EXTRA: ‘Nigeria is a destiny killer’…citizens share experiences on universities’ poor email culture

NIGERIANS have taken to the social media to bare their minds on the habitual disregard of universities to electronic mail enquiries.

This is in reaction to the ICIR’s recent report which established that many federal universities in the country completely ignore mails sent to their official email addresses and some, in fact, have no active addresses or even contact pages featured on their website.

In comments shared through Facebook and Nairaland, Nigeria’s largest online community, students and alumni of various universities described their unpleasant experiences with such schools as University of Ibadan, University of Benin, National Open University of Nigeria, Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), University of Ilorin, Abia State University among others.

One Facebook user and tech entrepreneur, Adigun Sherif Akanni, said he sent an email to the University of Ibadan at the time it released its ITEMS policy on its website. In the mail, he raised some observations on the policy and made recommendations. He has, however, heard nothing from the management till date.

“It was a time when UI herself published a long report on her website tagged ‘ITEMS policy’ at https://ui.edu.ng/news/items-policy,” he recounted. “I sent a mail in that regard to address a number of issues and suggested solutions. I also quickly developed an assignment-submission portal and a result checker portal to develop for the school FOR FREE and sent a demo link with my reply.”

“It was April 2016. Hopefully, I will receive a reply tomorrow,” he added sarcastically.

Ozomarisi Hamza Enesi said, in August, he sent enquiries to two first-generation Nigerian universities about an undergraduate programme; and, though the mails were delivered, he is yet to get any response.

“It’s a sad story, partly stemming from the fact that some Nigerian universities would rather have you travel down to the main campus just to make enquiries in flesh and blood than respond to your emails—even if they get delivered and are read by a handler,” he lamented.

He added: “This is not even limited to emails alone: most Nigerian universities do not have functional contact phone numbers, have redundant social media handles and scanty websites with demeaning user interfaces.

“ICT departments of Nigerian universities get budgetary allocations yearly; they should channel some of the funds to setup functional online communication channels, and in the retraining of university staff in effectively handling modern communication channels.”

Zainab Haruna said, knowing how the system is, the only time she needed her school to send a mail to the London School of Economics where she studied, she made sure she sought help from someone she knew at the senate building.

“I don’t want to imagine waiting for someone to do their job and actually respond to mails,” she explained.

Another student of the University of Ibadan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The ICIR she has been trying to get the university to respond to a mail on behalf of a friend. He applied for a post graduate scholarship grant at a university in the United States, but the university’s mail sent to UI to confirm his credentials has not been responded to.

“Because of this, he has been delayed from pursuing his studies as the school would require records from the University of Ibadan to ascertain some of his claims as regards his results,” she said.

“Nigeria is a destiny killer and destroyer,” said Sean079, on Nairaland. He had applied to study at a Norwegian university, but the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) “refused to respond to mail about certificates confirmation. And you see them shouting investors up and down”.

MMADE, another Nairaland user, said he had a similar problem, also concerning a university in Norway. They offered him provisional admission, he said, “but University of Ilorin did not respond to mail sent to them for certificates confirmation. The admission was later annulled due to their lack of response”.

Another shocking experience was shared by Bombodon44. His friend “once had a mail sent from the university he applied for to FUTO [Federal University of Technology, Owerri]”.

According to him: “He had to buy fuel for them, recharge their modem before he was attended to. He noticed a bulk of mails that has not been attended to that same day. I weep for this country; some people somewhere receive salaries for this.”

Below are other comments from the forum:

UncleJudax: “I was processing a transcript some two years ago…and since I was leaving Nigeria soon, I asked if I could give them my email address…instead of phone number. One woman asked: ‘who is going to read your mail’? I no fit shout.”

Baqina: “Was just having this discussion with my aunt yesterday. I need my transcript, sent mails to my school with no response…Her husband picked his laptop sent a mail to the university he finished from in USA, first their was an acknowledgement and a call to confirm where he was sending it to and alas, it has been forwarded. I am still looking for lies to concoct so as for me to travel and get my transcript.”

Alfred2000: “Abia State University should please take note of this. They have caused a lot of their students denial to various universities abroad simply because the email on their letter head paper is different from their current functional email address.”

Chiscodedon: I swear down, We’re yet to know the essence of Electronic mail in Nigeria, until you waka come office come join queue, na then you will get answer… I could remember when I was registering for my post graduate, I sent more than 8 mails to the school, they never deemed it fit to respond, even had to check their staff email contact, forwarded mail to up to 5 of the staffs, none responded… We are still  miles afar in naija.”

EsotericMonk: “All these our archaic universities. Nigeria is still light years behind the West in terms of doing things right. Shebi na just last year one official of govt was celebrating opening of hundreds of email for his parastatal as an achievement. Also a note of caution, anyone who needs a transcript for WES or ECFMG or Physicians Apply and wants to use the email option, be sure that you have called the university first. That was how my ECFMG verification was on hold for weeks till I had to use courier.”

Funkybabee: “It’s true, I sent a mail to NOUN concerns pdf course materials on their portal till now no response coming from them.”

Tete7000: “UI that will tell postgraduates they are doing online registration but still force them to print out their forms and join long queue. Our school administrators are archaic and recruitment into many position is never based on merit. So even if they employ people to respond to mails, they will be unqualified and incapable of doing the job.”

Windflower: “Honestly, sent UI mail close to a week now and no response yet. I wonder what’s the use of displaying the mail on their website if they don’t make use of it.”

Aspirebig: It is very possible. When you are applying for M.sc or Phd, you will be asked to leave your email. You never receive a single mail from the school till the program is over. But send a mail to Universities in America, Canada or Australia, you will get a response in 48 hours max. Even you get auto response in most cases if it is during the weekend or holidays before the reply proper will come.”

Iamclime: “I can relate with the points in this post. As a researcher who has to get data on a host of things, I can say almost ALL of the institutions in Nigeria, private and public, are guilty of this. Many organisations just want to be seen as ICT compliant without any active effort to implement customer-centric policies and strategies. Tertiary academic institutions, in most cases, operate poorly designed websites. Some institutions even prefer using more of social media to the detriment of their own websites!”

    Connectikut89: “Thank you for bringing this up. I sent an enquiry e-mail to my alma mater, Uniben, since last year. I’m yet to get a response till date. Highly irresponsible!”

    Seunmsg: “This is not peculiar to Nigerian universities o. Almost all public institutions in Nigeria are guilty. They hardly reply their email. I once requested for information in 2016 from international standard organization and standard organization of Nigeria via email and I got a reply from ISO after about 15 minutes. I am still waiting for SON’s reply till today.”

    MOHE: “I’m happy to be reading this. I’ve also made enquiries through some of these channels and was disappointed. It’s so disappointing. One will now have to think; what’s the essence of those mail addresses if mails will not be responded to? This is gross neglect. We claim world class when we can’t manage something as simple as this. I hope this gets to the right persons for change.”

    POSTSCRIPT: Nairaland encourages members to use informal English as a medium of expression.

    'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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