By Samuel Malik
Exploiting the inadequate monitoring of privately-owned tertiary institutions, Nacabs Polytechnic, Akwanga, a privately-owned institution, runs a curiously relaxed admission policy that sidesteps JAMB examination and demands precious little in the shape of entry requirements prerequisites.
The polytechnic’s biggest attraction is its admission policy, which ensures that applicants do not have to endure the inconvenience of writing the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, examination. As a result many who had failed the examination a few times or those unwilling to sit for such have been flocking to the school.
The polytechnic assures them that they are not required to write the examination. What is required is the capability to pay N6, 500 as cost of a JAMB form/admission letter. This appears to be a way of convincing applicants that they are being offered admission genuinely.
After such payment, applicants are informed that their names will be forwarded to JAMB, with which the polytechnic claims to have an arrangement that grants exemptions to applicants coming through it.
Proprietor of the polytechnic, David Abuluya, told icirnigeria.org that he got JAMB to grant exemption to candidates applying through his polytechnic.
“JAMB has given us authority to regularise them (students). When we get their names, there is a certain amount that JAMB charges (N6,500) and the list of students will be drafted an sent,” Abuluya told our reporter at the Nacabs campus in Akwanga.
“So, when JAMB works on the list of students that come to us through it, it exempts these ones (whose names are on the list sent by the school) from writing the exam and gives them JAMB numbers. It is with these numbers that they can go to the board’s website and print their admission letters,” he added.
But icirnigeria.org investigation showed that the proprietor’s claims are false and would get Nacabs graduates into difficulty, as they would be ineligible for the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, programme. And without the NYSC discharge certificate, they would not be able to seek employment in the public service or seek election in future.
Abuluya’s claim of exemption was flatly denied by the examination body. JAMB’s head of public relations, Fabian Benjamin, said it is preposterous for any polytechnic proprietor to claim that his students have been exempted from taking the JAMB exam, adding that the board has no knowledge of what goes on in the school.
“We are not aware of anything he is doing. It is not possible that JAMB gave its approval. Some schools which have accreditation from their regulatory bodies run preliminary programmes. Others run remedial studies or whatever they want to do, we do not care. What we do is that when these candidates go through these programmes, they still have to write JAMB exam. The point here is that whatever you are doing is like a coaching class,” Benjamin said.
According to the JAMB spokesman, the school may get away with its dodgy admission process, but only at the National Diploma level.
“He might get away with it at ND level, but when they (students) go for HND, they will have serious problems because if you have to participate in the National Youth Service Corps programme, you must have a JAMB admission letter and for you to have that, you must have sat for and passed the JAMB exam. To have sat for JAMB and gained admission, you must have got the minimum entry requirements,” he said.
Our investigations show that the area of minimum entry requirements is another one through which the authorities of the polytechnic are misleading students. Our findings were contrary to the school’s claim that it only admits those who meet the minimum entry requirements of five credits, including in Mathematics and English Language.
Some of the polytechnic’s current National Diploma 1 students, who also did not take the JAMB exam, did not meet this requirement. It was discovered that some have four credits, while some have as few as two credits. Others have one of Mathematics or English Language or neither.
Aside from these, Nacabs also has acute infrastructural deficits. The institution is strictly non-residential, something which Abuluya admits the authorities are not ready to change yet. The campus is made up of just five buildings, two of which are still under construction. The most eye-catching is the administrative building, a modest bungalow housing staff offices, including those of the proprietor, rector and curiously, lecture halls.
The campus is conspicuously lacking in facilities, except if a sandy football pitch, fitted with bamboo goalposts, qualifies as one.
Similarly absent is a health facility, not even a sick bay. Students of the polytechnic, in their hundreds, have no toilets except those provided by the Students’ Union Government, SUG. Even these are inadequate.
The non-residential status of the school, which ensures that all students live off-campus, has driven up rent around the campus. Landlords charge between N15, 000 and N20, 000 per year for a single room and as much as N30, 000 and above for a room with kitchen, bathroom and toilet.
For the 2013/2014 academic session, students are expected to pay N70, 000 as tuition, but the proprietor decided to award 60 per cent (N42, 000) as scholarship, leaving them to pay N28, 000.
Nonetheless, every new student, irrespective of the course of study, pays a non-refundable fee of N59, 000. This has become a sore point, as many of the students believe it is too steep. Broken down, the fees are as follows:
• Games (N3, 000)
• Examination (N5,000)
• Equipment (Lab)/workshop (N5, 000)
• Acceptance fee/matric (N2, 000)
• ID card (N2, 000)
• Library service (N2, 000)
• Maintenance (N2, 000)
• Health scheme (N3, 000)
• Registration of new students (N5, 000)
• Handbook (N2, 000)
• ICT (N5, 000)
• Caution deposit (new students) (N5, 000)
• Development levy (N15, 000)
When added to the ‘subsidised’ fee of N28, 000, the total amount of money payable for the academic session becomes N87, 000. This does not include the N6, 500 for JAMB form/admission letter or the about N5, 000 they paid for hand-outs.
In spite of its inadequacies, however, investigations by the icirnigeria.org showed that Nacabs is actually a government approved institution, duly registered by the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, which regulates “all aspects of Technical and Vocational Education falling of University Education.”
Of the 22 private polytechnics on the website of the Board, Nacabs is the thirteenth.
When contacted, NBTE declined to comment. NBTE liaison officer in Abuja, Bamamu Baba, promised to get in touch with the desk officer in charge of the school. But when our reporter met the desk officer, who did not give his name, he refused to respond to questions put to him. According to him, speaking to the press will put his job “on the line”.
As regards the lack of basic amenities in the polytechnic, particularly hostel facilities, the desk officer came to the school’s defence, saying “there are federal and state polytechnics that are not residential, because accommodation is not part of the criteria for establishing a polytechnic.”
The desk officer, who faulted our investigations, said, our reporter “cannot fault any particular school, unless you know the guidelines for establishing a private polytechnic,” apparently unaware that the reporter had already obtained a copy.
The guideline makes founding a polytechnic so easy it is unbelievable. All it states is that anyone who wishes to begin a polytechnic must show or possess an application form (Obtainable at NBTE, Kaduna); masterplan, academic plan, needs assessment/feasibility survey; 50 hectares of land in the name of the institution; N100, 000, 000 bank guarantee; a certificate of occupancy in the name of the institution and financial plan
A request was made for the list of approved programmes for Nacabs, but the NBTE refused, referring the reporter to its websites. A visit to the website revealed that Nacabs was not listed among the schools with accredited programmes. The board last published the list of accredited programmes in 2011. Accreditation given to some of the programmes have since expired, with some expiring this year and others next year.
A source in the NBTE informed our reporter that the school has accreditation for only five courses. But a reliable source in the school revealed that the school runs eight programmes (Theology, another course included in its handbook, brings the total to nine). The courses are Law, Statistics, Business Administration, Public Administration, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Mass Communication.
However, on its website, Nacabs says it runs more than fifteen courses in eight schools. The schools it claims to have include Business and Administration, Engineering, Environmental Studies, System Science, Preliminary and General Studies and a Continuing Education Centre.
The school says it has 65-70 academic staff, all full-time. But a lecturer, who does not want his name mentioned, denied the claim. According to the lecturer, the school has part-time lecturers. “But getting such an employment depends on the person’s relationship with the proprietor,” he said.
According to Abuluya, in the next five years, “We want to have Nacabs University.”