The Minister of Education, MTU VC and CONUA disagree on japa syndrome

Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman

Prof. Tahir Mamman, the minister of education, has blamed the “Japa syndrome” for the staffing shortage at Nigerian universities, since hundreds of academics are leaving the country in quest of better chances outside.

During a meeting with heads of ministry agencies and directors of the Federal Ministry of Education, Mamman bemoaned the lack of coverage of the issue in the media.

The Yoruba phrase “Japa,” which means “to run, flee, or escape,” represents how Nigerians have left their nation in search of better opportunities elsewhere.

Medical professionals, lawyers, bankers, academics, computer nerds, engineers, skilled and unskilled workers, and others are leaving the country in large numbers to pursue chances abroad.

Results indicate that the high number of retirements has further hindered the development in the tertiary education sub-sector.

Speaking on the subject, the minister stated that the current administration would not act in a reactive manner but would instead address problems head-on before they get out of hand. He claims that universities in Nigeria suffer greatly as a result of the brain drain phenomena.

Mamman, a former vice chancellor of Baze University in Abuja, bemoaned the knowledge and experience gaps that arise when bright academics depart the nation for study abroad programmes.

He claimed that this had a detrimental impact on the standard of instruction, research, and invention at 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, 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.”