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The educational objectives of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as contained in Chapter 2, Section 18 of its 1999 Constitution, among others are to: (1) provide equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels, (2) promote science and technology; and (3) eradicate illiteracy. Since Nigeria returned to democratic governance in 1999 (after protracted years of military rule), the government embarked on a number of education sector reforms. In recognition of the need to sustain the country's economic growth and reduce poverty, it launched the program known as the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) in 2003 (Federal Ministry of Education, 2008; IMF, 2005,). One of the key elements of the strategies of NEEDS is to strengthen the delivery of basic services, including recognition of education's key role in economic growth and long-term political stability.
Consequently, Nigeria's developmental vision which is derived from its history, endowments, experience and aspiration, and inspiration from the views of cross-section of stakeholders and constitutional provisions is as follows:
To build a truly great African democratic country, politically united, integrated and stable, economically prosperous, socially organized, with equal opportunity for all, and responsibility from all, to become the catalyst of (African) Renaissance, and making adequate all-embracing contributions, sub-regionally, regionally and globally. (Centre for Democracy and Development, 2008; IMF, 2005, Akpobasah, 2004).
According to the NEEDS document of March 2004, the Mission of President Obasanjo's Government was to use the policy as "a nationally coordinated framework of action in close collaboration with the state governments and other stakeholders to consolidate the achievements of the last four years, 1999-2003 and build a solid foundation for the attainment of Nigeria's long-term vision". The goals of NEEDS are wealth creation, employment generation, poverty reduction and value-orientation (Yahaya, 2008; Akpobasah, 2004).
Government recognized that education is a core "pillar" of NEEDS and an important instrument in the achievement of socioeconomic empowerment (Federal Ministry of Education, 2008). It also recognized the critical role of universities and tertiary institutions in the development of quality manpower need especially for "increasingly technologically driven world economy" (NEEDS, 2004). Furthermore, challenges facing the universities in the execution of their goals are not also alien to the government and which therefore incorporated strategies for the reform of the universities in the NEEDS policy documents.
The Vision 20-2020 of Late President Umaru Musa Yar'adua was an extension of the NEEDS which promises to make Nigeria one of the top 20 economies of the world by the year 2020 (Centre for Democracy and Development, 2008; Yahaya, 2008). Its key goals or Vision statement is crafted as: "By 2020 Nigeria will be one of the 20 largest economies in the world able to consolidate its leadership role in Africa and establish itself as a significant player in the global economic and political arena." The Federal Ministry of Education in turn derived its vision from the national 2020 Vision and as indicated in its 10 year Federal Education Plan (2006 - 2015), the Ministry wishes to serve as a vehicle that would enable Nigeria to: "become an emerging economy model, delivering sound education policy and management for public good".
Among the key parameters for achieving the vision 20- 2020 ambition was for the nation to enhance its economic development performance through "modern and vibrant education system which provides for every Nigerian the opportunity and facility to achieve his maximum potential and provides the country with adequate and competent manpower" (Vision 20-2020 official website). The Centre for Democracy and Development also noted the importance of education in achieving this vision especially as it regards technological improvement and therefore the need for the country to invest more in research and technology. The Centre's main economic argument for investment in education is that apart from increasing labour productivity, education also "increases the productivity of other workers as they co-operate with one another". This will increase the productivity of the economy. Another view by Professor Babs Fafunwa (1995) quoted by Ebuara et al (2009) points to the fact that "Nigeria education must of necessity relate to the needs and aspirations of the child, the community and the nation and indeed be tailored towards the re-inventing and the re-discovery of our cultural heritage".
Successive Nigerian governments' recognition of the importance of education cuts across all levels though it has met many challenges in its effort to impart educational knowledge to its citizenry. This recognition is reflected in its various educational policies and efforts towards the realization of the cardinal goals of Education for All (EFA) movement of 1990 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Universal Primary Education (UPE) scheme was put in place by the military regime in 1976 (Lawal, 2008; Aluede, 2006) to increase literacy level of Nigerians. Despite the fact that the scheme did not perform as expected, it helped in raising the number of Nigerians who could read and write and were better informed (Nigeria Country Report on progress of EFA goals). In order to achieve the objectives of EFA and MDGs, the government established the Universal Basic Education (UBE) scheme in 1999 which made provision for a 9-year free and compulsory basic education intervention at the primary and junior secondary school levels (Lawal, 2008; Obaji, 2005). To show further the importance the Nigeria Government attaches to education, Nora Obaji, the former Minister of Education in Nigeria stated, "The Government of Nigeria has been working in active collaboration with International Development Partners such as the UNICEF, DFID, UNESCO, USAID, JICA, World Bank as well as Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to achieve the EFA/UBE goals". Furthermore, the Federal government established the National Commission for Mass Literacy (NCML) to raise the country's literacy rate in line with 4th goal of EFA for adult literacy (Country Report on EFA).
This blue line shows you copied this from email. Do not leave such marks in your work. The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) was resuscitated by President Olusegun Obasanjo on 1st October, 2002 to widen access to education and to ensure equity and equal opportunity to education (Ajadi, 2010b, NOUN, 2006). This is in realization of the fact that some individuals who had received some form of formal education might need to update their knowledge and skills for improved productive capacity. In this regard the Vision of NOUN is:
"to be regarded as the foremost university providing highly accessible and enhanced quality education anchored by social justice, equity, equality and national cohesion through a comprehensive reach that transcends all barriers" (NOUN, 2006).
Its mission as stated in the same document is: "to provide functional, cost-effective, flexible learning which adds life-long value to quality education for all who seek knowledge".
3.2 The Goals of the Universities
After analyzing the history of the debate on university's engagement with the "ivory tower" versus "trade centre" as generated by Barret (1998), Albert (2010) concluded that the picture tends to suggest that universities in the world would differ in the priority they give to each of the three basic university mandates of promoting knowledge and manpower development through teaching; expanding the frontiers of knowledge through research; and providing public or community service. Therefore, countries have to determine their expectation from their various university systems.
The goals of the Nigerian universities stated in Section 8 of the country's National Policy on Education (NPE, 2004) are as follows, to: Contribute to national development through high level relevant manpower training;
Develop and inculcate proper values for the survival of the individual and the society;
Develop the intellectual capability of individuals to understand and appreciate their local and external environments;
Acquire both physical and intellectual skills which will enable individuals to be self-reliant and useful members of the society;
Promote and encourage scholarship and community service;
Forge and cement national unity; and
Promote national and international understanding and interaction.
The same policy gave a list of avenues through which the universities shall pursue these goals. These are;
ii. Research and development (R&D);
iii. Virile staff development programmes;
iv. Generation and dissemination of knowledge;
v. A variety of modes of programmes including full-time, part-time, block-
release, day-release, sandwich, etc;
vi. Access to training funds such as those provided by the Industrial Training
Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES);
Maintenance of minimum educational standards through appropriate agencies;
Dedicated service to the community through extra-mural and extension services.
Section 11 of the Education Act of 1993 states that the purposes of higher education in Nigeria are as follows: (i) The acquisition, development and inculcation of the proper value-orientation for the survival of individual and society; (ii) The development of the intellectual capacities of individuals to understand and appreciate their environment; (iii) The acquisition of both physical and intellectual skills to enable individuals to develop into useful members of the community; (iv) The acquisition of an objective view of local and external environment; (v) The making of optimum contributions to national development through the training of higher level manpower; (vi) the promotion of national unity by ensuring that admission of students and recruitment of staff into universities and other institutions of higher learning shall, as far as possible, be on a broad national basis; and (vii) The promotion and encouragement of scholarship and research.
In recognition of these goals, universities in Nigeria are seen as important contributors to the nation's industrial, political, technological, and economic growth (Nakpodia, 2009; Ebuara et al, 2009; Dabalen & Oni, 2000). As put together by Ebuara et al, the vision or dream of the universities is "mainly to nurture men and women of character and good judgment, who will lay the foundation of good leadership for our great country and set her upon the path of greatness through a university education that will sustain development and salutary values in our society". This is in line with the observations of the Ashby Commission of 1959 that noted that "education is indeed the tool for achieving national development, economic expansion and social emancipation of the individual" and the 1990 Longe Commission on the Review of Higher Education in Nigeria which saw education as "the most powerful instrument for social reform" (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1997).
Another dimension to look at university goals is by considering the objectives for setting up the NOUN. Looking at its vision and mission statement, it is expected that NOUN should be an "instrument for poverty alleviation especially in rural communities, by providing opportunities that support Education For All (EFA) and lifelong-learning" (NOUN, 2006, p.3). NOUN is expected to achieve this incrementally and systematically through provision of flexible and qualitative education for all category of learners.
Banjo (2006), during a national summit on higher education in 2002 gave a summary of what should be the vision of university education in Nigeria. Going by his formulation, it is implied that the universities have the mandate to: (i) teach, "which must include moral and intellectual formation"; (ii) research, that is, "to create more wealth and comfort for society"; and (iii) provide public services, which means that academics should not confine their attention exclusively on the ivory tower. He explained how the universities could concretize the agreed vision. These include production of adequate number of educated elites in the teaching profession; production of well-trained personnel in the medical profession; production of other high-level personnel requirements in proportion to be determined by government; operating through a system of sanction and influence in order to inculcate the right moral formation in the students; development of the emotional and spiritual capability of the students; provision of a broad-based programme in order to make beneficiaries of education become "more fully participating members of the community to which they belong", devotion to applied research in order to create wealth; making the university a model for the rest of the country in terms of governance; producing the young men and women imbued with the right attitudes to provide good leadership and followership.
It was observed by Albert (2010) that some gaps do exist in the discharge of the mandates of the universities in Nigeria. Regarding teaching as the first function of a university, he pointed out that the "consistent unemployability" of graduating students from the universities evidenced by their lack of skills suggests that there is something wrong with the system. One of the identified problems has to with poor curriculum development which is hardly reviewed in the light of changing global developmental strategies. In the area of research, the gaps are in the area of quality of PhD theses which is believed to be falling, reduced interest in research by Nigerian professors who, on attaining the professorial cadre tend to concentrate more on teaching alone thus reducing the quality of mentoring available to upcoming scholars. He was of the view that community service was poorly emphasized by universities in Nigeria which tend to concentrate more on teaching and research. Faculties in Nigerian universities were therefore called upon to reflect critically on ways of incorporating community services as part of the students training process.
The former chief executive of Nigeria's National Universities Commission (NUC), Okebukola (2008) was of the view that for the Nigerian university system to receive early placement in the top global ranking of universities, it has to address seven imperatives. These were:
Maintenance of stable academic calendar;
Stimulating a vibrant research culture;
Improvement of facilities for teaching and research;
Compliance with carrying capacity standards and avoidance of over-enrolment;
Extermination of cultism;
Encouraging of universities to focus on programmes where they have strength;
Strong international linkage with foreign universities.
3.3 Key Successes of the Universities
Despite the generalized opinion on the decay in Nigerian university education system, it is necessary to point out some of its achievements. Between 1960 and the mid 80s Nigeria had a well developed university system comparable to highly rated universities all over the world with the University of Ibadan and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria earning global recognition for research in health and agriculture respectively . (Okebukola, 2010; Saint et al, 2003). In fact, Okebukola pointed out that "between 1965 and 1970, Nigeria contributed the highest to the international literature in science, engineering, medicine, social sciences and arts", and also had exemplary teaching quality, community and extension services.
From Nigeria's independence in 1960 to date, Nigerian university education sector has witnessed explosion both in the number of universities and academic enrolment. At independence in 1960, only one tertiary institution existed in the country, that is, the University of Ibadan, which according to Okebukola had about 1000 students and 300 staff. He further stated that between 1960 and 2010, there had been rapid increase in the number of universities and enrolment. This was evident with the representation of 104 universities by their Vice-Chancellors at the 25th meeting of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities held on 20th April, 2010 at Osun State University, Oshogbo. As at 2005, the Federal Ministry of Education recorded a total undergraduate enrolment of 780,001 in the various universities in the country, with the total number of academic staff in the system put at 23,535 (Federal Ministry of Education, 2007). In a paper presented at a session of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation in 2008, the incumbent Executive Secretary of NUC, Professor Julius A. Okojie indicated the current total enrolment in the universities to be 1,096,312 and total staff as 99,464 comprising 27,394 academic staff and 72,070 non-teaching staff.
Table : Students enrolment in Nigerian Universities (2006/2007)
Source: Okojie (2008)
Table: Staff strength in Nigerian Universities (2006/2007)
Lecturer 1 and below
Grand total all staff 99,464
Source: Okojie, 2008.
Another area of achievement is in the modernization and enrichment of curriculum (Nnoli, 2001). In this regard, knowledge in the subject areas of mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, pharmacy, medicine, engineering etc, compares favourably with other counterparts in other countries and is evident in the ability of the Nigerian Post-Graduate students in other countries to compete favourably with their colleagues. Saint, Hartnett & Strassner (2003), on a study of Nigeria's higher education system indicated as follows, that: "by 1980, Nigeria had established a well-regarded higher education system offering instruction at an international standard in a number of disciplinary areas". The above comment by foreigners goes to show how much regard the university education in the country had during this period. Further, Banjo (2002) noted that in terms of broadening of curriculum base, Nigerian universities are paying more attention to this requirement by making provision for the co-existence of specialization and a broad-based programme. The mandatory General Studies course for all students in the universities, for an example, is seen as an attempt to enrich the students' experience.
The emergence of various organized groups in the university sector is also one of the key achievements of the universities. These groups act as pressure groups to ensure that things work well in the system for the purpose of achieving the mandates of the universities and shaping the nation's policies for education and democracy in general (Nnoli, 2001). Such groups include the Committee of Vice-Chancellors, the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of universities, Alumni Associations, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU), National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), etc. It is also pertinent to recognize the modernization of teaching materials, facilities and methods in the nation's universities. There has been great awareness in computer literacy and other digital facilities in the delivery of knowledge.
3.4 Key Challenges of the Universities:
The Nigerian university system has suffered a lot of setbacks. Many authors have identified the challenges facing the system in the discharge of its mandate to range from poor leadership and governance resulting in ineffectiveness and incompetence to inadequate funding, lack of access to university education by secondary school leavers and poor quality of university graduates, politicization and proliferation of academic programmes that could not be sustained, lack of incentives for staff, inadequate infrastructure, university autonomy issue, increasing student enrolment, brain drain, incessant strikes and conflict between unions and management; etc.(Ebuara, et al, 2009; Ogwuche, 2008; Saint, Hartnett & Strassner, 2003; FME, 2003; Ekong, 2001; Moja, 2000; NUC, 1994; Nwabueze, 1995; etc). Many of these challenges had been long standing issues which date back to periods of military administration in the country.
3.4.1. Poor Leadership and Governance: Alubo (1999 cited in Ekong, 2001) observed that prolonged military rule succeeded in militarizing erstwhile civil structure, including the universities. Ekong reported that in a study conducted in 2000/2001 in 11 Nigerian universities to investigate the management styles adopted by the Vice-Chancellors (VCs) during the period 1992- 1999, revealed that majority of them appeared to have used a dictatorial/authoritarian management style. Further analysis indicated that in 8 out of the 11 universities studied, the principal officers scored their administration as authoritarian. Also, the analysis showed a positive correlation between management styles and stability, staff satisfaction, and equitable access, while there was a negative correlation between management styles and average alienation, productivity, number of students, number of academic staff and non-academic staff. This account is in consonance with the observation of Okecha (2008) who reported that the diminishing development in some of the universities could be traced to the hostile administrative system in which some Vice Chancellors are considered to exhibit dictatorial management styles
Lack of accountability in the management of government facilities have also been identified as an issue which has to do with leadership. It has been observed that most universities do not put much thought into their project planning probably because they take it for granted that financial support will always come from government. Aminu (1987) observed that many universities tied their capital fund to projects designed without proper planning and which had remained uncompleted.
Omoregie and Hartnett (1995) observed that there was insufficient control among the universities on the establishment of departments with some of them established around a personality. Further, some of the universities established new programmes on the motive of prestige or around their special area of interest without regard to proper planning and invariably sustainability. The implication of all these is that much of the university grants from National Universities Commission is tied up in these areas contributing to financial stress in the system. This is in line with the observation of Ebuara and colleagues who noted that this creates massive influx of unprepared students who are admitted without adequate resources to take care of their special needs. They also cited the Nigerian Tribune of 17th June, 2007 that traced the poor state of Nigerian universities to ignorant leaders who misappropriate the revenue allocation meant for the sustainable development of higher institutions.
3.4.2. Lack of Access and Poor Quality of University Graduates:
With regard to the problem of access to the universities in Nigeria, Okebukola (2005) had this to say:
"The entire university system in Nigeria can only accommodate about fifteen percent of those seeking admission. The situation will worsen when graduates of the Universal Basic Education Scheme (UBES) come knocking on the doors of the universities". Okebukola, 2005.
In order to widen access and equal opportunity for university education, the Federal Government has taken such measures as the introduction of an admission quota system to address regional and class imbalances (Ebuara et al, 2009; Okecha, 2008; FederalMinistry of Eucation, 2003; Saint et al, 2003). The policy of quota system implies that students must be admitted from each state of the country even if they are not among the best students in the Joint Admission and Matriculation Examinations. This is to ensure that the university system gives fairly equal opportunity to students from all parts of the country to receive university education. However, the quota system is believed to have a negative implication on the quality of output of universities.
The admission of candidates into the universities lies within the regulatory authority of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board which some people believe places emphasis on quota at the expense of merit for admission (Okecha, 2008). This is because, in order to provide equitable access to limited spaces, provision for admission is based on the following formula: resident of the immediate geographical or "catchment" area, 30%; educationally disadvantaged students, 20%; admission at the Vice Chancellor's discretion, 10% and only 40% is left on the basis of merit (Saint et al 2003, Moja, 2000). It was further observed by Moja and Okecha (2008) that in order to gain access to the limited places, unwholesome practices such as cheating in the examinations, bribery for admission, and manipulation of examination scores have become pronounced.
Adeyemi (2001) evaluated the equality of access and "catchment" area admission policy and discovered that there were "significant differences in academic performance between students admitted on merit and those admitted on other criteria. Also, "the drop-out and repetition rate for the latter group was three times higher than for the merit-based group". This trend is believed to have affected the quality of graduates of the universities and hence their status. Poor quality of university output, discovered to be a result of multiple factors apart from the issue of quota policy, is responsible for high rate of unemployment of current university graduates over the decade (Dabalene & Oni, 2000). These authors, while analyzing the labor market statistics observed that the unemployment rate for Nigerian university graduates might be around 25 percent and that their prospects for employment was worsened over time.
3.4.3 Poor Incentive for University Staff and Quality: Poor remuneration and lack of other basic incentives for employees in the universities are common issues in most literature on university administration in Nigeria. Lack of motivation and poor conditions of service of university workers have been identified by many writers as one of the key issues of Nigeria's university education (ASUU, 2009; Osagie, 2009; Ekundayo & Ajayi, 2009; Okecha, 2008; Saint et al, 2003; Nwabueze, 1995; NUC, 1994; Longe Commission, 1990). The Longe Commission of 1990 on the review of Nigeria's higher education reported the poor salaries and conditions of staff in the tertiary institutions which were not comparable to those in other sectors of the economy, like the "organized private sector, banks and the health services personnel within the public service" (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1991). Conditions of service have been one of the major issues that had caused confrontation between the various unions in the universities and the university administration and government which had often resulted to strike action among the workers bringing about distortion in the academic calendar. For instance, in a press conference in 2009, the President of ASUU, Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie gave reasons that led to the industrial dispute between the union and the Federal Government. One of them was the poor salary and non-salary condition of service of the academic staff which he reported had over the years resulted in the loss of the country's best academics to other countries like Europe and America including African countries like South Africa. In his own words he pointed out that:
"The need to make the conditions of service - salary and non-salary, attractive enough for Nigerian scholars to stay at home even though they are not doing as well as they would do if they were in Europe and America, was the major reason the negotiating committee agreed and even insisted that Nigerian academics should be paid the African average, i.e. the level of remuneration close to what obtains in the African countries to which Nigerian academics emigrate". ASUU, 2009.
Equally, the National President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, Piwuna (2006) noted that reasons for most industrial unrest in the universities are varied but "almost always it is either disagreement between the staff and government or between staff and university managers over welfare matters". The situation and its resultant low morale on staff have been linked to a lot of issues including poor quality of university graduates. Akindutire (2004 in Ekundayo & Ajayi, 2009); Saint et al (2003) also reported the relative low level of academic salary and the resultant "brain drain" of academic staff, which also prevented recruitment of new staff.
Other matters relating to incentive as reported by many authors include poor teaching and infrastructural facilities for teaching and research, inability of staff to benefit from development programmes locally and abroad, etc. For example, Ogwuche (2008) while investigating effects of funding on universities in Nigeria observed that apart from the problem of funding, one of the major causes of crisis in the university system has to do with inadequate academic and non-academic facilities likes laboratories, studio, library stocks, hostel spaces and their effect on job satisfaction.
The quality of graduates affects the status accorded some of the universities by the public and is in itself an incentive issue. This is because it will affect the willingness of individuals (staff and students) to be associated with such universities. Those universities that produce "half baked" students are regarded, in the general public notion as 'glorified secondary schools'. As a result of poor remuneration and other working conditions, many of the academic staff are demoralized and in order to make ends meet, they engage in some other odd jobs using periods meant for teaching for these activities. The limited attention paid to teaching affects the quality of products of the universities.
3.4.4 Funding: The problem of funding of university education in Nigeria has been a nagging issue and one of the key crises and issues of misunderstanding between the unions and the Federal Government. Funding problems in the system have been reported by numerous authors like Osagie, 2009; Ekundayo & Ajayi, 2009; Ogwuche, 2008; Okecha, 2008; Yaqub, 2007; Saint et al, 2003; ASUU, 2004; Abdu, 2003; Nwabueze, 1995, etc. For instance, Abdu (2003) observed that financing of higher education in Nigeria had been "rosy" at the initial stage with the government having the political will to fund the institutions adequately. This was in the mid 1970s. However, the collapse of world oil price coupled with decline in petroleum output of the country resulted in the decline on its oil export revenue, pressure on its balance of payment, deterioration in its public financing, unemployment, etc and made the country embark on Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) in 1986 (Ayadi, Adegbite & Ayadi,2008; Anyanwu, 1992). SAP brought about devaluation of the Naira, the country's currency and led to the depreciation of the money available to the universities by about 200% (Okebukola, 2010). Okebukola and also Abdu further observed that acceptance by African Leaders of the advice of economists (Breton Woods institutions-the World Bank and IMF) that funding of the education sector should not include the higher education sub-sector also reduced the quantity of fund made available to the universities. Consequently, the expatriates started going back to their countries as their salaries became non-competitive, and purchase of laboratory equipments and books with foreign exchange became a problem. As a result, decline in quality of education offered in the universities started setting in.
According to ASUU (2001 in Ogwuche, 2008), between 1994-2000, Nigeria has, on the average met only 10% of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) benchmark of 26% of national budget for funding education in every country. The problem of funding was evident not only in the federal universities, but also in the state universities. Part of the observations made by ASUU at its 13th National Delegate Conference 2004, as presented by its National President, Dr. Oladipo Fashana was that state governments were not funding their universities to work decently.
Another scenario to the funding problem is the upsurge in enrolment for university education. In spite of the difficulties experienced in the 1980s, there has been of recent, increases in fund allocation to the universities but this has remained inadequate to cater for their recurrent and capital expenditure partly due to the massive enrolment of students. Abdu (2003) noted that the high funding pattern has not absolved the sector of numerous problems and that it "falls short of the amount required especially in the areas of abandoned capital projects that litter all the Nigerian institutions and creation of more inducements and incentives for teachers in the sector". Still on the problem of financing, Fagbulu (2003) observed that the problems of cost of education and its financing have led to what people refer to as falling standards of education in Nigeria. However, she had reservation with the reference to falling standard because she believed it is "a relative assumption or at best a nostalgic comparison with the past since there is hardly any data to confirm the statement". Agreeing that funding of education in Nigeria had seen bad days, she noted that the confusion about who is funding what has led to "a situation where the education system is fraught with decay in infrastructure and equipment, lack of motivation for teaching and learning and even policy implementation".
Further on the issue of funding, Dabalene, Oni & Adekola (2000) were of the view that though persistent unrest and increase in anti-social behaviour tend to be the main issues that draw public attention regarding problems in the universities, "systemic under-funding and declining quality of higher education" is generally believed to have generated the phenomena. Also, Ogwuche (2008) found that inadequate funding of Nigerian Universities resulted in poor quality of education, exodus of academic staff in the brain drain syndrome, incessant strikes actions, dearth of facilities, cultism, poor and outdated Journals and obsolete teaching and research equipments.
Table: Grants to Federal Universities through the NUC (1992-2002) and Capital through ETF (1999-2002).
Source: Okebukola (2003 in Abdu, 2003). Issues in Funding University Education in Nigeria.
Though irregular, there was increase in total fund allocation to universities from 1992 to 2002 as indicated in the table above, with the highest being 34,621,267,696.09 Nigeria Naira (about 138,485,070 British Pounds at a conversion rate of N250 to £1). However, this increment is considered inadequate to overcome the numerous problems confronting the universities. For example, ASUU (2010) indicated that in 2009, the total allocation to education sector was 7.6% of the total Federal Government budget. Based on its 2009 agreement with the Federal Government to progressively increase allocation to the education sector, its expectation was that at least 13% of FGN proposed national budget for 2010 shall be allocated to education. This was not to be as only 6.1% of the total national budget was allocated to education as reported by the union.
3.4.5 University Autonomy:
The problem of university autonomy and academic freedom has been an of intense debate between several Nigerian governments and the universities. It was more pronounced during the military era and had been one of the major issues of dispute between the unions especially the ASUU and government (Ajayi & Awe, 2009; Ekundayo & Adedokun, 2009), an issue that seemed difficult to resolve. The problem of autonomy in the universities can be looked at in three broad areas considering the laws that set up the universities. According to Ajayi & Awe (2008), by virtue of the statutory provisions of Nigerian universities, they seem to have autonomy in three broad areas: academic autonomy, administrative autonomy and financial autonomy. They observed that the statutes made provision for "Council, its composition, life and functions; the Finance and General Purpose Committee; the Senate; the Congregation; the Convocation; organization of academic work in the university; Academic Boards; Boards of Studies; Deans of teaching units; selection of certain principal officers of the university; creation of academic posts; appointment of academic staff and appointment of administrative and technical staff". Also, the Senate by virtue of the statutes is empowered to take charge of the academic activities of the universities including admission and discipline of students,
and to promote research. These powers invested in the universities had been subject to government interference.
In the area of administrative autonomy, the promulgation of the Decree No. 23, of 1975 tends to be a threat to the powers of the Council in the appointment of the Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor/ Chairman of Council and the Vice Chancellor (Ekundayo & Adedokun, 2009; Ajayi & Awe, 2008). The appointment of these individuals currently have become political with the Visitor (Proprietor of the University) performing this function. This implies that in the case of federal universities, the President makes the appointments, while the Governors have the final say in the case of the state universities and the Proprietor decides in the case of private universities.
The autonomy of universities was also considered eroded in the area of academic matters which by statutory right, was the freedom invested in the Senate of the universities to organize and control teaching, admission and discipline of students, and promote research. The establishment of JAMB in 1978 which now conducts entry examinations into the universities instead of the Senate of the various universities is further considered erosion to academic freedom. The introduction of the quota system for admission by this organ instead of emphasis on merit is another dimension of the controversy on autonomy as observed by many authors like Onyeonoru (2008).
Prior to the establishment of the NUC in 1962 and its reconstitution in 1974, establishment of academic programmes in universities was the function of the university senate which comprised of the Registrar, all professors, all heads of departments and faculty representatives (Ekundayo & Adedokun, 2009). However, this is no longer the current practice. Rather, the universities were required to obtain approval from NUC before a programme was established. Onyeonoru (2008) lamented that "in several areas, universities have lost their power to develop new programmes, realign their courses, and the content of their curricular to match labour market requirements. Changes in undergraduate programmes, introduction of new degree programmes and even changes in the names of university departments must attract the approval of the NUC". The same observation was made by Ajayi and Awe (2008) who pointed out that the NUC is now performing other functions other than its mandate at inception. It is the organ of the Federal Government that accredits programmes of universities. In performing this role, it uses Minimum Academic Standard as benchmark to assess performance of academic programmes in the universities thereby preventing universities from developing their own individual curricula and syllabuses. The extent of involvement of NUC in the affairs of the universities was lamented by ASUU who in 2004 through its National President, Dr. Oladipo Fashana noted that: "the NUC is encroaching into the functions of Senate and Academic Research Committees in the universities. It is now taking over the control of research in universites; it is trying to determine the conditions of employment of lecturers".
The universities by statutory provision had the autonomy to generate and disburse fund (Fabunmi, 2007). This is not the case presently as the universities rely on government for fund. Reconciling university autonomy with government control of fund is basic issue the universities have to deal with. Like Onyeonoru (2008) observed, since government is responsible for fund that goes to the university system, it is reasonable that it allots such fund in a way that ensures "efficiency of the educational system and the economical use of available resources". This dependency on government for fund is the reason why many believe that achievement of full autonomy by universities might not be that easy.
3.4.6 Brain Drain:
For a university to generate and transmit knowledge requires that it has its pool of talent and students interacting in the teaching-learning process and research (Oni, 1999). Among the many challenges facing universities in Nigeria in the discharge of their mandate is the brain drain syndrome. The Study Group on Brain Drain in Nigerian Universities (1994) defined the phenomenon as "large scale movement by lecturers and senior non-academic staff away from the Nigerian University System in pursuit of self-actualization". The group identified five categories of staff involved in brain drain as:
Nigerian academics that have transferred their services to foreign establishment, universities, hospitals, research institutes, international organizations, etc.
Nigerian academics who have moved to more lucrative activities and political appointments in Nigeria and who, by so doing have disengaged from teaching and research;
Young academicians who refused to return to Nigeria after their studies/leave abroad;
Young graduates with potentials who are reluctant to pursue higher degrees in preparation for employment as lecturers, etc but opting for careers in financially more lucrative sectors of Nigerian economy e.g. banks and financial houses;
Expatriates who have returned to their home countries or emigrated to other countries in pursuit of higher wages.
The group also found, like some other writers (Okecha, 2008; Yaqub, 2007; Study Group, 1994; etc) that the main fields affected by the phenomenon were professionals like, in order of magnitude, medicine and related disciplines; architects; engineers and related technicians; social sciences, sciences and sports. As Olufemi (2007?) of Olabisi Onabanjo University pointed out, international labour migration of unskilled labour is of less importance to political economic analysis but movement of skilled workers or professionals represent a great loss to the country that has invested so much in their training and skill development. He cited Oladapo (1988) who described as "liberal", an estimate that 1500 Nigerian physicians are in Europe alone. The World Bank Report of 15th September, 1996, indicated an estimate of 10,000 Nigerians employed in the United States alone. Apart from salary and other welfare packages, the migration of these professionals is induced by the opportunity to develop their career and keep abreast with what is happening in their field of knowledge.
People believe that the current situation of Nigerian universities is unattractive for ambitious individuals to work. The prolonged economic downturn experienced by Nigeria affected its budgetary allocation to the universities leading to the rationalization or cancellation of certain services provided for staff (Yaqub, 2007). Such services included supporting and sponsoring staff to conferences, stationary items, working tools, items for information and communications technology, etc. All these were in the midst of high student enrolment, bringing about low morale and exit of academics who could not contend with the situation. Different policies put in place by government to address the issue of quality in the university system have not achieved their purpose due to shortage of qualified academic staff (Saint et al, 2003). The Federal Ministry of Education (2003) reported academic staff shortfall of 46% in Nigerian universities in the year 2000. The Study Group on brain drain observed that the phenomenon weakens the programmes of the Nigerian university system and demoralizes potential young academics, and also frustrates both students and remaining staff. Further, as staff/student ratio drops due to high enrolment and shortage of staff, work load became increased leading to low morale (Yaqub, 2007; Saint et al, 2003).
To conclude this section, it is worthwhile to cite Ibidapo-Obe (2010, p.247), a former Vice Chancellor and the President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, who observed while assessing the Nigerian university system since independence that:
"the Nigerian University System that emerged at par with the best in the world at independence in terms of quality teaching and outstanding research sank into a great abyss of despair in the 1980s and 90s due to total neglect by governments and this led to avoidable brain drain of the same human resource that made Nigeria the envy of other nations of the world at independence"