DEGREES FOR SALE: UNRAVELING NIGERIA’S CERTIFICATE FORGERY EPIDEMIC

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DEGREES FOR SALE: UNRAVELLING NIGERIA’S CERTIFICATE FORGERY EPIDEMIC

The revelation of over 100 fake professors by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in 2019 was a stark reminder that the condition of certificate forgery infiltrates even the highest echelons of academia.

Certificate forgery is a serious issue in Nigeria. It is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine.

There has been a rise in cases of certificate forgery in Nigeria, with news reports of some personalities being busted for using fake academic credentials or other forged documents.

The sale of forged certificates once whispered about, has now become a brazen and widespread enterprise.

The recent exposé of a Nigerian journalist obtaining a Cotonou University degree in just six weeks thrust this issue into the spotlight. The report revealed not just a systemic problem but also a startling lack of accountability.

Certificate forgery is not confined to a few rogue universities. It’s a deeply embedded crisis plaguing the entire nation. Shocking statistics reveal that the number of forged certificates in circulation might surpass genuine ones.

From civil servants in Niger State to primary school teachers in Plateau State, the rot runs deep. Even prestigious institutions like the Lagos State University were not immune, with staff members involved in a lucrative certificate racket.

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), a symbol of national unity, finds itself entangled in this web of deceit as well. The use of biometric data to verify the identity of corps members was a commendable step, but it’s clear that more decisive action is needed. Instances of individuals with fake credentials seamlessly participating in the NYSC programme undermine its credibility and, by extension, the very essence of its existence.

The revelation of over 100 fake professors by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in 2019 was a stark reminder that the condition of certificate forgery infiltrates even the highest echelons of academia. It is a phenomenon not limited to a specific region but scattered across the nation, eroding the very foundation of trust upon which education stands.

One of the glaring obstacles to addressing certificate forgery is the reluctance of politicians and public officials to tackle the issue head-on. Many politicians and public officials have been implicated in certificate forgery scandals, and they are often reluctant to take action against the practice.

This is a major obstacle to progress, as it sends a message that certificate forgery is acceptable and that those who engage in it will not be held accountable. The political disinterest not only perpetuates the acceptance of certificate forgery but also sends a damaging message that such acts will go unpunished.

Another challenge is the lack of awareness among the general public about the dangers of certificate forgery. Many people are unaware of the negative impact that certificate forgery can have on their lives and society as a whole. This makes them vulnerable to fraudsters who are only too happy to take advantage of their ignorance.

To combat this deep-rooted issue, a multi-pronged approach is imperative. The government must display unwavering political will by enacting stringent laws and allocating resources for investigation and prosecution. Educational institutions need to fortify their certification processes and collaborate with employers to verify credentials. The media’s role is also pivotal — exposing cases, creating awareness, and fostering a culture of accountability.Certificate forgery in Nigeria is not merely a collection of isolated incidents but a pervasive threat to the nation’s integrity. The tendrils of this issue reach into every sector, corroding the foundations of education, trust in governance, and the very idea of meritocracy. Until decisive actions are taken, Nigeria’s journey towards a brighter future remains hampered by the shadows of counterfeit achievements. The time for accountability is now.

About Dons Eze

DONS EZE, PhD, Political Philosopher and Journalist of over four decades standing, worked in several newspaper houses across the country, and rose to the positions of Editor and General Manager. A UNESCO Fellow in Journalism, Dr. Dons Eze, a prolific writer and author of many books, attended several courses on Journalism and Communication in both Nigeria and overseas, including a Postgraduate Course on Journalism at Warsaw, Poland; Strategic Communication and Practical Communication Approach at RIPA International, London, the United Kingdom, among others.

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