Nigerian professor bags predatory ‘best researcher award’

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A Nigerian senior academic at Joseph S Tarka Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Dr Louis Oparaku, has been conferred an international research award, which EduCeleb.com can report is predatory.

Oparaku got the bogus award of the “best researcher award in the academic world of science, engineering and medicine” by an organisation named VDGOOD.

Our investigations established that VDGOOD is a predatory award issuer with multiple addresses in India.

Findings by EduCeleb.com further show that the organisation that also publishes predatory journals keeps multiple email addresses to contact unsuspecting academics around the world.

Another Nigerian lecturer, Nura Yakubu of the University of Maiduguri had in 2019 got a bogus award from an organisation whose only presence is on Google sites.

The beneficiary of the VDGOOD award, Oparaku had his first degree in Agricultural (Soil and Water) Engineering from the University of Nigeria, N sukka in 1980 and a Post Graduate Diploma in Photogrammetry and Airphoto Interpretation for Environmental Resources Planning and Management at the Institute of Agronomy, Florence, Italy in 1984.

His master’s degree in Soil Conservation and Land Reclamation Engineering was at the University of Southampton, England in 1986 while his PhD in Environmental and Resources Planning was at the University of Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria in 2016.

University celebrates Oparaku

Meanwhile, a statement from the Federal University of Agriculture, Markudi said Oparaku’s PhD research work on the gullies of Idah-Ankpa Plateau of the Anambra Basin was described as the “best of its kind” by VDGOOD.

“The Idah-Ankpa plateau comprises the whole of Igala land in Kogi state and the Ogbadibo local government area in Benue state. Here the underlying geological formations consist of the highly erodible ajalli sandstones, the more resistant upper coal measures and the most resistant lower coal measures,” it said.

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The VDGOOD noted that the researcher’s findings and publications on gully erosion on Idah-Ankpa plateau have been “generating global interest among researchers in the field”, hence his invitation to present the subject of his research and subsequent merit awards.

Reacting to the award, Oparaku, who is the senior lecturer in the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering, said since he innovated a procedure for estimating the volume of solids exuded from a gully.

He is said to have received over 20 invitations to international conferences and workshops to throw more lights on his work.

The don who is also an environmental consultant noted that funding of trips for more research works has been a major hindrance, but expressed the hope that with encouragement from international bodies, more will be done.

According to the don, even with some hindrances on the way, he was able to carry out 21 publications in local and international journals and 3 articles as chapters in edited books.

“Out of the 21 journal publications, I’m the first author in 12 and the sole author in two. I’m also the sole author in three of the articles published as chapters in edited books”.

He said, at the moment, seven of his papers are being solicited for publication as chapters in edited books, including a publication of his work in an Elsevier journal which was emblazoned on their website as adjudged the best-written and most – innovative article in the journal.

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Multiple predatory VDGOOD ‘awards’

Predatory awards are out to fleece unsuspecting academics to be given unsubstantiated rewards for achievements they have never reached.

They usually contain overloaded words and generic terms too good to be true, according to American based professor, Farouq Kperogi.

The recent bogus appointment of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State as a professor of e-governance is one closely related instance what the don drawer attention to the craze for international recognition among compatriots.

Such nominations as in the case of what VDGOOD did, are not as exclusive as one being awarded to the best in a given field.

Findings by EduCeleb.com revealed that Oparaku is not the only beneficiary of such a bogus award from the dodgy Indian firm.

This medium obtained copies of different emails purportedly nominating various academics to as best for similar awards.

Some sums of money would be collected for such awards even yet undisclosed until the winner sends their CV to the organisation.

In one instance, an academic was congratulated for “winning the Prestigious Scientist Award in the International Scientist Award on Engineering, Science, and Medicine”.

Another was selected for her “Research Profile for the International Scientist Awards on Engineering, Science, and Medicine”.

One other email noted that a beneficiary read, “Congratulations from VDGOOD Professional Association for winning this Inspirational Scientist Award, and Your Research profile has been nominated by our committee members and it has been awarded.”

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One uncommon item in these emails is that the beneficiaries were supposed to pick up their awards on conflicting dates in 2021.

In one instance, the beneficiary was to get awarded between 11th and 12th February, 2021 at Pondicherry, India.

Whereas to another, the award ceremony would hold between 6th and 7th March, 2021 in Goa, India.

The third of the email EduCeleb.com obtained show that the award ceremony would hold between 6th and 7th February, 2021 at Coimbatore, India.

The award for Oparaku puts the address of VDGOOD in Chennai, India.

Curiously, there are dissimilar signatories to each of the supposed award letters and none carries a full name of the person.

Ms Riya, Event Co-ordinator, VDGOOD Professional Association signed one while another has Ms Pranita. S, Event Organizer, VDGOOD as announcer. The other was signed by Ms Sanjana, Event Co-ordinator, VDGOOD Professional Association.

Calls to spokesperson of the university, Mrs Rosemary Waku were yet to respond to enquiries as whether the university was aware of the predatory status of Oparaku’s award as at press time.

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