Following the release undercover report on express degrees awarded by mushroom universities in Cotonou, many citizens have expressed mixed reactions of shock and outrage at the level of corruption that has eaten up the educational system in Nigeria and other West African countries.
In the report published on December 30, 2023, the newspaper exposed how corrupt government officials aid the fraudulent business of certificate racketeering.
The report exposed how our reporter Umar Audu “finished” the four-year degree programme in less than two months from Ecole Superieure de Gestion et de Technologies, ESGT, Cotonou, Benin Republic.
He obtained the certificate without application, registration, studying or writing exams.
Although he never crossed any Nigerian borders, an immigration officer was able to get his passport stamped by both Nigerian and Beninois immigration agents to enable him participate in the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC.
Reacting to the viral report on social media, some X users urged the federal government to begin a clampdown on universities issuing degree certificates to undeserving individuals.
They faulted relevant government agencies for not living up to their responsibilities.
Sharing the link of the report on his X handle on Monday, Mr Hundeyin described it “as a fantastic piece of investigative journalism”.
“A fantastic piece of investigative journalism that I would have been proud to have worked on. Kudos to @Theumar_audu on X“, Mr Hundeyin wrote.
A former minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Ali Pantami, took to his X handle, @ProfIsaPantami, describing the revelations contained in the report as a betrayal of education.
According to him, the trend, if left unchecked, will affect human capital development in the country.
He therefore called for the review of certificates awarded in Cotonou and other countries.
“The effort of @daily_nigerian in this investigative journalism is commendable. This betrayal of education, if allowed to continue, will definitely affect human capital development, among many others. There is a need for critical review of all the universities in Cotonou, etc,” Mr Pantami wrote.
Also, a renowned investigative journalist, Fisayo Soyombo, commended reporter, Umar Audu, for busting the syndicate.
“Well done, @theumar_audu,” Mr Soyombo wrote on his handle.
Similarly, a former senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, said, “University Degree in Six Weeks; In Benin Republic, Degree is an export commodity.
Another X user, @Yadomah, said, “Cotonou degree shouldn’t be recognised, please. I mean, how will we suffer for a degree for four good years and someone does his for six months and we get same respect? I mean, how is that fair?
Renowned activist YZ Yau, @YZyau, queried: “Now that the racket at the Federal Ministry of Education, Immigration, and NYSC on this noxious Cotonou degree has been exposed, will the authorities, as usual, sweep it under the carpets just like any other scandal before, or will they give us hope of bringing a measure of sanity?”
Another user who commented on the story, @EngrAbdoulaye, said, “Any public or civil servant that use Cotonou university degree to secure a federal government job or appointment should be sacked. Let’s bring sanity to the system.”
AbdulGidado said, “What baffles me the most is those who got DSS with this fake degree will be the ones to screen my legit degrees when they send my name for ministerial screening.”
@el_bonga said: “People will troop to Cotonou for a one-month degree in various fields like construction, management, finance, etc, and go on to obtain different appointments in different sectors. One day, they’ll climb the ladder and make policies for us”.
On Facebook a user, Abdullahi Dahiru, said the report further justified the strict licencing process for foreign-trained medical students by professional bodies like the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN.
He also chided some Nigerians who antagonised the council’s efforts to sanitise the system.
“It is surprising to me that most Nigerians expressed their condemnations regarding the Cotonou university degree racketeering exposed, including the ones that should not talk because they have lost the moral high ground by doing things equally appalling in the past.
“The shock expressed by people was surprising to me because the same society condemns professional regulatory bodies like the Medical and Dental Council for insisting on examining foreign medical graduates before they are issued licences to practice in Nigeria.
“When the results of the examinations are released, there is always outcry that the council is being highhanded and deliberately failing the doctors that wrote the examination.
“Because of the rampant failures, the council decided to bring back clinical attachment for those graduates in some selected teaching hospitals for six months as a prerequisite for writing the licencing examination. The clinical rotations were being done before and were abolished.
“Parents of foreign medical graduates petitioned the National Assembly regarding the plan by the council to conduct clinical rotations and even the failure rate. The National Assembly was critical of the failure rate and the decision of the council to conduct the clinical
Medical and Dental Council abandoned the decision and continued to examine the candidates without doing clinical rotations in teaching hospitals.”
Mr Dahiru also said it was surprising that many foreign-trained medical graduates fail the licencing examination, as substandard medical colleges are spread across the world.
Another Facebook user, Isah Mansur, while commending for the outstanding report, said it has “further exposed the deep rot in our institutions.”.
He said “regulatory and enforcement institutions and units of the government are often the most compromised because officials that find themselves in those institutions mostly see it as an opportunity to enrich themselves rather than a call to service.
“The highly commendable report has exposed the institutions, processes, and even some of the personalities behind this corruption scheme racket.
“The ball is now in the government’s court, especially the anti-corruption agencies, to take the further steps of criminal investigation and possible prosecution of the people behind the problem.
“The heads of the agencies mentioned also need to scrutinise their systems and processes in order to identify the gaps and weaknesses therein that allow corrupt officials and citizens to perpetrate these crimes.
“Furthermore, the government must set in motion a process to identify and eject people with such fake academic qualifications out of its ministries, departments, and agencies”, he added.