■ 478 Yabatech/UNN students yet to get certificates, nine years after graduation
■ Two of them, 50, 62-year-olds, recount ordeal
■ Expect certificates soon –Dean
By Gabriel Dike and Itoro Godwin
This is certainly not the best of times for over 430 graduating students of University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), who passed out, nine years ago, from School of Technical Education (STE), run by Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), in affiliation with the university, as they are yet to be issued with their first degree certificates. And, none of them seems to know, with certainty, when the waiting game will be over.
Several of the graduates in their mid 50s and 60s told The Sun Education that they and their representatives have continued to visit STE in YABATECH without success. They also allege that the UNN management is not helping matters as enquiries on the certificates delay have so far yielded no positive result or response.
To whom it may concern
Aside the non-issuance of their certificates, the graduates are yet to collect their NYSC exemption letters from the college management. After nine years of completion of their programmes, the graduates are still going about with the ‘To whom it may concern’ letter issued in 2008.
The situation is such that many of the graduates, especially government workers, who need to use the certificates to gain promotion to the next level and have missed out in the last three promotion exercises, are getting increasingly frustrated. For now, they are hoping to collect it before their retirement from the service.
Some of the concerned graduates told The Sun Education that the previous officers in charge of STE did not help matters while the current Dean, Dr. H. A. Akanbi and her team have done little or nothing to change the predicament noting that each time they visit the school, they are told that the certificates are not ready.
Mr. Aiyelabola Adeayo Blessing is one of the affected graduates and has championed the cause by consistently visiting the school over 40 times. The 50-year-old Blessing from Okitipupa Local Government Area, Ondo State, and married with three children, recounted his ordeal after graduating in 2007 with nothing to show for it. “Friends and others that knew when I embarked on the programme have lost hope in me with many thinking that I deceived them by lying to them that I was in school,” he lamented. “To make matters worse, I began to feel ashamed to talk in public when others that went to school are discussing because I have nothing to show. That is why I can no longer take it. I want the government and world to know about my plight.”
Enquiries and crashing hope
According to his story, he got admission into the place in 2003 to pursue a degree programme in Industrial Technical Education (electrical/electronic). “I was working with a firm that needed us to upgrade ourselves in terms of educational pursuit, so when a friend introduced me to this programme, I immediately grabbed it with both hands and went to make enquiries hoping that one day I will get this certificate to improve myself in life,” he said. “But my hope came crashing when we finished and hoped to get certificate as soon as possible but that turned out to be mere wish. How do they want me to further my studies and move ahead in life when I have wasted all my years waiting for my degree results? As at now, I can’t even tell people that I am a graduate because there is nothing to present that I attended a tertiary institution aside from the covering letter from the school which any student can fake.”
Blessing who used his NCE (Nigerian Certificate in Education) certificate to get a job with the Ministry of Education said he was placed on level 7 instead of level 8. “I initially told them that I am a graduate of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, but when they asked for the proof, there was no result to tender,” he recalled. “Instead of being promoted I am being confined to what I presented to them which is the NCE results. Most of my mates with whom we started together are above me because they have something to show forth. This has stopped my progress in life. Where do I start from now? I just got a Masters degree form but no bachelors’ degree to tender.”
He pleaded with the school authorities to release their certificates to them as soon as possible so that they can forge ahead in life.
Another pathetic case is that of 62-year-old Vice Principal (names withheld) of a secondary school in Yaba, Lagos, whose junior in service has been promoted as Principal while he has continued to remain on the same position in the past nine years, no thanks to UNN/YABATECH management for certificate delay.
“You can imagine my frustration. My junior has been elevated above me twice because of my inability to present my degree certificate,” he said. “Thrice, I was asked to produce my UNN certificate. I couldn’t because YABATECH management which runs the programme on behalf of UNN keep telling us each time we visit that the certificates are not ready. You know what? I have less than three years left before I bow out of service. This is unfair.’’
Another graduate Olaleye (surname withheld) who worked in one of the Lagos state agencies expressed his frustration thus: “I graduated in 2007 and I have not received my certificate. I have visited YABATECH several times without success. No concrete reason has been given for the delay by both previous and current deans. They are trying to frustrate some of us who need the certificate. I have been denied promotion as a director in Lagos State. I need the certificate because I will be leaving the service by 2019. My mates have been elevated to level 17 but I am still at level 15 because I couldn’t present certificate.’’
The Sun Education also spoke on the phone with the following graduates: Akinola Abiodun with matriculation no P/BS/02/3830037, Kwache Caro, P/BS/02/3830045, Makpo Sunny, P/BS/02/3830047 and Oboh Joshua, P/BS/02/3830092. They all said the staff at STE informed them that the certificates are not ready for collection.
STE dean reacts to the allegations
After months of seeking audience with management of STE, the Dean, Dr. H.A. Akanbi, confirmed that some graduates of the school have not received their certificates but she was quick to point out that “since I assumed office, the delay has been reduced drastically. We have gone to UNN to process several certificates. My faculty officer will be heading to UNN with names for certificates. We are concerned too about their plight and we are doing our best to clear the backlog.
“Most of these students are not coming forward to collect their certificates. The college management released funds to get the certificates from UNN. We now asked students to pay the fee before they are processed. Many of them are not ready to pay. We have certificates of 1998 and 1999 waiting for collection.’’
Akanbi, the first to be elected as STE Dean (others were by appointment) showed The Sun Education several unclaimed certificates. “We feel for them, we are parents too,” she said. “Most of them are working and need the certificates for promotion. We have a crop of young graduates who are not ready to pay for their certificates.’’
The Dean explained that despite the policy of pay-before-collection, “we appealed to the college management and it paid the outstanding money. UNN has assured that the certificates are ready for collection. The faculty officer will travel to bring them. UNN will not release a single certificate without payment.’’
She could not explain how the entire set of 2007 were unable to collect their certificates but admitted that there are some that have paid without collecting theirs. She could not state also the number of graduates yet to collect their certificates.
Adeayo who has been spearheading the campaign for the release of the certificates faulted the Dean’s claim. He said that nobody among the 2007 set have collected their certificate stating “that is what they have been telling us for years without evidence to show for it. I am the representative of the 2007 graduates and none of our colleagues have collected his/her certificate.’’
UNN management silence
In October, The Sun Education sought the reaction of UNN management through the Public Relations Officer, Mr. Okwun Omeaku. He declined to speak on the issue but directed our correspondent to the Vice Chancellor of UNN, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba. Questions on the fate of the 478 STE sent to the mail address of the VC, since October were not responded to. Also, several appeal letters from the STE graduates sent to the university did not receive any positive reply.
Breakdown of affected graduates
Findings from the 2009 convocation programme booklet obtained by The Sun Education, shows that 478 graduates of the STE are involved in the waiting game for the certificates. For now, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.
Details of the results are as follows: Business Education, 233 in which 46 obtained Second Class Upper, Industrial Technical Education, 122, with 30 making Upper Division, Fine Art Education, six, with four recording Second Class Upper Division passes, Mathematics Education three; Department of Home Economics 39 with one First Class, Computer Education 34 (11 Second Class Upper), Statistics Education Three, Department of Science Education/Biology 16, with one obtaining First Class, Chemistry six, Integrated Science ten while three made Second Class Upper.