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Rowdy Session in Senate as Akpabio Cleared Ministerial Nominee Who Finished Secondary School Aged 9

There was a mild drama during the Senate screening of a ministerial nominee, Joseph Utsev, who presented before the upper house a CV that indicated that he graduated from secondary school aged 9.

The attention of the Senate was drawn to the biodata of the nominee by Senator Adetokunbo Mukhail Abiru, representing Lagos East, which he said showed “great discrepancies.”

The nominee, he said, claimed to have been “born on 2nd December 1980.”

He continued:

“Looking further down, you attended St John’s Primary School, Gboko. You just wrote 1989.

I’m wondering whether you finished primary school in 1989, which would suggest that you either started primary school at the age of three or two for you to finish in 1989.

“You also claimed that you went to secondary school in 1995. What appears distorted is that given your academic excellence, you graduated in 2004, meaning you probably have spent nine years for your first degree.

“I want you to clarify why it took you that long to graduate despite your academic brilliance?”

The nominee responded, “Yes, I went to primary school in the year 1984. 1989 was the year when I got my first leaving certificate. I started in 1984, 1985, 1986…”

As confusion ensued following continuing interjection from the senators, Utsev said:

“1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989. That was when I passed out with my first school leaving certificate.

“I furthered my secondary school in 1990. 1991, 92, 93, 94, 95. That’s when I got my SSCE.

“Then I graduated in 2004. I was actually supposed to pass out in 2003. But there was a prolonged strike by ASUU then.

“I did a five-year programme on Engineering and I was supposed to stay there for five years. But because of the prolonged strike by ASUU, I spent six years to finish the programme.”

As the atmosphere became intense following the probe by Abiru, Senate President Godswill Akpabio, said:

“I believe the discrepancies which are contained in his CV must have come from typographical error,” to which the members shouted, “noooo!”

Akpabio continued, “He’s a brilliant man, and he has proven’ his suitability.”

He urged him “to take a look at his certificate in case there are typographical errors.”

The floor became rowdy when Akpabio again asked him to “take a bow and go” with the senators opposing him.

But senators from Benue State rose to the nominee’s defence with Titus Zam, Benue Northwest, saying there was established precedent; therefore, the nominee should take a bow and go like the others.

Rising on Order 42 on Personal Explanation, Zam said, “I’m also from Benue. The nominee standing there is from my constituency. There’s no discrepancies in the academic qualification of the nominee.”

But Akpabio interjected to clarify that questions were necessary and called another Benue Senator, Abba Moro, to speak on the nominee’s character, to which he said the nominee “is sound” and good to go.

Akpabio, however, directed his colleagues not to pose any further questions on the nominee’s bio-data as more senators indicated interest in probing the apparent discrepancies on his CV.

He was spared a few minutes to justify his nomination based on his field of study after which he was asked to “take a bow and go.”