Recently, the Registrar of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Ishaq Oloyede, said many institutions are still in the habit of awarding certificates to people who do not attend universities. He warned that awarding fake university certificates to people indiscriminately without requisite qualification is dangerous to the development of the education system in the country.
Oloyede, said, “There are many ways that corps members and their collaborators take towards corrupting the system. The more you stay long in this system, the more shocked you are likely to become.
“Many institutions still engage in mobilising or awarding certificates to people who didn’t attend their institutions. You are in a position to know because you run the Interim Joint Matriculation Board and others. How many of these students are actually your students? Go on the streets of Nigeria, you will see IJMB coaching. These candidates are not supposed to be attending roadside coaching. They are supposed to be in your institutions.”
Coming from JAMB, this ought to be a disturbing development. In a country where corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the society, our education system should be exempted from this ugly malaise.
First, the underlying issues fuelling the increase in fake certificates across the country is the craze for university degrees. And this has been promoted by the penchant for educational qualifications rather than competences by employers of labour, especially, government. This is a sorry state of affairs that needs an urgent rethink.
Apart from university certificates, there are also proliferation of fake NYSC certificates in the country This newspaper recalls the case of former Minister of Finance , Kemi Adeosun, who resigned over allegations that her NYSC exemption certificate was not genuine. We also recall that last year, the NYSC Director General, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, raised the alarm over the increase in certificate forgery cases. He expressed worry over the number of Nigerians involved in fraudulent foreign degree certificates, decrying the level of harm such certificates could do to the socio-economic life of the country if the holders were inadvertently employed based on those fake qualifications.
The NYSC also revealed that some African institutions sell degrees and Higher National Diploma (HND) certificates and transcripts to some Nigerian students at a cost of between N300, 000 and N500, 000.
Compounding this sorry state, is the proliferation of mushroom universities in neighbouring West Africa countries essentially established for such obnoxious purpose and with Nigeria as target market because of the craze for paper qualification. Sadly, in our view, the incessant strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the resultant disruption of the academic calendar, make it inevitable for some Nigerian students to seek succour in neighbouring countries’ universities.
A report by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) indicated that more than four million students are studying outside their home countries. UNESCO said this figure could increase to eight million in the next two years.
Ordinarily, this ought to be a cheery news. But it is not for Nigeria and the problem is that most of those universities in neighbouring countries offer questionable degrees not approved by the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC). There are also reports of some students obtaining degrees in just two years in some of the universities in those countries. Also Ph.D degrees could be awarded them in one year or one-and-a-half years from these schools. There are also allegations that some of those schools were opened specifically to target Nigerian students who crave for foreign degrees.
It is sad to note that graduates in most cases present these mushroom certificates and without screening or authentication from the Ministry of Education or the NUC, they are allowed to go for NYSC and in most cases they even apply and get lucrative jobs in the country with the fake certificates. This ugly trend needs to be properly investigated with a view to nipping it in the bud.
Consequently we call on the university authorities to undertake a background check on people who work in sensitive departments like the Examination and Records .Only persons with a history of learning and impeccable character should be deployed there.
Similarly, the federal government should make it mandatory that all foreign students’ certificates be verified by the Ministry of Education before they proceed to the NSYC programme or seek for jobs. We also insist that the government should name and shame individuals and institutions involved in this fraudulent educational terrorism and be made to face the full wrath of the law.