Issues in Nigerian Universities (1)

Who is using whom? Who are the victims, who are the perpetrators? In any case, we’ve heard it all; most of us have heard it all: teacher-student relationships that now and again lead to pregnancy and other scandals. Teachers exchanging or demanding sex for better class grade and other favors. Teachers selling or exchanging higher score for other remunerations. Teachers pimping students and or fellow teachers for financial and non-financial gains. Teachers selling handouts and other documents to supplement their income. The list goes on and on and on and on. It is a mess, an epidemic. But sadly, these are some of the realities in our institutions of higher learning.

Beyond these dissolute behaviors are the academic scandals: plagiarism, examination misconducts and falsification of data by students and teachers. Cheating, plagiarism and falsification of data has always been a part of the academia, but in recent years such infringements have taken a different meaning and dimension. For instance, there are professional exam takers, professional interviewees, and the “exchange students.” For a fee, a designate can write your exam, attend your interviews, and even attend classes for you. You need not be a real student. There are people ready to do the work for you if you have the money.

No one I know knows whether there have been studies done on the effect of these transgressions; or, how these breaches impact the educational system. Even so, these practices and transgressions cannot be good for the country’s culture and educational landscape. These injuries cannot be wiped out, but they can be minimized. Fortunately, the aforementioned contagions are limited to some teachers and departments. It is here noted that Nigeria has had a glorious history of academic excellence, and has over the years, been blessed with men and women of high moral and ethical standard — men and women whose mission was to engage in research, contribute to knowledge, educate, inform and shape young minds. All these they did!

Something else: if you’ve ever attempted to secure academic transcripts from any Nigerian university, or from other institutions of higher learning, you must know how difficult and frustrating it can be. And in fact, such difficult experiences are not limited to schools. Procuring medical records or any government manuscript can also be an uphill task. Although securing documents and transcripts may be easier if you live in Nigeria; attempting to do so from abroad can be annoying, traumatic and time consuming. Not a few Nigerians have commented that it is easier to rob a bank than to secure transcripts and other documents from Nigeria.

Oversea-Nigerians who have attempted to secure school transcripts — without an insider to help — have a tome of woes to tell. A few days ago, a friend called to inquire if I have friends or relatives in Ilorin, Kwara State. He wanted to know because he needed help securing his transcript from the University of Ilorin. This friend of mine who needed the transcript was beginning to panic as his prospective employer needed the document — without which his employment prospect would come to naught.

Fortunately, this friend of mine was able to have his transcript sent after his friends and relatives, living in Lagos and elsewhere, interceded on his behalf. Well, Lagos to Ilorin is not exactly a very long distance; but considering the state of public transportation, leaving Lagos for Ilorin for the sole purpose of securing school documents can be worrisome. There is no guarantee that the transcript would be secured in the first, second, fifth or sixth attempt. None!

Aside from the official fee to be paid to the school, facilitators within the school system would also need to be paid or greased. Moreover, friends and relatives who spent their time going back and forth must also be compensated. Transcript (and postage) that ordinarily should cost no more than $35 may end up costing the supplicant upward of $200. You can’t even quantify the cost of time spent, along with the stress and other incalculable resources. And indeed, there is no guarantee that the requested documents will arrive, or arrive in a timely fashion.

For over a year now, a casual female friend living in the Chicago area has been trying to get hold of her complete transcripts from the University of Ibadan — all to no avail. First, the sending officer — after all the fees and bribe was given — did not fulfill his part of the bargain. More money and more time were spent, after which a partial transcript was sent. Let’s just say she is till waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Greencard in hand, she is unable to attend graduate school because of the delay in securing her official transcripts. Such is the frustration of obtaining official documents from Nigerian institutions of higher learning.

One of the unintended consequences of these difficulties is that some Nigerians have taken to forging official records. Forging documents is a crime; but it is even more criminal and malicious when an institution refuses to, or intentionally delays sending supporting documents to enable one “go on with ones life.” Procuring official school documents shouldn’t be that difficult. It shouldn’t be. If schools want to increase the fee for such services, well then, they should go ahead. But for goodness sake, they should fulfill their obligation to their former students.

Written by
Sabella Ogbobode Abidde
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4 comments
  • You are diconnected from reality, you don't even understand the depth of the problem the authors was addressing. I have been a victim of this transcript palaver. I could not start my graduate work for almost 2 years because my university Ife and Unilag will not mail my transcript to my school in U.S where i was to do my Ph.D. I sent someone to obtain a copy they won't give him. I pay for it to be posted, they did not mail it.

    I went to Nigeria myself, they refuse to give me a copy. Reason that Unilag gave was that people are making the counterfeit. The question is , could this reason be sufficient enough to deprive me, who labour for two years to obtain a hard earn distinction 9Sum-Cum Laude) in a master's program in Computer Science.

    It should be my private property held in trust by the university. But I was refuse a copy. They claim they will have to mail it. When they eventually mailed it arrived almost 7 months later.

    The whole university in Nigeria is backward in this area of registration and academic records. I could only hope that things will improve for the best.

    I guess will need a revolution.

  • The thing, i love about Nigerians is that we are able to defend our country blindly. Call a spade, a spade. Getting a transcipt from Nigeria can be very difficult, and as the author stated, students and teachers date because of grades. all sort of crap goes on just in the name of getting an education. I attended university in Nigeria and also in the US, and trust me half of the things that go on in nigerian universities do not happen here. A lecturer cannot fail you on the basis that you did not sleep with him. You can report to authorities but in Nigeria, who do you report to? Personally in my opinion, i dont know of any solution.All in all, the article says it like it is. No pretence

  • We should not overblow this issue. We should rather proffer solutions. What should we do to rectify or ameliorate this academic infection? What should we, as the wise men from the west not east, do to remedy this ugly trend prevalent, not only in Nigerian institutions but also globally?

    We should help to make our universities globally conformant (if there is any word like that). We should offer our services in other to get our academics to the mountainous height we want it. A liitle action by each and everyone of us must make a difference.

    Again, recently, I got my academic transcripts from Abia State University and University of Nigeria, Nsukka without passing through these so many hurdles that have been described by our reverred contributors. It's true there is a problem. However, we all need to identify the genesis of this problem. Is it the school/s? Is it the messenger's (in this case the person requesting the transcript)? Is it your "errand-runner (the person helping you get the transcript)? All these must be pieced together before we crucify our glorious academics.

    It is this same Nigerian institutions that produced internationally recognized egg-heads like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Dora Akunyili etc.

    It's true it takes longer time to get a four-year degree or masters or Ph.D but the situation wasn't like this before now. So where did we miss the boat as a country? What went amiss?

    No country has a perfect academic system, including the United States and Great Britain. Sometimes you can apply for a transcript which will take two to three days to be processed and mailed but it takes longer. Sometimes American lecturers or instructors or professors, as the case may be, are caught in plagiarism, back-bitting of colleagues and several other academic frauds. But we ignore these academic anomalies and do not blow them up as we do ours. It is not right. And it is not fair. We should be proud of our roots. We should project or even do a little propaganda for our country. Propaganda is an effective tool most modern nations employ not only in warfare but in other life situations. We can use this mechanism and tell the world that we have one of the best academic institutions in the world. And also that we produce the best brains from nothing.

    Here, in the U.S., students have all resources at their doormats yet they do not measure well with other global competitors. Nigerians who come from the so-called impoverished academic environment beat them "hands down." We should be proud of ourselves and do something to help our nation. The situation is not much worse. You have to apply for your transcript before you get it. You cannot expect the school to mail it to you without request and follow-ups. Ask and you shall recieve, knock and it shall open.

  • Great piece. The situation is much worse. I still have not got my certificate after ten years of graduation. It is a disgrace. I also had to bribe my way through to get my transcript. Wole Soyinka advocated for a closure of all Nigerian Universities for an overhaul for two years. Do you know how long it will take you to do a four years course, your masters or Ph.d? Thank you for this.