HomeNewsInside Ogun Private Polytechnic Allegedly Running Unaccredited Law, Nursing, Pharmacy Programmes

Inside Ogun Private Polytechnic Allegedly Running Unaccredited Law, Nursing, Pharmacy Programmes

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Recently, some youths took to social media demanding that an institution of higher learning situated in the fast-growing Obada community of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, be investigated for running unaccredited courses and deceiving innocent boys and girls.

Havarde College of Science, Business and Management Studies operates as an academic institution with no clear specification of where it belongs among the categories of higher schools in Nigeria.

Students of the college cannot distinguish whether they are in a polytechnic, a university, or both combined. This is so because the college, which claims to have its accreditation from the National Board for Technical Education, is also admitting students to study Law and other courses that are never run by polytechnics.

Havarde College of Science, Business and Management Studies said in one of its adverts that it awards National Diploma and Higher National Diploma certificates. It also claimed in the same advert that it runs BSc conversion programmes for HND holders, creating confusion as to whether or not the school now has the approval of the National University Commission to award degrees.

Findings by Sunday PUNCH confirmed that what is now known as Havarde College of Science, Business and Management Studies started over a decade ago as Olabisi Onabanjo University Consult, running pre-degree and ND programmes, and giving unsuspecting youths the hope that they would become graduates.

A few years later, the proprietor of the institution, Dr Oluwatosin Adebayo, severed ties with the Ogun State-owned Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, and came up with a tactically selected name, ‘Harvarde’, which sounds like the popular Harvard University in the United States.

A vigorous search by our correspondent could not confirm the accreditation status of the college. It is not among the list of accredited private polytechnics or monotechnics on the NBTE website. It also did not appear among the colleges of education accredited by the National Commission for Colleges of Education, nor did it appear among the universities certified by the NUC.

However, in a 2021 directory of the NBTE, Harvarde College was seen among the list of specialised institutions offering accredited programmes. The college got the permission of the NBTE to offer ND in Accountancy, Business Administration, Mass Communication and Computer Science. The directory indicated that the accreditation ought to expire in October 2022.

In August 2022, the college succeeded in securing a licence to operate as a monotechnic with the aforementioned programmes.

But today, the college posts adverts for about 30 courses, including Law, Pharmacy, Nursing, Criminology, Engineering, Medical Laboratory and others. Investigation by Sunday PUNCH confirmed that students studying Law and Nursing were attending daily classes as of Friday, December 15, 2023.

On its website, https://harvardecollege.edu.ng/, it was stated that the Harvarde College of Science, Business and Management Studies “is a private institution approved by the Federal Ministry of Education through the Hon. Minister for Education of (the) Federal Republic of Nigeria and Joint Admission(s and) Matriculation Board, Nigeria.”

The college also claimed to be partnering with one Penothniel College of Health Science and Technology, another college whose accreditation status is yet to be verified. The signboard of Penothniel is erected at the same place as that of Harvarde.

In a video on the website, it was stated that the Penothniel College of Health Science and Technology was accredited by the Federal Government of Nigeria and professional bodies to offer medical courses.

Likewise, the School of Science and Engineering runs Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Estate Management, Statistics, Information and Communications Technology.

The School of Law and Security Studies admits students to study Law, Criminology and Legal Studies, Security Management, as well as International Law and Diplomacy. It was also noted that the School of Basic and Medical Science runs Medical Laboratory Science, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health Nursing.

Similarly, the School of Natural and Applied Sciences offers Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biological Sciences.

With six faculties, the college boasts of almost 30 courses, assuming the status of a fully-fledged university, even when it did not indicate the certificate to be awarded in those courses. Nigerians have continued to query the power possessed by Havarde College of Science, Business and Management Studies to run courses like Law, Nursing, Pharmacy, Medical Laboratory Science and other programmes that are exclusively for accredited universities.

For the 2023/2024 academic session, the college, in a post on its Facebook page, said it runs part-time ND and HND programmes in Mass Communication, Business Administration, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Marketing, Accounting, Public Administration, and Banking and Finance, stressing that “HND conversion to Bsc is also available.”

Owners of the college did not state in clear terms if the academic institution had any affiliation with any recognised university in Nigeria or outside the country, giving people the impression that they were out to deceive unsuspecting students.

“Even with that, it is clear that professional courses like Law, Pharmacy and others are not run in affiliation,” an academic from a reputable government institution in Ogun said anonymously.

On its website, it is clearly stated that applications for the 2023/2024 session closed on October 8, 2023. However, efforts by our correspondent to apply for admission pushed through until there was a demand for a payment of N15,500 before continuing further with the application. Many have alleged that the college was only interested in the money that would come from interested applicants, who would later be given admission to study unaccredited courses.

 Old students’ lamentations 

Testimonies from many old students of the school pointed to the various controversies surrounding the authenticity of the college.

One Oluwabunmi Michael Awoyemi raised the alarm on his X handle when he wrote, “An institution is named Havarde College of Business, Science and Management Studies, yet they admit students to study Law, Nursing and other courses, lying that they’re affiliated to institutions like OOU, AAUA, and other institutions.”

Awoyemi accused the college of admitting innocent students “only for those ones to pay school fees for years and not get degrees.”

The post by the netizen triggered a lot of revelations from youths, who said they were victims of the self-styled degree-awarding institution.

Some of the students said they were taken to a university in Cotonou, Benin Republic, for a conversion course, the certificate of which they used in getting mobilisation for the National Youth Service Corps as foreign students after spending about N300,000 extra in fees.

A student, who just completed four years in the school said, “I am still at home thinking of how to get N255,000 to process conversion of result. Harvarde is asking us to pay for ECOWAS fee and all that, so we will convert our results to that of a university in Benin Republic. That is how they have been doing it.”

Odunayomi, who is now a medical student in the University of Lagos, recounted his experience about the college, saying, “How many of their students graduated with degrees to show for it? They push just about two per cent of the students they’re able to successfully get degrees from universities in Cotonou for through ‘magomago’ and then push them into service, just to save face and convince innocent children into not changing their minds about leaving.

“At first, they claimed they were in affiliation with Olabisi Onabanjo University and were bearing OOUC in which the ‘C’ stood for Consult. Later, they switched affiliation to Atiba University without informing us until we called them out on it back then in 2019. Later, they changed name to Penothniel. I was the class rep that time and was a bit popular. So, I knew a lot of information and that the director’s two kids at the time were Peniel and Othniel.

“So, it only made sense how the name was coined then. They later changed to Intellectual Harvarde something something, and now the Harvarde Business whatever they’re bearing now. The foundation of that place was built on lies and deceit. I was so depressed at the time and found it hard to pick myself up again to process another institution. Thank God for my family and friends.”

Oyeyemi Adedoyin recalled how he left his craft for the college thus, “One of my regrets is I left my aluminium company as a director at Lagos, I went to Abeokuta in the hope of furthering more. It’s after two years before (that) my eyes opened. I am still traumatised because of the experience, but (at the) same time grateful I left earlier.”

Fact-finding visit to Harvarde College

Our correspondent visited the college on a fact-finding mission on Friday, but the management failed to provide enough evidence to defend the institution against all allegations.

For anyone linking the college from Panseke through Adigbe-Opako, Harvarde is situated after the Ogun River bridge, just before the railway line. A signboard is erected at the dusty turning on the left. Computer operators, stationery sellers and other traders are making brisk business, enjoying the availability of students, who troop in and out to patronise them. Noise from generators rents the air as individuals in their makeshift container shops make money from the young girls and boys.

At the entrance to the college, a car with no fewer than four officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps was stationed. It was later gathered that the security agents were on hand to stop a planned protest by some students over the controversies surrounding the college.

Though built under a power line, the sprucely decorated college sits on a few plots of land. The few blocks of classroom look welcoming, even when they appear to be competing for space.

Within this premises are students in mufti and some in uniforms, moving up and down to attend classes. From their looks, the majority of these innocent students are teenagers desperate for higher certificates after secondary school.

Our correspondent succeeded in meeting the Provost, Dr Femi Oyetunji, in his office, explaining that the visit was a fact-finding one. The Provost was told of the issues being raised about the college under his watch. He was asked to explain how the school got accreditation to admit students for Law, Nursing, Pharmacy and even the HND-BSC conversion programme. He was asked to clarify if the college was a degree-awarding institution or a monotechnic.

But, Oyetunji told our correspondent that he did not have the power to make any comment on the questions posed to him. According to him, the proprietor had during the week addressed some journalists, during which all the issues were ironed out.

When he was told that the information released at the said press conference did not address cogent issues of how Harvarde got approval to offer Law and Nursing, Oyetunji asked our correspondent to write his WhatsApp number on a sheet of paper and promised that everything he needed to know would be sent.

College claims affiliation with ABSU

A few hours later on Friday, a statement and some documents were sent. A photo showed the proprietor holding a photocopy of the licence issued to him by the NBTE to run a monotechnic. In the licence, the monotechnic approved in August 2022 was named Harvade College of Management and Business Studies, Abeokuta. This is in sharp contrast to the present name, Havarde College of Science, Business and Management Studies.

There was also a letter from the NBTE on October 31, 2023, accrediting HND in Accountancy, Business Administration and Computer Science. But no letter was seen accrediting Law, Nursing and others.

In the statement sent to our correspondent, the proprietor, Adedayo, was quoted as having said, “If anybody goes to the JAMB office, you can verify and check their portal. We can’t come to Abeokuta and be doing something illegal.

“It is quite unfortunate that some people derive pleasure in tarnishing (others’) image. If anything is not clear to you, I believe you should have come down to the school and asked questions, rather than going on social media and result (resort) to blackmailing or passing false information.

“Go to the Federal Ministry of Education, office of the minister, the school is well known and recognised. (The) NBTE regularly comes here for accreditation. They were here in October for accreditation; we are a registered institution by the government.”

On the issue of affiliation, he said, “We were running OOU programmes outright but not anymore. We have left OOU and we have stood firm on our own.

“We offer ND and HND, but we don’t have the right to issue BSc on our own. Presently, we have an affiliation with Abia State University; we signed a Memorandum of Understanding which we even posted online.

“We graduate students every year and they were mobilised for (the) NYSC. What I think is causing this issue is (that) we send students away from here if they misbehave or did not meet the required standard(s). These are the students spreading false information on social media.

“Whenever you have any information, verify first, don’t just go into social media and spread false information; Nigerians should deviate from fake news, rumours.”

Unanswered questions

Adedayo’s statement did not clear the air on how he secured accreditation to run Law, Pharmacy and Nursing. He has yet to name the universities with which he signed MoU to run courses like Law, Nursing, Pharmacy, Medical Laboratory and others.

While at the college, our correspondent approached about seven students dressed in black and white, who confirmed that they were Law students. The students replied in the affirmative when they were asked if they knew the course was not accredited.

“We know the course is not yet accredited, but we trust God that it will be accredited before we graduate,” almost all the students approached gave similar responses.

The so-called Law students informed that they pay N195,000 yearly as school fees, while those in the Nursing department said they pay N130,000 yearly as tuition for the five-year course.

The students said they were not aware that the college was running the programmes in affiliation with any recognised university in Nigeria. However, they were optimistic that they would graduate in record time.

The nursing students told our correspondent that “we don’t go to any other school or any tertiary hospital for practical purposes; we do everything here.”

Speaking with our correspondent, a lawyer, Lawal Orisadare, said Law could never be run as a linkage programme with any polytechnic. He maintained that the Council of Legal Education and the NUC would never approve such, wondering if this was happening in Ogun State, the home of scholars like the Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, and others.

“I am afraid that’s not possible because the Council of Legal Education through NUC won’t accredit the programme,” Orisadare added.

Ogun promises to take action

Meanwhile, the Ogun State Government has said it is contacting the NBTE and the NUC to confirm the allegations against the proprietor of Harvarde College after which it will take necessary actions.

The Commissioner for Education, Prof Abayomi Arigbabu, said though the state government was not the one approving or accrediting higher institutions of learning, it would, however, if the regulatory agencies confirm that Law and other programmes were never accredited in the college, take necessary actions to stop the exploitation of the younger ones.

Arigbabu stated, “This matter is under the purview of the NUC and NBTE. We don’t approve schools to run university or polytechnic programmes. We don’t have the mandate to directly intervene in such situations; what we do is to call the regulatory bodies that are in charge.

“Immediately I got that information, I passed it to officials of the NUC and NBTE though not formally yet, so that they can take action. They have the machinery to do that. Once we have confirmation from them that the school is not approved, we will complement their efforts by alerting the police to do something. But we want to get that confirmation from the NUC and NBTE first.

“I am sure they will be illegal schools but we need to get an official confirmation from those bodies before we act. Normally, it is not our own to act, but if we ask for that confirmation and we are sure, we can ask the police to go ahead and do something about it.”

The academic warned young secondary school leavers to stop being desperate for admission into illegal schools, saying they must always get admitted through JAMB.

“Once someone is telling you to come to a school and you’re not going to write JAMB, then something is wrong. If you get admission without passing through the UTME, that is not a recognised tertiary institution in Nigeria, whether polytechnic or university,” he stated.

Culled: Punch

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