Following the federal government’s suspending evaluation and accreditation of degrees from Benin and Togo Republic, employment professionals are wary of employing Nigerians with certificates from the West African region, especially francophone countries.
Efriye Bribena, chief executive officer at Tamief International Limited believes the federal government’s stand on clamping down degrees from Benin and Togo Republics will affect innocent Nigerians with genuine certificates.
He said many Nigerians who obtained their certificates genuinely would find themselves being rejected in the labour market because of this disposition of the government.
“They would be rejected because that stands as a spell to their academic reputation. Many companies would be wary of absorbing such in their folds,” he said.
Isaac Agenyi, an entrepreneur told our reporter that even before the federal government’s clampdown order he had encountered graduates from some of these universities in the Francophone countries and was not satisfied with their employability skills.
“I have met with people who attended universities from both Benin and Togo republics, and I was not satisfied with what I saw.
“I didn’t get the kind of competence I require from them as degree holders. Their employability skills didn’t resonate with their degree certificates, and the grades they claimed to have acquired,” he stressed.
Kelechi Dennis, an HR professional with over 15 years of experience said the recent development is a new dimension to certificate controversy.
“It is a desperate way to boycott the process of proper education. It is a crime and no society is free of criminal elements.
“The truth is that HR practitioners and professionals will now need to be more vigilant and come up with effective methods of not only verifying the authenticity of job applicants’ degree certificates but also ensuring that applicants have the right competence, such as knowledge and characteristics for the job they are applying for,” she said.
Moreover, employment experts said the federal government could have approached the incident in a more tactical and human-faced manner.
Bribena reiterated that he does not see the federal government’s action as the best approach because according to him, it is like throwing away the baby with the dirty waters.
He cited an instance of certificate racketeering involving the Lagos State University (LASU) and wondered why the institution was not blacklisted.
“For instance, I obtained my law degree from LASU genuinely, are you saying because some people were involved in some dirty games, then all graduates from the university should be labeled fake,” he asked.
Ikenna Favour, president of the National Association of Nigerian Students in Benin Republic, appealed to the federal government not to apply a blanket ban on the universities, as according to him, many of the students are not involved in certificate racketeering.
“While we acknowledge the need for transparency and accountability, we want to emphasise that not all students in Benin Republic and Togo buy certificates. As students, we face numerous challenges and obstacles on our educational journey.
“We take our education seriously, dedicating three or more years of hard work and perseverance to acquire our academic qualifications.
“We believe in the value of knowledge and the importance of earning our certificates through merit and dedication.
“We firmly believe that education is a fundamental right that should be accessible to all, regardless of their background or circumstances. By standing together, we can advocate for equal opportunities and recognition of the hard work put in by students in Benin Republic and Togo,” he said.
Recent reports from the student associations indicate that no fewer than 10,900 Nigerian students are currently studying in 46 higher institutions of learning in Benin Republic and Togo.
BusinessDay findings showed that universities in the two countries charge tuition fees ranging between N50,000 and N500,000 per annum. The tuition fees exclude application forms, accommodation, textbooks, and living expenses.
The cost of a master’s degree ranges from N550,000 to N1.5 million. While accommodation and hostel amenities differ for students who live on campus. Each session costs between N100,000 and N150,000.
Nigerian students have been generating not less than N7.5 billion annually for universities in Benin and Togo Republics. Hence, experts argue that the federal government’s concern should have been to find ways to upgrade public universities while dealing with those involved in the certificate racketeering.
The Federal Ministry of Education recently suspended the evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from universities in the two countries following a newspaper report alleging certificate racketeering from an institution in Benin.
The reporter who wrote the story revealed how he obtained a degree certificate in Mass Communication from the institution in six weeks without attending any classes or writing an examination.
In the fore of this, experts blamed the federal government for its nonchalant attitude towards education funding which according to them fuels persistent academic strikes seen as one of the reasons Nigerians are massively migrating to the two West African countries for tertiary education.