The Impossible 17,831 Jobless PhDs In Nigeria

The Impossible 17,831 Jobless PhDs In Nigeria

Update: There is new information on this post, here.

You might have read that bogus claim that Nigeria has about 17,800 unemployed PhD holders. And the publisher is citing the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria. I have done everything to track the original report, but so far, I have not been successful. But just glancing through Tekedia, I noticed a piece by Mutiu Iyanda, apparently extrapolating on the same source.

Beyond the general statistics, 17,831 PhD holders [out of 76,526] categorised under those who work for 1 to 19 hours caught our analyst’s attention. According to the statistical agency, Nigeria has 521,108 citizens with masters degree certificates, ranging from Msc, MA to MBA. Out of this number, 284,149 and 23,742 are fully employed and unemployed respectively, while 95,769 are not engaged in any work-related activities.

Of course, without my data, there is no way I can dispute or challenge anyone. Nonetheless, I do not believe that Nigeria has more than 1,000 PhDs without jobs. To my knowledge, one of the biggest problems in most universities today is that there are not many PhDs to teach. I am not aware of any PhD graduate in Nigeria that is (physically) fit for work that is unemployed in Nigeria. I think it is largely impossible because PhD is a career insurance as you can always find a school to teach! Indeed, because of human capacity scarcity, the federal government exempted professors from the typical retirement age limit, making it possible for them to work till 70 years.

And most are working, on contracts, well past 70 years because schools, especially in engineering, cannot find replacements. The brain drain on doctors makes news but check some electrical engineering and computer science departments, they continue to struggle to retain junior faculty. Of course, after this long strike, expect that problem to be exacerbated.

So, when you look at all the pieces, 17,800 unemployed PhDs in Nigeria should be near impossible.


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6 thoughts on “The Impossible 17,831 Jobless PhDs In Nigeria

  1. Before we drift far left or right on what is largely pointless, including the number crunching on what is and is not, is it anyone’s responsibility to find jobs for PhD holders?

    I am not sure anyone goes for PhD with no plan on what to do thereafter, this is not the sort of things serious people should be discussing. I mean, we should be debating and analysing why a PhD holder is jobless? If that is not embarrassing to the holder, I don’t know what is.

    Once we are tired of education and its principal purpose, we can as well close all the schools and use the money spent there for other things.

    We will soon argue on how many professors that are jobless, and why they are jobless.


    I am not that surprised because I once met a purportedly PhD student working in a supermarket as an accountant (it was even more of an account clerk), I shook my head. In most cases, you can not do PhD without Master Degree.

  3. The third last paragraph holds the key content of the article. PhD mean Person that Has something to Do in the community. Not Person that Has not got something to Do in the community.
    To wait to be employed as a PhD holder implies it was wrongly gotten.

  4. Basically a PhD holder is a key researcher, a designer, a developer, a consultant, a teacher, an expert and authority in his field; there are lots he could venture into including training. Nevertheless it is always apt to venture into a field that holds immediate applicability; in such instances you don’t even need a PhD to become fully engaged in one way or the other. Yes there are many PhDs still hoping to get a job when invariably the should be consulting and training people in their field. Training and consultancy is good business but you have to know your onions

  5. In as much as everything is possible in Nigeria they say, this is far too extreme. In most cases, PhD students are all about research either a continuation of their Undergraduate research or an entirely new innovative one. Majority of African parents do not think it proper to sponsor their wards from kindergarten to the PhD level as ot is normal that necessity lies on them to find something profitable to do and fund themselves. If that is right, this shows that he is actively committed to making a plus in the society and when we arise to say that they are unemployed, I wonder where that is possibly coming from.

    1. Good point. Nigeria has a way of defining who is unemployed. It is possible everyone in my village is unemployed even though some of the men lease hectares of land yearly during the farming season. The fact is this: we do guesswork in our policy making in Nigeria.


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