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FG urged to hasten fake varsity degree probe

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By Abraham Adekunle

Urgent action needed to investigate the fraud and restore Nigeria's reputation.

The Federal Government’s move to investigate private universities established in the past 15 years to uncover certificate racketeering has sparked a crucial discussion about the integrity of Nigeria’s education sector. The probe, prompted by an investigative report exposing certificate racketeering in neighboring countries, underscores the need for a comprehensive examination of academic fraud and its ramifications. The investigative report by Umar Audu revealed a thriving syndicate in Benin Republic and Togo, where university degrees were being sold to Nigerian buyers.

As well, the ease with which the undercover journalist obtained a degree and even participated in the National Youth Service Corps with a six-week degree program highlights the severity of the issue. In response, the Federal Government suspended the accreditation and evaluation of degree certificates from Benin Republic and Togo and initiated a probe into private universities established in the last 15 years. The Inter-Ministerial Investigative Committee on Degree Certificate Milling was tasked with scrutinizing various aspects of these universities to ensure compliance with educational standards.

Probe reveals widespread fake degrees in Nigeria.

This probe is not an isolated incident but part of a larger pattern of fraudulent academic records being uncovered in Nigeria. Cases where individuals presented fake degrees to secure employment or promotion have surfaced, revealing the depth of the problem. The prevalence of mushroom education institutions operating without proper facilities adds another layer of concern to the issue. The delay in completing the probe has raised questions about the integrity of Nigeria’s education system. It is imperative for government agencies overseeing both private and public institutions to conduct thorough checks on academic credentials.

Employers must also verify the credentials of their employees to maintain the credibility of the workforce. Moving forward, there should be stringent measures in place to verify certificates from foreign institutions. The government and educational institutions must adopt practices similar to those in the United States and Canada, where transcripts of academic records are mandatory. This level of scrutiny and verification will help combat the proliferation of fake degrees and enhance the credibility of Nigeria’s education sector.

Impact of fake degrees on Nigeria’s economy and reputation.

Moreover, the impact of fake degrees extends beyond individual cases to the broader economy and society. Employers relying on fraudulent qualifications risk hiring unqualified personnel, leading to inefficiencies, incompetence, and potential legal liabilities. This can have ripple effects on productivity, innovation, and overall economic development. The tarnished reputation of Nigerian qualifications in the international arena due to widespread certificate racketeering undermines the country’s efforts to attract foreign investment, partnerships, and skilled professionals. Addressing this issue is not just about maintaining academic standards but also about safeguarding Nigeria’s global competitiveness and reputation.

Also, the role of regulatory bodies and accreditation agencies is paramount in ensuring the authenticity and quality of educational credentials. These institutions must collaborate closely with law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute individuals and institutions involved in certificate fraud. Additionally, public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives can help individuals and employers recognize and report suspicious credentials. It is also essential to address the root causes driving individuals to seek fake degrees, such as limited access to quality education, societal pressure for credentials, and lack of awareness about the consequences of academic fraud.

Related Article: FG sets up committee to tackle fake degrees

Investing in education infrastructure, promoting ethical standards, and fostering a culture of meritocracy can contribute to long-term solutions to combat certificate racketeering. In all, the Federal Government’s probe into fake university degrees is a critical step towards addressing a pervasive problem that threatens the integrity of Nigeria’s education system and its global standing. However, swift and decisive action, coupled with systemic reforms and public engagement, is needed to root out certificate racketeering, protect the credibility of Nigerian qualifications, and promote a culture of honesty and excellence in education and employment.

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