Saturday, August 31, 2013

NTDC Management visits The Sun Abuja bureau

NTDC Management visits The Sun Abuja bureau
The Director General and some members of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Management visited the Abuja office of The Sun Publishing Limited during their recent familiarisation tour of select print media outfits in the nation’s capital.

R-L: NTDC DG, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo with Executive Director (Special Services) of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Eric Osagie.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Nigeria’s leading print media pledge support to NTDC…Mbanefo, Nigeria’s tourism chief visits Lagos Gov Fashola

Nigeria’s leading print media pledge support to NTDC

…Mbanefo, Nigeria’s tourism chief visits Lagos Gov Fashola


The Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, paid a courtesy call on Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN, recently.

Gov Fashola (right) with the NTDC DG, Mrs. Mbanefo.
Throughout that visit, Mrs. Mbanefo and members of her delegation were warmly received by Gov Fashola as well as Mr. Disu Holloway, Commissioner for Tourism and Inter-Governmental Relations, among others.

Meanwhile, the majority of Nigeria’s most influential newspapers and magazines have thrown their weight behind NTDC’s efforts to vigorously promote tourism in Nigeria. The NTDC DG got this assurance during her recent tour of various print media houses in Abuja.

The NTDC DG had visited the Abuja offices of The Sun, Leadership, The Guardian, Tell, The Nation and Champion during that tour. When she called at The Sun Publishing Limited, Mrs. Mbanefo, who plans to visit other media establishments in the near future, was received by the Executive Director (Special Services), Mr. Eric Osagie.

Speaking during her visit to The Sun, the NTDC DG said the support and cooperation of all stakeholders, including renowned media organisations like The Sun, was needed to realise her mandate of promoting and developing tourism in Nigeria.

Welcoming Mrs. Mbanefo, Mr. Osagie; while extolling The Sun as one of the most widely circulated newspapers in the country, which also touches on the grassroots, just as the NTDC boss’s hopes to develop tourism at the grassroots; pointed out that, the lady “couldn’t have started her media familiarisation tour at a better place”.

Speaking further, Osagie expressed his hope that the sun will shine on the NTDC, even as he aired the desire of Nigeria’s Voice of the Nation to be NTDC’s number one partner in every ramification.

Mr. Osagie, who went on to voice that he was impressed at the pace at which things are moving in the NTDC since Mrs. Mbanefo assumed duties, commended the director general for her desire to create jobs for the nation’s teeming youths via plans to build six tourism centres across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

The NTDC DG has repeatedly pointed out that, job-creation is inevitable, to stem the tide of insecurity and other social vices associated with unemployment, which have plagued the nation over the years.

During her stop at Leadership Press, Mbanefo who took time off to explain her policy drive to some members of the editorial team, led by the outfit’s group Executive Director, Mr. Michael Okpere, pointed out that she is presently restructuring the NTDC after which she intends to grow the tourism value chain (TVC). She opined that this will consequently translate into reinventing the tourism industry.

Speaking further on her goals, the NTDC chief seized the opportunity to inform her hosts about the forthcoming Stakeholder’s Meeting, billed to hold on 9 September, this year. The NTDC DG intends to use that platform to officially unveil her policy thrust and address other pertinent questions raised by journalists, we gathered.

Responding, the Editor of Business Leadership, Mr. Isaac Aimurie, observed that “emphasis should be laid on the development and promotion of Parks as core destinations for tourists, while those that offer support services should also be integrated and carried along in the new initiative”.

In her reaction to this suggestion, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo stressed that, for now, she was focused on consolidation and expansion of deliverables, adding that the forthcoming Stakeholders’ forum will involve a holistic approach aimed at deploying all means towards the actualisation of a viable and vibrant tourism industry.

The actualisation of a viable and vibrant tourism industry called for focus on revenue generation and job creation, she pointed out, even as the NTDC DG reminded that, this “conforms to the transformation agenda of Mr. President”.

When she and her crew, visited the office of Champion newspapers, Mrs. Mbanefo again reiterated her request for media cooperation. At that destination, the Bureau Chief, Mr. Malachy Uzendu, while expressing his joy at the visit, declared that every previous DG of the NTDC had enjoyed a very cordial relationship with the newspaper and that Mrs. Mbanefo was only following suit.

Reminding the visitors that the present Information Minister, Mr. Labaran Maku, was once a Champion Reporter, Uzendu went on to add that his outfit has come a long way, even as he also assured the NTDC DG of “maximum support”.

According to a release from NTDC Press, “the Senior Associate Editor of Tell magazine, Mr. Anayochukwu Agbo, promised on behalf of his magazine, to render positive, in-depth reportage of NTDC’s activities”. The release further stated that “Mrs. Mbanefo brings fresh impetus to the job, given her private sector background”.

On his part, the Abuja Bureau Chief of The Nation newspapers, Mr. Yomi Odunuga, while welcoming the NTDC delegation in his office, alongside some members of his staff, including the Managing Editor of Northern operations, Yusuf Alli; noted that The Nation “remains a pan-Nigerian paper committed to the development of the country, just like NTDC”.

Mr. Yusuf corroborated this position by asserting that “The Nation will give maximum support and cooperation, while advising that fairness should be employed in the placement of adverts in newspapers by NTDC in order to avoid discrimination and hard feelings”, according to the NTDC Press statement.

The NTDC boss, who revealed she came to seek friendship and support and to also use the opportunity to invite her hosts to the forthcoming stakeholders’ forum holding in Lagos, added that the platform will address all queries with regard her policy direction since major players like, Tour Operators, Travel Agencies, hospitality outfits, Police and relevant security agencies, such as Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Customs Service and other para-military organisations will be in attendance.

When she called at The Guardian House in Abuja, Mrs. Mbanefo re-echoed her position on the aforementioned issues. The NTDC DG was received at The Guardian by the Deputy Bureau Chief, Mr. Madu Onuorah, “who affirmed that the paper was ready to cooperate with her in the drive to make resounding impact in tourism development, just as he assured that they will also participate in the planned stakeholders’ forum in Lagos”, the statement concluded.

NTDC, Heritage Bank sign MoU

NTDC, Heritage Bank sign MoU

The Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, met with Heritage Bank executives during her latest visit to Lagos.

The NTDC DG, Mrs. Mbanefo, flanked by Mr. Sekibo (left) and Mr. Adeseun.
The high point of that meeting was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NTDC and Heritage Bank. Among Heritage Bank top brasses that received the NTDC DG were Mr. Ifie Sekibo and Mr. Niyi Adeseun, MD/CEO and Executive Director respectively.

While promising mutual benefit from the partnership between NTDC and Heritage Bank, the MD/CEO of the latter also seized the opportunity of Mrs. Mbanefo’s visit to present copies of some books published by his financial institution to the tourism chief.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Warm welcome for UACN Property top-shots at NTDC

Warm welcome for UACN at NTDC

Two heavy weights of the UACN Property Development Company, Mr. Hakeem Ogunniran and Mr. Yemi Ejidiran, Managing Director and Director, Business Development, respectively; received a very warm welcome when they visited the headquarters of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), recently.

Above: The NTDC Director General, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, flanked by UACN PDC MD, Mr. Ogunniran (left) and Mr. Ejidiran during the latters’ visit to Nigeria’s Tourism Village.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chief (Mrs) Mary Adam, teacher par excellence goes home

Chief (Mrs) Mary Adam, teacher par excellence goes home

The late Chief (Mrs) Mary B. Adam.
PHOTO: Dr Winifred Akoda Archive
Chief (Mrs.) Mary B. Adam, an educationist and administrator of many schools is dead. Mrs. Adam (nee Ikpeme) died on 26 July, 2013 in Lagos at the age of 72.

A teacher par excellence, Mrs. Adam taught and administered many schools in different parts of Nigeria. Prior to her retirement, while head of the Family Support Programme (FSP) Primary School in Calabar, Cross River State; she had taught at St. Louis Primary School, Kano; and, Command Children’s School in Minna, Niger State.

An indigene of Eniong Abatim near Calabar in Cross River State, the late Mrs. Adam was born on 29 November, 1940; and, had her early education at Holy Child Convent School, Calabar. She later attended Holy Child Teachers’ Training College, Ifuho, Ikot Ekpene in the 1960s.

The late educationist subsequently obtained an NCE (National Certificate of Education) in 1994 from the University of Calabar. She had earlier bagged an Associate Certificate of Education (ACE) from the same institution in 1989.

The mortal remains of the late Chief (Mrs.) Mary Adam will be interred at her home in Ikot Nkebre Layout, 8 Miles, Calabar on 30 August, 2013; after a funeral service at the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, Old Town Parish, Calabar.

The late Mrs. Adam is survived by four children, one of whom is Dr Winifred Akoda, Head of the Department of History and International Studies at the University of Calabar.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

NTDC hosts Pan-African youths in Abuja

NTDC hosts Pan-African youths in Abuja
The Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) on August 19, 2013; received a delegation of Pan-African Youths at Tourism Village, Abuja. As usual, the guests enjoyed very warm reception at the hands of NTDC Director General, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo.

NTDC Director General, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, flanked by Jesmane Boggenpoel (left) and Mr. Loren Gary.
The NTDC DG was accompanied by the corporation’s Management and other staff members in ensuring that the visitors felt at home. Interestingly, Massachusetts, US-based Mr. Loren Gary, Associate Director for Leadership Development and Public Affairs, was in attendance; aside from the African participants.

The visitors included Ms Jesmane Boggenpoel, Director, Harvest Advisory and Investment Gauteng, South Africa; and, Mr. Benson Ireri, Programme Officer, Policy and Advocacy as well as Mr. Paul Njenga; both from Kenya; and, some Nigerians in Diaspora.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Nigerian women rally for peace, empowerment

Nigerian women rally for peace, empowerment

Nigerian women from across the country and social strata held a rally for peace and empowerment in the Federal Capital, Abuja; last week. The carnival-like exercise, which included a roadshow and numerous addresses, was a huge success.

The rally featured First Lady, Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan, in attendance and was also witnessed by countless other very important personalities as well as grassroots’ folks.

Picture shows Petroleum Minister Mrs. Deziani Allison-Maduekwe (left) with NTDC DG, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo in an infectiously joyful mood during the women’s rally at Eagle Square, Abuja.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Nigeria-Burkina Faso ties excellent – Amb Bala

Nigeria-Burkina Faso ties excellent – Amb Bala


Despite being fellow members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), apart from the staggering volume of trade, though mostly informal, among their citizens; many countries in the region have no bilateral agreement.

Nigerian Ambassador to Burkina Faso, HE David G. Bala.
Interestingly, most of these West African countries attained independence more than 50 years ago. That, notwithstanding, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso, David Gambar Bala, says Abuja-Ouagadougou relations is excellent.

During an exclusive chat with mauricearchibongtravels inside his office at Embassy of Nigeria in the Burkinabe capital, His Excellency’s appraisal of Nigeria-Burkina Faso ties was: “We can describe Nigeria-Burkina Faso relations as excellent”.

Expatiating, Amb Bala added; “Since diplomatic relations were established in 1972, Nigeria and Burkina Faso have not had any cause for bad blood. Comparatively, Nigerians are well-treated here. This could be seen in the regard for a Nigerian Embassy Consular Card in Burkina Faso. In a nutshell, Burkinabes are generally hospitable.”

Speaking further on the state of affairs between Nigeria and Burkina Faso with regard to bilateral agreements; Bala offered: “We have signed the Bilateral Agreement on Air Services (BASA). This is a great leap forward. It was because of this agreement that Arik Air, for example, was able to operate flights to Ouagadougou, until recently. They had to suspend services because of certain challenges. I believe that they will resume when the issues are sorted out”.

Amb. Bala went on to reveal that, “Nigeria and Burkina Faso are actually pushing to sign a trade agreement. To date, most of the trading between Nigerians and Burkinabe are informal. But, with formal trade agreement, more Nigerian investors are likely to come here.

“Currently, however, some Nigerian corporate giants are already taking advantage of the opportunities here. For example, UBA has since bought-in. They invested in a former ailing bank here and are now doing well. We’re truly proud of them.”

mauricearchibongtravels further gathered from Amb. Bala that one of Nigeria’s telecommunications giants, Glo; has been granted license to operate in Burkina Faso. Bala, who went on to remind that gold has been discovered in commercial quantity in Burkina, expressed optimism that some Nigerian mining companies will show interest in this industry, too.

Nigerian immigrants, issues

Across the world, countless Nigerian victims of human trafficking and prostitution abound. What is the situation in Burkina Faso? Apparently, this country is not immune.

With regard to the number of Nigerians rescued from human traffickers and other distraught ones helped to return home, Amb. Bala submitted: “We may not have the exact figure, but there have been very many, many of such incidents. The way our people move around, there’s no way some of them won’t have such problems”.

Sadly, many of the victims of human trafficking are minors, under-aged girls and boys. Bala again: “Once they are rescued and identified as bona fide Nigerians, we provide resources to ferry them home. However, the plenitude of these victims and the assistance we are compelled to render put severe strains on our resources”, Amb. Bala rued.

mauricearchibongtravels had gathered from an executive member of Nigerian Community Burkina Faso (name withheld) that an NGO (non-governmental organisation) affiliated to a Christian body with the acronym SIM, has been particularly helpful in the search and rescue of victims of human trafficking.

When we put this to Bala, he responded thus: “Yes, we are aware of their efforts. Sometimes, they even keep the girls, pending when we conclude arrangements to send them home. In fact, we have had series of meetings with them and members of the Nigerian Community in Burkina Faso on finding solution to some of the problems as they arise.

“And, usually, they have proven very helpful. The Nigerian community has also been very, very supportive. Sometimes, they even organise the repatration of trafficked persons without bothering us. We often discover their effort, when they come to the embassy for documentation, which we do gratis”.

How many Nigerian immigrants in Burkina Faso?

According to Amb. Bala, the working figure is between 60,000 and 100,000. The revered top-flight diplomat helped put things in context, when he expatiated: “However, most of them have been here for generations and they could well be taken for Burkinabes. All the same, they still identify themselves with Nigeria”.

As regards Nigerians doing time in Burkinabe’s jailhouses, Amb. Bala had this to say: “We don’t have the exact figure of Nigerians in Burkinabe jails. I’ve been told that few Nigerians are among foreigners inside prisons in this country.

However, we’re not sure what the true situation is. This is the reason we intend to start an audit of Nigerians in prisons across this country, very soon”.

History of Nigeria-Burkina Faso ties

Taking us down Memory Lane, regarding the genesis of diplomatic ties between Nigeria and Burkina Faso and our premier envoy there; Amb. Bala recalled: “Diplomatic relation between Nigeria and Burkina Faso was established in 1972”.

This much-loved envoy went on to add: “In 1973, Nigerian Embassy was opened under the concurrent accreditation of Nigeria’s Ambassador in Niamey, Niger Republic. Subsequently, the Mission was headed by a Charge d’Affaires until 1992, when Ambassador Umar Babbaji Misau was appointed Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso with residency in Ouagadougou. He served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso from 1992 to 1999.”

Amb. Bala, up close

At the human level, Amb. Bala is not just an affable and genial person. Without a doubt, serious training, priming, diligence and perspicacity propelled this top-flight diplomat to his exalted position of Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso.

Through dedication and determination, this son of Mr. Bala Mbidur Gambar and Hannatu Bala, both now deceased indigenes of Gambar Lere in Bogoro Local Government Area (LGA) of Bauchi State, has come a long way since 1984; when, after training at Nigeria’s Foreign Service Academy, he effectively became an officer of Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

A few months after he clocked 28 years on MFA staff, Bala was appointed Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso. HE David Bala thus succeeded Amb. Mark Bassey Egbe, who served there from 2008 to 2012.

Since he eventually presented his letter of credence to President Blaise Compaore of the former Upper Volta on 8 November, 2012; one could say that Amb. Bala formally assumed duty in Ouagadougou on that day; even though he had reported at the post many weeks earlier.

So, how many foreign posts has he served at, in 28 years as Nigeria’s Foreign Service functionary? “This is my fifth foreign posting”, Amb. Bala mused. Before his posting to Ouagadougou, Amb. Bala’s latest foreign assignment was as Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Nigeria in Tel Aviv, Israel. That was in 2010.

Career trajectory of this revered envoy

Prior to working in Israel, Bala had served in the United Kingdom (UK), China and Central African Republic (CAR). Affable and perspicacious, Amb. Bala easily recalled that his first posting, after the compulsory year-long training at the Foreign Service Academy; was to the European Affairs Department.

He had garnered additional experience from working in the Asia and Pacific Department before his first international posting, which took him to Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR) in 1986. Interestingly, Bala’s appointment as President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s envoy to Burkina Faso on 12 June, 2012; came barely four months before 4 October, 2012; his 54th birthday.

Also, this alumnus of University of Maiduguri, who took his B.Sc degree in Political Science/Administrative Studies in 1981 consequently assumed duty full-force as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso a few months to 2 February, 2013; the Silver Jubilee of his wedding. He is married to Mrs. Hauwa Bala and the union is blessed with four children, Salma, Musa, Ishaku and Hannatu.


It is said that, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Expectedly, Bala must have things he does for recreation. What are your hobbies? We asked him: “My number one hobby is to watch sports, football in particular, on TV. Reading also helps me to unwind,” he concluded.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

NTDC partners sub-Saharan Africa visa outfit

NTDC partners sub-Saharan Africa visa outfit

The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Director General, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, recently received executives of Visa sub-Saharan Africa Property Limited at Tourism Village, Abuja.
NTDC DG, Mrs. Mbanefo, flanked by Mr. Daniel Ngwepe (L) and Mr. Ade Ashaye; Head of Government Relations and Country Manager (West Africa) respectively of Visa sub-Saharan Africa. PHOTO: NTDC Press

Nigeria elected into International Cultural Property Committee

Nigeria elected into International Cultural Property Committee

Nigeria has been elected into the Subsidiary Committee of the Meeting of State Parties to the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

Nigeria’s election to the committee was part of the outcome of the First Session of the Committee held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France; and, a member of the Nigerian delegation, Professor Folarin Shyllon, is to serve as Vice Chairman of that committee.

While lauding Nigeria’s election into the committee, Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke; added that “this development has put Nigeria in a strategic position to drive efforts aimed at addressing the challenge of illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property at the national and international levels”, according to statement signed by Dr Taiwo Oladokun, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the minister of tourism and culture.

Nigeria thus joins 17 other countries: Oman, Peru, Pakistan, China, Romania, Mexico, Egypt, Ecuador, Bulgaria, Morocco, Chad, Madagascar, Japan, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia; as members of the committee.

The Nigerian delegation to the Session was led by the Permanent Delegate and Ambassador of Nigeria to UNESCO, Mariam Katagum. Other delegates were Prof Folarin Shyllon (Focal Person), Mr. Augustus Ajibola of the tourism and culture ministry, Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Yusuf Abdallah Usman and two other National Museum staff.

National Museum concludes 3-day heritage workshop in Calabar

National Museum concludes 3-day heritage workshop in Calabar

The National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) recently concluded a three-day workshop in Calabar, Cross River State. The tripartite exercise, which was organised by the NCMM’s Department of Monuments, Heritage and Sites; ran from July 18 to the 20th within the National Museum (Old Residency) Calabar complex.

Group photograph of participants in front of the Old Residency Calabar, on the closing day of the 3-day workshop for NCMM Heritage Staff.
PHOTO: National Museum Calabar.
The review of the nomination dossiers for Oke-Idanre Cultural Landscape, Ondo State; Kano City Wall, Kano State; and, Surame Cultural Landscape in Sokoto State as well as evaluation of Oban Hills in Cross Rivers State, were among issues thrashed during the exercise, where seven papers were presented.

Moreover, the three-day event also included a training workshop for NCMM Heritage Officers from across the country as well as the relaunch and election of Officers into executive positions of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) Nigeria National Committee. The expert meeting/workshop was declared open by the Director General of the Commission, Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman, who was represented by Director of Monuments, Heritage and Sites, Mr. Adedayo Oluremi Funsho. 

The NCMM helmsman called on the experts to bring their expertise to bear on the review of the three sites and evaluation of Oban Hills as time is of the essence in ensuring that Nigeria presented another site for nomination into the World Heritage List by September, 2013 in Paris. Speaking further on Mr. Usman’s behalf, Mr. Adedayo added that “since the country is at liberty to present one site every year for possible enlistment, the experts should produce perfect dossiers of the sites”, in order to scale through the screening panel at UNESCO (United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) forthcoming meeting in September, this year; and subsequent ones due to follow.

On Friday, July 19, 2013; the NCMM DG called on the participants to take that day’s exercise very seriously and be attentive to all the papers by seasoned resource persons. He challenged them to be productive at their respective stations so as to project the Commission to greater heights. He further charged them to organise in-house training at their respective stations for their other colleagues as a way of sharing their knowledge.

The climax of that day was the inauguration and election into executive positions of ICOMOS Nigeria National Committee. The Director, Monuments, Heritage & Sites Mr. Adedayo set the stage rolling with his paper entitled ICOMOS: National Committee. Adedayo’s presentation dealt extensively on the duties and functions of what is expected of the ICOMOS National Committee as well as its laws, membership, election, tenureship and so on.

After voting, the following persons: Mr. Adedayo Oluremi Funsho, Chief Charles Akinde, Mr. Alafiatayo Dipo, Ms Victoria Osuagwu and Mr. Friday Awonusi were elected to the offices of President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Public Relations Officer respectively; and, consequently tasked to run the affairs of the ICOMOS Nigeria National Committee.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

10,000 Nigerian undergrads chasing worthless degrees in Benin Republic

Over 10,000 Nigerian undergrads chasing worthless degrees in Benin Republic


Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic, HE Lawrence Olufemi Obisakin PhD.
More than 10,000 Nigerians pursuing various degree programmes at different private universities in neighbouring Benin Republic are simply wasting their time, mauricearchibongtravels can authoritatively reveal.

Many of the tens of thousands of Nigerians currently enrolled at various private colleges in Benin are in trouble because the institutions where they are studying failed to make it into a list of 30 approved private universities/tertiary institutions in that country.

Although scores of these private universities have operating license from Benin Republic’s Ministry of Tertiary Education, those that did not make the list probably failed to satisfy inspectors/assessors regarding the quality and qualifications of their academic staffers as well as facilities and learning environment et cetera.

Interestingly, some 8,000 Nigerian students are currently enrolled at Houdegbe North American University Benin (HNAUB). Ironically,  HNAUB, which aims to be The Reference in West Africa, is conspicuously missing from the list of 30 approved private tertiary institutions made available to mauricearchibongtravels by Nigerian Embassy Cotonou, recently. 

That catalogue is the outcome of inspections and meticulous scrutiny by a multilateral joint committee, whose assignment was concluded on 20 March, 2013. Benin’s Ministry of Tertiary Institutions and Nigerian Embassy Cotonou as well as other stakeholders were members of this joint committee.

Benin is also home of mission-owned tertiary institutions, such as Université Catholique de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, Cotonou; and, Protestant University of West Africa. It is worth noting that these two as well as Cle de la Reussite, CERI Formation in Fifadji, COURS Gama, Fopaze, HEJT, UCAO, Université des Sciences Appliqueé et Management, Porto Novo; Université des Sciences et Technologie du Benin, Cotonou; and, Weldios are among major colleges missing from the list of 30.

When contacted, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s envoy to Benin, Amb Lawrence Olufemi Obisakin, had initially advised us to meet Mr. DanKano Kakshak, Minister I at Nigerian Embassy Cotonou for clarification. Mr. Kakshak, who is Supervisor of School for Nigeria International School (NIS) Cotonou; subsequently confirmed the list is authentic. He said it was arrived at, after meticulous efforts and has the endorsement of both Beninese and Nigerian educational authorities. Kakshak should know: he was a member of the committee that drew the list.

During a recent interview with Amb Obisakin, it had come to light that 8,000 Nigerians are studying at HNAUB. According to Amb Obisakin, who taught Conflict Management at HNAUB for a semester in 2012; about 5,000 Nigerians are full-time students, apart from 3,000 others that are correspondence students, there.

Houdegbe University is located in Quartier Houdegbe, close to PK 10 (Peka Dix) roundabout in the Akpakpa neighbourhood of Cotonou, and probably has the largest number of Nigerians studying in Benin Republic. Aside HNAUB, dozens of other colleges across Benin, where tens of thousands of Nigerians are pursuing various courses are also missing from the list of 30 approved private colleges.

Although countless Nigerians are currently studying at various tertiary institutions in different countries across the world, proximity to their country has however made next-door Benin Republic particularly attractive.

In recent years, hundreds of thousands of Nigerian youngsters have migrated because they could not scale the JAMBE (Joint Admission and Matriculation Board Examination) hurdle. But, there are other reasons. For instance, a Nigerian in his early 20s studying at HNAUB told mauricearchibongtravels that his father sent him to Benin because his elder sister spent seven years at Othmanu Dan Fodio University, Sokoto; before taking a B.Sc (Bachelor of Science) in Bio-chemistry.

Normally, that programme runs for four years, but the young woman lost three years to various work stoppages by academic and non-academic staffers in Nigerian universities. Speaking further, the lad (name withheld) added; “Occasionally, universities in northern Nigeria are shut because of terrorist attacks. I believe you can recall the case of massacre of students of Federal Polytechnic Mubi, Adamawa State. Also, some parents believe that those of us sent abroad to study are spared the menace of cultism”.

Concluding, the young man rued, “Sadly, Nigerian universities’ students are currently on another forced vacation because lecturers have gone on strike, again. If the strike is not called off soon, students back home may lose an academic year. This is why some of our parents sent us here. Outside Nigeria, I will graduate on schedule but at home, I can’t be sure”.

However, graduating on schedule is one thing, while bagging a recognised degree is quite another; especially, now that this youngster’s school seems embattled. Founded in 1992, HNAUB, which throws up many faculties and departments, was licensed by Benin Government vide Decree No 089/MESRS/CAB/DC/DPP/SP of 19/10/2001 as well as No 067/MESRS/CAB/DC/DPP/SP of 18/10/2002.

HNAUB boasts Kwame Nkrumah School of International Affairs, Political Science and Public Administration; General Mathieu Kerekou School of Health Science, Sir (Dr) Kesington Adebukunola Adebutu Faculty of Law, Prt Andre Kolingba Institute of Languages and School of Translators, School of Economics; and, Rev. Dr Leon Sullivan School of Business Administration.

During one of our visits to Houdegbe University, on Tuesday, 26 February, 2013; we finally got to meet this varsity’s Director of Admissions, Mrs. Thelmathecla Udo. Whereas Nigerian-born Mrs. Udo enthusiastically told us that she is an alumna of University of Ghana, Legon; the lady was not forthcoming with answers to our queries about HNAUB.

For example, when we asked, “If it is true that Nigerians account for over 70 per cent of Houdegbe University students”? The lady insisted on being given a formal questionaire. Hear her: “After going through your memo, we would know how to go about addressing the issues”. However, while waiting to see Mrs. Udo (we actually spent over an hour in the Admissions’ General Office before seeing the woman); one observed that a booklet containing receipt issued for the purchase of admission application forms, was close to its last pages.

Even at that, many Nigerians, prospective students and parents/guardians, were on queue to buy forms or make enquiries. At Houdegbe, an admission form currently goes for 15,000francs (N5,000). It would seem that the torrent of Nigerians virtually dying to get admitted to HNAUB pushed up the cost of the admission application form, from the 10,000francs (equivalent of N3,500) it sold for, two years ago.

We further learnt that, aside from the 15,000 francs for purchasing an admission form, each freshman subsequently has a tution fee of 920,000francs (over N320,000) to pay. Interestingly, more fees await each HNAUB student: there is Hostel Charge, which extracts additional 300,000francs (N100,000) per semester; and, yet another 30,000francs (N10,000) Caution Fee. Moreover, a student is also required to pay another 30,000francs (N10,000) as Health Insurance premium, per semester.

On Tuesday, 6 August, 2013; during a telephone call to Mrs. Udo regarding the exclusion of her university’s name in the list of approved private universities,   the response of HNAUB’s Director of Admissions was: “I don’t have any comment to make on this matter”. When asked, if her school was missing because it refused to subject itself to inspection, Mrs. Udo reminded: “My advice to you, when you visited our campus the other time still stands. Put your questions in writing and we will address the issues. This is not a matter that can be discussed over the phone, thank you”.

In any case, analysis of the list of approved 30 shows that, whereas some of the colleges have approval to run first degree and post-graduate programmes, prospective Nigerian students should beware because a number of these schools have accreditation for select courses, only. It is worth noting that unlike most conventional universities that offer omnibus programmes, the majority of the private varsities in Benin Republic are steep in only one or two areas.

Instance: a college known as CFPMM only runs one course, leading to a degree in Journalism. Engineering is the forte of an institution called Verechaguine AK, which runs courses leading to a Degree in Civil Engineering, Master in Civil Engineering and Professional Degree in Surveyor-Topographer.

On its part, Ecole Supérieure d’Ingénieur Géomètre Topographe (ESIGT) only trains future Survey Engineers/Topographers; while IESSAF/Porto-Novo, runs courses in Professional Degree in International Relations and Professional Degree in French, English and Yoruba Languages.

Apart from engineering, journalism or communication arts/sciences, some of the colleges offer human resource courses, while others specialise in the training of future accountants and transport professionals et cetera. For example, Université Africaine de Technologie et de Management (African University of Technology and Management) has accreditation to offer Professional Degree in Telecommunications and Networking, Professional Degree in Computer Sciences and Industrial Systems and Professional Degree in Legal Studies, with major in Communication and International Relations.

On the other hand, Pigier Benin has a much wider latitude; offering first degree and post-graduate certificates in, among others, Auditing and Management Control, Auditing and Management Control, Banking and Enterprise Financing, Negotiation and Multimedia Communication, Marketing Communication, Human Resources Management, Enterprises Management,  Finance and Science Management.

Similarly, Université Polytechnique Internationale du Benin (International Polytechnique University of Benin) offers professional degree in Accounting and Financial Techniques, Transport and Logistics, Transport and Logistics, Accounting, Control and Auditing, Computerised Enterprises Management and Business Management.

Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Education has an Evaluation and Accreditation Department, established to guide, among others, students seeking admission to foreign institutions. Unfortunately, it would seem that most of those that are victims of placement at unapproved institutions or pursuing unaccredited courses in foreign lands do not take advantage of the services offered by this evaluation and accreditation agency.

By late 2012, some 75 Anglophone private schools could be found across Benin Republic’s economic capital, Cotonou; whereas 20 years ago, such institutions were very rare. Interestingly, all the 30 approved private institutions where founded less than 17 years ago. “There’s a big boom in education across Cotonou”, Mr. Calistus Maduakor, proprietor of Abundance schools’ chain; revealed. This boom, he opined, is traceable to relocation by countless Nigerian families to Cotonou in the last 20 years.

In Benin Republic, Université d'Abomey-Calavi (UAC), founded in 1970, is public-owned; and for decades, was the only such tertiary institution in these climes until Université de Parakou (Parakou University) in Parakou, Borgou Region; entered the picture.

Apart from this highly respected duo, Benin Republic also boasts numerous private universities. However, Nigerians must beware of the status of many of the degree-awarding institutions that have mushroomed across this neighbouring country in recent years.

It is worth pointing out that Amb Obisakin stressed that the current standing is not permanent. “We are talking of the situation as at 20 March, 2013”. In other words, where remedies were made, more colleges could get the nod of approval. Conversely, any institution among the elite 30 that subsequently fell short at the next inspection could be jettisoned.

As a possible way out for thousands of Nigerian students currently studying at Houdegbe University, observers believe this school’s authorities must seek the approval of Benin’s tertiary education ministry. “They need recognition of their home government and affiliation to some established Nigerian universities might also help”, one respondent volunteered.    

Below, are the universities/tertiary institutions on the elite 30 list:

1. Université Africaine de Technologie et de Management (African University of Technology and Management): Professional Degree in Telecommunications and Networking, Professional Degree in Computer Sciences and Industrial Systems and Professional Degree in Legal Studies, with major in Communication and International Relations.

2. Université Polytechnique Internationale du Benin (International Polytechnic University of Benin): Professional Degree in Accounting and Financial Techniques, Professional Degree in Transport and Logistics, Master in Transport and Logistics, Master in Accounting, Control and Auditing, Master in Computerised Enterprises Management, and Master in Business Management.

3. Polytch Le Citoyen (Polytch the Citizen): Professional  Degree in Communication Development, Master in Communication Development, Master in Projects and Development Management, Professional Degree in Human Resources Management, and Professional Master in Human Resources Management.

4. Verechaguine AK: Degree in Civil Engineering, Professional Degree in Surveyor-Topographer, and Master in Civil Engineering.

5. ESEP LE Berger (ESEP the Sherpherd): Degree in Audit Control Management, Professional Degree in Administration and Human Resources Management, and Professional Degree of Enterprise Management Optional: Finance and Accounting.

6. CFPMM: Degree in Journalism.

7. Pigier Benin: Degree in Auditing and Management Control, Master in Auditing and Management Control, Degree in Banking and Enterprise Financing, Degree in Negotiation and Multimedia Communication, Master in Marketing Communication, Master in Human Resources Management, Degree in Science Management, Professional Master in Enterprises Management, and Professional Master in Finance.

8. IESSAF/Porto-Novo: Professional Degree in International Relations, and Professional Degree in French, English and Yoruba Languages.

9. Ecole Supérieure d’Ingénieur Géomètre Topographe (ESIGT): Surveying Engineer Topographer.

10. Institut International de Management (International Institute of Management) IIM: Professional Degree in Enterprises Administration, Professional Degree in Communication-Marketing, Professional Degree in Enterprises Management, Professional Degree in Auditing and Enterprises Financing, Professional Degree in Human Resources Management, Master in Enterprises Administration, Master in Communication- Marketing, Master in Enterprises Management, Master in Management and Business Law, Master in Auditing and Enterprises Financing, Master in Projects Management, Master in Economic Intelligence and Development Strategies, Master in Quality Management, and Master in Public Contracts Management.

11. Institut Supérieur des Métiers de l’Audiovisuel (Higher Institution of Audiovisual Professions): Professional Degree in Audiovisual, Professional Degree in Production, Professional Degree in Audiovisual Journalism, Master Degree in Production, Master  Degree in Audiovisual Professions, and Professional Master degree in Journalism.

12. Institut Supérieure de Management ISM Adonai (Higher Institution of Management ISM Adonai): Degree in Accounting Control and Auditing, Degree in Business Administration, Degree in Auditing and Management Control, Degree in Human Resources Management, Degree in Projects Management, Degree in Marketing, Master in Accounting Control and Auditing, Master in Auditing and Management Control, Master in Human Resources Management, Master in Marketing, Master in Projects Management, and Master in Business Administration.

13. Institute CERCO (CERCO Institution): Professional Degree in Accounting Management, and Professional Degree in Industrial Computing and Maintenance.

14. IRGIB Africa: Degree in Industrial Engineering.

15. Ecole Supérieure de Management (ESM) Higher Institution of Management: Professional Degree in Management and Administration of Enterprises, and Master in Business Administration.

16. ISFES  Laura Vicuna: Professional Degree of Specialized Educator.

17. ESPERANZA: Professional Degree in Entrepreneurial creation and Enterprises take over, Professional Degree in Entrepreneurship major: Hotel industry, Catering and Tourism, and Professional Master Degree in Entrepreneurship major: Creation, Innovation and Lobbying.

18. Ecole Supérieure d’Administration et d’Economie (ESAE): Professional Degree in Journalism.

19. ESTIM: Professional Degree in Metrology and Quality of Management.

20. Ecole Supérieure de Gestion, d’Informatique and Sciences (ESGIS): Degree in Accounting Audit, and Professional degree in International Management.

21. IRSBAC-COM/Parakou: Professional Degree in Journalism.

22. ISM Adonai Parakou: Degree in Auditing and Management Control, Degree in Projects Management, and Degree in Human Resources Management.

23. Haute Ecole de Commerce et de Management (HECM) Higher Institution of Commerce and Management: Professional Degree in Computer Engineering, Professional Degree  in Communication and Trade Negotiation, Professional Degree  in Finance and Management Control, Professional Degree in Administration and Human Resources Management, Master in Auditing and Management Control, Master  Degree in Administration and Human Resources Management, Master in Marketing and Advertisement, Master in Projects Management, Master in Banking, Finance and Insurance, Master in Computer Engineering, and Master in Taxation.

24. Ecole de Technicien Supérieur du Benin LA GRACE (ECOTES-BENIN) Higher Technical  Institution of Benin: Professional Degree in Human Resources Management, Professional Degree in Communication and Marketing, Professional Degree  in Finance and Accounting, Professional degree in Banking  and Insurance, Master  in Human Resources Management, Master in Projects Management, and Master in Finance, Management Control and Auditing.

25. Centre de Formation Professionnel de Tourisme de l’Agence Africaine de Tourisme (CFPT-AAT) Professional Training Centre in Tourism of the African Agency of Tourism: Professional Degree ( Diploma in Specialized Professional Course) in Tourism, and Master in Economy and Tourist Enterprises  Management.

26. Institut Universitaire du Benin (IUB) University Institution of Benin: Master in Translation and Interpretation.

27. Ecole Supérieure Jean Michel le Faucon (ESJMF) Jean Michel Faucon Higher Institution: Professional Degree in Civil Engineering.

28. Institut Supérieur de Formation Professionnelle et d’Appui a la Sécurité (IS-FOPASE) Higher Institution of Professional Training and Support to Security: Professional Degree in Human Resources Management.

29. Institut Universitaire pour la Paix et le Développement en Afrique (IUPDA) University Institution for Peace and Development in Africa: Professional Degree in Legal Sciences.

30. Ecole Supérieure Panafricaine de Management Appliquée (ESPAM-FORMATION) Pan-African Higher Institution of Applied Management: Professional Degree in Human Resources Management, and Master in Local Development and Decentralisation.