Nigerian college students caught in political, financial crossfire


Nigerian college students in Benin are on the receiving finish of an unstable financial scenario and fractured political relations between the 2 neighbours. Three weeks after the Seme-Krake worldwide border was abruptly and indefinitely closed by Nigeria – a transfer ostensibly geared toward curbing rampant smuggling – it was introduced by Benin that each one English language programs in non-public universities have been suspended.

Benin college programmes provided in English have been standard decisions for Nigerian college students who’re unable to attend college again dwelling, partly because of the big demand for college locations.

In an interview with University World News, Benin’s director of personal universities within the Education Ministry, Professor Dodji Amouzouvi, who made the announcement concerning the suspension of personal college programs, mentioned his division had obtained an official criticism despatched from the Nigerian Embassy to the Presidency of Benin concerning the high quality of graduates being produced via programs taught in English.

He mentioned Benin’s non-public universities have been accused of manufacturing graduates who’re unemployable of their dwelling nations. He mentioned some employers mentioned the graduates have been unable to precise themselves in English, however declined to elaborate additional for worry of being drawn into diplomatic controversy.

‘Diplomatic response’

According to Professor Mouftau Olalaye, Benin’s former ambassador to Nigeria and a former professor of public administration at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, the suspension of the programmes in English – an providing that was mutually helpful to each nations – was supposed as a type of diplomatic response to Nigeria’s unilateral closure of the border with Benin which, he mentioned, has had a destructive impression on his nation’s financial system.

“Over 80% of Benin’s external commerce is with Nigeria,” he mentioned.

At the time of the sudden border closure on 22 August, Colonel Hameed Ali, director normal of the Nigerian customs service, informed a global press convention the border closure was a essential resolution to the perennial issues of incessant smuggling of banned items into Nigeria.

“The border would remain closed indefinitely until the two governments find a mutually agreed formula to put an end to smuggling activities which have a very negative impact on the Nigerian economy,” he mentioned.

Origins of English tuition in Benin

Olalaye mentioned that, as a college trainer in Nigeria and later Benin’s ambassador to Nigeria, he took half in what grew to become a statutory institution of an English language part in Benin’s non-public universities whereby educational programs and analysis programmes may very well be mounted. “After all, such a provision is available in some universities in France,” he mentioned.

After an inter-ministerial committee had accomplished its spadework, a regulation was handed at Benin’s National Assembly on 6 October 2005, allowing the nation’s non-public universities to create an anglophone part of their college programmes.

Olalaye mentioned that, on the time, there was a big improve in Nigerians who registered at these non-public universities in Benin.

According to Dr Nathaniel Kitti, lecturer within the college of regulation on the National University of Benin, there have been additionally constructive financial spinoffs from this improvement.

“The surrounding and immediate communities witnessed an unprecedented boom through the houses rented for accommodation by these foreign students. Restaurants and small shopping centres were developed. All these advantages dried up.”

However, it’s not solely the closure of the border and the modifications in non-public universities that prompted the stagnation.

Impact of recession

Kitti mentioned even earlier than the closure of the worldwide border, there have been indicators in 2014 of recession within the Nigerian financial system.

“The exchange rate of the Nigerian currency meant less purchasing power for the Nigerian students studying in Benin,” he mentioned.

One of the primary victims of those declining monetary fortunes was Houdegbe North American University the place over 90% of the scholars have been from Nigeria.

“Within three years, this university lost virtually three-quarters of its enrolment. And just last year its American partner refused to renew its partnership. This university may fold this year,” Kitti mentioned.

With the approaching closure of this college and the scrapping of the English sections within the nation’s non-public universities, the Nigerian college students are confronted with a dilemma with regard to the completion of their research.

Togo sees the hole

The instant and sensible resolution could also be to vote with their toes and register in non-public universities in neighbouring Togo.

“I have colleagues in some private universities in Togo who told me that some of these universities have developed public relations and marketing units who have travelled to Benin soliciting Nigeria students and suggesting they come and register in their universities,” Kitti mentioned.

According to Kitti, yearly there are greater than 1.7 million Nigerians in search of admission into Nigerian universities.

“Less than 600,000 candidates are given admission. The remaining candidates transfer over to West African nations for admission into different universities outdoors Nigeria.

“University education in Nigeria is both an industry and a culture. Nigeria and other African countries need to integrate vocational skills in their academic programmes to create additional opportunities for young boys and girls to excel in other areas of human endeavour and eventually reduce unemployment,” he mentioned.

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