“Dr” Williams Babatunde Fowler, who was on Thursday appointed to head Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) by President Muhammad Buhari, holds a dubious honorary doctorate degree in England from an institution known as the “Irish International University.”
The fake institution was exposed as a degree mill by the BBC in 2008 as offering bogus and useless honorary degrees.
In announcing Mr. Fowler’s appointment, presidential spokesman Femi Adesina claimed that Mr. Folwer “had his higher education in the United States where he obtained a Bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin and a Master of Business Administration degree from the California State University.”
He also stated that Fowler holds an “Honorary Doctorate Degree of the Irish International University”.
That listing of Mr. Fowler’s academic degrees immediately began to provoke close enquiry.
A United States-based university professor, Farooq Kperogi, writing on Facebook, said, “After months of delays, ostensibly to properly vet his appointees, President Buhari just appointed somebody that may turn out to be a total fraud. He appointed a certain "Dr." William Babatunde Fowler as the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). In a news release signed by Femi Adesina, this red flag appears on the man's qualifications: "Fowler, who holds an Honorary Doctorate Degree [sic] of the Irish International University, is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria and the Business Management Association of the United Kingdom." Well, Irish International University is a fraudulent, non-existent university (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/7175730.stm).
“Second, the Committee of Vice Chancellors in Nigeria has ruled that people with even legitimate honorary doctorates cannot prefix "Dr." to their names, as is the practice globally (see http://www.farooqkperogi.com/.../finally-some-good-news...). I fear that if this Fowler's other qualifications are looked into, a big scandal may break out. His bachelor's degree, for instance, is said to be from the "University of Wisconsin" and his master's degree from "California State University."
According to Kperogi, “The trouble is, University of Wisconsin and California State University are multiple-campus universities; you can't just say you attended the University of Wisconsin without mentioning the location. The University of Wisconsin has 26 campuses, and California State University has 23 campuses. Something is fishy here!”
However, Wikipedia has a more detailed listing of Mr. Fowler’s lower degrees which appears to grant credibility to them, stating that he “obtained his first bachelors’ degree with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a minor in Political Science in 1978.”
It adds that he completed a second bachelors’ degree program at California State University, Los Angeles and also a Master of Business Administration degree program at California State University, Dominguez Hills in 1981.”
Despite all that, Wikipedia does not list Fowler’s “Honorary Doctorate Degree” from the Irish International University in its citation.
A cursory look at the Irish International University shows that it is a fake “university” operated by a United Kingdom aristocrat, Professor Baron Knowth, who serves as the Honorary Chancellor of the Irish International University. Despite being exposed by the BBC as a fake university offering bogus and useless honorary degrees, Irish International University has continued to do business. Several Nigerian politicians, led by former Lagos state governor and now National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, received honorary degrees from it early in 2008. In addition to Tinubu, broadcaster Bisi Olatilo, BEN TV UK owner, Alistair Soyode, Timi Alaibe, now Oba of Ugbo, Fredrick Akinrutan, Senator Grace Bent and a scion of the Ooni of Ife, all received a fake honorary degree in an event orchestrated by the fake university in London.
It is not clear when Mr. Fowler received his so-called honorary degree from the fake institution, but it is generally believed that his appointment may have been facilitated by Mr. Tinubu, with whom he previously worked at Alpha-Beta, a shadowy and controversial tax revenue company.