A ministerial nominee, Prof Joseph Utsev, has become a subject of controversy in the Senate due to the age he claimed to have started primary school. According to his Curriculum Vitae, Prof Utsev stated that he began primary school at the age of three.
Senator Mikhail Abiru (APC, Lagos) drew the attention of his fellow senators to the nominee’s CV, which indicated that Prof Utsev was born in 1980, started primary school in 1984, and completed his primary education in 1989.
During the Senate’s questioning session, Prof Utsev revealed that he graduated as the best student from the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, in the Department of Civil Engineering. He further disclosed that he pursued a Bachelor of Science (Bsc) in Water Engineering at the same university, graduating in 2009.
Additionally, Prof Utsev holds the distinction of being the pioneer rector of the Benue State Polytechnic, a position he assumed in 2020.
Senator Abiru sought clarification from the nominee regarding the discrepancies in his academic records, particularly the dates mentioned in his educational qualifications. However, Prof Utsev maintained that he was indeed born in 1980 and received his first leaving school certificate in 1989.
In response to the controversy, Senator Abba Moro (PDP, Benue) appealed to his colleagues to overlook the discrepancy, attributing it to a potential typographical error.
“Looking at the resume that we have, the discrepancies that we have may have necessarily come from typographical error. I want to say at this point, records don’t lie and if you look at what we have there and explain the action that he has given. I think we should give him the benefit of doubt.
“I have a point that I want to make here. I want to say that I come from a part of Benue state that is a minority. I want to appeal to my colleagues to approve the nominations of my professor from Benue state,” he said.
But Titus Zam, another Benue senator, disagreed with Moro’s submission, saying that there was no discrepancy in the academic records of the nominee.
“I am from Benue and the nominee is from my constituency,” he said.
At this point, Senate President Godswill Akpabio said he would not entertain any question pertaining to the date in the academic records of the Benue nominee after Abba Moro approached him.
“I will not want to entertain anything on the issue of when he entered school again. Senator Abba Moro just pointed my attention to an important issue which the nominee will clarify,” Akpabio said.
In a move to bury the issue, Senator Elisha Abbo (APC, Adamawa) said the nominee is exceptionally brilliant like himself for starting primary school at the age of three.
“The nominee is exceptionally brilliant like me. I took the entrance exam at the age of three and I won (sic),” he said.
The Benue nominee was asked to take a bow and go after speaking briefly on how he would turn things around in the environment sector, without saying anything on his academic records.