The future of over 13, 000 graduates of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, is up in the air following the failure of the University to issue them certificates of graduation. As a result, the students, comprising intakes in the 2018/2019 academic sessions, have been unable to participate in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.
Worse hit is medical graduates who as a result of the development, have not been recognised by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, a body whose affiliation they need to obtain a licence to practice the noble profession.
Worried by the development, a good governance advocate and Nigerian-American philanthropist, Toyin Dawodu, working in sync with Barr Frank Tietie, convener of the Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights, initiated moves aimed at resolving the impasse.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, Dawodu said the fate of the affected students pushed him to seek a way out particularly the medical students whose quest for a bright future now hangs in the balance.
“I was particularly concerned about the medical students who are unable to secure employment or even attend the mandatory NYSC because they could not present a graduating certificate to the Nigerian Education Board in order to obtain a medical license. The students cannot practice their profession because they do not have licences and they cannot get a license without a graduating certificate,” he said.
Explaining his dismay at the development, Mr. Dawodu noted that “the problem has existed for over 15 months and not a single leader or person in Nigeria has thought it painful enough to do something about it.”
Also speaking, Barrister Tietie gave a brief account of his findings, narrating the ordeal of the students this way:
“The management of the university has not been able to give us a convincing answer but blames its inability to issue the certificates on the COVID-19 pandemic. While we agree that the coronavirus could be a valid reason for convocation not to hold; the virus shouldn’t be a reason for failing to issue certificates. The excuse is totally unacceptable,” he said.
The Barrister-at-Law has therefore petitioned Education Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Registrar and Secretary to the Governing Council of the University to take urgent steps to resolve the issue, failing which he would seek redress on behalf of Toyin Dawodu within the next seven days.
The petition read in part: “Our client is extremely concerned that the inability of the University of Lagos to conduct a convocation ceremony and issue certificates to its graduates are incipient signs of inefficiency and insensitivity on the part of the university, some of whom have been embroiled in political wrangling in the past to the detriment of the interest of the graduates of the University.
“It is, therefore, our client’s instructions that by this writing, you are respectfully urged as the supervising Minister and representative of the Visitor of the University of Lagos to cause and ensure the immediate conduct of a formal convocation and issuance of certificates to the graduates of the university.
“Take notice that we have our client’s further instructions that if urgent steps are not taken within the next seven days to ensure the immediate conduct of the convocation and issuance of certificates to the graduates of the university, he, as a stakeholder in the education of Nigerians, will cause a public interest, civil action to be initiated against the authorities of the university and all other persons who are derelict in their official duties in the above regard.”
The crisis is not unconnected with the feud between the university’s former Pro-Chancellor, Wale Babalakin and the Governing Council; which was only resolved a few months ago.