My 1st Salary in Nigeria Was Biggest Salary I’d Ever Received, Brittish Prof, Jowitt. PHOTOS

My 1st Salary in Nigeria Was Biggest Salary I’d Ever Received, Brittish Prof, Jowitt. PHOTOS

Seventy-eight-year-old Professor David Jowitt has lived in Nigeria for 45 years, teaching English at universities. Jowitt, who is currently at the University of Jos, Plateau State, tells JAMES ABRAHAM about his experience in Nigeria, why he chose to stay and has remained unmarried, among other things.

What are those things you like about Nigeria?
The warmth of Nigerians – the good humour and friendliness and the respect towards me that I sensed from my pupils in the school where I taught right from the beginning. Referring to the warmth and good humour of Nigerians, let me give you an example of that. In my department here at the University of Jos, we have more than 30 lecturers and we only have a few offices because we are expecting to have another building which may increase the number of offices available to us. So, there aren’t enough offices for people but there is one office where you find about six or seven persons at work. And we in the department call this office “IDPs’ office” and that is a bit of humour and you find this all the time about Nigerians. And I also like humour, laughing and meeting with people. Again, we laugh a lot as Nigerians. As you know, we have a lot of problems in the country. Yet, we have this ability to laugh about them and that is a great human quality.

What are those things you don’t like about Nigeria?
Perhaps, I shouldn’t say too much; after all, I am not yet a Nigerian. However, I have applied to be a Nigeria citizen. But one thing that frustrates me is timekeeping. We often have meetings and we don’t start on time. But in the modern world, it’s so important that we start on time because we don’t have all the time in the world to play with.

How would you rate the educational system in Nigeria?
The problem is complex. There are so many comments one could make and at the same time, there are salient features which must strike anybody that cry out for remedy. One of them is the huge number of students. When I first arrived in the country in 1963, we didn’t have more than 30 pupils in a class, until the 1970s when we began to see an enormous increase in the number of students in secondary schools and then later in the universities. As a teacher, there is a great difference in teaching a very large group from when you are teaching a small group.

How many wives do you have?
 I don’t have any wife let alone have many wives. I am a Christian and only one wife is allowed.

How do you handle temptation from female students?
I resist the temptation as everybody ought to do. I know we are flesh and blood but that is no excuse. The temptation is there but one has to resist it.

How was your first salary and how did you feel when you received it?
I think my first salary was in 1962 and it was 10 pounds a week. I was doing a temporary job so I was paid weekly, typing in offices in London. About that time, a teacher in Britain would earn less than £1,000 a year. And then, I came to Nigeria and had my first permanent job on contract as a teacher in a missionary school in Ubulu-Ukwu in Delta State. I was not part of the civil service then but it was later when I started teaching in colleges of education that I became aware of the civil service hierarchy. So in 1974, I was appointed as Senior Education Officer and later promoted to Principal Education Officer and then later to Assistant Chief Education Officer. But way back in 1963, I wasn’t aware of the civil service hierarchy because I started in the mission schools. Coming back to your question on my first salary; it was at Ubulu-Ukwu in Delta State. The principal of my school handed me the wads of notes totalling £93. In those days, Nigeria still had pounds and shillings as its currencies. So, when I was given the £93, I was overwhelmed because I had never seen so much money in my life. It was more than enough for me.

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