A Nigerian professor and University administrator, Jide Owoeye, has faulted the popular claim that Nigerian graduates are unemployable. Prof. Owoeye, who is the Founder and Pro-Chancellor, Lead City University, Ibadan, said this while delivering the 13th Foundation Lecture of Achievers University, Owo, Ondo State. The event was part of the activities marking the thirteenth anniversary of the foremost private university.
Prof. Owoeye, who delivered the lecture titled “Challenges of Re-Inventing Quality University Education in Nigeria” also faulted the claims that the standard of education in Nigeria has collapsed, that there is inadequate access to higher education in Nigeria and, that private universities are after evangelism and profits.
On standard, he said, “Standard refers to a measuring instrument. It is a reference point against which other things can be evaluated. It is a basis for comparison. There is no stage of education for which vigorous standards have not been set in this country. For instance, these standards set the minimum requirements for teachers’ professional practices and conduct. It also set academic standard for what students should know and be to do at every level. Furthermore, this minimum academic standard at each level of education have never been lowered but instead, consistently pushed higher”.
Talking about access to higher education in Nigeria, the professor of International Relations said exodus of university aspirants to foreign countries was understandable in the past but no longer fashionable as local institutions are now fairly adequate in number. He said Nigeria currently has 170 universities with 43 federal, 48 belonging to states while 79 are being run by private organizations. He said in 2013, JAMB said only 42% of nationally available university spaces were not filled. Yet, the general slogan is that Nigeria is lacking in adequate spaces for higher education which is far from the truth. He posited that the Nigeria university system as it stands today with 170 institutions, can accommodate all qualified applicants not just from Nigeria, but from the entire West Africa.
Owoeye described the claim that evangelism and profit motive as the main motivation private providers of higher education as faulty and that critics should remember that government did not start universities for just altruistic purposes alone.
The professor concluded that Nigerian educational system, as a microcosm of the environment it found itself, was highly underserving of the periodic bashing it collects from within and without.
Earlier in his opening address, the vice-chancellor, Prof. Samuel Aje, declared that Achievers University was no longer “a baby”. “As we celebrate our achievements in the last 13 years, we are taking important steps to project in the future with this lecture.
The pro-chancellor of the university, Dr. Bode Ayorinde, in his closing remark emphasized the need for industrialization in Nigeria to pave way for employment generation and reduce unemployment among youths. “For instance, one industry per senatorial district across Nigeria would produce massive employment to young graduates and contribute to Nigeria’s economic development,” he said.