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There is a very disturbing news report in the media about a discovery that a large proportion of civil servants in the Niger State Ministry of Education used fake or forged credentials to get employed into the state’s civil service. For many genuine stakeholders in the nation’s education sector, this development is deplorable and should never be accepted if the report is true indeed as widely reported.

According to the story, a committee set up by the state government screen all categories of civil servants made a stunning discovery that 80 per cent of workers in the Ministry of Education have fake certificates with which they used as entry qualifications.

In fact, most shocking is the bursting of a criminal syndicate that specializes in printing of fake certificates of the state College of Education, Minna, by the state police command. Other arrests involved five members of staff of the institution (COE) who were allegedly linked to this criminal activity.

According to the chairman of the screening committee, Ibrahim Panti, the suspects confessed to the crime during interrogation admitting that they had produced fake certificates to individuals who used same as entry qualification to Niger State Ministry of Education.

According to the chairman of the screening committee, “The screening has been so revealing that 80 per cent staff of the state Ministry of Education is not genuinely certificated. During the exercise, many of them could not even write their names or speak correct English.

“Most of them are teachers and one wonders the type of knowledge they have been imparting on the students,” the chairman expressed his disappointment at the ugly trend but stated that the affected staff have been sacked in order to pave way for persons with genuine certificates to be employed into the state’s service.

Perhaps, the most annoying part of the story is that the screening officials are said to be under threats by the members of the criminal syndicate. What impunity!

While the efforts of the state government to weed out those with forged or fake certificates is commendable, it is most disturbing that those suspected civil servants who have been sacked could not have gotten into the state service without some Ministry of Education officials aiding and abetting the employment racket. Who employed the sacked civil servants?

There are fake certificate syndicates around the country. There are several persons in sensitive political, economic, public and private institutions who parade fake primary, secondary, higher education, NYSC discharge, as well as professional certificates without consequences.

Shouldn’t other state governments in the country emulate the Niger State government by launching aggressive certificate verification exercise or operation show your certificate in order to sweep their states’ civil service of workers with fake qualifications?

As a matter of fact, shouldn’t the Federal and State Governments do same across board in their respective civil service systems in order to get rid of workers with fake certificates? And why should suspected owners of fake certificates be merely sacked and asked to go scot-free without prosecution for such a criminal offence?


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