By Abdelghaffar Amoka
About 2 weeks ago, a friend visited me in my office and while we were discussing, he said he will love to be a lecturer. He is currently working in a good FG establishment with a relatively OK salary. He has worked there for about 10 years. I don’t know what his salary is, but I asked him about the starting salary for a graduate and he said it’s about N220,000 per month. I was like wow! That’s not a bad monthly salary for a starter and he said yeah. Then, I told him that coming to academics is not a bad idea but that as a friend, he needs to know a bit about it before making a decision.
So, I told him that if he should leave that job for a university lecturing job, and since he has got no MSc degree yet, he will be employed as a Graduate Assistant (GA) with a starting salary of about N95,000 per month. Is he prepared to drop from close to N300,000 to N95,000? He was like that is unbelievable, you are underpaid. And I said that is not all. While you had been getting a promotion after a specified period in your organisation, in the university you won’t be promoted after employment till you get a Master’s degree.
I continued. As a GA you will have to enrol in a master’s program. There is no research grant for staff in training, so you may have to save your salary or take a loan to do the MSc research. As staff in training, you are expected to finish within 3 years. Whenever you are done, you will be upgraded to Assistant Lecturer to earn about N118,270 per month.
As Assistant Lecturer, you enrol for a PhD. There is still no PhD research grant except you are lucky to get a TETFund scholarship. If you aren’t lucky, you save part of your salary for the PhD research which you are expected to finish within 5 years. It could take a longer time.
3 years later you are expected to have published 1 journal paper or gone to conferences to present 2 papers from the research you did with your salary to be qualified for promotion. If you don’t have that, the years you have taught do not matter, you will have to wait until you meet the said requirement. If you succeeded, you will be promoted to the rank of Lecturer II with a starting salary of about N129,724 per month.
3 years later you are expected to have published 3 journal papers with conference papers from the research you did with your salary to be qualified for promotion to Lecturer I. If you don’t have that, you will have to wait until you meet the requirement irrespective of the years you have taught. If you succeeded, you will get a salary of close to N160,809 per month as Lecturer I.
The next promotion after another 3 years is to the rank of Senior Lecturer. To qualify for this rank, you must have obtained your PhD with at least 6 journal papers in recognised journals and 4 conference papers. Without meeting the waiting period, PhD, and the publication requirement, you won’t be promoted no matter the number of years and number of students you have taught. Note that you will do the research with your personal fund and pay for the publication with your personal fund. As a senior lecturer, you will have a salary of N222,229 per month. That is the salary of a starter in your organisation in same Nigeria.
The promotion to the rank of Reader (Associate Professor) will come after 3 years and after meeting the research and publication requirements of 10 journal papers and 5 conference papers, PG supervision, etc. That earns you a salary of N277,179 per month. Then you become a Professor 3 years later after meeting its own research and publications requirement 15 journal papers and 7 conference papers, PhD supervision, etc., to earn
a salary of N332,833 per month.
With the increasing number of students, loads of script to mark, teaching does not count for promotion but the output from the research that is not provided for. You save your salary to earn a promotion. No book grant, you buy books for yourself with your salary. Nigerian public University lecturers are perhaps the only workers that use their salary to work to achieve the criteria set for their promotion.
I told him that if he should join the academics now, it will take him the next 12 years at least, to become a Senior Lecturer to earn the salary of a starter in his present organisation. And that since FG thinks the lecturers deserve no pay rise, it will take him the next 15 years of serious academic and research output to earn his present salary in his present organisation. Meanwhile, he will have to fund all that with his salary for that 15 years.
I asked if he still want to be a lecturer and he was mute. He was like this is bad and not fair. Then I said, when you see us in class teaching with all smiles and doing our best, it is not because we have a good salary and working conditions, but because we love the job and try to manage the little we are receiving to get the job done.
This is the life of the academic that you do not know. Their life may look glittering but it is not gold.
The poor welfare and work environment is telling on the quality of the output from the university. Some lecturers, especially the younger ones, are already getting pissed off and leaving or planning to leave. So, how long can we sustain this? Everyone keeps saying every lecturer should have a side hustle and stop complaining. That will be the worst thing to happen to Nigerian universities. Some of our colleagues with side hustle just come to teach and leave to manage their side hustle. You can ask the students the impact of such a lecturer on them. You don’t want to have a university where lecturers just come to teach and leave for their side hustle. A university is not designed that way.
President Buhari, Adamu Adamu, Nasiru El-Rufai in 2013/2014 gave a detailed explanation on the several reasons why ASUU is always declaring strike actions. As a matter of fact, I have never seen a comprehensive article like El-Rufai’s write-up on why ASUU is always on strike. Go back and read their words and listen to their videos and stop behaving like you need a thinking cap.
ASUU fight is for the survival of the system where you want your child to come for a degree program. We have helped the state governors to destroy public primary and secondary education. You have a choice to take side with the FG towards the destruction of the remnant of the education system or join the fight to save the system. The choice is all yours.