If you didn’t know that Nigeria was a land of oddities, this piece of news is an education you might appreciate: A Nigerian professor was caught, three weeks ago, helping herself with examination malpractice at the University of Jos, the same school where she teaches.
But then, Benedicta Daudu, an associate professor of law, who was caught while writing with the prepared answers she had smuggled into the venue of an examination on Global Context in Public Policy, a course that is part of the requirements for the award of a Master’s degree in Research and Public Policy in the Faculty of Social Sciences of the university, is also… the head of the Department of Jurisprudence and International Law of UNIJOS!
Plus, Mrs. Daudu is a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption headed by Itse Sagay, renowned professor of law. The committee is mostly made up of academics: Femi Odekunle (professor of criminology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria), E. Alemika (professor of sociology, UNIJOS), Sadiq Radda (professor of criminology, Bayero University, Kano), and Hadiza Bala Usman, a civil rights activist.
President Muhammadu Buhari constituted the committee to advise him on ‘’the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of the required reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system’’ and ‘’to develop comprehensive interventions for achieving recommended reforms.”
It turns out that Mrs. Daudu is an exemplar of the disease she was recruited to heal. A very sick corruption patient retained as a consultant physician. A citizen deficient in character, culture, and conscience.
Benedicta Dauda, the oxymoron of a cheating professor, is the cheapest cheat ever. She is shameless. Without honor. Without compunction. Without any check for her base instincts.
It’s good she has ”voluntarily” excused herself from the committee. Her membership was no longer tenable. She was an embodiment of the ills the committee was empaneled to brainstorm against.
Her mess has somewhat tainted the credibility of the brainpower wing of the war against corruption. If one of the ‘professors’ who had been advising the president of the country on the war against corruption has been established to be a practicing cheat, the war cannot but appear to be a sham like its fake commander .
But her departure was necessary beyond optics. Her presence in that make-up was dangerous. She is the one you would suspect was capable of sabotaging and undermining the committee. She is that member you would conjecture had contributed some dumb, counterproductive counsel to the mix processed for the president’s table.
The University of Jos must exorcise Daudu from its campus. She will be unwilling to resign because the job offers her security. But her presence in the university should be as intolerable as her membership of the presidential advisory committee. A cheating teacher does not belong to the world of learning. A cheating professor does not belong to a university. She belongs to the dump of poor fiction!
Now, UNIJOS says it is still waiting for the complaint of Daudu’s gross misconduct to climb through the bureaucratic rungs to the university management. News of this scandal has already spread to all parts of the world. But the university is pretending to be ”officially” uninformed.
This means Duadu still ‘teaches’. Still has a platform to spread her toxic worldview. She still corrupts impressionable youths who regard her as a guru and model: And gets paid for it!
This is wrong.
She should be suspended forthwith and a review of her records commissioned. Some trustworthy people should parse her papers for plagiarism and verify her degrees for forgery. It is not likely that she toiled hard all along and suddenly started cheating as a professor. She didn’t learn left-handedness, as the proverb says, in her old age. Daudu has been a cheat all her life!
I wager on that claim because it is almost impossible that someone who had earned her degrees by diligent study would rise to near the peak of her career, and then, inexplicably develop a pathological motivation to start experimenting with the strange art of cheating.
On the day she was caught, Daudu, in all probability, was practicing an act that pushed her to the top. She was re-enacting a prank she had learned in her youth. She was rehearsing a useful habit. A habit she couldn’t unlearn even after her need for it had expired.
Daudu became a university teacher by brandishing her degrees. She was caught while trying to add one more to her collection. One that wasn’t relevant to her stress area.
She has (or possibly, stole) a Masters degree in law. She wanted to grab this extra Masters, a Masters degree in Research and Public Policy, so she could have a CV that tells the lie that she was well read. She wanted this so bad she cheated because she craved to be regarded as that rare law professor who is also versed in public policy.
We must be thankful she was caught. If she had cheated successfully and escaped, there is a chance that Daudu, who managed to get herself appointed by President Buhari, would have emerged as a ministerial nominee during the next cabinet reshuffle.
The lady would have proceeded to wave a resume that details her putative mastery of law and public policy. That hyped lie would have looked like what Nigerians call an ‘’intimidating CV’’. That CV would have made her seem overqualified. And the Nigerian senate would have given her a deferential ‘bow-and-go’ pass!
The cheating professor took a foolish step. But she is no fool. She didn’t risk her name and career for nothing. She cheated because she figured that the reward that lies beyond the examination was worth risking everything for. She knows that you can never have too many degrees in Nigeria, a country that judges its citizens by the cornucopia of certificates they boast, rather than the competence they can demonstrate.
Daudu attempted to steal a second degree because she had reasoned she would never be required to prove that she really knows the fundamentals of public policy. She was sure nobody would interrogate her depth. She was was convinced that she would be treated on the face value of her paper qualification.
This is why the Nigerian educational system is not the nursery of knowledge it should be. This is why our system is one huge printing machine spewing out customized diplomas. A commercial press catering to demand for certificates, certificates, and certificates.
This obsession for certificates was at play in the last general elections. President Jonathan’s campaign made his degrees his main selling point. They called his main rival, Candidate Buhari, unqualified ad nauseam; because the APC standard bearer did not have as many certificates to display as the PhD holder.
Who was the more articulate of the two? Who expressed himself more coherently? Whose stump speeches showed acuity of vision? Certificates trumped all that.
Professor Attahiru Jega, the former chairman of Independent Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC), inaugurated the culture of deploying professors as returning officers in consequential elections. In Jega’s thinking, his professor colleagues are about the most upright Nigerians one can vouch for. Their education puts them above the temptations of fraud and bribery. They won’t collude with desperate politicians to manipulate the polls.
In the light of this news out of Jos, it stands to reason that some Daudus, may have been in that number. What they may have done in the secret, at the time when Jonathan’s minister of petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke, flooded the field with billions of bribe money, is easy to imagine.
Each time the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities goes on strike, one of its core grievances is that the government is not funneling sufficient funds to Nigerian universities. The laboratories lack equipment. The classrooms are hellish. Lecturers survive on pea nuts.
But we know that the multitude of lecturers who aren’t worth their salt but are part of the university system is as serious a problem as the paucity of funds. They transmit their communicable ignorance to their impressionable students, disincentivize study, and sell them grades for money and sex.
The base of the problem is the primary and secondary schools institutions. Governor Adams Oshiomole once met a primary school teacher of twenty years standing who couldn’t read her own declaration of age affidavit.
They are so many of them ‘teaching’ illiteracy in Nigerian schools. They threaten war whenever the government broaches teacher verification tests. They make so much noise the governor sooner repents of his plan and apologizes…so he can win the teachers’ vote in the next election.
Nigeria, we have a ubiquitous problem: Thieves occupy our senate. Charlatans dominate our churches and mosques. In the bank, your managing director facilitates electoral fraud. In the hospital, a quack doctor is ready to butcher you .
There are no sanctuaries left.
Our ‘professor of law’ and presidential advisor believes in the legality of examination malpractice and the validity of a degree obtained through cheating!
We have no sanctuaries left.
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu
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