IMO, Nigeria – Accountable Leadership for Better Nigeria Initiative, ALBNI, has called on the Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Chiji Collins to come out clean on the Doctorate Degree he claimed to have bagged from an Italian university.
The group also wants him to explain the circumstances surrounding his exemption from participating in the National Youth Service Corps.
According to the group, having first obtained Higher National Diploma in Ceramics from the Institute of Art, Reggio Calabria in 1981, Chidi Collins whose documents stated was born on October 27, 1957, and who obtained the qualification at age 24 is unqualified to enjoy an exemption from participating in the compulsory national youth service because he obtained the certificate ahead of his thirtieth birthday as a ground for which suitable individual could be exempted according to the law.
ALBNI, in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Remi Adebayor on Wednesday, noted that except the bearer concealed his HND certificate, “we hold strong view that there was no ground other than which the bearer could be issued the NYSC exemption certificate issued to him dated July 22, 1993.
“Should this be the case, Chiji Collins then lied under the oath and must be brought to justice and sanctioned accordingly.
“He, therefore, owes the nation a duty by explaining the motive behind deliberate masking possession of a qualification compelling him like every other Nigerian captured under the NYSC Decree 1973 from offering himself to participate in the one-year mandatory service.
“ALBNI believes that the action portends deception, grave danger to transparency and slap to the NYSC law as the beneficiary could not have unilaterally undertake the act alone.
“Hence, we demand full interrogation by the NYSC into the circumstances leading to the issuance of the exemption document, in a bid to unveil the motive and identify the culprits for prosecution to serve as deterrence to others and to promote accountability while holding public office in trust.
“In addition, suffixing of Ph.D to justify possession of Doctorate Degree from the Universita degli Studi di Reggio Calabria by Chiji Collins, according to the certificate sighted by us in Architecture in 1989 similarly raises concerns to which the bearer must shed light.
“The holder was conferred with ‘Laurea di Dottore,’ from the Italian institution, the basic for which he affixes Ph.D to his name. We find this misleading, knowing that the Nigerian equivalent of Laurea di Dottore is a Bachelor Degree and not doctorate in rank.
“In fact, certain countries other than Nigeria rate ‘Laurea di Dottore’ as a licensing qualification or diploma, except in Bangladesh and Philippines where it has highest attribution as a Masters degree.
“Does Italy have Doctorate degree in its academic ranking and qualification? Yes, it does like other nations as highest academic qualification, however, holders of Ph.D in Italy obtain ‘Dottorato di Ricerca’ which is different from Chiji Collins’ ‘Laurea di Dottore.’
“This again is another reason to demand from the bearer if he has another undeclared certificate else, should explain reasons behind the willful distortion and intentional falsehood.
“We want to assume that Mr. Chiji Collins is either in ignorance of the exact value attached to his certificate or its Nigerian equivalence, anything else could only suggest that the bearer enjoys deliberate hoodwinking of the public to gain reputational or political advantage in contrast with the spirit of transparency and accountability.”
But the Speaker through his Chief Press Secretary, Chidiebube Okeoma said his academic history was untained. In a statement forwarded to DAILY POST, the Speaker said that all documents regarding his studentship up to doctorate were intact and unblemished.
He said that neither him or any member of the state House of Assembly had a forged or questionable academic credentials.
The speaker, described the report as malicious and targeted at tarnishing his image, that of the Assembly and his colleagues.
He said that his academic record has been in public domain since 1992 when he ran for Senate and won.
The speaker said ” My academic has been in public domain since 1992 and there is issue contradicting their genuineness. He who alleges must prove. As an arm of government, we have taken a pragmatic but legal approach to addressing it,” he said.