MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
JAMB And Nmesoma Ejikeme: Nigeria’s Public Institutions On Trial
By Frank Oshanugor
The trending news that Miss Nmesoma Ejikeme, who was reportedIy a top scorer in the recently released Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) but later discovered to have manipulated the score from 249 to 362 and the reaction by the spokesman of Innosun Group, owners of Innoson Motors debunking the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board’s (JAMB) position and Ejikeme’s insistence that she did not manipulate the result as alleged by JAMB has brought to the fore, the integrity issue that many of our public institutions now suffer in contemporary time.
When Ejikeme from Anambra State was announced as a top scorer in the UTME, the Chairman of Innoson Group, Chief Innocent Chukwuma had approved N3million scholarship as a way of encouragement for the young star whose parents are said to be indigent.
Surprisingly, authorities of JAMB at the weekend issued a statement alleging that Ejikeme involved in manipulating the result technologically by replacing her actual score of 249 with 362 ostensibly to criminally attract some financial assistance from members of the public particularly organizations that are desirous of promoting academic excellence.
The JAMB authorities while appreciating the kind gesture of Innoson management, hinted of prosecuting Ejikeme and possibly denying her opportunity of actualising her educational ambition. Ironically, with the sudden reaction of Innoson Group’s spokesman Mr. Cornel Osigwe that “the poor should be allowed to breathe” while at the same time calling for an investigation into the allegation, JAMB’s position has to go through integrity test.
More so, Ejikeme has boldly spoken up telling the world how traumatised she has become for an ‘error’ that might have emanated from JAMB’s inefficiency. One needs to watch the poor Ejikeme telling her story repeatedly on a trending video. One can imagine the heart break she must have gone through with the accusation of result falsification using a technology the girl obviously knows nothing about.
According to Osigwe, “the girl I met doesn’t have the brain and capacity to manipulate her result. There is more to this story. A proper investigation needs to be done.”
Continuing, he said “that girl was one of the most brilliant in her school according to the Principal. Her parents couldn’t even afford to pay for her WAEC and NECO Exams. Of what advantage will it offer her to manipulate her JAMB score? Let the poor breathe please,” Innoson spokesman added.
As it is now, no one can say with every certainty what happened. Though, a well managed investigation into this incident may eventually prove what went wrong, yet I dare argue that given the depth of dysfunctionality in our public institutions over the years, JAMB may not attract the support it is probably seeking in the public space in this particular incident because it has not sufficiently proved how Ejikeme manipulated the result.
As Nigerians, we are well aware of the rottenness that has eaten so deep within our various public institutions such that it has now become ‘normal’ to call white black and vice versa, and run with it in so far one can sustain the argument.
The current administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu is suffering credibility problem whether we accept it or not because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to uphold the standard operating procedure as prescribed by its own law. The insincerity in the system has now pitched many Nigerians against themselves because people entrusted with the conduct of free and fair election chose to do the wrong thing by manipulating the system for some unexplained ulterior motives.
It was interesting watching INEC spokesman Festus Okoye recently on Channels TV programme trying fortuously to defend the ignoble outing of INEC at the February 25, 2023 election but he ended up exposing his ignorance and hypocrisy within the realm of ICT. How can one defend a system he does not understand, if I may ask.
The same thing played out in 2015 when Muhammadu Buhari offered himself for Nigeria’s presidential election. Those who knew very well blew the whistle that he had no West Africa School Certificate which is the minimum to qualify as Nigeria’s president. The argument raged for months. While the Army authorities initially said they could not find his result in the file, his former school and some unscrupulous elements in West Africa Examination Council did some abracadabra. Till today, it is not clear what Buhari’s WAEC result was even though he has ruled us for eight years and gone.
Today, we have cases involving so many of our political office holders with respect to certificate falsification but after some media hype about such questionable persons, nothing will be heard again, either because the institution concerned with the issuance of the alleged forged certificate gets compromised in the circumstance or the judge hearing the case is bought along with the institution by the the dubious politician.
I crave the indulgence of Nigerians not to join JAMB in condemning Nmesoma Ejikeme yet until a proper investigation is properly conducted if possible by foreign ICT experts who are not likely to compromise their integrity. With the current scenario now in the country, I do not trust any constituted panel of enquiry made of Nigerians to investigate the matter dispassionately because tribalism and other mundane tendencies will take a center stage.
It is obvious that there is nothing many Nigerians in corridors of power or with monetary influence cannot manipulate to suit their ambitions as far as they can buy justice with money. If Innoson spokesman’s argument is anything to go by, it leaves some clue that some influential persons may be behind the falsification saga for reasons best known to them.