I received some really interesting and insightful responses to my last week’s article with the above title. See samples below. Enjoy!
I strongly agree with your points on the above subject. Six new federal universities have just been established and yearning for lecturers. Is it that this crop of PhD holders cannot withstand the rigors of academics? Or will they be supervisors or managers of the drivers, as Dangote drivers have killed uncountable Nigerians? These are some of the questions we need to ask. I think this is just propaganda, which is not necessary for a super-rich man like Dangote. Enough of this issue! We have more pressing problems.
Hamidu Ahmed (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Salam. Just finished reading your column. You forgot to ask what Dangote did about the PhD holdesr. So did he place them well? Or are they over-qualified for the job?
Dr. Kperogi, there is very little that can be added to this masterpiece, which has captured the very essence of the psyche of the Nigerian academic. It has been said that one of the major causes of the problems of our universities is that a large number of our lecturers have no business being in the profession. That is why academic corruption is so rampant and they have no qualms being on strike for months on end. It is always money and more money. And the situation is getting worse by the day. Merit is no longer a criterion for employment.
Add to this the recent revelation that various degrees, including Ph.Ds, are available for sale all over the country. Very sadly, the quality of our research works and publications on which we stand to become professors is questionable. It is no wonder that in global and continental rankings, we are nowhere to be reckoned with. We must continue to justify the very reasonable salaries being paid us. My brother, you have made my day. Your piece is a collector’s item. Let all the honourable men and women of conscience speak up.
Prof. Jacob Kwaga, ABU, Zaria
It's quite possible that there were PhD holders among the applicants since Nigerian universities are averse to employing PhD holders who changed their field of study from what they studied in their bachelor's or master's degree.
Ahmed Abdulkadir, Sokoto
Very soon, a sanitary company will come out to announce to us that professors have applied for the position of street sweepers. These capitalists have over-estimated the gullibility of the average Nigerian to the extent they can just come out to regale us with whatever bullcrap they cook up in their chequered brains. They have elevated bare-faced mendacity to mysterious and mystifying heights. I am an unemployed graduate, yet shall I not go abegging in the Babylonian empire of the capitalists. Mtcheeeew!
Otitoju Sunday Samuel, Ilorin
From the day I read that story in Weekly Trust, I never believed it. Ph.D.? Truck drivers? On Nigeria roads? I asked: “what exactly are they going to be doing?” I mean even if they got the certificates from miracle centers they won’t opt for truck driving. I’m an engineer. I know every major Nigerian road in both the south and the north. I don’t think they can survive a week on such roads (if they are potholes-free, they can’t be crazy-drivers-free).
Engr. Mustapha Ibrahim, Abuja
I do not find anything surprising about Ph.D. drivers in Nigeria. Nigerian universities are unable to employ adequate number of teaching staff because they cannot meet the financial obligation of such an enterprise. So getting a job at a university is a bit difficult without knowing someone really influential. The second point is that many Nigerian university lecturers resorted to lecturing for financial gratification and not for their passion for learning and research, as such they diversify their sources by being in the employ of many smaller (states) universities as visiting lecturers. It is not surprising to see one lecturer part-timing in 2, 3 or more state universities. A recent NUC report exposed that trend within most of these state-funded universities.
Thirdly, I think the term Ph.D., as it is done in most Nigerian universities and across many disciplines, has lost its intellectual essence. Lecturers now conspire and collaborate to share and conduct simple, outdated researches, most of which are derived from undergraduate students’ projects. But if you are still doubting the possibility of a Ph.D. that cannot think critically, then you need not look farther than our President, who got his own Ph.D. back when the standard was higher, yet he could not grasp the simple rudiments of governance years after he was exposed to it.
Ahmed Musa Husaini, Zaria
I would rather believe that the purported PhD driver applicants do not have any PhD. It stands reason on its head to say that a PhD holder (properly so called) would apply to be a driver. I have no doubt that if the alleged applicants are revealed, it would turn out that they either are not PhD holders at all, or they have mental issues, or better still, what they are brandishing are one backstreet university's honorary doctoral degrees.
Ugbede Promise Ogbadu, Abuja
Greed can't be a factor here, since Dangote cannot afford to pay them what they would otherwise earn if they were to be employed by the university. Lecturers with PhD. earn on average 250,000-300,000 Naira. Even if they were placed on grade 10, it's still a far cry from what their colleagues earn in the university. I daresay they're products of some Podunk university and are afraid of subjecting their claim to test. Or maybe something is just wrong with them upstairs. Who knows?
Sidi Murtala, Brunel University, London