Nigeria lures lecturers out of retirement

June 23, 2006

Many of Nigeria's retired academics are going back into the lecture theatre because of a shortage of lecturers in the increasing number of private universities.

Since private institutions were legalised in 1993, the number of universities has risen from 47 to 76. But the brain drain of academics heading overseas continued.

Although the National Universities Commission instructed the first-generation universities at Ibadan, Ile-Ife, Lagos, Benin City, Zaria and Enugu to concentrate on producing doctorates to fill academic positions, the effort does not seem to be having any significant impact.

Together they produced 500 doctorates last year.

The shortage of potential staff with doctorates meant universities had to entice retired professors back to campus.

At the private not-for-profit Igbinedion University in Benin City, 12 professors have been lured out of retirement by its owner, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion.

Oyin Ogunba, who retired from the federal Obafemi Awolowo University aged 74, is now at the Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ogun State, where he is helping the 23-year-old university to set up an English studies department.

Fola Lasisi retired as vice-chancellor of the University of Uyo but was recruited by Prince Bola Ajibola, Nigeria's former attorney-general and now proprietor of the Crescent University, to run the first Islamic university in the south of Nigeria.

Recently retired Akinjide Osuntokun, one of the founding fathers of the history department at the University of Lagos, joined the Redeemers'

University as dean of the faculty of humanities. The university is run by the Redeemed Christian Church of God.

Most professors at the Lagos State University College of Medicine (Lasucom) had been lured out of retirement.

One of them, Henry Adewoye, left Unilorin in 1987 for Saudi Arabia, where he spent nine years before he returned to Lasucom as head of clinical pathology.

"You cannot wish away experience in the teaching profession in universities," he said. "Before the National Universities Commission or professional associations such as the Nigerian Medical Association can give a university the go-ahead to run programmes in medicine, the academic staff list must be rich in renowned experts in various fields of medicine otherwise the medical school would not be accredited."

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