What you see is not what you get and what you get is not what you see. I remember my Secondary School Principal, Father Angus Fraser, in those days and how, after common entrance admissions had been completed he’d give the opportunity to those pupils who’d want to change their names to do so. Of course, he knew that many of his new pupils came in with false identities: names of their big brothers, the village brain etc. who sat the exams for them. Many would rise to the occasion and assume their own original names, and all would, hopefully, be well thereafter. Now, that deceptively benign ‘fake’ seed has grown and metastasized. The venal seed has taken deep roots and has spread everywhere, and now seems to be beyond Father Fraserian redemption. The vegetating branches now blot out the sun of truth. It is now an impenetrable jungle. Has the malevolent genie escaped and never to return?.
Here they trot with their fake names, fake certificates, fake fashion branded apparels, fake hair, fake age – all the better to avoid retirement, fake religion – looking for salvation in theatrics; clowning to please God and to fool the people, Fake titles: Doctor, Chief, Honourable, Venerable, Pastor, Imam, Sheikh, Bishop ad nauseam. An alias or stage name is not in itself illegal but fake certificates of birth, of death, academe and accompanying titles are fraudulent. Designed to deceive and mislead. They credit the fraudster with an identity, a status, character and values that are non-existent. They grant the fraudster access to social and statutory positions that he doesn’t deserve, and thereby defraud the society
I recall my brother, Dr. Aako Ugbabe’s (Doctor of Atomic Physics) experience while interviewing applicants for academic positions at Benue State University a few years back. I still remember his shock and surprise as to how many fake Doctorate Degrees and Professorships were being bandied about by supposedly renowned academics: In one hilarious instance, one ‘Prof’ was asked about his ‘visiting professorship’ at a University in Texas and his answer was that he had ‘visited’ Houston during the period in question! So, does visiting Houston for a holiday make you a visiting Prof at the University?! Hey! I’m a visiting Prof too!
Well, what about fake doctors? People are dying every day, especially the poor, in quack clinics and hospitals all over the country, for relatively minor ailments, because of fake, or otherwise unqualified doctors, who dabble into areas where they don’t have any expertise: Imagine Psychologists, Physiotherapists, Dentists, Nurses, Pharmacists, Hospital Ward Attendants and plain quacks as Surgeons!
Search the States’ and National Assemblies and I’m sure you discover a murky treasure trove of falsehood; Dino Melaye is not alone as a suspect. This is why Senator Ndume was speedily suspended for daring to peep beneath the covers. I recall the story of a renowned politician, albeit an illiterate one, who, when a Masters Degree was made mandatory for the position he sought, brought out a document that looked like a degree certificate, but in Chinese, as his Masters Degree. He spoke no Chinese and his interviewers didn’t, but the onus was on him and his hilarious attempt at reading Chinese was only worth a good laugh. There are many fake foreign degrees being bandied about like that, because, somehow, we don’t carry out due diligence. It’s so easy to cross-check information now that everything can be done online but, someone, somewhere, ignores or is paid to ignore that.
Fraudulent GCE and University Entrance exam results obtained with the connivance of personnel at the Exam Councils. Fake grades for University graduates who end up being unemployable because they have to avoid employment exams and interviews. I have met at least 2 graduates participating in the National Youth Service Corps scheme who could hardly speak English. I leave it to you to imagine them writing meaningful English; so, how then did they pass their graduate exams?
Then there’s the other kind of fake: Rubbish and/or substandard goods, mainly, Chinese/Asian imports: Generators, Fans, Torchlights, Lamps, Audio Systems, even cars that look good but burnout at the first few uses or just don’t perform as specified e.g. A 5kva Generator with the power of a 2kva. Our houses, towns and cities are now filled with junk that initially appeared cheap but that have turned out to be really expensive wastes. Many of these goods are made to the order of wily merchants and approved by dubious standards organisations.
This is no harmless buffoonery, soon, if not already, Nigerians will earn another mis-label and will be additionally stereotyped as ‘Fake’, being already all ‘419ers’, as far as our detractors are concerned. The problem is that those who can make the laws, interpret and enforce them are also in the game, so, if I may ask, whence cometh our redemption O Naija?