Friday, 7 August 2015

Fast Rising Menace of Ghost Students Thriving On Nigerian University Campuses

Many guardians and especially parents do not realize that a lot of their wards are not genuine students of the
particular University they claim to be in. This draws our attention to the very worrisome issue and fast rising menace of ghost students thriving on Nigerian University campuses.

According to a recent publication by  Leadership, this category of student were either expelled for various reasons, some for examination malpractices, or others found their was into the citadel of learning by lying to their parents or guardians. It has always been known that these set of students constitute a bad influence on genuine students who are in school for pursuit of a degree.

 They live in the hostels just like every other regular student, attend lectures, and yes, even sit for exams. These are the ‘ghost’ or non-academic students that are found roaming about freely on Nigerian campuses, unchecked and defying all authorities so far.

Troubled by numerous challenges such as rundown infrastructure, poorly equipped libraries and laboratories for research to name a few, Nigerian Universities also have to contend with this set of people who go about pretending to be legitimate students.

Here are excerpts from interview with students and their experiences with ghost students....


How do they do it? 
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Weekend, a former non–academic student, Salihu Momoh, says his reason for hanging around a University whilst not enrolled was because “I had a valid reason. I was looking for admission in the University, while all my friends were doing diplomas. I was not interested in studying a diploma course and I didn’t want to stay at home, so I started attending classes at the school. I used the opportunity to lobby for my admission and hang out with my friends. After doing that for 2 years and no admission was forthcoming, I threw away my pride and left for a polytechnic. I got my ND, applied to the same University through direct entry and got admitted instantly. The rest is history. I’m currently applying for my PhD”.

But from investigations carried out, most of these would-be students have either been expelled from the school, withdrawn from their courses, or are still seeking admission to the school, as in Momoh’s case. While they live out their reality, they continue to give the impression that they are part of the institution. Everything they do is intended to cover up their secret and some often spend years on University campuses throughout the nation without anybody suspecting their status as ‘ghost’ students.

According to Professor Ismail Malik of the University of Abuja, some non-academic students are people who have been expelled from the school but stay behind and act like students. They stay in school and even attend lectures, thereby deceiving their parents to believe they are still in school while they continue to extort money from them.

The dean of Students Affairs of the Ahmadu Bello University, Mr. Caleb Dabis, holds the view that these non-academic students ‘’stay in the school to instigate riots and protests because they have nothing to lose’’.

According to some students who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend, the trend has been in existence for a long time; even before most of them got admitted into the school.

According to Ose Titus, a 400-level student of Bio-chemistry, “I have been in this school for four years now but there are certain faces that I keep seeing every time since my first year here. If they are genuine students, I believe they should have graduated by now.’’

Sharing the story of his friend who, according to Ose, he has known since his first year in the university, ‘’he has been a fake student all along without my knowing until our third year when I found out that he has been using a fake registration number all along.’’

“When I confronted him, he told me that the mistake was from the department. I really wonder why a department would give one registration number to two students at the same time. It was later that I found out that he had gotten a fake admission through racketeering. Even when he was aware of his situation, he kept demanding school fees and other funds from his parents”.

“Many of them are just here catching fun and deceiving others who are genuine students. Many of them don’t attend lectures, so the genuine students who make friends with them will fall for their antics and endanger their genuine academic life”. A 300- level student, Pembi Emmanuel adds.

“It is very easy to identify them. If I notice any irregularity in the stories someone tells me, and I see that the person also doesn’t take his academic life serious, I simply stay away from such people”.

As for Adaji Michael, a Law student, “There is hardly any government-owned higher institution that you don’t have such students. They are also known as ‘ghost’ students, wasting their time and resources. Some may have been expelled, but will stay back to write JAMB to get into another school. It may take 2 to 3 years for them to gain a new admission but they will keep hanging around until that happens, deceiving themselves, their friends and family that they are still students”.

Adaji Michael also thinks that parents and guardians should be paying more attention to their children.

“Apart from paying of school fees, there are other very important roles a family should play in the life of their loved ones. If, after 10 years, the student still extorts money from his family without graduating, then the parents should know that there is something wrong”.
Reactions 
While some students were able to speak freely on what they know about fake students in their midst, it was a bit difficult to get students of University of Lagos (UNILAG) to open up. However, one student, who did not want her name published, braved up and told LEADERSHIP Weekend that a supposed student came to their department (undisclosed) claiming she deferred her admission without the notice of the course adviser and had come back during exam period to enroll.

According to the source, the course adviser told her to present the said letter of deferment which she was unable to tender. The course adviser told her she is not recognised by the school.

”But she was finally able to enroll with instructions from a powerful member of the Senate. She got assisted through the person at the Senate and Head of Department to sign all the relevant documents. The letter of deferment was also written for her that day and even back-dated,” the source said.
Security lapses to blame 
Over the years, universities across the country have tackled the lapses in the security personnel on campus to ensure that they serve to protect life and property on campuses. The proper equipment and functional tools for communication is in part how some Universities have been able to manage growing threats of cultism amongst other depravities. However, there is more to be done. According to Opaluwa Blessing, a student of Sociology, most of the non-academic students are the ones who carry out most vices in the school.

“Most of them are cultists. They engage in raping, killing, stealing and all other vices you can think of. They often have to steal in order to sustain the kind of care-free and extravagant life they live on campus”.

According to Blessing, one of the major causes for concern about this issue is that many of them are being protected by the genuine students.

“Sometimes the problem is that the genuine students are the ones accommodating these fake students.”

According to Blessing and a couple of other students who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend, the management of the University and its security unit need the total cooperation of the ‘academic students’ to curb the situation.

Despite cases like Salihu Momoh’s, which might seem innocuous, Abu Sule, asserts that there should be more effort by the University authority to fish out such people and expose them.

“I think the best way to curb this problem is for the institutions to publish the names and information as well as the pictures of the expelled students on the school’s website. The pictures and information of the said students should be posted on every department’s notice boards and every other place within the school premises”.

“Security personnel of the institutions are also supposed to be on the lookout for such people within the school premises”.



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Ghost students, Nigerian Universities, Expelled students, Exam malpractice, Admission, University campuses, Education, fake students