Controversy trails PDP's Presidential Aspirant's Academic Qualifications
Christopher Nwaokobia Jnr
Controversy is trailing a Presidential Aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Christopher Nwaokobia Jnr, over his academic qualifications and titles.
Nwaokobia, who recently posted his 50- point mission statement on his Facebook wall, had hitherto used the prefix 'Dr', then few months ago changed his title on his face book page to ' Prof'. He had said on his wall that he got a professorial chair from a University in Sweden.
Nwaokobia an Attorney, said he got his Honoraris Causa Doctorate from Akamaii University in Hawaii, USA, while his Honorary professorship was from Green Hills University in Sweden.
Shortly after Nwaokobia, who is host of 'Pundit' a talk show on Delta State Television, posted his mission statement on his wall, trouble started. One John Oshi based in Atlanta, Georgia, commented first, querying the authenticity of Nwaokobia's academic titles.
On August 17, 2010, Oshi wrote “ Chris could you clarify how you became a professor without a Master's Degree, after obtaining a honorary doctorate degree from Hawaii…”
But in an interview with Pointblanknews.com, Nwaokobia said even though both his Phd, and Professorship are Honorari Causas, there was nothing extraordinary about him addressing himself as a Prof. He argued that several universities award such to people all over the world, and his was not an exception. He however said the focus should be his 50-point agenda on how to turn things around when he becomes Nigeria's next President.
Oshi's comment elicited a lot of reaction considering the fact that he has just expressed his interest to run for the highest office in the land. Aside from these comments , Pointblanknews.com also received some letters from readers who expressed concern over Nwaokobia's claims.
Pointblanknews.com, in an attempt to ascertain the veracity of the claims, did some research on the schools he said he got the academic qualifications from. We found out that Akamai and Green Hills are both online/distance learning institutions. Both schools have no state or regional accreditation. The United States Department of Education(USDOE), does not recognize Akimai , considered a 'degree mill'. Akimai specifically said “ Akimai is not accredited by a regional accrediting agency by the USDOE…”
We called Green Hills , but got a voice message in Swedish.
In a telephone interview , and strings of text messages to Pointblanknews.com, Nwaokobia said “ all over the world universities award honorari causas , it is not a degree. There is nothing morally wrong if I use the prefix professor, even it is online or not. I have a professorial chair from Green Hills University in Denmark, I have an LLB from the University of Nsukka, but I have no Master's Degree on my CV. My honorary PhD is from Akamai University in Hawaii , USA. The focus should be the decay in our country, and my 50-point agenda. “
But David Pryce of George Mason University, disagrees “ the correct use of the title Prof. will denote someone with a Phd, earned with at least a 250 page dissertation. And teaches in a University.”He said further”
perhaps, the title “Professor” is one that is vastly misunderstood, as the title simply refers to someone who is an expert in a particular field, or is a university teacher. In the U.S.A., a person does not have to necessarily hold a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree to be called a “Professor,” as some advanced college programs do not go beyond the master's degree. Technically, though, someone with a master's degree who teaches at an American university is referred to as an “Instructor.” Therefore, the correct use of the title “Professor” will denote someone with a Ph.D. who teaches at the university. Of course, we have certain gradations and their advantages: An Assistant Professor is just beginning his career as a university teacher; an Associate Professor most likely has a tenure-track job, and cannot be easily dismissed by the university. In other words, an Associate Professor has earned the right to have a lifetime of employment, if he so chooses. An Associate Professor can become a full professor after a number of years”
Tenure, he said “ is an essential part of the lives of Associate Professors and full Professors, as it allows them to delve into controversial, yet knowledge-imparting, topics without fear of job loss. Most universities in the U.S.A. allow an Assistant Professor approximately 7 years to reach the tenure track of Associate Professor. Similarly, it takes several years for an Associate Professor to become a full Professor, as alluded to earlier. A Professor Emeritus is a retired professor who left his job while in good standing with the university. Such people usually remain in their old offices on campus and may even teach occasionally.”
According to Nancy Steinbach, a Voice of America (VOA) Special English Education reporter, “Assistant, associate and full professors at American universities perform many duties. They teach classes. They advise students. And they carry out research that is published. They also serve on university committees and take part in other activities. Other faculty members at American universities are not expected to do all these jobs. They are not on a tenure track. Instead, they might be in adjunct or visiting positions. A visiting professor has a job at one school but works at another for a period of time. An adjunct professor is also a limited or part-time position, to do research or teach classes. Adjunct professors have a doctorate. Another position is lecturer. Lecturers teach classes, but they may or may not have a doctorate.”