If JAMB Score and Age Cheats Were Politicians…

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By Tonnie Iredia

Some Nigerian students have for some time now been accused of falsifying their Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination(UTME) results; the most publicised being that of Mmesoma Ejikeme, a student of the Anglican Girls Secondary School, Nnewi, Anambra state.

Before Mmesoma, there had been several cases of what was called “double results” prompting JAMB to constitute a probe panel on the subject.

In 2019 alone, findings revealed among others, the cases of Kingsley Unekwe who manipulated his score from 201 to 269; Adah Eche whose original score was falsely lifted from 153 to 290 and Cletus Kokowa who allegedly paid the sum of N10,00 to a syndicate to raise his score from 162 to 206.

Although all these students were apprehended and penalized by JAMB, candidate Ifesinachi John still attempted in 2021 to raise his score from 265 to 380.

The speed and efficiency with which each of the cases was handled tended to point at a likely resurgence of moral regeneration in Nigeria. JAMB as this column has consistently pointed out deserves to be commended for taking the lead and remaining steadfast in the task of building strong societal institutions in a nation where what has been in vogue has been strong arm-twisting leaders.

If other organizations in the country can emulate JAMB by assiduously following the positive trend, Nigeria would no doubt be elevated to stand tall among the nations of the world.

For this to effectively take root, Nigerian institutions must follow global realities by embracing modern technologies.

It is certainly the application of such systems that has put JAMB on top of her processes and procedures.

The implication of JAMB’s determination to leave no room for young crooks to operate is that students must immediately fall in line recognising clearly that Nigeria’s permissiveness in matters concerning forgery and all forms of unwholesome electoral behaviour, is not extended to students.

In other words, it is only foolish students who think they can follow the same life of crookedness with which the average Nigerian politician is easily identifiable.

The Nigerian youth should learn to accept the reality that politics is different from any other endeavour in the country.

A politician that did not participate in the primaries of his party can become the flagbearer which is another way of saying that it is only political office holders that can top the class in an examination they did not write.

No student should under study a politician because in Nigeria, exams and politics are dissimilar concepts.

To start with, the average student is poor, many have no resources for even tuition fees.

In contrast, the average politician goes into any political contestation with a huge budget that covers both the contest and every ancillary matter on the way.

For example, the politician has a vote to cover all official forms as well as enough to hire thugs and support groups that organize protests on behalf of a principal they had never met before.

To win election at all cost, they also put aside enough funds for bribing voters and inducing election officials, law enforcement agents and the judiciary. At the worst, they can arrange for the ballot boxes and indeed their opponents themselves to get missing on voting day.

It is therefore futile for a poorly equipped student to get involved in exam malpractices whose end he cannot control

When a student’s fake arrangement to attain an inflated score is exposed, he or she brings ample shame to both self and family.

Nigerian politicians on the other hand, have no shame as there is hardly anything any of them does that others don’t.

Indeed, the difference between an indicted politician and his other colleagues who are not indicted is luck.

Whereas politicians are ahead of the electoral body and other agencies involved in elections, events have shown that a proactive body like JAMB is ahead of students; unexpectedly changing technologies and software from time to time.

In the political scene, insiders tamper with technology thereby compromising the electoral process.

When well tested card readers or BVAS malfunction, they are configured from within to so act.

For now, it seems improbable to get JAMB to replace results already in its portal to save a candidate who is facing a probe. In the case of politics, there are examination bodies that can rectify fake results.

In fact, top officials of such bodies have even developed a template for home-delivery of new results that counter what opponents have formally petitioned against.

So, whereas the typical politician can get his original results officially reversed and formally delivered physically by top officials of such bodies, the average poor student does not have same luxury. In short, all the fuss these days of crooked students with fake results is because the accused are not politicians.

It would have been different if their falsifications were discovered after such students had joined the ruling party where membership wipes out all sins.

In an allegation of fraud in a UTME against a student, the latter is virtually stuck with JAMB, but if the student had grown into an aspirant for a political office before the allegation came to the fore, the accused can secure the intervention of the judiciary with no less than two courts of coordinate jurisdiction making contradictory rulings.

This validates the contention of this piece that in Nigeria, the manipulation of results by a student is not exactly the same offence as when the accused is a politician.

In fact, the politician can with ease get an injunction stopping anyone from doing anything about his allegation – an injunction that can even be perpetual. In the case of election results, the accused person can vanish for a while.

To drive this point home, let’s compare the case of student Mmesoma and the former Resident Electoral Commissioner for Adamawa state.

Whereas the allegation against the student was concluded in a jiffy, the former REC, could not be found almost one month after the offence was allegedly committed in the presence of big shots in our law enforcement agencies.

When he eventually reappeared and turned himself in to the police, the latter announced the arrest of the suspect as if he was caught in the jungle after a fierce battle against terrorists.

Thereafter, because the suspect was a top political office holder who acted in favour of one candidate against the other, an investigation into what he allegedly did became circumlocutory.

Although we all watched what he did, real time on national television without any technical glitch, it took about 2 months for the police to establish a case against him.

The former REC is now in court but his case is not likely to come up soon as a number of technical reasons have already been articulated to put it on hold.

There is nothing new about this because it is normal in Nigeria for courts to leave the real issue at stake in pursuit of technicalities.

This is why many political actors have found themselves defending not their votes but several falsifications of age and academic records.

And because technicalities can be used to shield crooks, many felons are able to take control of government at any level.

We have waited in vain to see if our judges would for once listen to the admonitions of their predecessors such as Justice Sidi Dauda Bage.

In 2017, Bage, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court had called on our courts to “take the lead in righting the wrongs in our society if and when the opportunity presents itself” as in the instant case of Saleh V Abah.

Painfully, what comes out of our courts are more about originating summons, abuse of court processes and who brought a case as well as when it was brought.

Consequently, the truth and often the real choice of the people are hardly ever known thereby letting cheats off the hook only to cause greater havoc to society at a higher level of governance.

While the ugly situation subsists, we can only appeal to our youths to refrain from following the footsteps of a failed generation.

Otherwise, our leaders of tomorrow will carry forward a convoluted political system that would keep their society underdeveloped.

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