- About 60 students fate hang in the balance
By Steve Seigha,Yenagoa
If information at the crime desk of Daily Watch are anything to go by, with serious indications already emerged at ongoing Bayelsa State Assembly probe panel in conjunction with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), the accrediting and regulatory body for polytechnics and monotechnics have reportedly stepped down the accreditation of the newly established International Institute of Tourism & Hospitality Yenagoa, Bayelsa state on account of the academic credentials of the institute’s Rector, Mr. Samuel Timi Johnson.
Mr. Johnson claimed to have obtained the certificate from an undisclosed university in the United States of America, where he claimed to have practiced as chef for 35 years prior to his appointment by the Bayelsa state governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, in 2017.
According to a source, this discovery was made by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly committee on public petitions, chaired by Hon. Tare Pori, during an interrogatory session with top management of the institute, following an earlier invitation by the committee on account of a petition to the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Tonye Emmanuel Isenah by six aggrieved academic staff against top management of the institute.
The cat was let of the bag on the Rector’s certificates while he was responding to questions by a female member of the committee who asked the Rector pointed questions as to whether he possessed the required relevant academic qualifications to be appointed as Rector of the International Institute of Tourism & Hospitality, which is meant to award both national diploma and higher national diplomas as a Monotechnic.
The Rector, in response, reportedly told the lawmakers that he was a certified registered ServSafe instructor of the National Restaurants Association of America, USA.
However, investigations showed that the Rector’s highest academic certificate, being the “ServSafe certificate” from the National Restaurants’ Association of America, was not an equivalent to the least recognized academic qualification in Nigeria, being First School Leaving Certificate, not to talk of obtaining a Senior School Certificate or a degree.
It will be recalled that the NBTE guidelines for appointment of a Rector in Polytechnic, Monotechnic and other allied technological institutions stipulate that the person must be of the rank of Chief Lecturer (Polytechnic) or its equivalent (Professor) rank in a University and holder of a Doctorate Degree in the relevant field(s) from a recognized institution with at least 12 years of teaching/applied research work experience.
In addition, the candidate should have five academic papers, read at national/international conference/seminar; four additional papers/articles published in reputable journals and must have contributed four meaningful chapters in standard textbooks or two standard textbooks. Such appointee must also show evidence of community service and membership of a relevant academic professional body as with valid registration.
From this reporter’s findings, Mr. Timi Johnson does not have any of the aforementioned requirements (not even the least First School Leaving Certificate).
Sources hinted that the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), the accrediting body for Polytechnics and Monotechnics in Nigeria had since declined to continue with the earlier accreditation process of the institute’s National Diploma (ND) programmes, pending the removal of the current Rector on account of his incompetence and lack of required relevant academic qualifications to become a Rector of a Monotechnic that would be awarding NBTE’s National Diploma and Higher National Diplomas.
More findings showed that the Rector’s American certificates, “Servesafe” certificate, being the highest qualification the Rector presented is just a “proficiency certificate for the enhancement of skill on the Job.”
It is a sad commentary that this ugly development at the institute has truncated the educational pursuits of over sixty (60) pioneer students who registered for the National Diploma programmes of the institute in the 2016/2017 academic session.
These pioneer students ended up spending three good years in the institute for a two year programme, without obtaining their National Diploma certificates due to the non accreditation of the institute’s programmes by the accrediting body, owing to the lack of relevant academic qualifications of the Rector.
It was also learnt on good authority that the embattled Rector has been making spirited efforts to reach out to the Speaker of the House and the House committee chairman, including a frontline governorship aspirant and some commissioners in the state to conceal the matter before it gets to the ears of the governor.
Mr. Johnson is also said to be having a running battle with the Registrar of the Institute over alleged monumental fraud and diversion of institute’s fund, amounting to over 80million naira.
A government house source in Yenagoa, who pleaded not to be mentioned, hinted that some top government officials were still bent on ensuring that the certificate scandal was concealed from the governor to allow the Rector stay in office till the end of the governor’s second tenure, being February 14, 2020.
When contacted for comments, he agreed that he is the Rector of the institution.
In his words: “Yes, I’m the Rector. I’m in a meeting right now. This is a state institution. So, whatever findings you want, you need to go through the state and get what you need.
“This is not a private institution. I’m not obliged to give you any report. I can’t even do phone conversation with you.”
When our reporter urged him further to speak despite on phone, he retorted: “I can’t talk to you. I cannot talk. I have told you it’s a state institution and not mine. You go through the state and get your report. The state will be able to give you the facts that you need.”
When further reminded that the certificate in question is his and he could speak on it being the owner, he said a call was on his phone and he needed to pick the call. “I need to pick this call, the chairman is calling me, thank you,” and he hung the call.
Daily Watch further investigations showed that Mr. Johnson has been parading himself as a Degree in Culinary and Food Service Management, from the Burlington County College, Mount Holly, NJ, USA. He said he was trained in French trained Chef/Food Safety Certification Instructor, over thirty years of culinary skills.
Mr. Samuel Timi Johnson, is now Deputy Rector (Academics) at the newly established International Institute of Tourism and Hospitality, Yenagoa, Bayelsa-Nigeria.
What the Bayelsa state probe panel wants and other relevant bodies is for Mr. Johnson to prove beyond reasonable doubt with substantial documents to substantiate his claim as a degree holder.