How Nigeria’s Universities Destroy Its Youths

The question now is who would save our youths, who or what would save Africa’s giant Nigeria? How can we “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 4?

Dateline is July 2022. As usual, warnings about the impending strike by university staff unions: the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technicians (NAAT), and the Non-Academic Union of Allied and Education Institutions (NASU), were unheeded by government, after which the full-blown staggered strike began. Days went into weeks and weeks to months. Students of public universities in Nigeria have been away from school for five months now, with no end to the impasse. Academic and non-teaching staff have not worked officially, nor have they been paid their salaries to enable them to live decently.

Strikes have bedeviled the Nigerian public university system for a while. Almost every year, the Nigerian youth in public universities experience disruption in studies such that it is normal for a four-year course to go on for double the period due to no fault of the student. The demands of the staff unions are the same strike in, strike out;  better funding for education, improved conditions of service for staff, and university autonomy. Unfortunately, students bear the brunt of failed government promises for months. In 2020, for instance, Nigerian public university students were out of school for almost a year, nine months precisely! Taking a short walk down memory lane, Nigerian students were out of school in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2020, and currently, 2022. Can you imagine the intellectual impoverishment these youths experience? Their idle minds are expectedly frustrated, and in a clime where patriarchy holds sway, the ladies are subject to all forms of harassment, while the gentlemen become far from being gentle, as they are readily recruited for all sorts, insulting their mental capacity and ability. How does one expect these students to cope with resumption?

Teaching, Research and Extension Services at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Nigeria

The student in a Nigerian public university is stuck with absolutely no alternative as the rich or those who value education at the expense of other basic family necessities either send their children or wards to universities overseas or shove them to the private universities owned mainly by politicians or religious organisations. The population of Nigerian youths makes public universities a tussle to get in. The Nigerian public university has no open days, nor do they need to woo students at all because they have far more than they can cope with -imagine 15,000 applicants jostling for about 4,000 slots in one specialised university in the country, for example, one can imagine the chaos in other public universities. The private universities come to the rescue of applicants, but at a cost. Many of these universities neither offer the variety of courses in public universities, and staff turnover is high due to conditions of service. The bitter truth is that many are not breaking even as the number of fee-paying students is vital to making any profit.

The situation is torturous to the university community in a country where public servants are to serve the government loyally. How is the public servant in the Nigerian university system expected to remain committed to duty without side hustles as these strikes are incessant and families must feed? Businesses within the university community are also grounded since business owners continue to pay rent for facilities they had not made a dime from in months.  It is saddening that the students suffer the most; unfortunately, the world is not waiting for them. Already, the digital divide is enormous; not minding that the average Nigerian student is resilient and works hard, such that they are known to thrive in other climes, at home, the student has no rights. Nigeria prides itself as the giant of Africa, but this giant has snored for too long. The youths are said to be leaders of tomorrow, but not in a country where the ageing populace is still struggling since those in power have been in circulation for decades, recruiting the youths as political thugs while their kids are safe abroad. Since money seems to answer all things, many students may have turned to advance fee fraudsters overtly or covertly, or use their bodies to get what they want.

The question now is who would save our youths, who or what would save Africa’s giant Nigeria? How can we “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 4?


ASUU extend strike by eight more weeks. (n.d.). BBC News Pidgin. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jul. 2022]

Dataphyte. 2022. #ChartoftheDay: 16-Year Record of ASUU Strikes in Nigeria and their Durations | Dataphyte. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 4 July 2022].

Folorunso (2019). FUNAAB: 11,000 candidates jostle for 4,000 admission spaces. [online] Flash On News. Available at: [Accessed 4 Jul. 2022].

Ismaeel (2020). List of ASUU Strikes Since 1999 up to Date -. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jul. 2022]. (2019). Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) | Education within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. [online] Available at:

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