Universities in Nigeria are battling a severe shortage of staff as thousands of lecturers leave the tertiary institutions to seek greener pastures in foreign lands.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities branches have lamented the situation adding that the shortage was due to the surge in the exit of the lecturers out of Nigeria and the concerns around the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System.
ASUU at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, said about 100 lecturers had left the university, while the union at the Federal University, Gusau, Zamfara, disclosed that the institution was in need of about 1,000 lecturers to fill the vacancies created by those who had left.
The union at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State said over 350 academic vacancies were now available at the institution, while 27 lecturers had left two faculties at the University of Lagos, and 100 workers at the University of Uyo travelled out of the country.
The union also disclosed that about 500 academic vacancies existed at the University of Ilorin in Kwara State, while both academic and non-academic staff of the Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology were leaving the country.
The Chairman, Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, Ondo State, Rotimi Olorunsola, said many of the staff of the institution, both academic and non-academic, had left the university.
Stating another likely cause of teacher scarcity,the Chairman of ASUU, University of Benin, Ray Chikogu, said the shortage of staff in UNIBEN and other universities had been a problem that existed for a long time due to the embargo on employment by the Federal Government.
He said this constituted undue interference by the government in the running of the universities, especially as it affected the recruitment and promotion of staff.
“It has been a problem for a number of years now because of the embargo on employment in federal universities and the process of recruitment of staff is a very cumbersome one. The university has to obtain permission from the head of service through the accountant-general’s office.
“This is interference by the Federal Government on the internal affairs of the school. What should have been handled by university senates and councils has now been centralised to the point that everything has been muddled up in the university system. It is a very sad situation.
“Many are retiring and they are not being replaced and due to the unfavourable condition much academic staff work under, they have left their jobs and travelled abroad to seek greener pastures, adding to the big problem of brain drain, which is taking its toll on the university system and nothing is being done about it. It appears that the Federal Government is deliberately suffocating the system for reasons best known to them.”
The ASUU Chairman at the Federal University of Kashere, Gombe State, Dr Shehu El-rasheed, said a lot of vacancies existed in the varsity due to bureaucratic bottlenecks.
He said, “A lot of vacancies exist but filling the vacancies has become very difficult due to the tough bureaucratic bottlenecks.
A vice-chancellor needs to get clearance from about seven Federal Government agencies and parastatals before a single staffer is recruited.
“Senior professors are retiring and no replacement. In FUK, academic staff are leaving in numbers to countries such Malaysia, Oman, New Zealand, and the US.”
IPP was introduced by the Federal Government a few years ago as part of measures to solve the problem of ghost workers and civil servants who earned multiple salaries but instead prevent institutions from replacing workers.
Addressing the matter from another angle, Prof Tony Odiwe, the Chairman of OAU ASUU, decried the poor treatment of academic staff members and demanded a better working environment for the lecturers.
He said, “The government doesn’t care about the system, treating us as if we are slaves, terrible conditions of service, no motivation, and poor facilities. In addition to this, retired members are not being replaced, we are extremely overworked.”
On the shortage of lecturers, Odiwe said, “Our members have gone and many are still planning to leave especially, the younger ones in the system.
In Katsina State, the issue of inadequate academic staff in the state-owned Umaru Musa Yar’adua University was raised by workers in the institution.
Findings showed the institution made use of visiting lecturers from the nearby Federal University, Dutsinma, and from other universities across Nigeria.
It was also found that many of the university lecturers also handled extra courses aside from those assigned to them because of inadequate academic staff.
Meanwhile, the ASUU Chairman of the Federal University, Dutsinma, Jibrin Shagari, said, “The FUDMA is affected by mass academy staff exodus, two professors exited the Faculty of Management Sciences last month, as well as a lecturer.”
According to Shagari, the instituitionhas recorded staff deaths, others being terribly ill with strokes.
Many academic staff have lost interest in their jobs because of insecurity, overloaded work, non-living wages, no leave due to semester running, withheld salaries, wages, and promotion arrears.
Even though the laws that established universities give the governing councils the power to hire and fire, bureaucracy prevents its materialization.
The ASUU Chairman of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Adeleye Oluwagbemiga, said the academic vacancies in the university were over 350.
He said the chief reason for the inadequate academic staff in the university was the irresponsibility of the government in terms of funding the university to get more hands.
He said, “The major reason we have inadequate academic staff in the university is due to the irresponsibility of the government that is not prioritizing funding the university adequately.
“The last employment was done around 2019 or so and we keep having lecturers who are retiring, some died and some moved out in search of greener pastures. It is the duty of the government to fill up these vacancies but this the government has failed to do.
“Rather it places embargoes on employment. The standard according to the National University Commission is to have one lecturer to 50 students or so, but what we have here in our university is one lecturer to between 200 and 300 students. The academic vacancies here are over 350, at least with this we shall have a record of a minimum of 70 per cent coverage of all the departments.
All over the country, Nigeria’s university administrators seemed to agree on one thing – that the government was to blame.