BY IKENNA ASOMBA

In less than five weeks, the Head of Nigerian Office (HNO) of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), Dr. Iyi Uwadiae will bow out of office, giving way for a new man, Mr. Charleston Mivoghenubo Eguridu.

While announcing the release of the May/June 2012 West African School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) results, Penultimate Friday, Uwadiae happily disclosed to journalists that his bowing out is for good, as he has just been ratified during WAEC’s 60th Annual Council Meeting to step in as its new Registrar on October 1, 2012. He will therefore assume office, when Alhaja (Mrs.) Mulikat A. Bello, statutorily retires from the council.

Amidst pump and champagne by close friends and associates for this progressive move, it however, becomes expedient to critically overview the exam body under the administration of Uwadiae.

Myriads of challenges
Since assuming office four years ago, like what many termed baptism of fire, Uwadiae went through hurdles of handling reported cases of gross involvement in examination malpractices by students, as aided and abetted teachers and officials; leaked exam question papers, release of conflicting exam results, touts who extort and dupe candidates and their parents to upgrade results and correct informational errors on certificates, controversies in Council’s Award of Excellence to performing candidates, but a few to mention.

No miracle centres, but substandard centres
Responding to questions from journalists, at the 2012 announcement of May/June WASSCE results, the outgoing HNO, when quizzed on what his led-administration has put in place to tackle the rising spate of examination malpractices and miracle centres said: “We don’t have miracle centres in our dictionary, as far as WAEC is concern.

Again, as a citizen of this country, I can’t deny the fact that we have sub-standard exam centres. That was why we have over time, enjoined State Ministries of Education never to endorse schools or centres that are substandard and do not meet the conducive requisite for conduct of exams.

“We have told them to only endorse centres that are good. Because as a honest and genuine businessman, you don’t just rent a three-bedroom flat and approach the Ministry for recognition. If eventually, the Ministry gives recognition to any centre, there’s little we can do as WAEC, but to work on the ministry’s report and give centre numbers.

“We have also told them never to endorse these substandard centres, because the proprietors are just there to make money,” adding “How do you expect a three-bedroom flat to conducively house 150 candidates, including SS1 and SS2.”

While reiterating that the Council does not recognize miracle centres, but substandard centres, the incoming Registrar, however noted that it has been working round the clock with State Ministries of Education to curtail the existence of these centres. “States such as Rivers, Edo, AkwaIbom and Ekiti have driven these centres away. They have told them to go and register for Private Candidate Exams (Nov/Dec), if really they want to hold exams.”

This year, even though the cases of candidates’ results held for alleged examination malpractices increased by 30, 427; from 81, 573 to 112, 000, he affirmed that the Council polices every centre and frustrate perpetrators of exam malpractices, noting that “when there is good learning environment, students need not go looking for how to indulge in malpractices.”

On results leakage
Responding to the mishap that greeted the council in 2011, when two conflicting results were released on its website, Uwadiae clarified that the fault was not from WAEC but from a staff who was bent in satisfying his selfish interest, revealing that the staff had been brought to book by appropriate authorities.

On touts who dupe candidates
The WAEC boss noted that the Council had always placed notices on different strategic locations warning candidates and their parents to beware of touts who claim to be working for WAEC or know one WAEC official or the other.

He advised: “If you have issues bordering on errors of names, age or others on your certificate, come straight to WAEC and lodge your complaints. We shall attend to you, instead of patronizing touts who hover around claiming to have links in WAEC.”

Adding, “In our efforts to forestall the recurring decimal of these incidences, what we tell candidates is that after the day of their last paper, either in (May/June or Nov/Dec), it takes about 60-80 days before we release results. Tied to this, what we are also doing now is to ensure that before the next exams, candidates get their certificates. We have printed certificates up to the 2011 WASSCE and they are ready for collection. For this 2012, we are working round the clock to release the certificates by December.”

Resolution of queries
According to Uwadiae, one of the cases which the Council is presently resolving is the the issue of candidates who had their OMR sheets used in answering multiple-choice questions torn.

“The results of these candidates have not been released until we resolve their issues. What we are doing is to mark the OMR sheets manually, because the computer can’t recognize them. For some candidates who have their names and centre’s name correctly written, but with no exam number, we have contacted our State comptrollers to visit the schools for further clarification.”

Dr Iyi Uwadiae

Controversies in WAEC’s Award of Excellence
Uwadiae made clarification to controversies that rocked the Council’s 2011 award of excellence to performing candidates. Last year, a candidate Miss Falokun Tolulope Janet from Saint Louis Secondary School, Ondo, scored 9 A1s in the 2011 May/June West African School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), but did not make the Council’s merit list.

Then, the Ondo State Government had celebrated Falokun, who had 9 A1s with a T-Score of 742.6992 for her outstanding performance in the examination, based on a letter it received from a Lagos-based organization, Midas Global Associates, which alleged that Falokun had the highest T-Score and was denied recognition by the Council. This non-recognition was to the chagrin of the Ondo State Government.

Amidst these controversies, the HNO said Falokun based on WAEC’s criteria came fourth and could not be rewarded since those who qualified for the merit award were candidates in the first and third position. He explained that Falokun came fourth after the trio of Adeloye Christiana Opeyemi, Omigbodun Iyeyinka Aanuoluwapo and Nwigbo Kanayo Uduani, who were honoured in Abuja during the 60th Annual General Meeting of the Council.

He said: “In the award ceremony in Abuja, Adeloye Christiana Opeyemi, of Charis International College, Abeokuta, came first in the National Distinction/Merit Award having had 8A1s including Mathematics and English Language with a T-Score 682.3283; Omigbodun Iyeyinka Anuoluwapo, from Louisville Girls High School, Ijebu-Itele, Ogun State, came second having had 8A1s with a T-Score of 680.9797; while the third position went to Nwigbo Kanayo Uduani, who had 8A1s with a T-Score of 675.2813.”

He added that,  “All the candidates in Nigeria scored 9 A1s including Mathematics and English Language and qualified for the first stage of the award, but the raw scores from all the entries were pooled together for standardization before arriving at the final grading.”

Speaking further, Uwadiae held: “WAEC has no interest in any candidate, but we looked at the criteria approved for the five-member countries. We went through this process and took it to all the committees which scrutinized the scores. We used internationally acclaimed criteria to select the candidates.”

Affirming that the criteria used by the Council for its International Excellence Award and National Distinction/Merit Award was based on international criteria, the Council boss, said the maximum subjects for Ghanaian candidates is eight subjects, while in Nigeria it is a maximum of nine and minimum of seven subjects.

Noting that there was no controversy in the merit award, he, however alleged: “The gentleman went to Ondo State with the letter to defraud the government, brandishing that the Ondo student was cheated by WAEC.”

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