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Certificate Racketeering, Deception, and other Academic Frauds in Nigeria

Photo Credit: Government of Nigeria

In case it is new to you, certificate racketeering is an illegal means of acquiring certificate that does not belong to you or for which you have not worked for and earned. But could anyone in Nigeria claim to be ignorant of this? It is similar to certificate forgery. Now you understand. It is a crime. Whoever engages in it or aids and abets its committal is a criminal. All schools of thought, cultures and civilizations agree that forgery and academic fraud is a crime. Anarchists, despite their aversion for law, do not dispute the fact that academic fraud is a deception and serious crime.

Certificate racketeering or academic fraud is a crime in all known religions (with revealed scriptures) in the world. I know, the corrupt mind, into which the light of truth is difficult to penetrate, will argue. Do you know his argument? It is a specious one. It goes thus: did people write exam or earn certificates during the life time of the prophets in the olden days? Since they did not, how can academic fraud be a crime? You know criminals are always adept at giving excuses to cover their crimes. The fact is, deception is deception. In whatever form it transforms itself, it is easy to identify.

It is high time we started discussion on certificate racketeering. The Kwara State Polytechnic is about to take a bold step to nip this ugly trend in the bud. I thought the racketeers will be brought to book—be given exemplary punishment—to serve as deterrent to others. But the rector said the Polytechnic has concluded plans to ensure that the school’s certificates will be henceforth printed abroad. This, according to him, is to sanitize the system and enhance the integrity of the school. In addition, the certificate with its new features such as students’ picture, matric number, among others will be difficult to forge.

Making certificates difficult to forge is a right step; but going all the way to London—a foreign country—to get them printed is disturbing. Not only that we would be laughed at that ordinary certificates we cannot print, my concern also is the expenses. Our penchant for foreign made things, now to include certificates, is becoming unbecoming. I don’t know when we shall start to appreciate ourselves and what we have.

Our body language and optics could make Nigerian nationalists regret why they struggle against the colonial masters to gain independence. Thank God most of them (if not all) are already in their graves. It is wrong in Islam to believe the dead ones know about happenings in this world after their departure. Of course, if they knew about this attitude of ours, they will certainly regret. Our behaviours towards the ‘white’ are to be blamed for the disdain they have for us. It is not a surprise our country was referred to as shithole; the blame is ours. Ordinary certificate? Printed abroad?

There are primary and secondary schools in Nigeria that import their students’ uniform from these ‘white’ countries. They have customized the clothing materials such that parents who are unwilling to buy from the schools and seek to buy them in local markets will only be frustrated. For they are not found in markets.

There are other schools who buy local materials but give out sewing contract to the ‘white’. This is to impress parents that the schools are standard. Sometime ago I saw some white men in a school taking measures of students. When I inquired, I was told the measurements were meant for students’ uniforms. This is laughable and ridiculous. It would have been unbelievable if I was told; but I saw it, I wasn’t told. So I believe it. Why do we like deceiving ourselves? I cannot understand how foreign uniform materials and foreign sewn uniforms impact on students’ performance. I wish I understand.But at least, I was told, parents would be impressed. And in addition, I thought, ‘they would also be deceived’.

If you do not understand why there is widespread of abject poverty in Nigeria, this is the right time to understand. Let’s put aside government’s misgovernance, our inferiority complex which make us subservient to the white supremacists is also draining our wealth which should have circulated and trickled down to the masses. Our deceptive life style and ways of doing things makes the possibility of progress very slim.

Lest I digress too far, certificate racketeering and all forms of academic fraud are unlawful and criminal acts in Islam. The Prophet (SAW) said it succinctly; “whoever cheats us is not among us” (Muslim). Academic fraud leads to many evils. The morass into which Nigeria is entangled today cannot be fully explained without factoring in the role of academic fraud. There are many Nigerians in positions of authority today who are wielding authority over the rest of us with questionable certificates. We have heard of NYSC forgery, and questionable primary/secondary school certificates. We should not forget, a forged degree certificate holder was once the Speaker of our Federal House of Representatives.

When we award degrees and certificates to those who do not deserve it, our five times daily prayers only amount to banging foreheads on the ground. That is a waste. When the certificates which serves as our livelihood are forged or earned unmeritedly, what we are consuming is ember that has no spiritual nourishing substance. Any ill-gotten money that is spent, even for a good course, will not be accepted by the Creator. It is wickedness to rob people of their wealth only to use it to help another people. This sounds fair only to the corrupt minds. It is satanic logic. The Prophet said “Allah is pure and He accepts only what is pure” (Muslim)

Did you commit an academic fraud? Or about to commit one? Have you ever aided and abetted this form of corruption? Or you are about to? Please desist and repent. It destroys ones future. Be informed that ones future does not end in this ephemeral life; it extends to eternity. A display of sincere repentance could be seen in the act of a former student of University of Ilorin. This student wrote to the University that he is terminating his program because he cheated in his WASSCEwith which he gained admission into the University. Note that this student was already in his third year (300 hundred level).

If you think this happened in the Prophetic era, you are wrong. It happened just five years ago. What a sincere repentance! May Allah continue to guide him.You can only imagine how many students will be left in our higher institutions today if everyone were to repentantly and voluntarily withdraw from their programs because they cheated in their WASSCE. We all know it. It is an open secret. That is why we are where we are.

Addressing academic fraud could mean addressing our many problems from the root. As I was writing this article, I learnt again of the kidnapping of students in the broad daylight in Kebbi State. Is this really a country? What a balderdash! I just have to stop. We ask Allah to protect these students, and all others in captivity, and unite them with their families.




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