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Classification Of Professor In Nigeria: A Theoretical Approach -By Onochiengwu Obuna


I once called a Professor a regurgitative Professor but a learned colleague of mine did not understand what I mean. To further use a lesser language which he could understand I then told him that his friend is Professor copy cat.

He immediately became angry with me. He rained all sorts of insult on me and queried my competence to use such a word on whom according to his is a renowned Professor. I dis not join issues with him on this because he did not understand from the philosophical point of view from which I am operating. He did not know that I have already done a classification of professors in Nigeria and that I did not mean to insult his Professor friend.

My grading or classification of Professors in Nigeria is not out of order because in our world of today even countries are classified as;

First world,
Second world and
Third world countries.
Human beings are classified as
Proletariats/working class and

I have to lay this foundation so that critics will not misunderstand me or brand me a nonconformist or see me as someone doing something out of order or out of reality.

We must start by asking, who is a professor? According to Advanced Learners English Dictionary, a Professor is a teacher of the highest order in a university. For you to be a teacher in the university normally, you must be a doctor of philosophy in the academic field of study you are about to teach. A doctor of philosophy in law, for example, is supposed to be an academic of the highest order. An embodiment of or an epitome of knowledge of law.

It is from this starting point that a teacher of law in any university will rise from lecturer one or its equivalent until he/she reaches the final stage and becomes a Professor of law. Likewise in order fields of study a teacher of such discipline will rise to become: Professor of medicine, Professor of political science, Professor of astronomy, Professor of mathematics, Professor of Otumokpology, Professor of literature etc. as the case may be.

In some areas of these aforementioned fields of study, you may find out that there are teachers who climb the academic ladder to become professors by sharp practices. Such sharp practices can start when the teacher was still an undergraduate up to his masters and doctorate degrees. The degrees so acquired or obtained can be by way of sorting (buying of grades/marks) examinations mark practices and other forms of academic decadents like seduction, sex for grades and marks that tend to lower the standard of education in Nigeria. It is this kind of scenario that produce the lowest grade of Professors in Nigeria in some universities they teach. There are Professors who are very sound academically and as well and can be rated as world class Professors. We can now try to classify professors in Nigeria in the following order:

i. One Chance Professors
ii. Quota Professors
iii. Systemic Professors
iv. Excellent Professors

One chance Professors are professors of academic one chance. They are the lowest grade of professors in Nigeria. They can be called zero grade professors or zero class Professors. With respect to Professorial classification by all standards they are hollow academically. They lack the consciousness and competence to maintain high academic standards because of their academic background from first degree up to doctorate (Director of Philosophy). They are professors of most dangerous desperation because they want to bear the names tag “Professor” by all means and all cost.
They are promoters and sustainers of academic decadence in any university they operate.

One Chance Professor usually produce unemployable graduates who obtain their degrees in the same manner One Chance Professors obtained theirs. I call them one change professors because if they become your mentor academically and if you lack the wisdom and discernment to navigate out of their doomed academic ship, it means you are doomed academically. They are not scholars in the real sense of it. With their faulty foundation and academic qualification obtained by way of sorting (buying of grades/marks) examination malpractices, intimidations, undue influence, persuasion, seduction etc. They can continue further sharp practice ranging from man know man, in inducement, forgery of papers, plagiarism, piracy of original work of others and decorating same as theirs.

One Chance Professors usually constitute the real problems of the departments and faculties of any universities they are found. If their incompetence finds them out, they may either leave the systems voluntary or be thrown out. In some cases they are shielded and managed by the powers that be or the cabal in the system.

One Chance Professors are not found in law faculties and collages of medicine in Nigeria. This is due to the fact that both field of studies are specialized areas and highly competitive as well.

The discipline and high academic standard in law faculties and colleges of medicine is always maintained. The students in law faculties are subjected to rigorous academic training and surveillance and those found wanting are usually shown the way out of the facility of law by rustication or downgrading into another department as the situation warrants.

This makes it very hard to produce lawyers who will graduate into becoming one chance professors assuming such lawyers chose to teach in the law faculty.

Likewise in the colleges of medicine, the strict rules and regulations, constant examinations under stringent supervision, tests and practicals which medical students are subjected to makes it almost impossible to produce graduates who will in turn be employed as doctors of philosophy to teach in collages of medicine. More that 95% of professors in law faculties and collages of medicine in Nigeria cannot be found in this grade of professors. They are mostly found in the grade of systemic Professors.

One Chance Professors are mostly found in non Professional courses/ disciplines like Linguistics, Health and Physical Education, Fine and Applied Arts etc. where the rules and regulations guiding the intake of students into such area or fields of studies is a bit relaxed.
Professor Henry Konja Itonary is a good example of one change Professor.

Generally, Quota (system) Professors can be rated as third grade Professors. They can also be called 3rd class Professors depending on the individuals’ capacity.

They are called Quota Professors because they entered into the university (teaching) by quota system. Some places in Nigeria are designated educationally disadvantaged areas. Quota system policy was entrenched into the education system just to find a way to address the academic deficiency of some parts of the county. Quota teachers are absorbed into some federal university to start teaching not necessarily because they are needed per say but to reflect the federal character of broad base presentation of all parts of the country in federal appointment.

Fifty percent of the quota system professors actually belong to the level or grade of One Chance Professors.

This is because they don’t really have any meaningful contribution to the academic advancement of the university with respect to scholarly input to research and development. The only different between them and One Chance Professors is that they have less nuisance value than those classified into the One Chance Professors. In fat most quota professors are quiet, cool headed, well behaved and conduct themselves in a respectful and orderly manner. They do not in most cases contribute to the academic decadence by way of seduction, sex for grade/marks, or sorting because they are usually under close monitoring especially in universities in the southern parts of Nigeria wherever they are hardily found.

Fifty percent of the quota system Professors can be called regurgitative professors or copy cat Professors. Quota system Professors who called copy cats or regurgitative Professor are those very weak intellectual minds or consciousness they don’t have the capacity to discuss and make any meaningful impact in the works of great academic minds.

They do not contribute anything meaningful to the academic world. Their initiative and way power to contribute meaning academic ideas that will add to the existing knowledge in their field of study is lacking. Their Professorship starts and ends within the universities they operate. Though, they have job security, they usually feel hollow, inferior and not fulfilled when they interact with other bright professors from reputable universities.

About thirty percent of two quota system professors would be good, sound or brilliant academically. Most of them can actually be said to make the potentials be classified as systemic professors.

Quota Professors usually produce half baked graduates who must undergo some kind of remedial transformation before they can come up to standard academically. Quota professors who are regurgitative or copy cat professors are hardly or rarely found in law facilities or collages of medicines in Nigeria. They lack the initiative or will power to contribute any meaningful academic ideas that will add to existing knowledge on their field of specialization. An example of quota Professor is Professor Idris Danmasara.

Systemic Professors are second glade of Professors; they may be called second class Professors. They have brave Professional/academic initiative and well power to contribute meaningful ideas or interpret existing academic knowledge and theories.

Systemic Professors are professors by merit, they have immense sense of directions and good academic background. They are usually consumed by the zeal to maintain, sustain and improve their academic environment/system hence the name “Systemic Professors”. Systemic professors are very much embroiled or concerned with the ambition of becoming Heads of Department and Deans of faculties.

Systemic Professors usually have the capacity to write good books and articles for publications both in National and International journals. They have good sense of reviews of the works of great minds. In the law facilities and department of political science for instance, they can write volumes on the work of great minds like Karl Max, Plato, Aristotle, AV Dicey, Baron the Montesquieu, Hans Keelson etc. this is due to the fact that they are brave minds but cannot propound or come up with any new ideas or theories or discoveries that can help to advance their area of studies.

Systemic professors of the highest grade can move into the next level of professors.

Excellent Professors are Professors of the highest order. They are Professors Per Excellence. They are first class Professors. These are world wide acclaimed/renowned Professors. Excellent professors are the best brains teaching in reputable universities because of their ingenuity, creativity, inventions, scientific discoveries, theoretical postulations etc. Excellent professors usually identify scientific, political, legal, economic, social/societal problems etc and find solutions to such problems in various field of human endeavors they operate. Excellent Professors can be called Academic Perfectionists. They are mostly concerned with innovations and discoveries of new academic ideas that add to the already existing knowledge.

Excellent Professors can be described as great minds with supreme academic consciousness. It may not follow that their great work can be achieved when they become Professors. Most of the times it is their ingenuity and discoveries that stands them out in the midst of their colleagues in academic environment which may happen at any stage in their teaching carrier in the university or sometimes as post graduate student before they start teaching.

Excellent professors usually produce high grade student who are viable, marketable or employable anywhere in the world. In Nigeria, first class medical doctors who are sellable or employable anywhere in the world are produced by first class Professors.

When social, economic and political problems started in Nigeria in 1990s it resulted in the mass exodus of Nigerian doctors to different countries of the world where they sort for greener pastures. According to the punch newspapers of July 2020, the number of Nigerian first class doctors practicing in the UK is 7,875 which is 10% of Nigerian Doctors. Nigeria ranks third Pakistan and India ranks second and first respectively in relation to foreign medical doctors practicing in the UK.

A good example of a Nigerian students produced by Excellent Professors is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

The following Nigerians can be called excellent professors:
i. Prof. Chike Obi, the renowned mathematician
ii. Prof. Phillip Emeagwali, the renowned robotics Engr.
iii. Prof. Ngozi Okonjo Iwuala, the renowned economist.
iv. Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, the renowned economist
v. Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, the renowned political scientist.
vi. Prof. Claude Ake, the renowned political scientist.
vii. Prof. Wale Soyinka, the Nobel price winner in literature.
viii. Prof. Chinua Achebe, the renewed literally giant and several other

The Nigerian academic system is made up of the good, the bad and the ugly professors. Inspite of that Nigeria still stands out as a force to recon with respect to human capacity building.

Written By Onochiengwu Obuna Esq., Department of Political Science University of Nigeria Nsukka

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