The Nigerian students in Benin Republic have expressed displeasure over the recent ban imposed by the Nigerian government on degree certificates of Nigerians from the universities in Benin and Togo Republics.
The Federal Government has imposed the ban sequel to a recent undercover report by a Nigerian journalist, who exposed fraudulent and shady practices in universities in the two countries to issue illegal degree certificates for Nigerian students, who are ready to take the huge bills depending on courses and time duration for such shady deals.
The reporter however, personally dabled into the “illicit venture” and obtained a degree certificate within six weeks from a Benionise university after paying the huge amount of money required.
The President of NANS, Benin Republic, Mr Favour Ikenna, in an exclusive interview with Nigerian Tribune on Wednesday, said the action of government banning the degree certificates from the two countries have already put them, the genuine students in the two countries into confusion and causing them sleepless night.
Ikenna, a final-year student, studying Computer Science at the Institut Superieur De Communication Et De Gestion (ISCG University), Abbatoir Carrifour, Cotonou, while totally condemning the fraudulent practices by the universities in the two countries, however, appealed to Nigerian Government to reconsider its action by lifting the ban in the interest of thousands of Nigerians, who are legitimately seeking knowledge in the two Francophone countries.
According to him, Nigerian students in various universities in Benin Republic alone are up to 10,000 and they are there as legitimate students.
He explained that they secured their admissions legitimately and going to classes to receive lectures and also engage in other lawful activities expected of them as students.
He said some are even spending more than the stipulated years for their courses because of carrying over some courses they have deficient in.
“So, it is not all Nigerian students in Benin Republic and Togo buy certificates and we also believe it can’t be all their universities selling certificates.
“We know for sure that most of us in the two countries are legitimate students, seeking knowledge. We go through a lot to acquire our certificates. We take our education serious and spend three, four or more years depending on either we gained admission as the regular or direct entry students.
“We have spent so much money and time as well as commit energy including burning night candles reading and studying.
“It is not that to obtain certificates from the two countries is as cheap as the undercover reporter painted it for all Nigerian students in the two countries.”
While urging Nigerian government to investigate the veracity of the news report and also strengthen the operational system of the government agencies and authorities alleged of weak system including the Nigerian Immigration Service, federal ministry of education and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and so forth, Ikenna said certificates of students from the two countries and other countries around the world can now be subjected to thorough screening to ascertain their genuineness if in doubt rather than placing immediate ban on those from Benin and Togo republics.
He said some of them, who are in final year classes are already warming up to be accredited and mobilised for the one-year mandatory NYSC programme back home, noting that to now ban them is tantamount to putting their destinies on hold.
In its own reaction, NANS, the parent body of all students at home and abroad, said while commending Nigerian government for taking step towards upholding the integrity of academic certificates of Nigerians obtained from anywhere around the world, it is also very important to consider the negative consequences of the current ban on the legitimate and duly registered students in the two countries.
The Senate President of NANS, Mr Akinteye Babatunde Afeez, told Nigerian Tribune on Wednesday, that many of the affected students must have invested their substantial times, energies and resources in their education pursuits and that some have even completed their studies and only awaiting approval to participate in the NYSC programme.
He said now with the ban, those students are now in a state of uncertainty, facing potential delays in their academic and professional pursuits over the offence they did not commit.
He pointed out that even though there is a need for re-assessment of certificates from those two countries, it is equally important that government does not limit thorough assessment of certificates to the two countries.
He also mentioned that government would need to strengthen its educational institutions to make them attractive to Nigerians to attend and also its relevant agencies to operate according to dictates of their establishment.
According to him, a blanket suspension of certificates from Benin and Togo republics can strain the age-long diplomatic and educational relations between Nigeria and the two countries.