By Egbe Attah
Stakeholders in the education sector in Benue State, have called on government and other employers of labour to place more emphasis on competence rather than academic qualifications.
Speaking on the matter, recently, the chairman, Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), Benue State Chapter, Comrade Godwin Agbo, said the emphasis placed on paper qualifications has made people to struggle to get higher academic qualifications at all costs.
“Some of us are not surprised by the recent University of Cotonou degree saga, which was uncovered by Journalist Umar Audu. Even in Nigeria here, there are a lot of people who obtained similar degrees from Nigerian Universities without working for them except they are yet to be exposed. The story would be different if we judge and treat people based on their ability instead of paper qualifications.
Comrade Agbo, thanked Journalist Audu, for exposing the rots associated with some of our neighbouring country universities and called on the people to be wary of them.
On his part, a veteran teacher, Chief Icha Adole, advised that people should be given positions in employment based on their capability rather than on their educational certificates.
“It has become a public knowledge that some of the academic certificates obtained by Nigerians are fraudulently gotten. What will be the fate of patients if there are medical doctors among these category of quacks? We thank the investigative journalist with the Nigeria Daily newspaper, who revealed to the Nigerian authorities that many Nigerian youths have been cutting corners to obtain certificates from neighbouring francophone countries, especially, Benin and Togo.
The retired Director of Education, called on parents to monitor the activities of their wards and ascertain the authenticity of schools before allowing them to enroll.
“Anybody or institutions found involved in the illegal possession or issuance of academic certificates should be punished at the end of the ongoing investigations by the government,” said the veteran educator.
Another teacher and principal, Ewulo College, Otukpo, Benue State, Ode Idaa, cautioned his present and past students to find out the genuineness of any higher institutions before attending, to avoid regrets.
Idaa averred that the quest for higher educational certificates by the people as a result of government’s placement of premium on them is the reason people and institutions engaged in selling and buying of certificates.
An elder statesman and one of the earliest graduates in Idomaland, Chief Stephen Obeya, stated that the emphasis on paper qualifications in Nigeria is too much, stressing that it is the reason people crave to have them by hook or crook.
He maintained that engagement of quack professionals is the reason for the underdevelopment of the nation.
“If we want to get it right, let everyone be given jobs and other responsibilities based on ability and not on the basis of paper qualifications. The issue of certificate racketeering is not only associated with foreign universities, it is with us in Nigerian universities. Some of the higher schools mushrooming around, sell certificates to the highest bidders,” he claimed.
Chief Obeya called on the federal government to bestow national honours on Journalist Umar Audu, if at the end of the investigations his findings are true.
He however, hailed the establishment of the Benue State Education Quality Assurance Agency by Governor Alia which, he believes, would help check such anomalies at the secondary and basic school levels in the state.
Others who spoke on the issue, including a former Special Adviser to the Benue State Governor on Secondary and Tertiary Education, Chief Otse Otokpa, a lecturer at the College of Education, Oju, Ema Lawrence, a student at the Federal University of Laffia, Nasaraea State, Ogomola Favour, all called on stakeholders to deemphasize certificate possession for placement in workplace and other endeavours.
It would be recalled that Nigerians were thrown into a state of confusion and disbelief, when an investigative reporter, Umar Audu, in his attempt to prove to the nation that some of her citizens are buying degrees from some foreign universities, went and bought one himself and participated in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).