Political office holders won’t get honorary degrees anymore- VCs

The guideline will check the excessive number and procedure of awarding honorary degrees in Nigeria.

Henceforth, political office holders are no longer to be conferred with honorary doctorate degrees, the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities has said.

In an attempt to reduce the indiscriminate award of honorary degrees, the Association, on Monday in Abuja, released guidelines for the award of honorary degrees in Nigerian universities.

The Secretary-General of the Association, Michael Faborode, said the guidelines would be effective from January 2013; and would, henceforth, be referred to as the “Keffi Declaration.”

He said that the 27th conference of the association held at the Nassarawa State University had examined the general erosion of academic culture and tradition.

Mr. Faborode said the “Keffi Declaration” would seek to restore the age long university culture and tradition of best practices.

“We have observed that the number of honorary degree awardees have become uncontrollably large, ranging from one to 20 in a single convocation ceremony and at times presented in absentia to surrogates,” Mr. Faborode said.

“We have also noted that most of these awards are based on wealth, political office, and position as a means of generating revenue with little or no consideration for integrity.

“There’s no consideration for contribution to the development of the university and no consideration for national development,” he added.

He said the agreed procedure for the award of honorary degrees enjoined universities to make it a policy not to bestow a honorary degree on any person holding political office.

He said the guidelines and procedure for the selection of honorary degree recipients should be in accordance with the law and statute of the respective universities.

According to Mr. Faborode, this should be in line with best practices and the selection process should be through the appropriate committee of the awarding university’s Senate.

“The award of degree should be given to any professional who has made significant or ground breaking discoveries in the areas of accomplishments, invention, and innovation among others to societal development.

“This should not be tied to wealth consideration or political alignment, rather it should be based on leadership, service and the contribution of the recipient to social and economic development of the society.”

Mr. Faborode said that no university should be allowed to award a honorary degree “if it has not graduated any PhD or has no post-graduate school”.

He added that the use of ‘Dr’ as a title for honorary degree recipients “is unconventional and therefore, not allowed”.

He said the association as a matter of policy had decided that universities should hold their convocation ceremonies annually, and where possible within the same month each year.

Mr. Faborode said that the association, in collaboration with the Nigeria Universities Commission, would act as a whistle blower and take appropriate action to ensure compliance.

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