He held his result sheet in his tightly gripped fists. It looked like he was about to cry. His lips were quivering and his jaws were clenching and unclenching, continuously.
I felt I should offer some condolence. But what do you tell someone who has written General Certificate of Education (GCE) so many times. I think West African Examination Council (WAEC) office should begin sending him Christmas cards, Easter cards, Valentine cards… you know.
At least, something to show that they acknowledge their faithful customers.
What do you tell someone whom you think should get the next examination form as a complimentary invitation from the director of WAEC himself (and maybe NECO, too) with their personal autographs attached?
Well, before my brain could work out a solution to this tricky problem, I was saved the effort. But, by Jove, the next words I heard knocked the winds out of me.
He sniffled: “This WAEC people is very wicked. They know that is English am looking for and they are now wickeding me. How many times I have write WAEC and they don’t want to pass me English.”
You should understand the sudden quandary in which I found myself when he uttered those historic words. It began as a laugh but when I considered Balthazar Grecian’s advice never to contend with a man who has nothing to lose, I converted my laugh to a coughing fit. I had already been mentally bruised by his exceptional technique at murdering the queen’s language. I did not need physical bruises as well.
But anyone would agree that it is quite obvious why that young man failed abysmally his English Language papers. How anyone can ‘look for English’ is quite beyond me. And how did the Examination Body acquire the super human ability to know what each of their registered candidates is ‘looking for’? But I have a very active imagination. Immediately, I conjured up the image of a hooded official in the WEAC head office, covered torch-light in hand, sneaking through the corridors and painstakingly searching for this young man’s English Language answer script and ‘wickedingly’ failing him. Preposterous!
But you can bet I did not tell him that.
However funny this may seem, I think it tragic as well. That boy was convinced from the bottom of his English-murdering heart that he was not to blame for his failure. He was fairly certain that he was not to be held responsible at all for his dismal performance in the examination. He was convinced that the problem was NOT him but ‘the WAEC people’. It is hard enough to help someone in deep trouble. Yet it is harder still if that person is deeply convinced that they are perfectly okay and that they have no problem.
That is the state of the minds of an alarming number of students right now. Some leading statesmen have taken it upon themselves to call it unacceptable that such a large percentage, as has been seen in recent reports, should fail their O’Level examinations.
Unfortunately, I have seen little matching fervor from the affected teens and youths who are convinced that the system is unjust and that the right thing they should concentrate on is finding a dishonest way to beat the system. But to them it is not dishonest. They are just being sharp- doing ‘smart’ work rather than hard work.
They are much too busy pinging, ‘face booking’, seeking premature relationships that would more likely mar than make them, ‘twittering’ and generally seeking to outdo each other in the most mundane things while leaving the important things to take care of themselves.
But we should know that the important things in life do not just ‘take care of themselves’. If we want them, we have got to show that we deserve them. If we will get them, it is because we took the necessary steps to acquire them.
Life as it is does not cater to our wants and desires as a basis for us getting what we request. We must be willing to put in the Sweat Equity. But are these affected people doing that?
I have noticed something else about the affected teens and their general attitude to the rules as it applies to examination. The only rule they obey is the quiet, unspoken Eleventh Commandment- Thou Shall NOT Get Caught. If they happen to be caught while engaging in malpractice, they show remorse. The remorse is not for the fact that they did the wrong thing but for the fact that they were caught.
A lady writing the last UTME looked at me as though I had suddenly sprouted another head when I asked her if she could not depend on her brain to write an examination. She looked seriously shocked as though the thought was suicidal in itself and had never occurred to her innocent mind.
To many of her ilk, examinations are really a Cat and Mouse, Tom and Jerry game. Either you outsmart the spoilsports or you get caught.
I do not see the mass failure in the light that so many see it. The mass failure is just a symptom of a much larger festering disease in the system. The root is a more deep-lying problem. It is in the thoroughly misplaced priority of our teens and youth which is reinforced by the reality TV shows with which they are daily bombarded, which places obscene emphasis on ‘the good life’ and having unrestrained fun.
It is reinforced by the faulty respect gauge of society which gives deference to you based on the size of your purse and/or bank account, on what car you drive; on what house you live in.
It is reinforced by the glamourised Models and Mentors that serve as ambassadors and faces that endorse top products, people who are largely anything but ‘models’ in the true sense of the word.
It is reinforced by their own very parents and/or parent-figures.
I state the obvious when I ask, ‘How can a society that consistently celebrates vices complain of the lack of virtues?’
I auditioned for THE DEBATER’S once. The number of people I saw gathered there were comparatively few, I tell you. And from their utterances I could tell that with these young men and women the future was secure, especially for Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
And then I saw the audition for MTN Project Fame and I nearly lost hope. The crowd of wannabe’s, hangers-on, ‘toasters’, the star-stricken, mere on-lookers, the misguided and even thieves and pick-pockets drawn by that event nearly broke my heart.
I do not have anything against the entertainment world as a whole but I begin to wonder, if we truly wish to compete favourably in the Global Competitive Index as a people or rank high amongst the comity of nations as a country, then whence the unhealthy addiction of our youth to entertainment. Do we, as Nero, play the fiddle when our Rome burns?
The mass failure is only a symptom indicative of some hidden cause. That Nigerian youths have excelled in other fields is proof enough that we are resourceful and exceptionally gifted. That underlying cause is the unhealthy paradigms that place undue spotlight on less-than-honourable activities just as long as it brings in loads of cash.
If we can consistently celebrate nation-builders, reward academic pursuits; if our national awards go to people who have considerably contributed to the industrial growth of our nation; if companies and products made their brand ambassadors only those who have been proven to have enviable Values-system… we can rest assured that in the nearest future we would have the cultural renaissance we so crave.
As behaviorism psychologist, Edward Thorndike stated, behaviours immediately rewarded increase in frequency, behaviours immediately punished decrease in frequency.
By Akpoveta, Valentine. T
The legal team of major general charles airhiavbere, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the July 14, 2012 Edo State gubernatorial election, are battle ready to unseat Governor Adams Oshiomhole of the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) as they have finally submitted their reply to the ACN’S response to the petition filed by the former challenging the outcome of the polls.
In the PDP’s candidate reply to the ACN response in the suit EPT/ED/G/01/2012, he posited that Governor Adams Oshiomhole was not a fit and proper person to contest the July 14, 2012 governorship election, saying that he is “not educated up to school certificate level or its equivalent contrary to section 177 (d) of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and in fraction of section 182 (1) (j) of the same constitution (as amended).”
According to the PDP candidate’s reply as submitted to the Governorship Election petition tribunal by the six-man legal team led by Chief Efe. L. Akpofure (SAN), the particulars of Gen. Airhiavbere’s petition include that “there was no Iyamoh Primary school, Iyamoh in 1957” and that “the 1st respondent was barred from enrolling into and entering primary one in 1957 having not attained the minimum age of six years by the provision of Western Region of Nigeria Gazette no. 17 vol. 5 dated 5th April, 1956”.
In addition, the legal team stated that “the 1st respondent dropped out of the Secondary Modern School in the second year and did not complete the mandatory three years course at Blessed Martin Secondary Modern School, Jattu-Uzairue, which he claimed to have attended between 1963 and 1965” as well as “unexplained discrepancies in the academic certificates presented”.
Also, the petitioners state in reply to paragraph 27 of the said reply that “publication in the newspaper like the Nation Newspaper does not cure the effect of the continued campaign carried out by the 1st and 2nd respondents beyond the prescribed campaign period as stipulated by law”.
THE Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Bala Mohammed, at the weekend stunned his audience when he disclosed that the Abuja Master Plan was not envisaged to accommodate the needs of the common man.
Mohammed spoke at the formal signing of the agreement for an Addendum of Variation of Scope Contract with the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) to facilitate the completion of the multi-billion naira Abuja Light Rail Project, which commenced in 2006 but had been comatose since then due to lack of funds.
His words: “With all regrets, Abuja initially did not capture the needs and aspiration of the common people and the middle level manpower that we have in terms of affordable housing.”
According to the minister, Abuja, the nation’s capital was designed to accommodate only a million people, but that the territory now has a population of about four to five million people living in the area thereby putting pressure on available infrastructural facilities.
“Abuja has more than four to five million people living in a place where it is supposed to be inhabited with only about a million people at the moment,” he said.
The FCT minister, however, disclosed that the government was poised to provide infrastructural facilities at the satellite towns of the territory to give comfort to the middle class workforce that lives outside the city centre, and whose earnings may not afford them the luxury of private and chauffeur-driven vehicles.
“At the end of the day, we are going to reduce the pressure on our corridors by using the mass transit scheme to be provided by the Abuja Rail Project and the employment opportunity it will provide for the population.
“We are going to provide employment opportunities for over one million people. And you can see that when people come to Abuja they try to stay anyhow. I am sorry with all apology and regrets that Abuja initially did not capture the needs and aspiration of the common people and the middle level manpower that we have in terms of affordable housing,” he said.
But Mohammed assured that President Goodluck Jonathan had given the FCT administration the marching order to look inward and facilitate the provision of housing for the people in that category in order to address the numerous social impediments normally presented by them.
A 28-year-old man, Bestwood Chuckwuemeka, was arraigned on Monday at a Karu Magistrates’ Court for sodomy.
The police prosecutor, Cpl. Umar Mohammed, told the court that on August 8, a man from Gidan Mangoro, Abuja, reported to the divisional headquarters, Karshi, Abuja, of the action of the accused person.
Mohammed said that the accused had sexual intercourse with the complainant on his bed when the complainant was fast asleep.
The prosecutor said that the offence was contrary to section 284 of the Penal Code.
When the charge sheet was read out, the accused pleaded not guilty.
The accused said “I came back drunk from the night club and thought I was sleeping on the same bed with my girl-friend and I started romancing her.”
The Magistrate, Nafisat Buba, said that alcohol should not be seen as an excuse for committing the offence.
“Despite being under the influence of alcohol, the accused should not use that as an excuse to commit the crime,” she said.
The magistrate granted the accused bail in the sum of N200,000 with two sureties in like sum.
She said that one of the sureties must be a civil servant on GL 09 and adjourned the case to September 17 for further hearing.
A middle-aged man identified as Pastor Michael Oyewole was paraded along his accomplice, Matthew Akiode for being in possesion of a human skull allegedly exhumed in a grave on a land at Sabo in Abeokuta North local government area of Ogun state on Tuesday.
The pastor, 32, who claimed to be a pastor at Ona-Ara mimo Cherubim and Sheraphim at Olomore few kilometres to the crime scene in Abeokuta was accused of inducing Akiode of committing the crime.
Speaking with newsmen, Akiode, who confessed to the crime, however attributed his action to the economic situation in the country.
He said “I used to work on his (pastor) site but he said I will make more money if I can get him human skull, so I felt it was an easy way of making money that was why I did it.
“I am surprised he’s denying all of this when he was the actual person that taught me how to go about it,” he claimed.
But when the pastor was asked about his involvement in the crime, Pastor Oyewole denied that he ever sent Akiode to perpetrate the act.
He said “I am man of God and pastor at Irewole Cherubim and Seraphim Church, car wash area.
“I heal people with God’s name and not with human skull, he’s just telling lies and I don’t know what I have done to him, only God can save me now, “he said.
While parading the suspects at the police command Headquarters at Eleweran in Abeokuta yesterday, the police Commissioner, Ikemefuna Okoye, said that the accused persons committed the offence at about 12 a.m while digging the foundation of a building.
According to Okoye, at about12 00 am hour, we got information about somebody who was digging a grave and we swung into action.
“He never knew that eagle eyes were watching him in the process of removing the corpse.
“We apprehended him immediately he severed the head from the body and he told us that it was one Pastor Oyewole that sent him, “he said.
Okoye however said that, the embattled pastor was arrested shortly after his partner in crime mentioned his name for encouraging him to commit the crime.
He said that both accused persons would be charged to court as soon as investigation into the matter was concluded.
The Commissioner, who assured members of the public to go about their normal business without fear, sought their cooperation towards effective policing of the state.
Real Madrid could give a debut to Luka Modric as they try to overturn a 3-2 deficit in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Barcelona on Wednesday.
Modric moved from Tottenham to Real on Monday for a fee of about £30m and may play a part as the Spanish champions chase a first win of the season.
Mourinho has faced Barcelona 12 times since taking charge of Real Madrid. He has lost six, drawn four and won two.
Real lost to Getafe on Sunday and coach Jose Mourinho was critical of his team’s display.
“I’m ready, but the coach will decide if he uses me or not,” said Modric.