JAMB’s “Horror” Stories

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THE COUNTRPOINT

With Femi Akintunde-Johnson

Did you read the story of the 13-year old girl who sat for this year’s examination of Joint Admission Matriculation Board, JAMB, and allegedly, had to be helped to attempt the computer-based questions. A special centre, allegedly owned by an international examining centre in Lagos, was fingered. One of the invigilators was seen performing the incredibly stupid act of blocking the CCTV cameras with bare hands, while another invigilator allegedly helped to guide the “brilliance” of the young culprit (or victim?) And these tragic scenes were witnessed by other candidates, a little older than the poor girl!

What is wrong with us? Many Nigerian parents should worry about the quality of parenting we are spreading over our children. When a child, barely into teenage years, who should be preparing for promotional examination into senior secondary school, is “manhandled” to sit for university entrance examination…what quality of perspective finds that normal?

Even when she is smuggled into the university system at below age 14, and spends the next 10 years bumbling from first degree to a second, then a Master’s, and then adding a PhD…she will still be below 23! Are we challenging for a page in the Guinness Book of Records?

 Of course, most first generation schools will likely not admit the infant teenager, and thus may find space in one of our private universities. If the reality is that the parents are looking for a way to continue to live their lives at their usual pace, the child is basically a time-bomb awaiting contact with other “highly inflammable materials”. It is not an over-stretch to imagine such a toddling scholar straying into drug gangs, sex deviants, cultism and such anti-social indulgences that poorly mentored and abysmally groomed children naturally gravitate towards.

 Some children have never spent a week of quality Interactions with either of their parents, since they were always dumped into the convenient grotto of creche-kindergarten-nursery system as from age two, or less!

 It may therefore seem normal and “modern” to dysfunctional parents to “file” the child away into the final “incubator” of moral and didactic value dynamics from which, if he ever returns alive and healthy, his marbles may have been unhinged and dislocated…that he becomes a hulking threat to the Nigerian society…a ticking bomb without a detonator!

 God save us from irresponsible parents, and the products of their licentiousness.

JAMB Cancels WASC?

Don’t let the headline fool you – but that is the most likely consequence, if we believe the reports in the media. We were told that some candidates sitting for the 2019 West African School Certificate (WASC) examinations had to choose which to ignore between JAMB and WAEC papers which fell on the same day!

 We understand that the 2019 elections and the infamous nocturnal postponement threw spanners into the usually tidy schedules of the two examining bodies – but the world’s calendar has not changed!

 WAEC, though elephantine in scope and operations, is not a doddering octopus that cannot respond to exigencies… What stops a national agency such as JAMB from, permit the cliche, crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, with a regional sister-body whose focus is on the same set of Nigerians? After all, one needs authorising documents from both bodies to be admitted into any Nigerian tertiary institution.

 Therefore, the emergence of a situation where our children’s dreams are imperilled by officious pig-headedness (or worse still, criminal nonchalance) in failing to do the simple reconciliation of dates and time tables within the logistics departments of both organisations, should be roundly condemned, investigated and severely sanctioned. May we never witness such costly oddity again!

 Going forward, while it may be logistically nigh impossible to repeat the exercises, JAMB and WAEC must adopt prompt remedial processes to accommodate and restore the hope and aspirations of the affected candidates, after due confirmation.

 The shameful conduct of JAMB CT exam centres should also be clinically investigated, and remedial actions taken; while operatives who wilfully sabotage the process, or conspire to circumvent the orderly conduct of the digital tests should be fished out, and dealt with firmly, according to the letters of the law. Arresting over 50 mercenary CT-soldiers across the country is mere tokenism in the light of the pervasive corruption, and sundry rackets within the examination “industry”.

 Yet, that we are still complaining about computer malfunction, connection disruptions, operators’ connivance in gaming the system, incidents of unfortunate candidates with  vital information omitted, or missing entirely, and other failings which should have been consigned to history, is a giant shame-pendant hanging on our necks.

Ambode’s Deep Slumber…

Few months ago, we wrote on this column that Lagos governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who started so well, was apparently sleeping on duty as a result of the political trouncing he received from his godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in October last year. In that piece (“Is Ambode Still Sleeping?” – December, 2018), we sympathised with the governor’s peculiar condition, and appealed to him to find some grace to finish his one term well, as ruling Lagos is not anyone’s “divine assignment” that would have prevented him from gaining “eternal life” – a fixation of Pentecostals, of whom I believe he is counted amongst.

 Ambode seems to have gone worse since my lamentations four months ago! Or his condition appears to be unmoved by the state and national successes recorded by his party, APC, in the power equation. He still “lords” it over Lagos in a poor imitation of Nero, who was strangely infatuated with his harp while parts of Rome withered under raging inferno.

 Lagosians have been growling at the ridiculous return of traffic gridlock (an apparition once banished, few years ago, to the fringes of Apapa and its docks – by this same man!) The metropolis is now clustered, and choking at the seams…there is an enveloping sense of neglect, filthiness, stagnancy and lawlessness.

 All of a sudden, stories of police brutalities, vicious gang wars, signature cult killings, and such hitherto fast-receeding sociopathic behaviours, are becoming common treats… And our man’s word is mum! Not a note of warning, or sympathy, or inspiration, or condolences… Not to mention the human touch of public appearances or private visitations to victim’s families or communities.

 So, we ask again: What is wrong with our governor? Is it more than losing an election? Can it still be the shock of being the first sitting governor to be upended in his own party primary – in a state he is generally adjudged to have done averagely well…until the primary? Is our governor so short-sighted that he is willing to mortgage his political future by muddling the pool in which he had once swum admirably? Is he so blinkered that his ambition is somehow denominated by two-term Alausa tenure? How do you expect a favourable history where you started so well (even when some could point at moments of vindictiveness and arrogance…which to me merely underscore your humanity)…and then end so calamitously?

 Have you forgotten the biblical dictum poetically delivered in Ecclesiastes 9:11? Or can you not appropriate its inspired wisdom? Let me remind you, sir:

“…The race is not to the swift

Nor the battle to the strong

Nor bread to the wise

Nor riches to men of understanding

Nor favour to men of skill

But Time and Chance happen to them all.”

 Bros, embrace your chance… redefine your time.