The Arts

February 12, 2017

When only prostrating slaves obtain Ph.D

When only prostrating slaves obtain Ph.D

Lola Akande


Nigeria’s Ivory Tower no doubt is in shambles. Both human resources and infrastructures have decayed to the country’s peril. How did we get here?

In an age when other nations are building bridges to the sky through technology, Nigeria is still groping in complete darkness. And rather than things getting better, or fair enough, stand still, the country plunges further into comatose. Worst, is the state of the knowledge sector!

Lola Akande, a Lecturer at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Lagos, pulls a strand- victimisation/exploitation, out of the numerous issues plaguing the sector. With this, she embarks on an expository adventure that reveals the prevalent dirt in the sector, in What It Takes.

As a result of the wickedness of some supervisors who have turned themselves into the Biblical Egyptian Pharoah, Doctoral certificates that should be obtained within 3 years, stretch into for as along as they wish to let the candidates go. The illustrative cover says it all. The professors/Supervisors are ‘strongmen’ while the Phd candidates are reduced to genuflecting beggars who must dobale all through the duration of the programme.

Lola Akande

How could things have gotten out of hands simply due to a mirage of problems confronting universities in Nigeria? Considering the age and positions of these professors, isn’t the level of moral decadence existing within this circle, absurd? What moral standard or courage would these unscrupulous so called professors have, to bring up their children or inculcate values into their students.? No wonder, there is complete decay in the system. It’s obvious that the startling level of moral bankruptcy must have built up during their days as undergraduates when they also had to settle their lecturers out of frustrations, in other to pass or graduate.

The story begins in September 1998. Funto Oyewole a single parent, has just lost her job at the civil service and decides to utilise the period of joblessness, to get a Doctorate degree.

She is offered admission to the National University of Nigeria (NUN), Abuja. This coincides with her daughter, Deyemi’s admission into secondary school. Her joy of becoming Dr Funto Oyewole, knows no bounds. Sadly, she is oblivious of the magnitude of pain that awaits her in the process. Her sorrow begins as soon as she gets to campus and is told that to get a supervisor for her literature studies is almost impossible.

Funto gets her first shock when Dr Durojaiye, who is supposed to take up the task of being her supervisor, demands to sleep with her. “All I ask of you is a piece of the ‘action’ and you’ll get my consent to supervise you in return. Fair bargain, isn’t it?” Durojaiye shamelessly told Funto.

Her 2nd attempt of finding a supervisor lands her in the hands of a female Supervisor, Professor Lara Owoyemi. She receives another shock of her life when Owoyemi requests she pays thirty thousand naira to get the consent letter she requires to submit at the PG School. Eventually, she gets Prof. Charles Ephraim to be her supervisor but what she encounters in the hands of the acute tribalist is better read than imagined. Her fate in the hands of  Prof Ephraim becomes clearer when the HOD informs her that Ephraim demands only three things of his students: “The first one is patience, the second is patience, and the third is patience.”

Funto breaks down and almost loses hope of achieving her dream when she finds out from Mr Oragui, the Nigerian meaning of Phd; “ Prostrate, Hard work and Dobale…you will prostrate to them, you’ll work hard and you’ll prostrate again. It also means you’ll do more of prostrating than hard work.”

This exposes the level of rottenness in the ivory tower. One wonders at this juncture if this same lecturers or supervisors went through same rigorous process to qualify for their positions.

Funto gets another shock when in September 2001, and the story goes on..

The author’s exposition on dept of moral bankruptcy among the Dons, is a strong one. However, this is a work of fiction but feels too real to be fictitious. If just a pinch of the narrative on Funto’s unfortunate adventure is true, then Nigeria needs total sanitisation of the education sector.

What It Takes is a detailed, interesting and insightful addition into numerous efforts by writers, to help build an educational system where the best graduates from.

The book  is a must read for students, academics and non-academics, the government at all levels, and must be in every home. Time has come when the efforts of every Nigerian must be committed towards a brand new and vibrant education sector.