Reports from the Cafes
Over the years, reports of school fees fraud and other related scam have continued to emerge unabated. From admissions scam to school fees fraud, over and over again, students, especially freshmen have continuously fell victims to the craftiness of cunning business practices of people who always run away with their fees.
Scam is in nearly all aspects of the human society. From the banks to the roadside business enterprise, fraudulent activities have thrived. In the past, when NDU fees were paid in the bank, reports of bankers who connived with students to pay spurious school fees and tender a fake e-teller to take to the bursary office to convert to school receipt were nearly rampart.
There were also sketchy reports of school staff who also involved in the cunning acts of school fees fraud.
It may have been consequent upon the above challenges that the incumbent NDU management have decided to shift all fees payment online. Currently, staff and bankers need not see physical cash as all fees are now being paid online.
A Shift in Fraudulent Actors
While the NDU management have found solutions to the problems of school fees fraud within, what may not have been anticipated was that fraud is actually everywhere. As it stands, the fraud have been shifted to café owners and other third parties who stands as linkmen who help and aid to transfer fees from students/parents/sponsors to the NDU account.
To say the truth, the current report on scam on campus and environs have by far transcended earlier reports on school fees fraud. While the online payments may have favoured management in securing all fees directly without cash having to exchange hands, more and more gullible, unsuspecting and naive students continued to fall for scam by their cafe contacts and students standing as processing linkmen.
The Challenges at the Café Centres
There seems to be several challenges and temptations in handling students’ school fees. Many of these café owners had seldom handled huge amount of money before and with very bad financial management behaviours.
When school fees amounting to hundreds of thousands and even millions in some cases are handed over to some café owners, they tend to live bogus lifestyle, forgetting that they are living on students’ fees.
Sooner or later, issues start and many of them are arrested, others running permanently from Amassoma, yet others painfully committing suicide.
One thing often comes to my mind and that is financial management behaviours of café owners. Many café owners have not attained that level of maturity in life where they should be handling people’s monies. And this is the basis of the whole issues. It is a case of giving a thousand Naira note to a kid. He will rumple it or even play with it. Young café owners and even older ones with less financial sagacity may use their customer’s fees for personal expenses.
Most of these cafes do not have good record keeping practice and when the debt keep mounting, they may be least aware, thinking business is moving, hence no need for concern.
The Temptations that Comes with Fees Handling
Expenses are much, income are low, societal expectation are mounting as family responsibility continue to grow. Amidst all of these, funds keep on coming in fees to make payments. Café owners may be tempted to utilize these fees to keep up with their existing financial pressures unbeknownst that they are “digging their own grave” so to speak.
The temptation of remaining financially decent despite overwhelming availability of people’s money in your hand is very daunting. In the past, friends had actually advised me to use fees that was being paid to my account to pay to the NDU. In one particular instance, I had to walk a very good friend out of my office on a very valid argument that if this is his level of understanding, then he cannot be in my friend circle.
That friend now have ran out of Amassoma. As I later learnt, he was a chronic fraudster, collected fees in both acceptance, school fees and admissions and tendered fake receipts. Painful as it was, it was clearer to me to be wary of who I allowed to come into my friend circle.
A Possible Bleak Future for NDU Café Owners
Although the online processing tend to be the way forward, sometimes, I fear that the NDU management may in the future adopt a singular school fees payment office to harmonize payments and avoid/minimize cases of school fees fraud. This is because in the recent past, cafes have been grossly involved in school fees scam.
It is also possible that school may recommend that all clearance should be done in a designated office. This will drastically reduce the lots of the outside café owners. Although it will then reduce the amount of monies going to the cafes causing mismanagement, it may also create a possibility for scammers to collect clearance monies from students and never pay it as many students may still lean on their café contacts to pay their fees/clearance.
So in either case, the harm is sometimes nevitable
An Attempt by NDU CT Personnel to Privately Handle All Students’ 100 Level Clearance
In the 2020/2021 academic session clearance, it was reported that ICT personnel made an attempt on the management to approve that only the New Site ICT office should handle 100 level online clearance. Sources from the VC’s office claimed that the VC disapproved the appeal in all its entirety claiming the online clearance is his way of empowering the people; that online clearance should be accessed worldwide.
This made me to start wondering…. In my office (A & U Ng), we spent an estimated N700,000 to N1m in Facebook ads, designs, publications and promotions just to tell our very wide, far reaching and varied audience that Niger Delta University is actually the best school to be, with a vibrant and world class Vice Chancellor, improved learning environment, best academic policies ever and lots more…
All these investments we do to ensure we pull more applicants and attention to the NDU. It is then surprising that some self acclaimed ICT personnel who do not engaged in the real information technology of using information to the benefit of the university will want to eat it all, leaving us the real investors empty-handed.
Let it be on record that the day NDU made the decision to restrict 100 level online clearance to the greedy ICT personnel who are arguing on the basis of fraud to privately handle all clearances, the attention and publication we engaged and pull to the NDU will be stopped as there is no more need to invest. Meanwhile those who are approved to eat it all know little or nothing about the real ICT – using information technology to the benefit of the University.
There seemed to be no avenue that the NDU management will adopt that will be totally fraud free. Even if all clearance are secluded to the ICT office, scammers may still find a way to go about their regular business as they have access to the candidates before they gain admission. Therefore, I believe the current system are lauded as ok but better information dissemination practice should be added to aid members of the public in taking actions as it concerns NDU matters.
As academics and scholars, we find solutions to our own problems. Hence, the following solutions have been put forward for the consideration of students, parents/sponsors, café owners, management and bloggers:
- Students: As a student, always use the services of a trusted café owner. As a new entrant, you will find it hard to identify who is good and who is bad. If this is your predicament, then you can use our trusted and Smart services at A & U Ng (08060699054)
- Parents/sponsors: As a parent, it s nice to follow information being published by the school to ensure you do the right thing the right way. While a student may not suspect a possible fraud, as a parent, you have a better view and understanding to quickly identify possible fraud.
- Café owners: As a café owner, it is hereby advised you learn good financial management practices. This will help you identify that you have money or not, thereby placing your expenses under a watchdog. Do not live above your means. It will crumble you. Those who had ran away from Amassoma as a result of huge debt must be finding it hard to pick up their lives again.
- NDU management: Information is key to everything. One thing that drove me into information dissemination was the fraudulent cases I heard of. By 2017, various reports of fraud had started coming in and I felt since the NDU does not have any form of SEO compliant information online that actually answer questions of far away audience who have no link to the NDU, thereby making them seek out people who later defraud them, I felt I have to write to respond to the questions being asked so that those who cared to search online can have not just a publication but a database of responses. The NDU currently have low online marketing profile and it is detrimental to the well being of the University in the comity of things.
- It is hereby recommended that the NDU setup an information office that write at least, a publication about NDU per day. These information should answer questions people ask about NDU and procedures for fees payment. Doing this will enable naive and unsuspecting freshmen and older students to quickly identify possible fraud.
- Bloggers: Bloggers publishing about NDU from within are few. There are more bloggers from outside the community than those inside, hence there are more incorrect information out there aimed to pull traffic and sometimes to defraud searchers. I suggest more students from NDU should learn more about blogging about NDU while doing online business which is very lucrative.
- The PRO office: The PRO office should have an online platform where information are generated from issues happening around campus on a compulsorily every day basis. These information quickly help to clear issues, and informed students don’t fall to scam.
About the Author
The publisher is Julius Michael Oghenenyoreme, CEO and lead researcher at A & U Ng (Admissions and UTME Nigeria). A & U Ng is a vocational centre disseminating information and research on admissions in NDU and other institutions in Nigeria. It also offers café services in processing students’ fees and clearance.
Julius Michael Oghenenyoreme is as Marketing Masters student, Department of Vocational and Technology Education, Faculty of Education, Niger Delta University.