By Dele Sobowale
THE Vice-Chancellor, Samuel Adegboyega University, Edo State, Professor Benard Aigbokhan, has said the university is not listed for de-accreditation by the National Universities Commission.” PUNCH, March 7, 2015, p 9. ”CAVEAT EMPTOR” (BUYER BEWARE).
First of all, a correction is necessary. Samuel Adegboyega University was last week listed among universities in Ogun State. Sorry about that; my old eyes jumped to the wrong line on addresses.
It is in Edo State. However, the protest by Professor Aigbokhan, regarding accreditation points to one of the major problems the universities and the other stakeholders, especially students and guardians, are going to face from now on.
Despite the rapid advance in literacy, most Nigerians are still not knowledgeable enough to know the right questions they should ask before committing their kids and resources to a particular university. More than ever before, prospective students and their parents or guardians should seek independent advice before making the commitment. It might be the most important decision they will make concerning the lives of the kids. Let me provide a personal example.
In 2004, one of my cousins called me to announce that his son who had tried in vain to gain admission to University of Lagos, University of Ibadan and University of Benin had been offered admission by one of the three first private universities in Nigeria. He wanted my opinion on the matter. Fortunately, I was on a tour from Lagos to the East such as would make it possible for me to touch three universities That, as it turned out, was the beginning of my long interest in Nigerian universities.
My cousin’s son suddenly became my son and every young boy or girl seeking university admission became mine. I made up my mind to give the same advice I would if it was my son involved. I went to the university; I actually spent one whole day there. Despite that, I made a blunder. The course for which the boy was admitted was un-accredited.
But, I did not know at the time. Having studied in the United States, where regulations are tough, it just never occurred to me that a university would admit students for courses and on graduation offer them worthless certificates. I recommended the university with some reservations.
It was a year after that my mistake became apparent. The first set of graduates had applied for NYSC service and had been turned down because the courses were not fully accredited. My cousin’s son informed me about this development and soon we were in search of another university for him. Thereafter, I swore never to be deceived by attractive physical structures alone, but to go further and ask twenty questions and verify the answers before recommending a university to anybody.
Professor Aigbokhan was reported to have said that the university received assessment scores of “between 75 and 83 per cent” for the courses on offer. Among them are Accounting, Economics, Biochemistry and Microbiology – to mention a few. I would not dispute the statement.
However, my experience, since 2004, with the assessments reveals that the Nigerian Factor is prevalent when they are undertaken. Let me give one example. When, in the mid-2000s, one of our colleagues resigned his appointment with VANGUARD to join one of the private universities on account of promised enhanced remuneration package, he was also lured there by the promise that he could pursue post-graduate course leading to Masters Degree.
To further convince him, the brochure handed to him included the names of leading Nigerian academics in every faculty. Their names (withheld of course) and presence had been lent to the university – just for the accreditation assessment. With the provisional approval granted, each of them had returned to their universities. A few would come occasionally to teach courses. But, for the most part, several of them were rented.