ASUU President blames poor funding of universities for fake foreign degrees

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has blamed the low funding of the federal government’s university system for Nigerian students’ desire to obtain certificates, particularly those from bordering countries like Togo and Benin Republic.

The academic union also charged regulatory organisations such as the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC) with involvement in the most recent certificate racketeering incident at a university in the Republic of Benin.

In this incident, an undercover reporter obtained a Mass Communications certificate in less than six weeks and was subsequently enlisted in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme, which is mandatory.

In response to the situation, ASUU President Emmanuel Osokode remarked in a recent interview in Abuja that some Nigerians’ obsession with fake foreign degrees was ridiculous.

Remember that the Benin certificate racketeering that gained national attention at the end of 2023 appears to have forced the Federal Ministry of Education, which is currently headed by Mamman Tahir, to declare that the evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from universities in the two nations would no longer be conducted.

The online news outlet disclosed how one of its correspondents graduated from the university with a degree in mass communication in six weeks without having to attend any lectures or take any exams.

Expressing his displeasure, Osodeke said if the regulatory bodies were up to their responsibilities, the situation wouldn’t have occurred.

“This is what we have been talking about; if our system is working you will not see people running outside the country to study,” he had lamented.

According to ASUU, the regulatory bodies such as the National Universities Commission, Federal Ministry of Education, National Youth Service Corps, Immigration, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are not diligent in their work. If they are doing their jobs we will not have what we are having now.

“It is a terrible thing for a country like Nigeria. Will you compare any university in Benin or Togo to University of Ibadan or UNN or ABU? But our people are running there because they have found out that it is the easy way to get degrees.”

The ASUU president equally bemoaned the proliferation of first class degrees by some private universities in Nigeria, while questioning the certificates they award to graduates from such institutions.

He urged the regulatory bodies to beam their searchlights on such private universities to ensure that the certificates they issue to their students are genuine and credible.

“It is happening everywhere and we believe that the regulatory bodies will check it.

“In Nigeria today, we have universities where up to 10 – 15 percent of the students are getting first class. Does that happen anywhere? Where will 10 – 15 percent of students get 90 percent because to get a first class you have to score up to 90 percent, 4.5 CGPA.And the regulatory body is doing nothing about it. It is not investigating it.

“Even in UI, one percent cannot get first class but if you go to many of these universities we are creating, you will see 20 percent of students getting first class. It means something is going on.The NUC should investigate this. When you see things that are not regular you investigate.That is the function of the regulatory body and 20 percent getting first class means something is wrong.

“These are the things that are ridiculing Nigeria all over the world. Nigeria should ensure that anybody with a degree is a real degree. People should be rewarded for excellence.The government should check where the degree is coming from. It sounds somehow that Nigerian students now go to Benin Republic to study. That means something is wrong. It means you can get a degree in one year.

“When we were students in those days, if you were studying outside the country, the assumption was that you didn’t pass through JAMB. But today everybody is running outside the country. Nigerians are now running to Sudan”, he said.

In his opinion, President Bola Tinubu should fund the sector to avoid Nigerians going to foreign countries to acquire education.

“I appeal to this administration to take a comprehensive look at our education system with a view to ensuring that this idea of people going to procure a degree is put to rest. You can only do that by funding the education system appropriately.”