Education Minister, CONUA, VC Disagree On Japa Syndrome

Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman

Education Minister, Prof Tahir Mamman, has attributed staffing shortfall in Nigerian universities to the ‘Japa syndrome,’ as thousands of academics flee the nation in search of better opportunities abroad.

Speaking at a meeting with Directors of the Federal Ministry of Education and Heads of agencies in the ministry, Mamman lamented that the matter has been under-reported in the media. Japa, a Yoruba word meaning “to run, flee or escape”, symbolises the departure of Nigerians from the country in pursuit of greener pastures. 
The Guardian reports that no profession is spared, as medical personnel, legal practitioners, bankers, academics, computer geeks, engineers, skilled and unskilled workers, among others, leave the country in droves to pursue opportunities elsewhere. 
In the tertiary education sub-sector, findings show that the development has been further complicated by the high number of retirements.  Speaking on the matter, the minister said the present administration would not be reactionary but would tackle issues head on before they escalate. 
According to him, the brain drain phenomenon has a significant negative impact on universities in Nigeria.  Mamman, a former Vice Chancellor of Baze University, Abuja lamented that when talented academics leave the country, it leaves a vacuum in the knowledge and expertise available to students and researchers. This, he said, negatively affects the quality of education, research, and innovation in Nigerian universities. 

BUT, the Congress of University Academics (CONUA) has disagreed with the minister, putting the blame squarely on poor remuneration, inconsistent policies, policy somersaults, lack of employment opportunities, among others.  

 In an interview with The Guardian, the National President of CONUA, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, called government to improve the remuneration of university lecturers and create conducive environment, describing them as two fundamental issues that government should attend to for academics in tertiary institutions

Also, the Vice-Chancellor, Mountain Top University (MTU) Mowe, Ogun State, Prof Elijah Ayolabi, warned that Nigerians would continue to leave the country en-masse as long as the nation’s economy remained the way it is and insecurity remains uncontrollable.
Speaking at a media briefing at MTU, Prayer City, Ogun State, Ayolabi explained that no amount of persuasion from government and the National Assembly can stop Nigeria’s best brains to stay in a country already described as a failed state, amidst a battered economy, insecurity challenges, exchange rate volatility and others.
According to him, President Tinubu must show his acumen and zeal to turn around the ailing fortunes of the country’s economy and at the same time, fix the insecurity challenges, resuscitate the refineries and concentrate on boosting agriculture.
He said: “The economy must be fixed. And if the economy is fixed, you will see that people will want to have the desire to come back to stay here. But so long as the economy is like this, there’s nothing anybody can do on the matter.” 

On the challenges facing MTU as a varsity, he said, “Our major challenge here is electricity and this is what consumes a greater percentage of our resources. Today, on a truck of diesel here, we spend about N30 million. If there is no supply from the distribution company, you can be rest assured that the N30 million will disappear within one month. So, diesel is the one consuming most of our resources and it’s a big challenge.”

The Guardian

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