Governor of Delta State, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori

Corruption, extortion scandal rocks colleges of nursing in Delta, students send SOS to Gov. Oborevwori

…Managements jacks up Basic Council requirement fees by over 300%
…Admission racketeering assuming worrisome dimension 
… College students experiences mass failure in internal exams to create avenue for extortions 
…Commissioner for Health promises thorough investigation 

 

Again corruption and extortion has rocked Delta State Colleges of Nursing barely one month after the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joseph Onojaeme celebrated the ‘refund’ of undisclosed amount of illegal fees extorted from some students of the State-owned Colleges of Nursing Sciences, investigation has revealed.

Advocate.ng gathered that while the much-glamorized refund was mere smokescreen, there are unreported higher level extortion of students ongoing across all the colleges, a situation that is already threatening the training and performance of students even as they send save our soul message to Governor Sheriff Oborevwori urging him to set up an independent panel outside the ministry of health to probe the activities of the managements of these Colleges in order to bring sanity to the schools.

Recall that Governor Oborevwori recently reaffirmed his commitment to health education with the establishment of a new College of Health Technology at Ovrode in Isoko North Local Government Area of the State.

It was in furtherance of this that made the Governor to approve the refund of some unauthorized fees imposed on students of the Colleges of Nursing Sciences in Asaba and Sapele about a month ago.

It would be recalled that while addressing the press on the refund of the unauthorized fees that affected 162 students, the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joseph Onojaeme did not disclose the amount that constituted the fees nor the percentage of the amount the ministry refunded to each of the 162 students said to be affected.

Further invisitigation by our team relived the fact that the said refund of the undisclosed amount notwithstanding, there appears to be a deluge of massive ongoing extortions of the students currently in the Colleges of Nursing Sciences across the State which the governor is unaware of, a situation that has make mess of the free education policy of the governor in the State health institutions.

An impeccable source which spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity in the course of investigation, disclosed that a lot of extortions and other forms of administrative corruption have been going on in the past two or three months, adding that the ministry is aware of the development. According to the source, the outcry of those 162 students which led to the said refund is just a tip of the iceberg compared to the myriads of extortions currently taking place among the Colleges of Nursing Sciences in the State.

For instance, our correspondent gathered that the recently-concluded Nursing Council Exam which commenced on May 7, 2024, the students who participated in that exam paid the approved Council enrolment fee of N53,200.00 each, adding that the fee was paid directly to government account through Remita. The source however, noted that “in addition to this approved amount, the office of the Commissioner also collected the sum of N50,000.00 per student as extra administrative fee which was not approved.”

Our investigation also revealed that the Nursing Council requirements fees for Post Basic Nursing Program for 2024 were also inflated by over 200% for the students to pay without the Council’s approval, including payment for indexing, research proposal/defence and computer training which were not part of the Council requirements.

According to our source, Acceptance fee for which the Council approved only N20,000, the students were made to pay the sum N30,000 each. Also, while the Council approved a flat rate of N3,125 each for Basic School Education Curriculum, Procedure Booklets and record of practical instruction, the administration of each of the Colleges, without any approval, charged the students to pay N12,500.00 each for the three items.

It was gathered that “the students were made to pay N30,000.00 for Indexing, N20,000.00 for Research Proposal/Defence and another N20,000.00 for computer training whereas these were not part of the Council’s requirement for 2024.”

It was further gathered that the above extortions from the Post Basic Nursing Program for 2024 students “were also applicable to the Basic Nursing/midwifery students with acceptance fees of N40,000 for Delta State students and N50,000 for Non Deltans.”

A group of students who spoke with our correspondent in Asaba under cover because of fear of victimization, called on the governor, His Excellency, Sheriff Oborevwori to take a deeper look at the Ministry of Health and the running of the government-owned Colleges of Nursing Sciences in the State, especially considering the huge financial commitment to the training of health professional in the State.

“We therefore call on the governor to prevail on the Commissioner to refund the entire N50,000 which they call administrative fee because it is a way of defrauding the students. We therefore call for the refund of this whole amount.

“We want to put on record that the total amount currently being extorted from students from the various Colleges of Nursing Sciences across the State is in the neighbourhood of N200,000.00 per student. This is apart from those who were made to cough out between N500,000 and N1 million each to secure admission through horde of racketeers who within the College system. We therefore call on His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori to take a deeper look at the goings-on in the Colleges of Nursing Sciences across the state and if possible, set up an investigating panel to investigate the Ministry’s supervision of the institutions”, the anonymous group told our correspondent.

Our correspondent also reported that admission of new students into the 2024/2025 academic session which ought to have closed about five months ago, is still on in some of the Colleges. It was gathered that the entrance examination conducted by some of the Colleges was deliberately made tough for a greater number of the candidates to fail to pave way for admission racketeering perpetrated by unscrupulous administrative staff in the Commissioner’s office.

For instance, it was reported that in College of Nursing Science, Agbor, 800 candidates wrote the entrance exam, but only 36 passed on merit. In the same vein, in the College of Nursing Sciences, Warri, 800 candidates also sat for the entrance exam but only 40 passed with merit, while in the College of Nursing Sciences, Eku, 700 sat for the exam and only 41 passed with merit.

It was further gathered that to make up for the number of students required for each College, admission racketeers have clamped down on the opportunity to demand between N500,000 and N1 million naira from each to process admissions to failed candidates through the back door. As at the time of this report, our correspondent gathered, Agbor has admitted 200 students; Warri, 150 while Eku which is still admitting, has already offered admission to 100 students.

“Admission to Delta State Colleges of Nursing Sciences is now for the highest bidder. It is now cash and carry. It has been so politicized such that even those who did not write the exam were given admission as long as their parents can afford cough out millions.

“Our fear is that in the nearest future, with the caliber of students who have been given admission now and the level of corruption being perpetrated by administrative officials of the Colleges and aided by some Ministry officials, Delta State will be turning out half-baked Nurses and Midwives. This is a threat to the Health Care Delivery policy of the Delta State government”, an anonymous group stated.

It was also gathered that the new Director of Nursing Services, Mrs. Mercy Atikpo is also full of complaints and frustration, that the officials from the office of the Commissioner including his PA collude with some officials of the National Association of Nurses and Midwives (NAN&M), Delta State chapter, to hijack the conduct of Entrance Examination and ultimately the entire process of admission of new students. A source noted that she has been sidelined by the admission racketing gang in the Colleges who are collaborating with some Ministry officials.

“More worrisome in recent times was the derogative attitude of the chairman of the

National Association of Nurses and Midwives (NAN&M) Delta State and her predecessor, Mrs. Philomena Onokpuvie and Mrs Alice Jegede, respectively, who have now turned Academic Staff of the Colleges of Nursing Sciences, working hand in hand with key officials in the Health Commissioner office to conduct Entrance Examination and admit students into these schools, sidelining the Director of Nursing Sciences and the academic staff. The Commissioner is aware of all the rot going on in the schools”, a concerned staff of one of the colleges volunteered to our correspondent.

Special focus on College of Nursing Sciences, Eku

In the course of investigation, the attention of our correspondent was drawn to the happenings in the State College of Nursing Sciences, Eku in Ethiope East Local Government Area. It was gathered that, currently, the training of Nurses in this facility is akin to a military camp where the students study under fear and trepidation amid threat of expulsion and victimization if found reporting their ordeal to the press or even to their parents. Even the Student Union Government officials are said to be afraid to open up on the treatment which the new Provost of the College, one Mrs. Gloria Bassey Enobong from Akwa Ibom is meting to the students on a daily basis.

Some of the students who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, described the Provost of the College as a high-handed and corrupt school administrator. She was reported to have increased the fees payable by students who are due for psychiatric posting from N30,000 to a whopping N90,000. And she is currently threatening the students not to openly complain of the astronomical increase in the fees else they will be dealt with.

“The provost is threatening students who are complaining about the sudden increase in payment of psychiatric posting fees. She does not even allow us to snap our results. I mean, how can we give account to our parents? How can we convince them that there is increase in psychiatric posting fees when they have not even seen our results? It is really frustrating. Imagine after giving your child money but there is no result. We are emotionally drained and psychologically disturbed”, a source told our correspondent”, an affected student confided in our correspondent.

When our correspondent confronted the Honourable Commissioner for Health on these allegations, he simply replied: “I’m not aware. I will investigate”.

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