The recent shocking discovery of 100 fake professors in Nigeria’s university system is a testament to the fact the sector is in a terrible situation. The National Universities Commission (NUC), the agency supervising university education in the country, uncovered the fake varsity professors.
This startling revelation, unexpectedly, is a smear on the integrity of the ivory towers and an indictment, which has portrayed the university system, the supposed source of knowledge, academic integrity and ethical standard, as incubator of dishonesty, fraudulence, imposture and deceit.
NUC’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, sought the collaboration of stakeholders in dealing with the magnitude of dishonesty in the institutions when he declared that the fight against fake professors is a collective responsibility.
Also, in apparent dismay over this academic fraud, the NUC boss directed that vice-chancellors should check the excesses of their affiliated institutions and, as a matter of urgent consideration, universities must spearhead the fight against academic corruption ravaging the university system.
To ensure this, he insisted that the fight must be total and must be tackled on all fronts and with all vigour by stakeholders.
It is gratifying to note that NUC, specifically, and other critical stakeholders, are concerned about the integrity of the universities and the need to checkmate the inordinate desires of some unscrupulous elements that are out to disparage the system through fake professorship before they turned the Nigerian universities to phony institutions.
The steady decline in the standard of academics in Nigerian universities and its products, to say the least, irrefutably is attributable to the quality of the system as characterised by the quality of lecturers, admission policy, style of operation, dearth of learning infrastructure/research equipment, underfunding and other attendant variables.
The disclosure by NUC that there are possibly over 100 fake professors across Nigerian universities is more worrisome and this needed to be urgently addressed so as to separate the chaff from the wheat and restore sanity to the academia.
Deploying its STRADCOM to verify and publish a full directory of professors in the Nigerian university system, which uncovered that quite a number of professors are either fake or are yet to mature to full professors, is a plus to the NUC. STRADCOM in an information technology service.
We make bold to say that there is need for more of this staff verification exercise and it should be carried out regularly to curb the excesses of such lecturers.
Having uncovered this, it is now incumbent on NUC to carry out more verifications and monitoring of owners of private universities who are fond of appropriating or arrogating professorship to themselves just because they own universities without the due process.
To tackle this wholesome academic fraud in the Nigerian universities, NUC needs the total support of the Senate of respective universities, which is the highest academic decision organ of the university system, to look beyond proprietorship consideration in the elevation of any lecturer for that matter to professorship without fulfilling and meeting all the necessary conditions, as it is the case in some universities.
Despite the fact that a situation where there are only about 9,000 professors out of the 61,000 lecturers teaching in the over 170 Nigerian universities (public and private), according to the NUC record, is grossly unacceptable. The system in remedying this deficit should, however, not lose sight in applying the necessary stringent academic rules and procedures.
This has become expedient in the collective quest to overhaul the Nigerian university system and bring it to become 21st Century compliant ivory towers of global reckoning.
Like the problem of fake professors, the challenge of upsurge in illegal degree-awarding institutions in the country has to be addressed by NUC in collaboration with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), the Federal Ministry of Education and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, among other stakeholders.
While we commend NUC, under the watch of Professor Rasheed, for the bold initiative taken to save the nation’s university education from its palpable rot, whatever action needed to be taken in this direction, especially in restoring sanity to the system and free it from the shackles of fake professors, could not be too much.
It is, therefore, essential that proactive strategies are required from all fronts to stem the tide of loafers profiteering on the system, given the critical role of university as transmitter of knowledge and developmental cord of a nation.
Whatever the case is, every attention has to be shifted to safeguarding the institutions from abysmal regression the scandal of fake professors could have on the integrity of the overall well-being of the university system.