It has come to our attention that one Umar Audu, a reporter at the Daily Nigerian, has written an undercover report on how he obtained the certificate and the transcript of Ecole Superieure de Gestion et de Technologies, ESGT, Cotonou, Benin Republic, in six weeks and that he participated in the National Youth Service Corps programme of Nigerian government with the Benin Varsity Degree certificate.

Our concern is not that the reporter conducted an undercover investigation. Our concern is the fallacy of hasty generalisation that the reporter exhibited in his report.

Certificate racketeering is a common phenomenon all over the world, even in advanced countries. Therefore, we cannot deny that such rackets exist in Benin Republic. However, it smacks of mischief and deliberate character assassination to generalise the bad experience of certificate racketeering in one university as being representative of what occurs in all the universities in Cotonou, Benin Republic.

In Benin Republic, university system is being regulated by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Benin Republic. This regulatory body approves universities and courses to be studied according to global standard of university education.

Documents on approved universities and courses in Benin Republic can be obtained at the Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou and we expected that the reporter would extend his undercover investigation to the Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou to find out which universities are approved and courses accredited. It is salient to add that some universities in Benin Republic are members of Association of African Private Universities which is well aware of Benin Education System.

This continental Association can be approached to help find schools which operate short of international standard in university education. Several avenues are open to prospective applicants and members of the public in Nigeria or elsewhere, interested in finding out the genuineness and operational standard of varsities in Benin Republic.

Universities in Benin Republic have a sizable number of alumni in Nigeria. Those alumni who obtained their first degrees in Cotonou varsities returned to Nigeria either to work or to continue their higher education to PhD level. There are several of our alumni from Nigeria who were appropriately admitted to study courses of their choices in the universities of their choices, who spent the required numbers of years for the courses studied, who underwent the stress of assignments, tests, practicals, continuous assessments and examinations, graduated and went on to partake in the National Youth Service Corps programme in Nigeria.

Higher educational applicants from Nigeria got and are still getting attracted to varsities in Benin Republic because of prompt academic calendar, efficiency of our university system and diligent teaching and learning coupled with availability of electricity and other educational facilities.

Some of the graduates of some varsities in Cotonou have attested to the rigorous academic trainings they received and their attestations confirmed that we are not operating mushroom university system in Benin Republic. Some of the reputable universities include Esep le Berger Universite, ESAE University, Centre International Universitaire Des Meilleurs (Bestower International University); LES COURS SONOU; IRGIB Pan-African University, UCAO and many others.

Below are attestations by few of the Nigerians who graduated from varsities in Benin Republic.

“I got admission to Esep le Berger Universite, Cotonou, Benin Republic in 2011 and I spent four years with the Department of Business Administration and graduated in 2015, mobilized for NYSC program in 2016. Today, I’m a Lecturer II with the Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Management Science, Prince Abubakar Audu University, Anyigba, Kogi State. The zeal and encouragement I got to pursue my Masters degree and PhD came from the rigorous academic training I received during my undergraduate days at Esep le Berger University. The training was topnotch, the lecturers were up-to-date with lectures and other academic exercises.”
– Dr. Peter Ugbedeojo Nelson

“I studied in ESEP le Berger University, Cotonou. I currently work as a journalist and presenter at Boss FM 95.5 Abuja. I served in Ebonyi State and I was absolutely instrumental during my service year as I contributed my very best to the scheme, especially as I worked with the PPRO unit. Studying in Bénin Republic demystified several explanations of what a school system should be like. With the university’s well-equipped Mass Communication studio, I learnt many new ways of doing Mass Communication with the use of a digitalized system.

The mode of examination opened the minds of students to think and explore as against the ‘garbage in garbage out’ style of examination which limited students to only what they were taught in school. The extracurricular activities, excursions, projects, etc. all planned and carried out by students with absolute supervision of well learned lecturers who are seasoned in their career path added so much colour to my stay in Benin Republic and it’s a path I’ll love to go through over and over again.”
– Peace Oghenegbavwe

“I work with Cape Travapp Ltd, a reputable travel agency in Abuja. I completed my studies in International Relations and Diplomacy at Esae Benin University from 2018 to 2021. Studying at ESAE was truly a delightful experience. Despite the occasional challenges posed by the school’s strict nature, as is usual with any reputable institution, I cherish the enriching academic environment, supportive faculty and the valuable skills I gained during my time there. My experience at ESAE was not only academically rewarding but was also practical. In my final level, I appreciated how ESAE went the extra mile by incorporating entrepreneurship and imparting crucial entrepreneurial skills. This forward-thinking approach prepared students, including myself, for life after school, fostering a well-rounded education that extends beyond the traditional curriculum. I’m grateful for the comprehensive education that ESAE provided and the opportunity to have been a part of such an esteemed institution.” – Hansen Joy

“As an alumna of ESEP-Le-Berger University in Cotonou, Benin Republic, where I studied Mass Communication over the span of four years, from the academic session of 2016/2017 to 2020/2021, one word that would better describe my experience as a student is transformative. Now, as a Journalist/SEO Specialist at Business Elites Africa, I seamlessly integrate my academic foundation with real-world expertise, contributing meaningfully to the field of journalism. My journey from student to professional is a testament to the quality education provided by ESEP-Le-Berger University, shaping willing individuals like me for success in this ever-evolving world.”
– Joy Onuorah

“At ESEP, I studied International Affairs for four years. I left in 2019 for my 1-year compulsory national service in Nigeria. I consider ESEP the cradle of my academic successes. I received great mentorship from my teachers. I still give credit to Dr. Kehinde Fakanbi for introducing me to the art of journal publication. He privately and voluntarily taught me the basics in my final year before I went further (later in life) to develop my research skills.”
– Obiwuru C. Rex

These are attestations from few of the Nigerian graduates from varsities in Benin Republic. Those graduates are doing well contributing to corporate existence and economy of Nigeria, even though they were trained in Benin Republic. They have confirmed that they spent four years of rigorous academic exercise to obtain first degrees in various courses of study at the varsities in Benin Republic. We equally have Nigerian parents of our graduates who have unwavering confidence in our trainings, certificates and transcripts. We have serene and educationally friendly campuses that our students find enchanting. If all we would be doing is to award spurious degrees in six weeks to our graduates, without relevant training, why did we spend huge funds to build world-class campuses and maintain them?

In order not to sound defensive, we are stating unequivocally that varsities in Benin Republic are reputable for academic excellence. The universities are approved and their courses accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Benin Republic.

Their certificates and transcripts are genuine and are awarded after four years or thereabouts of rigorous academic trainings. We are not unaware that there might be chaffs in the wheat as revealed by the report of the undercover investigation. But we assure prospective applicants not only in Nigeria but also in other parts of Africa and the world that Benin varsities are not paying lip service to the highest standard of university education as obtained globally.

It will amount to injustice on the part of the Federal Government of Nigeria to punish all universities in Benin Republic and Togo because of the alleged indiscretion of one university. Benin Republic and Nigeria have been enjoying symbiotic diplomatic relationship and it is best to toe the line of diplomacy to resolve the issue. We appeal to Nigerian government not to punish all for the alleged sin of one.

We salute the professionalism, the diligence and the doggedness of Umar Audu, the Daily Nigerian reporter, who uncovered the shady activities of the certificate racketeering syndicate in Benin Republic. We fervently hope that the report of the investigation will help relevant authorities to take necessary actions towards nipping the activities of such syndicates in the bud across universities not only in Benin Republic but also in Nigeria and other countries.

Obiwuru C. Rex
Committee of Alumni Associations of Benin Universities

How Nigerian Daily reporter bagged Cotonou varsity degree in six weeks; our positions – Benin alumni associations

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