Foreign-trained Nigerian Dentists Accuse Dental Council Of Extortion And Discrimination

Some Nigerians, who studied dentistry abroad and wrote the November 2019 qualifying exam to practice in the country, have complained about how they were extorted and discriminated against by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.

Two candidates, who do not want their names to be disclosed due to fear of being further victimised, told SaharaReporters that they might consider taking qualifying examinations in other countries or return to the countries where they obtained their degrees since the council had made it impossible for them to pass the exam.

They told SaharaReporters that all the 20 candidates for dental surgeons failed the exam last year despite paying huge amounts of money to sit for the exam.

According to the candidates, they were asked to pay N25,000 for materials, N75,000 for verification, N5,000 for a registration form and another N125,000 for registration fee, bringing the total sum to N230,000 per candidate, who studied abroad.

“We paid N25,000 for study materials yet none was given to us,” one said. “There was no syllabus for us to work with, no marking scheme explaining how much marks each section of the exam carried.”

Then they paid N75,000 to the council for verification of credentials, which according to them, could have been done online at no cost.

“Once you pay the N75,000, they consider your international degree is valid,” the other candidate said.

“There is no need for students to pay this money.  MDCN verifies the schools some of us attend themselves when we gain admission. They came to my school while I was there.”

They also accused the council of discriminating against Nigerians, who studied abroad.

“An exam officer told me it took him 10 years to become a dental practitioner in Nigeria and now I want to get it in five years because I am coming from a foreign university.”

One of the candidates recalled that on the exam day at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, a three-hour computer-based test that should have started by 7:00am was concluded by 5:00pm.

“The questions for the CBT exams were poorly written. They even looked scattered,” he said.

“An exam that was supposed to start by 7am began at 11am, the gen went off for more than two hours at some point.”

One of the candidates, who had written the exam twice said all the 300 questions they were given came from just two topics while there are 10 main aspects of dentistry.

“Not only didn’t we know what marks the oral, clinical and CBT exams carried, the questions we had to answer in the CBT came from just two topics out of ten,” he said. “In Ghana, the process is more thought out. There are 120 questions from all ten courses, and you know how much each aspect of the examination carries.”

The other candidate, who is a first timer for the exam said he was disappointed by how they received their results.

“They released the result like three days after the exam. What they published actually, are the list of those that were to be inducted and no dental surgeon’s name was there. Parents and candidates had to go to their offices in various paths of the country to ask the officials.”

He challenged the council to publish the scores of all the dentists in all three phases of the examination on its website.

“I have been at home doing nothing because I cannot work without the license,” he said.

“Just imagine spending five years studying and then you come back to your own country and they refuse to give you a license and then you can’t move on with your life. We’re officially stuck.

“If it continues like this then we are given no choice but to consider other options. Some candidates we wrote together with were disappointed and have gone back to their country of study to practice. I would have sat for Ghana’s entry exam last month but COVID-19 prevented me.”

They blamed Tajudeen Sanusi, Registrar of the council, for the hardships that Nigerians, who studied abroad face in passing the exam.

They pointed out that since 2017 when Sanusi took over, candidates have been failing massively.

The Nigerian Senate moved to investigate the council and its conduct of the exam after only about one-thirds of candidates passed the exam in 2017.

The Senate probed why a high percentage of foreign-trained candidates failed. 

The outcome of the investigation was never made public.

At the induction of successful candidates, who wrote the 2019 exam, Chairman of the council’s examination committee, Abba Hassan, said 687 out of 1,228 candidates passed the exam.

There are fewer than 5000 dentists in Nigeria, according to the council, serving a population of about 200 million.

Calls to the office of the council’s registrar for comment went unanswered.  

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