Inside The Polytechnic Ibadan where corruption thrives (Part I)
Lecturers extort students in handout sale
By Uthman Samad
Aside cultism, extortion of students by the academic staffs of The Polytechnic Ibadan, Oyo state has been a major concern for a long time. But the story has been under-reported. In this part, Uthman SAMAD chronicles the corrupt practices of the academic staff of the institution revolving around extortion, sale of handouts at exorbitant prices and grade inflations amongst other rackets.
“BUYING handouts for this course is a prerequisite to passing your test, your ticket to entering for the exam. Pay to your group leader and he should bring the money to me. It’s just 1k [N1,000]”.
These were the exact words of Mr. Olubukola Adio during an early morning class of National Diploma II students of the Department of Mass Communication held in a one thousand- sitter lecture theatre of Ibadan Polytechnic in Oyo state.
Though the class was noisy, Adio’s message seemed audible enough for all the students in attendance as they all chorused their approval. This reporter waded through the teeming class of students to get a copy from the lecturer.
Adio who teaches Photography and photojournalism opened the boot of his Mercedez Benz 190 to hand over a bundle of handouts to the group leaders.
This reporter tried to pay Mr. Adio directly for the handout but was told by the head of the class in a low tone that the lecturer does not collect payment from individual students.
Sale of handouts is a norm at the Polytechnic Ibadan, and the practice has never been stopped by the school authorities or the Students’ Union, despite the fact that the management never approved of it.
According to one of the Students’ Union executives who pleaded for anonymity, the exco members frown at the sale of handouts, but none of them could confront the school authorities. Even when they do, by the time the executives are given their own share, everyone keeps quiet, he added.
The Polytechnic Ibadan was, established 48 years ago in Ibadan in the old Oyo State, with satellite campuses located in neighboring towns of Saki and Eruwa.
In 2014, the two satellite campuses became full-fledged institutions and renamed The Oke-Ogun Polytechnic, Saki and the Ibarapa Polytechnic, Eruwa respectively. Since then, different management has headed these institutions independently.
The Polytechnic, Ibadan is divided into north and south campuses and comprises five faculties housing 23 departments with over 19,000 students.
Buying of handouts as safe way to pass examination
Students who failed to buy handouts shared their experience with this reporter. Salam and Aderanti (last name withheld to protect them) narrated how they were sent out of the examination hall after they failed to buy a handout for one of their courses.
Salam, an HND 1 student of Public Administration recounts his experience while sitting for one of the exams during his final exam at National Diploma level.
“I have been seeing students talking about this in other departments but I was shocked when the lecturer was using handouts he sold to students as a pass into the exam hall,” Salam said.
“I begged this man for over thirty minutes out of the two-hour exam duration, until I had to run around to get the N1,000. I didn’t even get the handout, I just paid before I could be allowed to enter.
“We had always been told in classes whenever this man came that we should submit our assignments with the handout for grading. Those of us that didn’t buy the handout, our assignments were not collected, and we did not get a grade.
“This was during my ND1 second semester. We all thought it was a joke until we saw the reality when this man asked us to show our handout for the course before we could be admitted into the exam hall. My brother, we bought it all, and when there was no more handout to sell, the lecturer collected the money and admitted us into the hall,” Aderanti recounted her experience.
Also, a Public Administration student, Kabir, narrated how the Research Methodology lecturer came into the class and announced that no student would sit for his exam or test except such students purchase the Research Methodology textbook from him, and not from elsewhere, even though the school rule says that students should buy from the school bookshop.
“The lecturer made this declaration less than 3 weeks to the exam. Why not at the beginning of the semester if truly he loves us and wanted us to pass?
“They wanted to market the book indirectly because they know that the only way to do that is to force us to buy the textbook because no one will buy it after the exam. What they later did was that they forced us to buy the textbook from them. It was even a handout, but it was branded like a textbook. Our lecturer said without buying it, we were going to fail the course.
“Everybody was scared of failure at that time. But for me, I dared him that he should go on and do his worst. I could remember we sat for the exam at the 1000-capacity hall. When we got to the exam hall, surprisingly I was checked in, but others that didn’t buy the handouts were sent out of the hall.”
ND2 students of Mass Communication also confirmed that their lecturer, Mr. Adeniran told students to submit their assignment by a week after the exam, together with handouts for grading. This assignment costs 20marks.
Mr.Bamishaye Olatunji Abiodun, a junior lecturer of the department of Mass Communication teaches Newspaper Editing and Production and Public Relation Media and Methods.
When this reporter visited his office, he was caught telling one of his students that each handout for his courses attracts 20 marks.
This reporter witnessed how the ‘awoof’ 20 marks are awarded. Assignment question will be written on the first page of the handout of Public Relation Media and Methods by the lecturer. This means a student that fails to buy the handout will not be able to get the assignment question nor has the submission ‘grace’.
An investigation conducted across five departments of the institution confirmed this practice to be a norm.
Investigation also shows that handouts are sold between N800 and N1, 500, and a student spends an average of N12, 000 on handouts in a semester, student sources told the reporter. And some of these mass- produced handouts are printed without reference pages or ISBN, but nobody cares. In an internal memorandum dated 25th of March 2019 with reference number AAO/BOS/ITSC/vol.11/130 signed by one Mrs. Agboola, the secretary of the Textbook Standardization Committee and sent to the rector through the chairman of the committee titled “Ban on sales of Handout and unauthorized Textbooks”, the institution prohibited the sale of handouts and textbooks.
It was also noted the approved textbooks by this committee should only be made available at the school bookshops and on no account should it be found anywhere else. The circular also shows that any staff that contravenes these rules and regulations will be sanctioned appropriately by the management of the institution as no student should be forced to buy any handout or textbooks.
But this is a good policy on paper because no lecturer has been sanctioned on account of handout sales, the students said.
Meet Ajao, the “Contractor”
Ajao, as popularly called by students, is a Mass Communication ND2 student of the Polytechnic. He is also the Public Relations Officer 2 of the student union, and popular among student especially for connection with lecturers across various departments.
This reporter met with Ajao and asked him whether he could help speak to a lecturer to upgrade his result in a computer course. The latter agreed and gave his number for future communication. Three days after, when this reporter called, he advised that the reporter should speak to the lecturer directly.
“Go and meet the woman, she is a close paddy, she said everyone should be coming to her.
“You will just buy the handbook we bought last semester again and you get your pass straight – abi wetin you want again?” Ajao said.
At the end of the discussion, Ajao promised to always help if the reporter runs into trouble with any of course in as much as he always cooperates.
How students pay for grade
On a Wednesday afternoon in June, this reporter joined a long queue of students who had problem with “Introduction to Computing”- a general course from the Department of Computer Science. The issues range from missing exam scores to omission of test scores.
“I have been here since 10 a.m., I don’t know those of us that have problem with this course are many,” a female student who was later referred to as Muibat by a colleague commented.
“You tell her your problem, you pay for the workbook and she pens down your name,” another student explained to her what to do when she is in Mrs. Ganiyu’s office.
Muibat was happy about the tip until she heard it would cost her double the amount paid for the same workbook. “I only have N200 with me now! I have been warned not to come home for this week again, I don’t know what to do right now,” Muibat lamented.
Hours later, the lecturer came out to say she would no longer attend to students by 2 pm. “Now you will have to take numbers. Only 15 persons will be allowed, the remaining will come tomorrow,” she said.
Without any means of identification, this reporter was counted as the number 7th person on the queue. When called in, “check your name on the list,” Mrs. Ganiyu instructed.
After two minutes checking for nothing in the list, the reporter told Mrs. Ganiyu that he couldn’t find his name. She then told the reporter to write his name with his matriculation number and pay to a lady by the corner in her office who was busy playing Bubble game on her Hot6 phone.
After writing a pseudo name and matric number, the reporter gave the lady by the door N500 as instructed by Mrs Ganiyu and collected a workbook. The 10-page practical handbook was sold N350 earlier in the semester.
A female student was also made to pay N500 to the woman by the office corner before she was given a workbook.
No Receipt, No File Submission
This is a popular phrase by the students of Poly Ibadan. Checks by this newspaper show that students are not allowed to submit registration form each semester until dues are paid in full.
Though school management has never made the payment of dues compulsory, students’ files will not be collected for submission except it contains all the receipts for the payment. This reporter observed the registration process and confirmed that forms are compulsorily submitted with receipts for various association dues.
Section 40 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended states that membership of association and groups should be voluntarily and not by force as in accordance with the fundamental human rights.
The mandatory payment of fees and compulsory inclusion of association due proof of payment is, therefore, a breach of the constitutional provision.
A source confirmed to this paper that associations send part of their collection to the school management. “Don’t sweat on that. Even when I was here years ago, as a student, the system was like that. From a long time, there is these returns associations pay on accrued money to the management purse that’s why they continue to make It compulsory for students who want to submit his/her file,” the source said.
During submission hours at the Department of Mass Communication, this reporter was able to witness how the officer in charge emphasized the need for students to include all the listed receipts in their file.
Aside this illegal collection by the academic staffs of the institution, this investigation also confirms the porosity of payers’ database in the institution.
Though tuition fee in Poly Ibadan is paid through the electronic portal, other dues are paid in cash. These dues range from students’ Union due, state of origin association due, the town of origin association due, religious organization association due, students’ departmental association due, students’ faculty association due, faculty association, amongst others. And some of the dues were paid for without proper accountability mechanism put in place.
For instance, this reporter paid for the Association of Students Communicators, Department of Mass Communication (ASCOM) departmental due, Association of Students Communicators, Department of Mass Communication (ASCOM) Students’ Association due, Faculty of Financial Management Studies Students’ Association (FFIMSSA) due, Federation of Oyo State Students’ Union (FOSSU) due and Federation of Ibadan Students’ Union. These dues were paid by this reporter without matriculation number, only the payee name. And there was no database to validate the name of the payer.
Management denies, promises to investigate
In an interview with the Public Relations Officer of the institution, Mr. Soladoye Adewole he denied the management’s endorsement of selling handouts by the academic staff and distanced the management also from the compulsory payment of dues.
“It is illegal for anyone to sell handouts in The Polytechnic, Ibadan. And we have consistently maintained that and told students that if any lecturer sells or anybody attempts to sell, they should make a formal report. Even a memo was circulated to that effect. And this was made known to them during their matriculation orientation, that it is illegal for anybody to sell handout to them or intimidate them.
“I featured recently on inspiration FM and I told the whole world on the issue of the handouts in The Polytechnic. If they are doing that (students buying handout), that is stupidity, because the management had told them and insisted that they are not supposed to buy any handout from anybody.”
“I will be grateful if you can provide me with their information, they (lecturer) will be sent out of the system, this is very absurd. I can tell you we don’t know about this.”
When told about Mr. Bamishaye who grades assignments of only those who buy handout, Mr. Soladoye said: “This is very unfortunate; you have given me a name now, when I get to the office, I will investigate. The school knows nothing about the selling of handout?
When the reporter pressed further, he said: “I just told you now that it is illegal. You know they are not selling it for the management, they will not be selling it to the fellow lecturers nor the administrative officers, they are selling it to students and students have been told a thousand times ‘don’t buy handout from anybody’.
“If any lecturer has any academic material, the lecturer should submit such to the committee so that the committee ensures that they publish it as a book and any student that find it interesting will buy it and if not, it is not compulsory.”
However, while being quizzed about the management’s effort to halt the corrupt practices, the PRO, vowed that the management of Poly Ibadan would investigate the allegation of students.
“You are just giving me the information if I am able to investigate, the school will take action. Let me explain something to you, here in The Polytechnic, Ibadan, the students when they commit offense here, we have student disciplinary committee for it, also if a staff commits an offense, we have a disciplinary committee for senior staff and another one for junior staff. So nobody is above the law,” he said.
On the payment of arbitrary association dues, he said: “The institution has nothing to do with all these receipts like indigenous association receipt in student files. Nobody can force anybody to join any indigenous association.
“Apart from students’ union receipt, there’s no other receipt tenable in the file, all these religious body receipts and the likes are not made compulsory.
They are not supposed to pay because those payments have nothing to do with the institution. They are voluntary bodies. Either you pay the due or not, it is of no concern to the management.”
We are not selling handout- ASUP covers up for lecturers
A former executive member of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, The Polytechnic, Ibadan branch who served during the last administration before being suspended by the management of the institution due to internal crises, said: “We are not selling handout. The Polytechnic, Ibadan is an institution of reputation and a first-class institution. The selling of handout has been abolished a long time ago.”
“I was a product of this institution, I was once a student here, even when I was a student, two or three decades ago no one sold handout.”
When he was shown proofs of lecturers selling handouts in the institutions, his position shifted, but not completely.
He said: “That’s very absurd! I don’t know about that. I am happy as an investigative journalist, you were able to say there are minimal or fewer cases of selling handouts in my department of Science Laboratory and Technology. Out of 12 disciples of Jesus Christ, there’s one Judas.
“If you have discovered anything or you have discovered any negative action, then notify the appropriate authority. I am telling you that there could be some black sheep among us but it is not every lecturer that sells handout. Our lecturers here are men of integrity. Majority of them that I know will not engage in such nefarious activities. I can’t claim ignorance of lecturers here selling handouts.”
Students Union sitting on the fence
The students’ union president, Akadiri Bayonle, has been evasive on allegation of academic corruptions in the institution. While on one side asserting that the lecturers sell handouts in the institution, he also denied being aware of it, hence contradicting himself.
He said: “I am aware of the fact that lecturers sell handout in some departments and not in some departments. What I mean is that it is not a general practice. I am not really aware of that at the National Diploma level. But I can tell you it doesn’t exist with us at the higher national level. The students’ union is not in support of it, and no lecturer should force any student to buy a handout.”
NBTE vows to investigate
The National Board for Technical Education, the institution that oversees polytechnics, monotechnics, and technical schools across the country, has frowned at the selling of handouts to students.
“The sale of handouts has been prohibited. That is why the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) has been giving them library intervention fund. So, there is no reason why they should sell handouts. No reason! It is not allowed. I can promise you the commission will take action. We will investigate and we will get back to you,” Masaud Adamu Kazaure, the NBTE secretary promised.
This report was done with support from Ford Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR