IT is no longer a news that our dear country is blessed with vibrant and promising brains, especially at the tertiary level. In recent times, our tertiary institutions have been churning out en masse, indefatigable individuals who have not only done well in their studies, but have also excelled beyond bars. Last year, the University of Lagos recorded for the first time, a student who graduated with CGPA of 5.0, Ayodele Dada, which made everyone to be in awe of the brilliant performance of the 29 year old who studied psychology.
This year, another great feat was recorded by two intelligentsia, Miss Taiwo Bankole who studied Cell Biology and Miss Oyindamola Omotuyi of System Engineering, as they made perfect scores of 5.0 CGPA from their respective courses, emulating the legacy of Ayodele Dada. This is what I call the display of erratic academic intelligence. This is a brilliant performance. It is plausible and worthy of emulation. Also recently at the University of Ibadan, an unbeatable record was set as Daniel Nkemelu of the department of Computer Science graduated with a perfect score of 7.0 CGPA. This quickly informs me that in the nearest future, the Nigerian educational milieu is bound to experience massive 5.0s and 7.0s. However, does it end there? What is the fate of these intellectuals in the face of the present ubiquitous quagmire – precarious disequilibrium?
Disequilibrium is a state of imbalance. It connotes putting out of balance. The Nigerian educational system is condescending to disequilibrium brought about by nonchalant and egocentric administrators, who in the past under functional and responsible and citizen-centered government, enjoyed free education, sponsorship, scholarship and eventual appointment at federal, state and other governmental parastatals. But presently, the reward system or, simply put, merit system in Nigeria is in a comatose state. In other words, rewarding excellence has become a mirage and/or a matter of luck, which also depends on which part of the country you are from.
It is shameful that the Nigerian government at state and federal level, and heads of higher institutions no longer appreciate good work among its citizens. For the average First Class graduate, the best reward is offer of employment aside the meager and sometimes fictitious prizes being pronounced on the convocation day which will not be redeemed by the awardees. A common phenomenon in one of the best university in Nigeria is to list prizes without stipulating the names of recipients. This automatically deprives an individual who has studied vehemently and restlessly to have a first class honors in the most uncomfortable and precarious situations you can ever get anywhere in the world.
Apparently, the government does not care whether you have a first class honours or you came top of your institution. The best you could have is the reverberating applause and meager lucre on your convocation day, many of which you may not be given. A disequilibrium takes the stage when the Overall Best Graduating Student of Osun State University, Adeyemo Kareem, who had a cumulative CGPA of 4.81 from the department of Civil Engineering, was offered a mug cup by the state governor, Rauf Aregbesola, in 2016. His contemporary, Chigozie, at Imo State University was offered N1 million by the governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and a brand new car by Innoson CEO, among other prizes.
Amidst other speculations, some state universities have drastically retrogressed and plunged into the abyss, filled with malignant, malicious and malodorous policies which persistently deprive the rights of its citizenry. This is alien to what is obtainable in the developed countries, where success and hard work is rewarded. No wonder Nigerians are all over making indelible impact and contributing to societal and national development in foreign countries. Our merit system has plummeted, such that only the sons and daughters of those who are in the corridor of power get scholarships, appointment in universities, jobs in top notch agencies and arms of government, federal appointment and etcetera.
The majority of first class graduates neither get teaching appointments, popularly referred to as Graduate Assistantship, nor are they given scholarship to further their studies. If you are one of the few who still enjoy these rewards, then it means you are at the favorable side of the disequilibrium. These privileges have become exclusive reserves of the sons and daughters of well-meaning Nigerians and politicians whether they qualify or not. Unfortunately, there are many first class graduates on the street hunting and catapulting menial jobs just to make ends meet. The precarious reality has engulfed some, and their passion for academics has been submerged in an aqua of unemployment and underemployment. What is now the essence of the consistent and dogged reading, which in most cases has deprived them of the social and extra-curricular activities during their studies in the university? Why do they have to beg and write unending letters to the vice chancellors, governors, dean of students affairs, and yet the reply remains we will get back to you?
We have witnessed several convocation ceremonies where the state governor promised automatic employment to first class graduates, which abruptly and spontaneously became headline news in national dailies, just to painfully discover after three years of empty promise that it was just a mere political jargon. Contrarily, some state governors have promised same with corresponding action backing up their declarations. Why are some governors inhumane and indifferent about the wellbeing of the so called intelligentsia, who have laboured to get the best out of schooling? This precarious disequilibrium must be dealt with. Government should get their priorities right so as not to experience brain drain upheavals, where the intelligentsia immigrate into another country to enjoy a more favorable reward system.
Surprisingly, getting a job as a first class graduate requires an extra effort and exceptional display of dexterity and mastery. One gets more pruning during interview and sometimes rejection because you graduated with a first class honours. Most interviewers would bluntly say to your face that you should be in class, teaching. But what would you do when a teaching job is not forthcoming. The same set of University heads who aptly link their inability to retain first class graduates, have overtime been employing those who do not even have a second class upper grades.
Until we come to the consciousness of this reality and prepare to exploit opportunities outside the scope of our course of studies, first class graduates will continue to be ridiculed by the ambivalent, precarious and cancerous unemployment that has eaten up the relevance and posterity of Nigerian educational system.
It is not enough to bag a first class honours, but it is very important to acquire global skills, requisite knowledge, professional competences that will give one leverage and competitive advantage in this global village. Until first class graduates get fortified with requisite skills outside the scope of their course of studies, the story of getting a lucrative job in Nigeria may not be feasible.
Consequently, upcoming first class graduates should be duly informed that the state of the Nation is a far cry to what is expected of any progressive government, and thus be fortified to take advantage of opportunities outside the scope of studies, foreign scholarships, professional skills acquisition, internships available in other countries, knowing full well that a prophet is not without honour save in his country and in his own house.