In Nigeria, certificates count and infact matters most, almost in all white collar jobs in the public and private sector. Everyone wants a degree, educated or not. Many influential Nigerians who haven’t been through the walls of a school are “Drs.” because of the honorary degrees they possess most likely purchased, and given them by universities and/colleges who in this case may have awarded such to the highest bidder or to grease the ego of a political juggernaut.
First degrees have since become what secondary school certificates used to be, and ain’t enough to secure the kinda job that will see you not working other jobs or small business on the side to make ends meet in Nigeria, besides getting a higher degree or certificates in several professional exams makes one competitive enough to give those spoilt kids with degrees from abroad a run for their money especially in companies or conglomerates where there’s no discrimination or overt or covert favoritism for applicants with foreign degrees.
Some Nigerians don’t pursue higher education just for the sake of jobs, but to build their capacity, others just for the fun and adrenalin a school environment alone can avail. These ones however are in the minority.
Having decided to further ones education, it becomes pertinent to make a choice of what should be studied and where. The majority of people in the professions would want to continue in their line, some others totally deviate (with the many others not in the professions). The choice for many seeing that it can accommodate almost all the disciplines naturally is the Masters degree in Business Administration, MBA programme. Based on your time, you may make the choice between an EXECUTIVE MBA programme where you attend lectures only on weekends, the PART-TIME MBA programme, the lectures of which you attend in the evenings after work, or a FULL-TIME MBA programme for those not working, out of job or on a study-leave. It gets less expensive from the former to the latter.
The many strikes, national and local that plague Nigerian universities and infact the education sector (presently lecturers of Polytechnics, Monotechnics and Colleges of Education have been on strike for more than a year, some state universities like Lagos State University, LASU resumed from the National strike that lasted several months to resume theirs, while in Benue State, primary school teachers have been on strike for Seven months) makes it imperative for the prospective student to choose carefully to avoid growing old in school for no just cause. A federal school is alluring for the many though the stiff competition to get in, for many is the downside but is worth undertaking, atleast one is sure the degree will carry some clout and you won’t have to pay as much as counterparts in State and Private Universities pay, as education is heavily subsidized though that is about to change, as funding for education from and by the federal government continue to nosedive. You may pay so much to run the same programme in a State University and bê doing the same programme while your contemporaries who opted for federal universities might have added two other degrees to the one you all originally went for due to the many stumbling blocks students attending state universities have to cope with, while you try to shore up much needed funds to pay off some lecturers or administrative staff in the state university to influence the pasting of your name with those graduating in a particular year many years after you should have graduated, at the end of the day.
The danger with the third alternative is that the MBA certificate from some private universities may not get you the required professional push after you might have paid through your nose to secure it, though you may also have read your heart out to impress lecturers mostly from these same federal universities you snubbed, but who have taken up part-time lecturing positions in your school, and have been made to make the academic journey unusually tedious in order to secure pending accreditation from the National Universities Commission, NUC.
Another part senior executives are employing when they’ve no intention to go abroad for an MBA programme is enrolling in private MBA schools with international recognition, like the Lagos Business School, LBS which is definitely way out of the reach of most poor and average/medium income earners who may ordinarily have loved to pursue their MBA programme there.
Having passed the entrance exams, successfully navigated the screening process, registration in a federal university like the school of first choice, the University of Lagos, UNILAG (the only metropolitan university in Nigeria bounded on one part by the Lagos Lagoon) can be very tedious, especially if the MBA school is off campus. The authorities ensure that registration procedures involves going to the ends of both campuses, back and forth for at least four times a day for eight days, which you may decide to do in one fell swoop by devoting straight days or otherwise to fulfilling registration requirements. Interestingly, for a faculty attempting to make people managers and adept at time management, it’s instructive to note that that isn’t covered in their dealings with students. A classic example of not practicing what is preached, and please don’t get me started on other examples. Obviously, it would appear that setting up a one-stop office that will cater for all the registration needs of postgraduate students by course and programme is just difficult for the coordinator(s) of the programme(s) to fathom.
Once in, it’s a struggle to stay in. Infact, it’s easier to get into a Nigerian public university (even with all the hassles) than to get out of it (with a degree) especially at the time projected for the course, and with the course one originally registered for and intended to study, most times because of the academic and social environment than is of the students lackadaisical attitude towards study. Students at any level of study in Nigeria aren’t considered TABULA RASA ‘pon which layers of knowledge may and can be imparted, but rather as failures. Hence, whereas students in the West and other developed societies are seen by lecturers as coming with a scale of zero intending to move them over as much they can to the positives, Nigerian students are seen by their lecturers as coming from the minus, sometimes as far as “-40” and not thinking to move them to the zero, talk more to the pluses, and this even when in dealing with postgraduate students who may have had above par performances in their undergraduate days, and degrees backed by excellent scores at graduation, though the system that prevails in Nigeria is such that makes granting brilliant students a HONOURS DEGREE anathema.
Here, lecturers consider themselves superhuman to students, professors as gods. Failure rates of students are celebrated as testament to the brilliance of the tutor or professor and not that (s)he couldn’t pass the message across effectively in such a simplified enough manner as to enable his hapless students understand the crux of the matter, especially of the message (s)he’s meaning to pass across. Now, simply understanding these lectures aren’t enough to get you by in an MBA class. You have to buy handouts (of lectures) at cut throat prices, even when they are of less than xerox copy quality, some lecturers even have the nerve to sell to one school handouts they sold at another (where they lecture), with the name of another school embossed on the handout. You don’t want to know what will happen to you GP should you decide not to buy your own copy and have your name written in the lecturers good book (aka book of life).
Most ridiculous is when a lecturer who has never made class (only sending notes to the class rep for the class), makes this one class, late in the evening to everyone’s amazement and surprise, and afterwards sends an SMS to the rep that he was robbed of his BlackBerry phone and laptop, like twas the student’s fault that a usual happenstance such as that occurred to him. Seeing that that SMS was sent for effects, the students did the needful by making contributions towards replacing his toys, and making sure their names made the list of contributors. Interestingly nobody failed that course!
Back to the academics, the first semester is usually made up of general business study finance and law courses as well some tough maths that may make you rethink your decision, or atleast make you wonder what the heck that has to do with anything. By the second semester, postgraduate students now go into their specializations. Decisions here are made either based on competence or the specialization the one feels will provide the freer ride towards achieving one’s set objectives (i.e. of getting an MBA degree). You’d see the more serious students in the ACCOUNTING and FINANCE specializations, the moderates in the MARKETING (can also be by choice, especially a favourable spot for Nigeria’s booming marketing positions in almost all the sectors, but particularly the financial sector), and the rest will opt for the HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT, a growing field in Nigeria’s business and services sector.
Exams determine if you can move from one level to the other. If you studied your past questions well for the Multiple Choice Questions, MCQ’s you should atleast pass. These past questions aren’t meant to be available but they are always available, especially with photocopy guys around campus, these photocopiers are a student’s best friend, a lot actually owe their success to them. Theory questions testing the ability of the student to apply what has been taught in class are the true tests. Those who do well both ways are assured of their good grades, even when a particular lecturer hates them. A few students however will prefer to explore unorthodox means to pass exams, most times they are caught while cheating (the means of which are just too numerous for me to enumerate and elaborate exhaustively in this piece) and appropriately punished, others wait for the marking periods just before the results are released, to pay lecturers some amorous visits. Sometimes, they succeed while at other times, they don’t. We would never know the full stories associated with allegations levied against some male lecturers for molesting female students, and now female lecturers are showing that what men can do, women can do even better (count your teeth, with your tongue, nuff said!).
Several lectures, assignments, group works, and exams after, you have just your project standing between you and graduating. There’re two ways to go about it legitimately. Try to be a superstar by choosing a topic outta the blues, and become the true researcher or join the many by searching through the project library for a topic that’s been overflogged and add your view to already established principles. The illegitimate way is to get a mercenary sweat it out for you over a handsome fee and voila you’re done (the consequences when things go awry can be unfortunate)!
Ideally, the MBA programme of most Schools of Postgraduate Studies, should last 18 months, but every sane Nigerian student know that’s impossible. Even without failing a class and no strikes the time schedule will never be met. For instance, there’s a ritual you’d find with most public universities in Nigeria, such that when exam timetables are released, the student union bodies protest their unpreparedness of the students and arguing for the date to be moved forward, and they always get the exams date moved though not always to the particular date they would want.
In some universities your date of graduation may be months, if not years from when you actually finished. Now that you’ve got your MBA you’re thinking what next. Law?