This list is not based on hard data. However, I have compiled it based on what is clear to me as a close watcher of Nigerian society for more than fifteen years. It is based on knowledge gained from years of reading different materials, observing, and more importantly, interactions in Nigerian society and beyond. And coming with vast experience in objective ranking, this compiler is no rookie in this kind of exercise.
I have presented them in reverse order.
10, Bayero University, Kano: Not much is known about Bayero University beyond the North, but many people have averred that this university is a poor man’s version of the great Ahmadu Bello University, the most respected university in the north. The university holds its own in the North and beyond and its products are doing fine, especially in the humanities. With a BUK certificate, people get to listen to you especially in the public sector and North.
9, Olabisi Onabanjo University: Yes, this is a shocker, given the fact that the first things that come to mind when this school is mentioned are negatives: cultism, yahoo-yahoo, etc. But this doesn’t take away the fact that products of this university are holding their own in the creative industry, and compete well with the best in the private sector.
8, University of Port Harcourt: Port Harcourt is the oil capital of Nigeria and it is no surprise that Uniport exposes you to happenings in the industry before you graduate.
7, University of Ilorin: Unilorin is easily one of the best universities in Nigeria, with quality teachers and students with raw brilliance. This school would have ranked higher, but its major problem is the pervasive negative mentality among students who sit behind and are not adventurous. It is also a conservative school.
6, University of Benin: Uniben is a cosmopolitan university with a good reputation in teaching. Its products compete well with others in many sectors of the economy.
5, University of Ibadan: UI is the most conservative of all Nigerian universities of its generation. Despite its huge achievements, the school doesn’t blow its own trumpet and that leaves it trailing behind other great universities of its generation. However, products, especially engineering, of this university are highly sought after in the oil and gas industry. A good number of top guys in oil and gas industry in Nigeria also finished from UI, giving its recent products an edge – even if not so significant – in the industry.
4, University of Nigeria: UNN is a school that commands respect. Its products are also scattered across every major sector of Nigerian economy and beyond. It has strong alumni networks that are useful to their upcoming products.
3. Obafemi Awolowo University: OAU combines in less measure, the swagger of Unilag with the conservativeness of UI. But the most important quality of products of this university that ranks it this high is the espirit de corps attitude of their products. The bonding, the togetherness, the spirit of brotherhood that is displayed by products of this university, even decades after finishing university, is not matched by any university in Nigeria. They are also known for forming cliques in workplaces and helping others. Some people say they are arrogant, but what is not in doubt is their tendency to remind anyone that they finished from Ife at the slightest opportunity. It’s a university which association with you can take to the bank, even if it’s your village community bank.
2. Ahmadu Bello University: ABU graduates will tell you that they are naturally ahead of you, and they may not be wrong. If there is one Nigerian university certificate that is almost automatically a guaranteed meal ticket, it is ABU’s. It is not for nothing that they produced the first Nigerian graduate president, and almost half of the state governors and ministers in Nigeria at every dispensation. And lest anyone say public sector is their only comfort zone, their products are actually holding their own in the private sector. There is hardly any company that matters in Nigeria that doesn’t have an ABU graduate as a director!
1, University of Lagos: A lot of people will contend that Unilag is about partying alone. They are wrong. If you take the census of all unemployed graduates in Nigeria, I have a strong feeling that Unilag will have the least ratio. While it takes 1 to 2 years before many Nigerian students shake off their studentship and fully board the post-school workplace, many Unilag students hit the ground running. Cast your mind back to your NYSC service year, how many Unilag products did you see serving with you in your village? Most of them are back to Lagos, perfecting their post-school work “runs”, or traveling abroad for Masters. They are ahead of many Nigerian university graduates in terms of information, Lagos itself being the information capital of Nigeria. Add finesse and class to that. Those who argue that Unilag products thrive more on packaging than substance have never heard of first impression.