“I love night life in Lagos. It’s the only time I go out in the city,” he said.
“That’s when you get to meet the movers and shakers of that city. I don’t check Lagos during the day,” he said, beaming with a broad smile.
He caught my attention and that of others, as we shared a meal together at lunch.
“It’s in Lagos, in a bar, that I see groups of friends confer a doctorate degree on one of their friends. They always have a citation prepared, read and handed over to this person,” he added.
Nigerians love titles! Chief, Oga, Doctor, Honourable and so on are common.
There was even a case of a Speaker of the House of Senate in Nigeria who was caught having faked his academic records. A qualification he didn’t need to be House Speaker because the constitution was clear about who qualifies. He could have been Speaker without the false degrees.
But what is grabbing my attention now is not the bland Nigerian category of self glorification with titles, but the rather growing characterless Ghanaian penchant for titles, especially fake honourary doctorate degrees from well known diploma mills, operating from corners in the US or the UK.
Obviously, these diploma mills know their certificates are not worth the toilet paper they are printed on and those ‘degrees’ are only sought by vain people consumed by their inadequacies and to a large extent whipped painfully by their low self-esteem. People seeking to also measure up, desiring validation through worthless degrees – an empty desire that some scammers have seen and are duly exploiting to make some money.
Sadly these people desperately seeking for attention, are also ignorant and therefore, easy prey for these scams. No one applies for honourary degrees from legitimate universities!
Some Ghanaians, including public office holders have been racing against each other to go and purchase these fake degrees, and it is even more disturbing that they celebrate it! And all these against the background that the National Accreditation Board, the state organization that accredits universities and other degree-awarding institutions has made several publications warning people about these diploma mills.
There is a deputy Minister of State who acquired one, but has realized it was of no use following public expression of disapproval for the trend, and has therefore kept mute over it. Only few people know this deputy Minister of State, a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon, who has obtained a fake honourary doctorate degree.
There is a radio and TV journalist, who claims to have gained international reputation for his works, and he has also gone to get one of these fake degrees and made a lot of noise about it, getting a news website to splash the photos of the occasion of the award of the ‘degree’ in its photo gallery.
There is even the President of an organization in Ghana, an organization of professionals whose basic training has to do with searching for information and cross checking facts who is carrying one of these fake ‘Dr.’ titles around.
In the past, the people known to indulge in this vain glory seeking are preachers. Preachers, most of whom only finished the then ‘Middle School’. They were known to clamour for these fake titles of ‘Rev. Dr.’ just so they will feel ‘up to’. But these days the list has widened to include public sector workers, including some so-called communication experts, who should know better, especially with the Internet these days when it is easier to check information.
It is worrying enough that some public people indulge in this vain conduct which doesn’t portray them in good light, but it is even more worrying that ‘leading’ news organizations cover some of these acquisitions as news, often reporting that the recipients have been ‘honoured’!
Even a popular gospel musician fell for the trick and a national newspaper, known for carrying ‘news’ and often full page, full colour advertisement celebrating these folly carried a news item announcing the ‘honour’ for this accomplished musician.
Some radio, TV presenters and business men and women in Ghana have fallen prey to the diploma mills, despite vigorous effort by some Ghanaians to expose the scam on social media.
There are several of these fake universities offering the ‘Honourary Doctorate degrees’ with presence only online. But two of these fake universities seem to have made good business from Ghana – Dayspring Christian University, based somewhere in the US and the so-called The Commonwealth University, situated in a two-storey building somewhere in London and has a registered office in Belize! Yes. Belize!
I wrote to these two organisations enquiring about how one gets to receive their ‘honourary doctorate degrees’ and got some interesting replies.
Some significant things came up during these interactions with the fake universities. One – the Dayspring Christian University emails were riddled with typographical and grammatical errors. In their first reply to my enquiry email, they refered to me as ‘Rev’ and I never told them I was a reverend minister, and I haven’t even bought the degree yet, which costs a paltry $500. When I wasn’t replying to their mails, they offered me a discount; I could pay the amount less $75! And I could either fly to collect the ‘degree’ at a ceremony in the US or they could arrange to confer it on me here in Ghana!
In the case of the Commonwealth University, every email I send, returns an automatic reply. This might indicate a one-person business or the office is probably unoccupied. I always get a reply later though, from a real person.
These ‘universities’ are not accredited by the designated accreditation issuing bodies in these countries. When asked about accreditation, they would admit flippantly that they don’t receive accreditation from the government! This answer should raise a red flag to anyone seeking validation from these obvious scams.
The Commonwealth University with a registered office in Belize says it has a University in Benin! They even sent me an obviously fake brochure with the photos of President Barack Obama, Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates.
See below my email correspondence with these two groups.
Dayspring Christian University
I am writing to find out how one gets to be offered an honorary doctorate degree from your institution.
Greetings Rev Dogbevi
We appreciate your inquiry. What we require is a testimony of your worthiness, that is a letter of recommendation. The cost doing this directly with the International headquarters in Mississippi is only $499.00 USD.
Your letter can come through email attachment. You can deposit through our account or send western union or moneygram.
We look forward to hearing from you again.
OFFICE OF THE REGISTRAR
Thanks for the information.
And what happens after that?
Greetings my brother… Blessings to you.
After we receive your funds we will send to you same day an email copy of your degree and post the same day your hard copy. It will be on 65 pound paper and protected in a special weather and wear proof envelope. You would then receive an invitation to either of our graduations. We have a large one in Dallas, Texas … about 125 students. We have a small one in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Let us know your decision.
Dr. Gary Barkman
Thank you very much for the detailed response.
I however have a few questions, if you don’t mind.
If I may ask, is your institution by any chance accredited by the U.S. Department of Education?
And Aren’t you based in Mississippi?
Greetings my brother…
No we are not connected to the government in any way. Private religious schools are not required to be attached to the government in the United States.
We are a member of the Association of biblical Accountability in Christian Education. DCU’s curriculum is accredited by the American Association of Christian Therapists, and the University has received accreditation with the World Wide Accreditation Commission of Christian Educational Institutions and has been since June 2013. Our accreditation with the WWACCED is good until June 2017.
We have been working in Ghana since 2002 with no problem. However there seems to be an uproar there all of a sudden for the last few months. If you wish to be attached to the U.S. government you should look elsewhere, but you will not find any school with our distinguished history that will offer to receive a recommendation for you to receive a degree.
Blessings to you.
Office of the Registrar
Well noted sir.
Thank you very.
The Commonwealth University
I am writing to make enquiries about how one can receive an honourary doctorate degree from your institution.
I will appreciate every useful information in that regard.
Thank you for your mail.
Honorary Doctorate Degrees of the University
The Commonwealth University is empowered by Section 4.6 of its Charter to grant honorary degree awards to deserving candidates. Interested candidates must be:
1. Persons of Integrity.
2. Persons who have contributed in any way in the development of their community in a significant manner.
3. Successful persons in business, politics or any field of human endeavor.
4. Persons who are willing to support the philosophy of life-long learning and distance learning by contributing to the Endowment Fund of the Commonwealth University.
We will normally request for a comprehensive profile/CV of the nominee and some form of documentary evidence of their achievements.
Please kindly let me know how can be of further assistance.
Dear Ms Rai,
How do we proceed? Is there any cost to me? If yes, how much is it?
You did say you would normally request for a comprehensive profile/CV of the nominee and some form of documentary evidence of their achievements.
Does that mean you could also skip it if necessary?
Yes, there is a financial cost to award recipients because the entire programme is a package that comprises participating on one of our top executive seminars where the award will also be given.
When the board of the university initiated the seminar programme it was meant to encourage business owners and other senior executives to come together to share perspectives and to gain from the coaching processes of the university.
The whole event is put together by the university and its friends like you. Being a self financing institution with no subvention from anywhere, payments by participants at all our events is extremely important.
Below is a list of our upcoming seminars in the following cities:
1. Cotonou (April 28-29, 2016): Business and Leadership Success for Entrepreneurs and Professionals. Seminar fee US4,500
2. Singapore (May 26-27, 2016): Effective Leadership & Management for Top Executives. Seminar fee US4,000
3. Dubai (July 26-28, 2016): Dubai Leadership Summit – Economic and Business Transformation: Lessons for Government and Business Leaders. Seminar fee US$5,500.
I have attached documents containing information on the programmes. If you let us know which one suits your schedule, we will then send you an official invitation for the programme.
The profile and CV is mandatory as this will give us information about your eligibility and also help in deciding on the award specialization.
Dear Emmanuel K. Dogbevi,
The Commonwealth University Executive Seminar in which you indicated interest to participate is already here. How Time Flies!
The Executive Seminar comes up in Cotonou by April 28 and 29, 2016. As part of the activities at the Seminar, you have been selected to be honoured with the Honorary Doctorate Degree of the University.
TAKE ACTION TODAY
This is the time to begin putting finishing touches to your preparations. You need to pay for the Seminar and related expenses now. Full details of the Executive Seminar and how to remit your Seminar fees are contained below:
DETAILS OF THE PROGRAMME
Seminar Theme: Business & Leadership Success for Entrepreneurs & Professionals
Seminar Fee: $3,000.00 covering course materials, tea, lunch & refreshments during the seminar sessions only
Seminar Date: April 28-29, 2016 (Arrivals April 27, 2016)
Time: 9.00am – 5pm Daily
Venue: Hotel Novotel Cotonou, Boulevard de le Marina, Cotonou, Benin Republic
SUMMARY OF FIRST STEPS YOU NEED TO TAKE NOW
1. Confirm your place at the Seminar by paying the Seminar fee of $3000.
2. Make your Contribution to the University’s Endowment Fund
3. Buy your air ticket now to avoid escalating prices due to last minute rush
4. If you have not forwarded your CV/Profile and photo, please kindly do so.
GRADUATION DINNER FEE
1. For yourself: $200
2. For your guests $100 per guest. If you expect to bring more than five guests, you should inform the university well in advance so that we can plan to make the occasion pleasant and comfortable for you and your valued guests.
US Dollar Account Details
Bank Name & Address: UNION BANK UK PLC
14-18, Copthall Avenue, London EC2R 7BN. UK.
BENEFICIARY: Commonwealth University Consultants
Swift Address: UBNIGB2L
Sort Code: 23-57-97
Correspondent Bank: Deutsche Bank New York, USA
Correspondent Bank Swift Code: BKTRUS33
Account No: 01647310
IBAN No: GB18UBUK23579701647310
Once payment has been made, send us evidence of your payment so we can issue your payment receipt.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi