our cake, the government should invest more in education. Then, beyond just Afrobeats and our jollof rice, we will have something else to be proud of.

Taoheed Olayiwola

Hi, I'm Taoheed Olayiwola. Like Hilda Baci, I 'cook' for a living. Unlike the record breaker, the aroma of my meals can be seen -not perceived- in my captivating and educative content. Keep a close tab on my writing space to enjoy an immersive reading experience.