Cotonou degrees; Don't be sad, they are just helping us

I was reflecting on this Cotonou 6-week to 1-year degree program and I began to wonder why we are making so much noise about it. The good thing about the degree is that you need not travel there or write any examination. You just register and it will be courier to you. Nigerians said degrees are useless and that "who e help". They said we should go and learn welding and carpentry instead of going for a degree (skills rather than a degree).

Now, we are wailing about Cotonou universities giving out that degree to Nigerians whom the "degree dey help" in just 6 weeks. C'mon! Can't you see that Cotonou is just helping Nigerians? At least while Nigerian university graduates can't get a job, the Cotonou "graduates" are in choice government agencies. They needed a fast degree for the job and Cotonou was there for them since they can't get it from stubborn ASUU.

Rather than wailing, we should be happy that Cotonou has helped us improve the worthlessness of "degree" in Nigeria. BSc in 6 weeks to 1 year,  MSc in 6 months,  and PhD in 1 year. Everyone is in love with the "Dr" title in recent times. Rather than buying an honorary doctorate, they can now purchase a PhD from Cotonou. If a Nigerian 4 but 6 years degree can't help you, a Cotonou 6 weeks degree is helping. Cotonou is even abroad. So, you also got a degree from abroad.

As usual, FG is window-dressing the issue. Will the suspension of evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from the neighbouring Benin Republic and Togo solve the problem? What about those working with such degrees? This is what you get in a country with weak institutions.

Nigerian universities used to be a hub for quality education for African countries,  especially our neighbouring countries. Now we are buying degrees because the system encourages that. This is what you get when you don't run a knowledge-based system. This is what you get when you run a nepotic system. You can be brain-dead and get a job in a well-paid government agency as long as you have a paper called a "degree certificate". After all,  your survival on the job is not based on your performance on the job.

We ain't ready to make the Nigerian system work yet. We ain't ready to revamp the education sector yet. When we are serious, we'll have a holistic evaluation of our education system. We can't overlook cheating in secondary schools to get an SSCE certificate and condemn Cotonou degree certificates. It started from there. You can't condemn Cotonou degrees and be licensing substandard private universities making a fresh graduate with weak research output a professor.

Our education system is damaged and it seems to be getting worse. A weakened education system has an impact on the country. It affects a country's development as a whole, including economic, political, and social development, poverty reduction, and maternal and child health. Except we want to deceive ourselves, the impact is already visible on our socioeconomic growth and political awareness.

When we are ready for serious business in education, we'll call for a summit to discuss and agree on the sort of education system we want in the 21st century. We'll discuss our idea of the university system and its sustainable funding. If we refuse to do that and think that licensing private universities is the solution, we'll be heading toward the fate of primary and secondary schools.

Without any major reform, when we are done blocking Cotonou degrees, we'll be getting "Oluwole" and "Gana" degrees from NUC-licensed and accredited private universities in Nigeria. That is, if we have not already started.


Prof. Abdelghaffar Amoka Abdelmalik, PhD.
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Copyright © Amoka 2024


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