Nigerian universities are facing a significant staff shortage as thousands of lecturers seek opportunities abroad, coupled with a high number of retirements within the institutions. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) confirmed the shortage in separate interviews, attributing it to the escalating departure of lecturers from Nigeria and concerns surrounding the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
ASUU at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, reported the departure of about 100 lecturers, while the union at Federal University, Gusau, Zamfara, revealed a need for approximately 1,000 lecturers to fill vacancies. The shortage was echoed by the union at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, with over 350 academic vacancies, and the University of Lagos, where 27 lecturers left. The University of Uyo witnessed 100 workers traveling abroad, and the University of Ilorin reported about 500 academic vacancies. The Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, also faced staff departures.
ASUU representatives emphasized that the shortage had been exacerbated by the government’s embargo on employment in federal universities, causing undue interference in the institutions’ operations. They highlighted the bureaucratic bottlenecks in the recruitment process and criticized the IPPIS for limiting the universities’ ability to address understaffing. Additionally, the union pointed to unfavorable conditions, inadequate funding, and the harsh economic climate as contributing factors to the brain drain affecting the university system.
The University of Benin’s ASUU Chairman, Dr. Ray Chikogu, described the situation as a deliberate attempt by the Federal Government to stifle the university system. The impact of retirements and the failure to replace departing staff, along with the challenges posed by IPPIS, further compound the staffing crisis. ASUU members emphasized that the shortage hampers the universities’ ability to maintain quality education and research.
In various universities, the shortage of academic staff is reaching critical levels, leading to increased workloads for existing faculty members. The ASUU urged the government to address the brain drain issue promptly and advocated for the removal of bureaucratic hurdles in the recruitment process. The dire situation highlights the need for sustained efforts to improve the working conditions and autonomy of Nigerian universities to attract and retain qualified lecturers.