By Morenike Taire
Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, has come out to say that parents of Nigerian students who partook in the April 2019 edition of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, paid hundreds of thousands of Naira in some cases, to professional examination writers who assisted their wards to tackle the examination.
It is not the first time he will be making similar allegations. In the weeks leading up to the examination period, Professor Oloyede had gone as far as asking parents to stay away from examination centres in order to minimize their interference. In 2018 he had cried foul when a young man was caught in an Abuja center writing the examination for his brother on the advice of their mother. Cases also abounded at the time, proving that computer tests are not immune to examination malpractice. This year, however, things had gone global when ‘Operation University Blues’ had exposed a college admissions scandal in which players led by a William Rick Singer had helped wealthy parents to secure admission for wards at some of that nation’s top institutions. In all, about 25 million USD was ‘made’ from the various deals.
But there the similarity between the two cases ends.
We have no exact figures as to the size of the examination mercenary business in Nigeria, as the JAMB Registrar had put it, and when you consider that the JAMB side of things is just a drop in the larger ocean of the entrenched culture of examination malpractice in Nigeria, you realize that we are talking about a very large part of our economy. Even doctorate students are not exempt from having to ‘drop something’ for erring supervisors.
The reaction to Oloyede’s complaint this year might also be cause for concern, depending on whether it is reflective of our repentance or our hypocrisy. The rot in our education system as it pertains to the buying of scores or admissions has taken us exactly full circle. The lecturer we employed 20 years ago in spite of being at the bottom of his class is the one chasing female undergraduates around his unused laboratory today. It is the same medical doctor who doctored her WAEC ten years ago that is giving patients wrong injections today. If we are outraged, we are only pretending.
The country exploded in outrage two years ago* when President Mohammadu Buhari reportedly referred to Nigerian youths as “lazy”, especially from individuals who did not fall within the age bracket. The ones within the bracket generally did not care, particularly as they did not see Mr. President as being of any particular help to them in any way whatsoever.
They do not read or listen to the news on traditional mediums in any case and the ones who were irked simply turned the report into memes and other messengers in the millennial experiential existence.
The question then arose as to whether it is the youths that are lazy or the nation in general. As far as they are concerned, they did not create a system. Millennials are heavily criticized for being disrespectful, not adding value, yahoo yahoo, yahoo plus, drug abuse and all manner of societal evils. It is both complicated and simple.
Nigerian youth today were born into a broken society. In navigating the splinters, they have developed coping mechanisms that unfortunately hurt the rest of society.
They don’t care. After all, as far as they are concerned, everything is rigged against them already. Unlike their predecessors, there are not given anything and plan to give nothing back to society. They are individualistic; they cannot even see their neighbor.
Oloyede was quoted to have asked rhetorically, “how do you expect your children to have any respect for you?”
This part of his treatise is a joke. He ought not to be worried about the chances of children losing respect for their parents for cheating on their behalves. He ought, rather to be bothered sick that those parents which refused to cheat on their wards’ behalves will not only attract the latter’s disrespect but their hatred as well.
To be honest, any parent- corrupt or otherwise- would be in a quandary as to whether or not to assist their wards to cheat. From Primary school to tertiary institutions, there are children whose results are ‘bought’ from beginning to the end. Several state civil services and parastatals on every level are not even accessible to a young school leaver if they have no links with insiders. The word ‘merit’ hardly even comes into employment in Nigeria, particularly in the public sector. Not only is there no incentive whatsoever to pursue merit, there are very strong disincentives to doing so.
Oloyede has done his part. It is left for the entire system to be rejigged. If it is not, there is only one fate left for it: sure, certain death.