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Letter from Africa: How Nigeria's elite avoid 'bad education'

In our series of letters from African writers, journalist Sola Odunfa reflects on a controversial proposal to ban the children of government officials and top civil servants from completing their education abroad.

Back in the 1980s, my daughter won a place at the Obafemi Awolowo University, one of the top state-funded institutions in Nigeria.

She embarked on her studies with a spring in her step, expecting to emerge with a prestigious qualification five years later.

Soon enough though, she would learn the truth behind the modern Nigerian saying: university students can only be sure of their matriculation date; they cannot say when they will graduate.

Her studies seemed to take forever. If the lecturers were not on strike, they were planning to go on strike. One of the strikes - a nationwide action - lasted almost a year.

Halfway through the course, my daughter's morale had collapsed and only the combined entreaties of our extended family could convince her to continue her education.

Disillusioned and frustrated, she eventually graduated. The five-year-course was completed in seven, through no fault of her own.

More from Sola Odunfa:

If that sounds bad, things are even worse now.

Universities remain poorly funded and the lecturers' union - known by its acronym ASUU - is more militant than ever, routinely threatening to close down universities in its battles with the government.

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