Drama stirs in the Senate as lawmakers drilled a prospective minister from Benue State, Joseph Utsev, citing “discrepancies” in his biodata.
According to Utsev, he argued that he was born in Gboko, Benue State on December 2, 1980 where he attended the University of Agriculture, Makurdi to study Civil Engineering, graduating with a Second Class Upper in 2004.
Utsev claimed to have observed the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Kaduna in 2006. He added that, he got his Master’s Degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 2007 and further got his doctorate degree from same university in 2011.
Reacting to his biodata, Senator Tokunbo Abiru from Lagos East Senatorial District questioned Utsev about his biodata.
“You were born on December 2, 1980 but reading further down, you attended St John Primary School, Gboko, in 1989,” Abiru said. “I am wondering whether you finished secondary school in 1989 which suggest that you started primary school at the age of three to finish in 1989.”
“You also claim that you went to secondary school in 1995,” Abiru continued, adding that “what appeared a bit distorted” is that “you graduated in 2004 meaning that you probably would have spent nine years for your first degree”.
Abiru added that, “I just need you to clarify those data starting from primary school, while it took you that long to get your first degree despite the academic brilliance you have exhibited.”
Utsev maintained that he began his primary school in the year 1984, got his first school leaving certificate in 1989.
“I furthered to secondary school to 1990 to 1995, that was when I got my SSCE (Senior School Certificate Examination),” Utsev stressed.
“I was actually supposed to pass out in 2003 but there was a prolonged strike by ASUU, I spent six years in the programme and that was why I graduated in 2004,” the nominee added.
However, the Senate President Godswill Akpabio reiterated saying, “The question was you were born in 1980 and you had your first leaving certificate in 1989, that means that the period you should have been in nursery school at the age of four years, you were already in Primary one,” Akpabio asked.
Akpabio commended the nominee for being “exceptionally brilliant” and was three years when he started his primary education. “It’s possible that the nominee was a classmate of Senator Abba Moro”.