The Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Education, has temporarily halted the assessment and accreditation of degree certificates from Benin and Togo Republics, awaiting the results of an ongoing investigation.
This suspension, effective from January 2, 2024, is linked to undercover investigation published by Daily Nigerian Newspaper titled “UNDERCOVER: How DAILY NIGERIAN reporter obtained a Cotonou university degree in 6 weeks and participated in the NYSC scheme.”
The Ministry announced that the investigation will engage the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, the relevant education ministries in Benin and Togo, as well as the Department of State Security Services (DSSS) and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
In a statement signed by Mrs. Augustina Obilor-Duru, on behalf of the Director of Press and Public Relations, it was noted, “The Federal Ministry of Education acknowledges the commendable work of investigative journalism highlighted in the Daily Nigerian Newspaper dated December 30, 2023, titled ‘UNDERCOVER: How DAILY NIGERIAN reporter bagged Cotonou varsity degree in 6 weeks, participated in NYSC scheme.’ This information was also disseminated through various social media channels.”
She stated that the report substantiates concerns that certain Nigerians may resort to dubious tactics to acquire degrees, with the ultimate aim of securing job opportunities for which they lack the requisite qualifications.
The ministry, however, called on the public to support its efforts, show understanding and provide useful information that would assist the committee in finding lasting solutions in order to prevent further occurrence.
The statement said the ministry had also commenced internal administrative processes to determine the culpability or otherwise of her staff for which applicable Public Service Rules would be applied.
“The issue of degree mills institutions, i.e institutions that exist on paper or operate in clandestine manner outside the control of regulators is a global problem that all countries grapple with. FME has been contending with the problem including illegal institutions located abroad or at home preying on unsuspecting, innocent Nigerians and some desperate Nigerians who deliberately patronize such outlets,” the statement reads.
Mrs. Augustina noted that warnings had been issued by the ministry and the National University Commission (NUC) against the resort to such institutions and in some instances, reports made to security agencies to clamp down on the perpetrators.
She added that the ministry would continue to review its strategy to plug any loopholes, processes and procedures and deal decisively with any conniving officials.
“The ministry had always adopted the global standard for evaluation and accreditation of certificates of all forms which relies on receipt of the list of accredited courses and schools in all countries of the World,” she said.
The ministry also assured Nigerians that it was already putting in place mechanisms to sanitise the education sector, including dissuading the quest for degree certificates (locally or from foreign countries) through a re-invigorated focus on inclusivity: reliance on all skill sets as directed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.