By: Adeleke Segun (LeadNurse Editor, USA)


Mind you, I went through basic nursing school in Nigeria before my degree some years later.

The BNSC graduates who did not go through basic nursing school were not the founders of department of nursing sciences in Nigeria Universities. These departments were founded by nurses whom after their basic schools of nursing Program (initially the only program available for nurses) thought it wise to lead the nation in following the progressive trend when nursing education started moving into the Universities across the globe. These pioneers had great vision for the profession, starting from those who opened the first department of nursing in 1965 at the University of Ibadan and those that pioneered direct university nursing program in Obafemi owolowo universities Ife in early 70’s. However, oppositions to those dreams emerged out of ignorant, jealousy and laziness from their colleagues who are also registered practicing nurses. Those oppositions came from set of nurses who perceived the rigorous university education as an undue punishment for nurses and found it unnecessary. They are also the nurses who swore that these pioneers must come down to their level of mediocrity or the entire profession burns in hell. They frustrated majority of the early graduates out of the country,  others got tired of their rebellion and moved to other fields for their masters. That was how nursing profession missed great opportunities till date.

Therefore, a disharmony that appears today as a war between university products and that of basic and post basic nursing schools is not the correct picture. It was and still is a fight between progressive, visionary and hardworking nurses who wants the profession to grow, against nurses who are selfish, retrogressive and backward, whose dream is for the profession to stagnate since they lack the capacity or intention to pursue further development. Sadly, these backward nurses had been and are still in the overwhelming majority. They are drunk with negative sentiments and anti progressive agenda.

Hear Them;

“Since 1980’s, we have wrestled university graduate nurses to the ground and we shall make sure they remain there”

The above statement was credited to a nurse practicing at a notable hospital in Nigeria at an event I attended before I traveled. He is not alone among nurses who believed that the university program must be dead and buried so that their ego, mediocrity and misguided professional seniority can be sustained.

The Nursing community in Nigeria seems to have embraced self destructive disposition passionately. This is because there is no successful profession in the world without the rigorous process of university education. There is no other means to become masters of subjects, doctors of subjects etc. We are not talking about acquisition of certificates, the emphases here is on fertilization of knowledge, breeding of sophisticated/resourceful leaders and creation of a circle of men/women where intelligent debates are accommodated and where innovation and advancement of knowledge are traditionally promoted.

One can boldly state that United State of America is the greatest country in the world because her universities are the best in the world. Nursing practice is greatest in America, followed by Canada, Australia and United Kingdom. These countries have professors and doctors of nursing sciences making decision on behalf of their colleagues. The directors of nursing in these countries are lettered men/women who are resourceful and brave. All the administrative decisions and interventions as professional leaders in these climes are thoroughly debated, well shaped to mold positive consensus and are guided with facts established through research, as against sentiments. Their short and long term goals are well defined and diligently pursued.

‘The worst thing that can happen to any group of people is to have leaders whose actions can only be located in the spectrum of baseless sentiments and “stomach driven ambition. This is exactly the case for nursing leadership in Nigeria’.

In 2009, a practicing female nurse at male medical ward in a Nigerian teaching hospital blasted university student on clinical posting, claiming that the university program will ‘kill nursing’. When student demanded reason for her position, she boldly stated that nurses are meant to be humble and submissive to authorities, these values, according to her, will be destroyed by degree nursing program. There is nothing wrong with humility and submissiveness to higher authority. The problem with her position was that, she was ignorantly describing laziness and lack of ambition as humility, while labeling self abnegation as submissiveness, as evidenced by the example she later gave to back her point. Some also knowingly or unknowingly promotes poverty as a virtue that nurses must embrace.

Another chief nursing officer (CNO) in southwest Nigeria stated angrily, that the only reason nurses want to go to the university is because they want to rub shoulder with doctors. According to her, the basic and post basic training have giving nurses all the training they required. We later learn that she is married to a medical doctor. Hers’ , obviously, is the classical case of a nurse, who married a doctor to elevate herself among her professional colleagues through marriage, and anything that promises to brings nurses to the status of her husband will be automatically perceived as a threat to her ‘marital legacy’. Therefore, she will do anything to ensure that her legacy remains intact. How else could we explain her myopic and parochial argument?

To another group of nurses aggrieved by the modern university based program, it is an injustice for them to toil for many years in practice with nothing to show for their sweat, only for this ‘little children’ who studied nursing in the university to come and start earning salary in their first year at work ,at a level they were only able to attain after 10 years of service’. Incredible as it may sound, this opinion is very popular. For these nurses, everybody must suffer as they had suffered or there will be no peace. The degree program , therefore, have become a threat to their sense of professional justice, even when they have failed to read a single book since they finished their basic nursing training for more than 20 years.

When Mrs. Kujore returned to her motherland, after practicing in Canada and having completed her degree in nursing at McGill University. She had a burning passion to transform nursing in ile ife in those days. The doctors … YES … The doctors were willing to assist her in setting up a sound professional program for nurses which included internship for graduate nurses and consultancy program for nurses among other ideas. What happened then? Majority of nurses with no university degree (99.9 percent of nurses as at then) mobilized and attacked her vision and that of her co believers. They attacked so diligently until they murdered and buried the vision. Those vision which is essential for intellectual and economic advancement for Nigerian nurses are yet to resurrect since 40 years and still counting. She labored, fought and pleaded with the then nurses to abandon their sentiments and look at the future. But they shouted her down, mocking her to come and carry bedpan with her “White-man degree”. They won, but it was not mama Kujore that they defeated, it was instead their own profession that they sentimentally brought to her knees, condemning themselves and future professionals to mediocrity, poor leadership, poor recognition and intellectual backwardness.

The story is endless, every decade has its own version. It is a clear indication that Nigerian nursing leaders have become so psychologically imprisoned with sentiments that good reasoning have departed from them. Consequently, the profession lost her grace and is currently sitting shamefully at the bottom of the food chain in the health sector in Nigeria.


It is a show of shame for registered nurses to dedicate energy towards the destruction of any program that encourages radical transformation, academic advancement and competitiveness”.

Nurses must sort themselves out and end their internal crises before they can enjoy their bright prospects. To start with, progressive ideas that promote growth and harmony within the profession must be adopted. It should be the desire of every nurse to support any programs that brings us at par with others in the health sector, even when the nurse is not a beneficiary to such program.

The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) must mold consensus towards professional advancement through recognized graduate and post graduate education, as opposed to their current posture towards basic and post basic education. The former is the future, the later is the past. More so, Nurses must understand that the fact that you are lazy or were not fortunate to further your studies, does not Make University belongs to a particular group of people. It is unnecessary to express once frustration from inability to be admitted into the university by fighting the progress of colleagues who were fortunate to do so. Thankfully, more and more universities are opening up department of nursing sciences and we can all go and develop ourselves better and work together to secure and enjoy the benefits therein.

The university program has come to stay. Whatever obstacle that currently holds the full expression of its benefit will disappear with time. Let us join hands together in bringing our noble profession into a reputable position in a society that needed her modern skills the most in tackling her huge burden of health and environmental challenges.


Lead Nurse Africa is a Pan-African nursing organization dedicated to public health promotion and professional development.


  1. firstly, i’d like to appreciate the author for taking the time and pains to put up this article and taking some of us down memory lane. it is quite disheartening that the nursing profession in Nigeria is faced with multiple challenges.
    i’d like to correct the impression that nurses in Nigeria are not interested in further studies. as of today, this is rather far from the truth. I am a proud nigerian diplomate nurse, who at graduation sought admission into the BNSc program for several years all to no avail and could not afford to leave the country as at the time to further my education.
    it is quite funny that we complain that nurses are not making attempts at further studies but fail to realise that the available opportunities are limited. it is quite funny for one to find himself in this situation
    are you aware that nurses in the public service are stagnated due to the fact that they dont have a BNSc in Nursing? who would like to be in such a situation?
    the major challenges that nurses have comprises the following:
    availability of space for admission into the BNSc program
    Funding for the program as most government institutions would refuse to approve study leave for so long
    the duration of the program is another major issue. when my colleague travels to the UK or US and within 12 months returns with a BNSc and in Nigeria, one has to spend four years (plus X) to get the same degree.
    just to keep my words few, the approach and attitude of the faculty staff in the nursing department especially in the south-west is nothing to write home about.

    for some of us who were willing to make the sacrifice, applying to several very expensive distance learning programs beyond the shores of our country in order to get the same degree.

    finally, the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) has made several attempts to aid this issue but challenges and oppositions both from the university faculty and Nursing Council is a major issue. recently, Babcock university started an abridged program for nurses with a duration plan of two years based on a backgroud of the basic nursing program curiculum but some nursing faculty staff of universities kicked against it. it is just unfortunate that some of these people have been exposed to the developed world and could actually effect positive changes in the system but unfortunately, they are proponents of the vicious cycle which they desire must continue.

    once again, thanks for the write-up.

  2. I am particularly in love with you for such depth of understanding of the foundational factors responsible for the present stagnant (if not retrogressive) state of our beloved profession. You have demystified the assumed complexity of the nursing dilemma by your coincise, accurate and point-blank postulations.

    For the past half a decade, I have always maintained that the permanent solution to pulverising the ugly monster responsible for Nigeria’s nursing dilemma is simple: Suspend admissions into all schools of Nursing temporarily for 2 years! Motivate nurses intrested in academics to find any way to access their masters program within this period, (I advise Nurses ripe for master degrees to stop giving excuses. For where there is a will, there will always be a way) and thereafer mandate any Nigerian youth interested in studying nursing to try their luck at the universities.
    Until we see the path of temporarily (if not permanently) shutting down the diplomate educational system in Nigeria as the starting point for all other available options, we are still a long way off! Vehemently rejecting the diplomate educational system is one of the greatvway to start. As far as I am concerned, it is the ONLY first step forward. There is no other ALTERNATIVE!

  3. Mr Adekunle Segun, is there any way to contact you via mail? I will need your candid advice on a nursing reformation project I am presently working on with a few of my colleagues.
    I believe you have access to my mail already sir.
    Thanks once again for your wonderful piece.

    1. You can send a mail to .as indicated, he is one of our team located in dilfferent parts of the world ,working together to transform nursing in Africa , starting from nigeria ,Ghana and kenya . We shall soon spread to other countries. Thank you. Admin.

  4. Wow what a brilliant piece. It seems that the problem of the nursing program in Nigeria is the same as in my country, Gambia. Am a Registered Nurse currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at the University of The Gambia.
    When the degree program in nursing was introduced few years ago in my country, it received major opposition and backlash from majority of long serving nurses who are either unwilling to toil for further education or for their sentiments that these young upcoming degree holders will be their seniors in the near future.
    As a Registered Nurse, you are required to study for two and a half years and for a secondary school leaver, you are required to study for four years to earn a BNSc. The grievances towards the degree could be felt everywhere especially towards those without basic nursing education background. Even on clinical allocation, these nursing students are faced with hostile environment. My point is that the problem of nurses most at times is inferiority complex that we should always be behind others in the health care system. Unless we throw away that belief and be ready to acquire knowledge to higher levels, we are not moving forward.
    Thank you for sharing.

  5. Nurses are no longer against bnsc infact anybody that goes through diploma knows that one day he/ she will obtain her bsc.Nurses should stop turning against each other instead they should unify and make this profession a better place.

  6. Little did I know that people like you all have the same view as about nursing in Nigeria as I do. We are our problems! Betrayals and jealousy should be eliminated in Nigeria for nursing to gain their fit like their sister professions. Just look at where Pharmacy is. Look at the rate Medical Laboratory is moving forward.

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