House Urges Buhari to Reopen Schools

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*  WASSCE cancellation may fuel criminality, says Afe Babalola

Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

The House of Representatives has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order a partial reopening of schools to allow pupils sit for the 2020 West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

This is coming as a legal luminary and the founder of Afe Babalola University, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), said yesterday that the cancellation of the 2020 WASSCE by the Nigerian authorities was capable of breeding frustration and promoting criminality among the 1.5 million students who registered for it.

The House made the call at the plenary yesterday following a unanimous adoption of a motion moved by a member, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji.

The Committee on Basic Education and Services had earlier on Friday faulted the decision by the federal government to suspend the plan to partially reopen schools for pupils in final classes to take external examinations.

The committee had particularly criticised the decision to disallow Nigerian pupils from sitting for WASSCE to be conducted by the West African Examination Council for the 2019/2020 academic session.

Meanwhile, legal luminary and the founder of Afe Babalola University, Babalola, said yesterday that the cancellation of the 2020 WASSCE by the Nigerian authorities was capable of breeding frustration and promoting criminality among the 1.5 million who registered for it.

Babalola advised that rather than canceling the examination, the federal government should let it hold in the various school halls in addition to fashioning ways to ensure compliance with COVID-19 protocols.

The ABUAD founder, who spoke in a statement entitled, ‘Nigeria’s non-participation in the 2020 WASCE: Irreparable damage,’ argued that “a year of idleness for 1.5million people may breed frustration and promote criminality”.

He said, “If the federal government insists that there would be no WASSCE this year, the students are not just losing one calendar year, but losing an integral part of their entire lives which is gone forever by such declaration. We should always remember that after all, ‘time is life and life is time.

“The federal government should allow the WASSCE to take place in the empty spaces which are wasting away in our tertiary institutions, secondary schools and elementary schools which can conveniently accommodate them with a lot of social distancing and due compliance with World Health Organisation’s rules.”

“It is my firm belief that the future of these 1.5 million young Nigerians who have registered for WAEC should not be put in jeopardy. It is a well-known fact that all schools, colleges and tertiary institutions in the country are currently shut down. This affords the federal government the opportunity to use them for WAEC examination.

“What the government should do is to prepare the empty rooms for WAEC examination – fumigate the halls and the premises, use face mask, provide sanitisers and ensure that WHO rules are obeyed to the letter,” he said.

Babalola, who wondered why it was only Nigeria that withdrew from the examination among the five West African countries involved, queried, “What steps have the other countries taken which would enable them to take WAEC examination which we cannot take?

“Are we saying that the other four countries do not appreciate the lives of their students? Why was the issue not turned over to the Nigerian body of WAEC or the general body of WAEC in Accra before the declaration of withdrawal to Nigeria?

“Did the Hon. Minister take into consideration the moral and legal implication of Nigeria as a signatory to WAEC laws or the effect of such unilateral declaration of withdrawal?

“All that is required to take the WAEC examination is proper management, consultation, and discussion instead of unilateral cancellation of annual international convention,” Babalola stated.