The Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim recently accused universities in Benin Republic of presenting unqualified persons for its one-year mandatory national service. “We are presently investigating some of such so-called graduates, many of whom cannot write or spell any word in English,” said Ibrahim. Indeed, the federal government, through the Ministry of Education, earlier in the year, set up a committee to screen over 40,000 degrees claimed to have been obtained from Nigerians who studied in foreign institutions.
However, fake degrees are not a preserve of foreign universities. The country has a surfeit of them. Among a recent batch of corps members, 95 fake graduates were discovered, 60 of them from Nigerian universities. Also recently, the NYSC had cause to inform the National Universities Commission (NUC) of corps members who displayed glaring lack of academic ability and intelligence level expected of genuine Nigerian graduates. These deficiencies “were consistently exhibited by three students from the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT)”.
In one particular instance, one of these corps members was unable to fill forms correctly, besides inability to teach pupils at the nursery school level. Another could hardly write the Roman figure from one to 10 in words, just as she could not write three states and their capitals. The last, said to be a “graduate” of Electrical/Electronics, was rejected by King’s College Lagos for “gross” incompetence. It was discovered that she failed all science subjects at the senior secondary school level. So, how did she get into the university? The Senate of ESUT at its 239th regular meeting had to withdraw their certificates. Between 2015 and 2017, no fewer than 20 persons were arrested for being in possession of forged certificates.
The list is of those who parade fake degrees and certificates in Nigeria today is long and very disturbing. From fake schools to fake teachers to fake doctors, the entire country is suffused with fakes in practically all areas of our national lives. In the police, armed forces, academia, ministries and government agencies and of course politics, fake credentials are now paraded by many for jobs they are not qualified to undertake. In the political arena, making dubious claims, including faking credentials, seems to be the route to power in the country today.
This menace is aided by the absence of a reliable database, corrupt government officials and dishonest tertiary institutions’ personnel. There are so many criminals who parade chains of degrees in medicine, who put the lives of Nigerians at risk on a daily basis and there are others who teach in our universities even without possessing a genuine first degree. Only this week, Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, Executive Secretary of the NUC, revealed that about 100 fake professors have been uncovered in our institutions of higher learning.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) spoke to this issue at the 65th Annual Council Meeting of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC). “Cheating in examinations and fake certificates simply do not generate the sort of outrage that such conduct would have generated years ago,” Osinbajo lamented. With that people of questionable character are celebrated in one form or the other–alumni recognitions, chieftaincy titles, honorary degrees and even higher religious titles. “Often, cheating is with the collusion of parents and teachers. This only reflects the failure of values in our larger society,” said Osinbajo.
It is heartening that the NYSC, in collaboration with the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other security agencies are working in their little ways to combat this national malaise. We must support their efforts. Only severe sanctions can stop this menace from becoming another epidemic.