As a student, you’ll go through many challenging university phases, but nothing comes close to the final-year project phase. Your assigned project supervisor can make or mar it for you. If they’re kind, patient and understanding, you might have a good run. But how do you navigate it if they’re the devil’s advocate?

We asked five university graduates who went through varying degrees of shege how they survived their wicked supervisors, and you might learn a lesson or two from their experiences.


I requested a new supervisor because I’d heard the lecturer I was assigned only graded people Bs and Cs. I don’t know how, but he found out and decided to make the entire process hell for me. I called my mum so many times, and she’d tell me not to mind his ways, that I should keep smiling, offer to help him run petty errands around the office and always pray before I meet him. It wasn’t easy at first because I was never one to cozy up to lecturers, but it started to work. 

He’d single out my work during group meetings and criticise it, but I never raised a brow. If we crossed paths in the department, I offered to carry his bags or whatever extra load he had. One time, he was like, “Some of you are nice to me. Just know it won’t change anything.” I knew he was referring to me.

When the grades came in, I got a B. I’m not proud that I had to cower and act the fool. But with the way Nigerian universities are set up, it’s you against them and your chances of winning are pretty slim. I have a friend whose files were hidden during final year clearance because he spoke up against a lecturer. If acting a fool is what it takes to achieve your goal, I think you should just do it. It’s your life on the line.


My project supervisor didn’t like me. The hate was weird because she lectured me in my first year and was the only lecturer who didn’t make 100 level overwhelming. She broke down complex concepts to the simplest. But during our first supervisor meeting in my final year, she looked at me and said, “You? Okay now.” Those words unsettled me so much, I asked fellow supervisees if I did something, and they said they weren’t aware. 

Soon, I found out that it was my dressing. I was on her list of “Jezebels” who dress seductively in school. I wasn’t ready to change my style because of her, but I avoided armless tops whenever we had meetings. She was always so passive aggressive and would snub me. One day, I had to show myself out of her office after she didn’t acknowledge my presence. 

I showed my chapters to friends, scholars in our department and other lecturers before it got to her. She never had to make major changes, and I think this pissed her off too. But I didn’t let her anger rub off on me. I stayed super courteous when needed, and in the end, I was awarded an A. 

If you’re working with a difficult person, do everything in your power to make sure they have close to nothing to complain about and always be courteous. It works. 


My supervisor took us a few core courses from 100 to 400 level. He started paying me more attention around 200 level, but I tried to zone him out entirely. He added pressure in 400 level, first semester, and I thought I had things under control. In my head, I’d managed him since 200 level, and I only had one semester left — I was so wrong. I’m not sure if I ended up as his supervisee coincidentally or he singled me out. Whatever the case, I knew I was in trouble and my project wasn’t going to be graded based on my effort or academic performance even though I was among the top four and very well above average. 

My first shege was when he asked me to repeat my field trip because the specimen I brought had been altered. Mind you, we go on these trips to source for specimens in an assigned location, and it usually takes five to seven days to get around the whole thing. I had to start all over. To get him off my case, I started buying things for him. I never went to his office empty handed. I’d run errands for his wife who had just given birth and even go to his house to drop these things. Sometimes, I stayed back to help his wife with house chores hoping she’d put in a good word with her husband and he’d be moved to pity me.

When my result came out, this man gave me “B” with just one more mark to get an “A”, and I knew it was fucking intentional, but what could I have done? He’d have even given me “C” but he knew it would’ve been questionable based on my previous academic performance. It rained “A”s for my classmates, people who sourced for previous projects and just edited. But for me who did the actual work and “extra-curricular activities”… I’m just glad I graduated in time. 

Just strive to have a perfect project work. If the supervisor tries to mark you down, you can request for a review of the work from the school management.


My supervisor will make you write a proposal 15 times before he tells you to write chapter one. I wrote so many proposals. You’ll print and bring it; oga will say you didn’t add “towards” somewhere, and you didn’t use Times New Roman and 13 font size. You’ll have to correct that error and reprint the entire thing. I spent money and saw shege. We were five under him, and he was that way to all of us. 

Eventually, I found out that people had started going to his house, and I followed suit. The ladies cooked, and as the only guy in the group, I washed his car. This happened every weekend. His wife either worked in another state or they were divorced, I’m not sure. But washing his car made us friends. I washed my way into my destiny. 

I scored an A, and he even had it published for me in a journal. I know I deserved the A, it was a good project, and the icing on the cake was graduating with first class honours. See, if lecturer says rewrite or reprint, do am. Just do what they ask of you and don’t behave as if you know everything. You know nothing. 


I didn’t like my supervisor, so in a way, the dislike was mutual. But I knew trouble was ahead when I started getting unsolicited advice from some of her supervisees that I should be nice, never argue with her and always greet. I tried it the first few weeks. I tried to meet all her passive aggression with kindness and indifference. I even offered to help pick a file or move something from point A to B in her office after she’d yell or snubbed my greeting. 

But after she kept rejecting my chapter one, I knew I couldn’t deal. I went to our level adviser and HOD to ask for a replacement, and they tried to persuade me to stay with her. I told my dad, who’s a lecturer in another uni, and he came to my school the following week. The woman tried to act all nice when she realised my dad was an old colleague, but I stood my ground. Eventually, I got a better supervisor.

I don’t think it’s useful to listen to people who say you should just keep quiet. If I did, I probably wouldn’t have been as invested in my project as I was. Report to your HOD, level adviser, your parents, if any lecturer wants to make your life hell. The school management will do something one way or another. Yes, they’ll want to show more support for the lecturer, but if they see you’re not backing down and you’re an academically sound student, they’ll do the right thing. If you can’t fight for your rights in the university, how will you survive in the real world?

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