Professor Bright Ekuerhare: A jolly good Professor: He was our economic development lecturer at Bendel State University now Ambrose Alli University. Later he became Head of Department (Economics) and finally Dean of faculty of Arts.
He was a lecturer extraordinaire. Everyone looked forward to his class. He was a “conviviale or bubbling man” in every sense of the word.
Interesting “afro hairdo.“ Exquisite Queen’s English. Deep throated laughter. Elegant steps and dramatic manoeuvres during lectures.
He would talk to us, the blackboard, the walls, the windows and to himself in the course of a lecture. There would be chalk residues on his clothes, face and hair. He wouldn’t care.
“Oh yes” was his favourite exclamation. Patient and approachable both in class and in his office.
He was an inspiration. He made teaching and being a student so much fun. He was a professor and a friend. Those he supervised for their theses had nothing to fear whatsoever. He guided them like a caring shepherd and gave them what they deserved.
After our final examination, some of us paid homage to him, shared drinks and thanked him for his guidance and encouragement throughout our time with him.
A different kind of professor: Mr and Mrs Briggs (names have been changed) were given immigrant visas to the UK. However, Mrs Briggs was about to round up a post graduate program at a first generation university in the South West. Mr Briggs had to wait for his wife to conclude her program. But the professor assigned to supervise her thesis had become something else. He would demand for recharged cards, gifts for his birthday and those of his immediate family, hotel accommodation, and money to fuel his car. The professor was extorting both Mrs Briggs, his student and Mr Briggs, an unfortunate husband at the same time.
The Prof would disappear with completed chapters of Mrs Briggs thesis for weeks without a word. And when called, he would say that he had not had time to look at the work done. Then he would ask for one favour or the other.
Out of fear, Mrs Briggs would oblige the rogue professor. But Mr Briggs had started to boil. Time was running out on their travel plans. After an immigrant visa is issued, you are expected to make your first entry within a specified period of time.
One day Mr Briggs called the professor and went straight for the jugular,
“Prof, I just want to remind you that I am from the Niger Delta. We know how to make trouble when someone crosses a boundary. You have crossed you boundary long time ago. I have no more patience for your antics. I am not pleading this time. I am asking you to do what you need to do for my wife to complete her studies. Next time I call you over this issue, it will not be pleasant and you will regret it.”
Prof was stunned and could not utter a word. But from that moment on, he suddenly had time to review and return all the outstanding chapters of Mrs Briggs thesis. No more extortions. Things went on smoothly until Mrs Briggs graduated and left with her husband to the UK.
This true story is not an aberration. It is fast becoming the norm in universities across the country. These professors may be in the minority. I hope they are. But their audacity to extort students and openly discuss how they will fail those who do not cooperate suggest that no one is looking over their shoulders. They are academic emperors.
Research is critical to economic development. Professors ought to work happily with students to expand the boundaries of learning and ground breaking innovations. Now some students doing research are made to think of how to satisfy the greed of their supervising professors more than anything else. Some are afraid to call pr receive calls from their professors. Who will call these professors to order? Who will restore sanity?
Come to think of it, it is these same professors who often go to seminars to speak “big grammar” about how to rescue Nigeria and move it forward. Whereas, they are the ones who need to be fished out and moved out of our education system.
Sadly, so far, these rogue professors are having fun at the expense of students.