- NUC and other stakeholders have a duty to fish them out
At a time that the Nigerian university system is embroiled in a crisis over the appropriateness of Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the system has been thrown into yet another crisis: uncovering by the National Universities Commission (NUC) of 100 professors adjudged by NUC to be fake.
Professor Abubakar Rasheed, executive secretary of the commission announced at a retreat with vice chancellors that a new register of professors created by NUC to promote the country’s universities abroad has assisted it to identify the presence of 100 fake professors in service across the country. Making the announcement in Abuja, Prof Rasheed said: “About 100 fake professors also uploaded their details but we detected them. This measure helped in identifying fake professors in the system. The fight against fake professors is a collective responsibility.” NUC was established “to ensure that quality is maintained within the academic programmes of the Nigerian university system.”
The detection of such a huge number of fraudulent professors by NUC is commendable but worrisome, especially as it raises the issue of further decline in academic integrity and academic quality assurance in the nation’s universities – public and private.
However, we are worried about the tentativeness about the number of fake professors. Is NUC unsure about their actual number? Why would an organisation charged with monitoring and regulating universities announce the discovery of “about 100 fake professors?” This matter should be serious and sensitive enough for NUC to be precise about the actual number of persons with fake professorial credentials.
Why has the NUC been unable to confirm whether universities it had informed about fake professors in their institutions have responded to such request for action? All stakeholders, especially students and parents deserve to know the reaction of affected universities to the memo on NUC’s discovery of several professors in several universities.
But more important is evidence of failure of monitoring and regulation in the universities. What has happened to institutions established to protect and promote academic integrity, especially on matters of appointment, confirmation, and promotion of individuals who rose to the rank of full professor in the affected universities?
Certainly, the people in charge of due diligence in the registry, academic departments, appointments and promotions committee, and senate of the universities, bodies charged with protection of academic integrity of teachers and students deserve to answer questions or provide explanations for the infiltration of the universities by fraudulent individuals.
Without further delay, we urge the NUC and the universities to quickly conduct investigation and hand over those identified as fake professors to law enforcement agents for prosecution. The names of persons confirmed by investigation to be fraudulent should be published along with names of the institutions that have housed them. Such naming and shaming may be crucial if academic corruption in our institutions is to be arrested before such corruption destroys the university system.
Reminding the vice chancellors, as the NUC secretary had done, of their duty to protect academic integrity can hardly be overdone. Disregard for integrity, such as accommodating fake professors is about the fastest way to destroy the respect for Nigeria’s university education. Fake professors cannot produce true knowledge. In addition to investigation, we recommend that NUC, in collaboration with individual universities, invest in software and apps that can facilitate checking of credentials of applicants for appointment and promotion before decisions are made on their applications.