The American National Centre for Education Statistics has told PREMIUM TIMES that the Pacific Christian University, Glendale, which Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, claimed awarded her a doctorate degree, does not exist, confirming this newspaper’s Wednesday’s report that the minister’s purported honorary Ph.D is fake.
The National Centre for Education Statistics is an agency under the U.S. Department of Education.
Responding to a PREMIUM TIMES’ inquiry, the spokesperson for the agency, which maintains a comprehensive and up-to-date database of all American public and private educational institutions, said, “Thank you for your inquiry. I do not see a university in our database that is Pacific Christian University in Glendale”.
She however suggested that the closest to Pacific Christian University in the database might be Hope International University in Fullerton which she believed used to be known as Pacific Christian College.
Contacted, Every Delarosa of the registrar’s office at Hope International University confirmed that the institution used to be known as Pacific Christian College and not Pacific Christian University as Mrs. Oduah indicated in her resume.
Even at that, Ms. Delarosa insisted Mrs. Oduah could not be referring to Hope University because the institution changed its name from Pacific Christian College in 1997 while Mrs Oduah claimed she was awarded a doctorate in Business Administration 1998.
The Hope University official also explained that the institution, even when it was known as Pacific Christian College, had never had a campus in Glendale. She said the university was based in Long Beach city at the time.
“We do not have any records of any candidate by the name Stella Oduah or related names,” Ms. Delarosa said, after pouring through the university record. “Whether now that we are Hope University and in the past when we were Pacific Christian College, we did not give any such person a degree here.”
This newspaper had Wednesday reported that the aviation minister lied on oath to the Nigerian Senate, by claiming that a Pacific Christian University awarded her an honorary doctorate degree in 1998.
Mrs. Oduah had made the claim in a 7-page resume she distributed to Nigeria’s 109 senators during her confirmation hearing on July 2, 2011.
On page four of the document, the minister claimed the university, which she said was based in Glendale, awarded her an honorary doctorate in Business Administration.
It was based on this document that she was grilled and eventually confirmed by the lawmakers.
But investigations by PREMIUM TIMES had determined Wednesday that no university called Pacific Christian University existed in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Education, through its National Centre for Education Statistics, keeps an up-to-date database of all public libraries and educational institutions in the country – public, private and colleges.
PREMIUM TIMES reporters spent hours on Wednesday searching this database.
Our reporters searched by state (California), city (Glendale) and name of institution (Pacific Christian University). Yet, nothing came up in the name of the university Mrs. Oduah claimed gave her an honorary doctorate.
The colleges are American Medical Sciences Centre, Brand College, Glendale Career College, Glendale Community and North-West College.
There is no such university known as Christian Pacific College as claimed by the minister.
Efforts by PREMIUM TIMES to get the spokespersons for the minister to comment for this story were unsuccessful.
Joe Obi, her special assistant on media, did not answer or return calls.
Yakubu Datti, the spokesperson of the aviation agencies, who usually speak for her, answered our call but immediately said he would call back. He is yet to do so as at the time of publishing this.
Mrs. Oduah, and her associates have been cleaning up the minister’s biographies on the Internet, following allegations that she lied about her academic qualifications.
The minister claimed she got Bachelor and Masters degrees from St. Paul’s College.
But after it became clear she might not have earned a Masters from that university, Mrs. Oduah edited her biography on the website of the Ministry of Aviation, with references to St. Paul’s College removed.
The Wikipedia page of the minister was also edited and it now has no reference to the university Mrs. Oduah attended. The last edit on the Wikipedia page was done at 14:41 p.m. Nigerian time Tuesday.
All links and reference materials on the Wikipedia page capable of linking the minister to the university were also deleted.
Even the minister’s personal website was reviewed to remove any reference to St. Paul’s College.
Mrs. Oduah had since October been enmeshed in a a N255million armoured cars scandal in which she was accused of compelling an agency under her supervision, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to buy her two exotic bullet cars at clearly inflated prices.
The purchase of the cars generated outrage for weeks because its cost was inflated, and it was neither listed in the government-approved budget nor did it comply with the Nigeria’s public procurement law.
The House of Representatives has since asked President Goodluck Jonathan to sack the minister but the president has failed to act.