The last time I checked, the Nigeria’s eight National Assembly – particularly its Red Chamber – had been characterized by series of distractions, that, any observer could insinuate that all is not well with the country’s current polity. One of the distractions emanated from the recent allegation levelled against the Senator representing Kogi West, Mr. Dino Melaye, by an online news medium that the senator never graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Kaduna State as he claims. It’s pertinent to acknowledge that Melaye’s political career hasn’t been spared of various controversies.
Sometime ago, it was alleged that he continued to operate an account with a US-based bank, in violation of Nigeria’s extant law. It’s noteworthy that the Code of Conduct Bureau prohibits the use of foreign accounts by elected and public officials. Melaye criticized the former Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole for ‘importing his wife’ rather than marrying a Nigerian woman. Not too long ago, he threatened to beat up one of his female colleagues Senator Oluremi Tinubu on the floor of the Senate.
Melaye’s claims not only did he graduate legitimately from ABU, but had successfully earned seven degrees from various other institutions across the globe to include the revered Harvard’s University Kennedy School for Educational Leadership, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); a claim that had been refuted by both institutions, with the former alleging that Melaye only presented himself for a week-long professional development course in late 2016, whilst LSE alleged there was no evidence on its database that the lawmaker ever obtained any degree from the institution.
Melaye was cleared by the Vice- Chancellor of ABU, Prof. Ibrahim Garba, who appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on Monday March 27, to confirm that the embattled senator graduated from the institution, though under a different name ‘Daniel Jonah Melaye’.
There are intriguing factors that ought to be closely considered towards clearing all elements of suspicion. It was disclosed by Prof. Garba that Melaye graduated from ABU but with a different name, which implies that he was enrolled into the university with a name he is not currently bearing. Since the lawmaker had testified at the floor of the Senate that he once had a change of name, we need to inquire from him what actually informed the decision.
Also, Melaye reportedly secured admission with only three credit passes as against five credit passes usually required by virtually every institution of higher learning ab initio. Although he had refuted the allegation, claiming he had up to five credit passes, I think it would be wise to consult the West African Examination Council (WAEC) for onward clarification.
These things have to be well explained by all concerned towards quenching some lingering doubts completely. Besides, was the VC in better position to appear before the Senate Committee than the Registrar of the university? We are strongly not unaware that issues pertaining to admission procurement as well as graduation have to do with Office of the Registrar, thus I saw no reason the VC chose to hold brief for the University’s Registrar.
However, I’m of the view that it’s high time authorities in Nigeria stopped attaching so much importance and relevance to a mere paper qualification. A certificate does not in any way guarantees one’s competence and reliability; rather, what he/ she has upstairs.
Paper qualification should only be seen as a means of identification, and not a symbol for the bearer’s ability or prowess. Believing so much in certificates has been the sole reason several Nigerians have resorted to indulging in all sorts of social vices, including examination malpractices, admission racketeering, impersonation, and forgery, in order to acquire a degree certificate, thereby unleashing mockery and disgust on the country’s polity. I want to state unequivocally that several of our present public/political servants never visited the four walls of any higher citadel of learning let alone obtaining a degree certificate, which they purportedly have in their respective possessions.
So, it’s only Melaye’s ‘course mates’ that can prove to Nigerians beyond doubts that the legislator truly attended as well as graduated from ABU, or any institution he claims attendance, thus suspending Senator Ali Ndume was not the needful. Such an unexpected gesture displayed by the lawmakers would rather send further negative impressions. Think about it!
•Nwaozor is the Chief Executive Director, Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development, Owerri.