Following an exposé by undercover journalist, Umar Audu, revealing his detailed acquisition of a degree from a university in Cotonou, Benin Republic, and subsequent undetected deployment to Cross Rivers State for the NYSC programme, there has been a strong reaction among Nigerians.
The report, which has since gained prominence, led the federal government to promptly suspend the accreditation and evaluation of degree certificates from Benin Republic and Togo.
The government also announced intentions to extend this sanction to countries such as Uganda, Kenya, and Niger Republic.
The spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Augustina Obilor-Duru said in a statement on Tuesday, January 2, that the report lent credence to suspicions that some Nigerians deploy nefarious means and unconscionable methods to get a degree.
He said: “This report lends credence to suspicions that some Nigerians deploy nefarious means and unconscionable methods to get a Degree with the end objective of getting graduate job opportunities for which they are not qualified.
“The Federal Ministry of Education vehemently decries such acts and with effect from 2nd January 2024 is suspending evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from Benin and Togo Republics pending the outcome of an investigation that would involve the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria and the two countries, the ministries responsible for Education in the two countries as well the Department of State Security Services (DSS), and the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC).”
Reacting to the decision of the federal government, Zubby Micheal applauded the development while commenting on an Instagram post, saying that many “mugus” have been parading doctorate titles.
On Channels Television’s “Politics Today”, the Education Minister, Tahir Mamman, who appeared as a guest on Wednesday, January 3, vowed to go after citizens utilising fake certificates obtained from foreign countries to secure employment in Nigeria.
Describing such individuals as “criminals” involved in a criminal chain, Mamman insisted they ought to be arrested and not empathised with.
He said: “They are criminals and you know there is no timeframe to criminality. We will trace them. As long as we can lay our hands on their institutions and they are right here with us, certainly, the security agencies will go after them because they are criminals.”
“We are not going to stop at just Benin and Togo. We are going to extend the dragnet to countries like Uganda, Kenya, and even Niger here where such institutions have been set up.
“We will not stop at the suspension of certificates from Togo and Benin Republic alone. We are going to extend the suspension to other countries where such institutions operate.”
The development comes just after many entertainers got awarded degrees, including honourary doctorates from various universities in the Benin Republic.
Below is a list of entertainers including singers and actors who bagged degrees from the universities in the aforementioned countries.
Mavin star girl, Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe aka Ayra Start attended Les Cours Sonou University in Benin Republic and received a BA degree in International Relations and Political Science at age 18.
“I made sure I got into school early because my goal was to be a teenage pop star. So, I got into school early. So I got into the university. I schooled in Benin Republic. My course was three years old. I graduated at 18.
“I have a degree in International Relations and Political science. Though, I’m thinking of getting another one,” said the “Rush” crooner in an interview with “Nairobi News”, in Kenya.
Besides Ayra Starr, the others listed were awarded honorary doctorate degrees. They include:
2020 saw sensational dancer, Kafayat Oluwatoyin Shafau, also referred to as Kaffy, receive an Honourary Doctorate Degree for her remarkable role in the African dance industry from Escae Benin University in the Benin Republic.
Taking to Instagram to share the good news, the mother of two wrote: “I’m humbled to be decorated this afternoon by Escae Benin University with an Honorary Doctorate in recognition as a “pioneer in the business of dance in Africa”. This award is not just for me but for an institution. That institution is the dance industry.”
In June 2021, popular actor and filmmaker, Michael Ezuruonye, also received an Honourary Doctorate of Arts and Literature from ESTAM University, Seme Campus, located in the Republic of Benin.
He shared the news on his Instagram page, expressing excitement and gratitude to his fans while identifying himself as Dr. Michael Ezuruonye.
“It’s cause of you my fans, supporters and good people this happened. Dr Michael Ezuruonye loves you all.”
Martins Okey Justice
Along with Mike, singer J. Martins bagged an honourary doctorate from the same institution.
Posing with the actor, Jay Martins in a post via his Instagram page wrote: “Ladies and Gentlemen say hello to the new Doctorates in town my humble self & my brother @mikeezu from Estam University Benin Republic
A very big Thank you to all my supportive fans it’s because of you that I have come this far and I do not take you guys for granted so when next you see me remember to add Dr Martins Okey Justice aka J.Martins
Have a beautiful weekend everyone”.
In August of the same year, Alexx Ekubo received an honorary doctorate in Arts and Culture from Benin Republic’s Institut Supérieur de Communication et de Geston University.
The Nollywood act took to Instagram to share a picture in a ceremonial graduation gown with the caption: “Introducing, Dr Alexx Ekubo. Thanks to the governing council of the Institut Supérieur de Communication et de Geston (ISCG UNIVERSITY) for conferring on me a Doctorate (Honorary) Degree in Arts & Culture”.
In June 2022, Peter Okoye aka Mr P, one-half of the well-known singing duo Psquare, received an honorary doctorate from the Escae-Benin University in the Benin Republic.
He was conferred Doctor of Arts by the school which he described as a “distinguished educational institution.”
Via his Instagram page, he shared the news, stating: “Dear Team P! It’s a great honor to be decorated by a distinguished educational institution, Who have recognised my contribution to Dance and Music as well as my support for the youth in the entertainment industry.”
Popular Nigerian actor, Ikechukwu Mitchel Ogbonna aka IK, received an honorary degree in June 2022.
A Doctorate (Honorary) Degree of Arts in Leadership and Development was granted to IK by the Institut Superieur De Technologies Et De Management, Togo.
Ireti Doyle, who starred in Wedding Party, was included in the 2022 academic honour roll.
The Benin Republic’s Institut Superieur de Communication et de Gestion University awarded the seasoned actress an honorary doctorate in August.
The actress acknowledged that although she did have a “healthy expectation of receiving accolades,” an academic honour was not what she had in mind.
Bob Manuel Udokwu
Another famous Nigerian actor, Bob Manuel, received an honorary doctorate from the same Cotonou-based University.
The Institut Superieur de Communication et de Gestion University awarded the former Guinness Ultimate Search games master a Doctorate Degree in Arts and Culture.
Ireti Doyle disclosed the news as she shared photos from the ceremony on her Instagram page.
Veteran actor and seasoned movie star, Pete Edochie received a double honourary doctorate from the International School of Technology and Management (ISTM) University, Togo in September 2023.
The 76-year-old movie stalwart bagged a Doctorate in Literature, a Doctorate in Arts, and a lifetime achievement at the Togo-based varsity.