Nigerian Academics: The Job, the Passion, the Disappointment

I travelled home in 2012 after my PhD and one of my older cousins asked when I would become a Professor. I laughed and told him it would still take some years and I jokingly told him I was not keen on becoming a Professor. He became angry at my response and said I should get the Professor for them even if I don't want it. After I left him I began to wonder what is in that rank that some people want at all cost.

I can still remember the huge congratulatory messages I received after my friend and colleague shared on Facebook the news of my promotion to that rank. Sometimes I reflect on those messages and imagine how rich I would have been if those congratulatory messages could be transformed into cash. Here we are struggling and some of us can't even drive our cars any longer. The Nigerian Professor.

Becoming a Professor, the peak in academia is something most academics look forward to. The title still comes with some prestige and perceived false benefits attached to it by outsiders. I once read a post on Facebook that said professors are stingy. Poor professors, and the public want them to spend the money they don't have. I went to buy a seat cover for my car a few years ago and the seller said lecturers have money but refused to spend it. I asked how much he thinks a professor is earning and he said it can't be less than N700,000. I laughed very hard.

I have written a lot on the remuneration of academics in Nigerian public universities but many still don't believe the figures. Yeah!  Too bad to be true as compared with their perception. I had a discussion with one of our PG students who is a lecturer in a state polytechnic about salary disparity in the Nigerian public sector yesterday and the salaries of university lecturers came into the discussion. I told him the figures and the smile on his face showed that he didn't believe it but couldn't say I was lying. So, I login to the university portal and showed him my payslip. The gross, the deduction, and the net. We met again today and he said till yesterday, he never believed that a Professor on step 4 was earning less than N600,000.

Again this is the salary of academics in any federal government university in Nigeria. The quoted value is for step 2 the rank:

~The Assistant Lecturer's net salary with all his allowances is N118,279 (105 USD).

~Lecturer II's net salary with all his allowances is N129,724 (115 USD).

~Lecturer I net salary with all his allowances is: N160,809 (142 USD)

~Senior Lecturer's net salary with all his allowances is: N222,229 (197 USD)

~Reader (Associate Professor) net salary with all his allowances is: N277,179 (245 USD)

~The professor's net salary with all his allowances is N332,833 (294 USD).

The University workers are perhaps the only federal government workers whose salary is yet to be reviewed since 2009, that is for 14 years despite inflation. Those who were already professors in 2009 are still receiving the same salary since then to date. Your comfort is key to your output.

Aside from the academic work, and the research and publication work that forms the bulk of your promotion criteria, you are loaded with administrative responsibilities without responsibility allowance. They call it 'community services'.  You can be denied promotion if you don't have enough of the said "community services".

If you happen to travel outside the University for a conference and you are lucky to be funded,  the travel allowance is as follows:

~Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) for the professorial cadre is N16,000 per night.

~Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) for Senior Lecturer cadre and below is N12,000 per night.

~The transportation allowance is N20 per km.

If a Professor is to travel 200 km for an assignment that lasts for a day,  he will get a DTA of N32,000 for 2 nights for his hotel accommodation for 2 nights and feeding and N8,000 for transportation. That is a total of N40,000. Despite the fact that FG has approved a new DTA for public service in September 2022, the universities can't afford the new rate a year later. I applaud the patience of my colleagues, but the patient dogs are dying of hunger.

Meanwhile, education is said to be key to national development.

Dear prospective academics, I love academia.  For me, it is not a job but a way of life. However, ask questions before you wish to join academia and become a Professor. The job as it is at the moment can't pay your bills for a decent life.


Prof. Abdelghaffar Amoka Abdelmalik, PhD.
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Copyright © Amoka 2023

Nigerian Lecturers

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