Social media is a place where everyone comes to say whatever they feel like or thought about saying. As a matter of fact, each time you log on to Facebook, it keeps asking you ‘What’s on your mind’ and would like you to say something. And as much as it does that Facebook is not asking you to lie or fabricate stories.
Twitter on its part will be like: “What’s happening, while Instagram will be asking for your story. And of course, the reactions will come in all forms of shades and colours via all manner of updates by account users. A good number of them are likely to be false, fake news, really, even from those in positions of authority.
Sometimes, actually, you read some updates and will be thoroughly shocked at some people you ordinarily won’t associate with the sort of lies they are blatantly spewing – white, black, pink, red, purple lies! Just name them.
That is why information on social media, just like in all interactions with most people these days must be taken with a pinch of salt. Which is why when you read from those mothers, for instance, boasting on Facebook, especially, that their children showed signs right in the womb of possessing very high intelligence quotient, you don’t get carried away.
Usually, they will come on Facebook or elsewhere with loud prayers, asking everyone to specially join them in thanking God for the exceptional brilliance of their boy or girl who made straight As in all subjects, either in the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) or some other examination conducted in Nigeria.
To keep your sanity, do not just go interpreting such prayer or rather, public celebration, literally, especially if you have a ward whose results are not that glittering.
First, tell yourself that all that glitters is not gold, because what some of these parents may be celebrating is pure fraud for which they played very active role in perpetrating. And that is not to say that in some instances, the excellent stories could not be true.
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In the just concluded Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) conducted by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), for instance, one of the candidates that wrote the examination in Lagos narrated the rot that went on right inside the examination hall to me and I was very shocked.
Fraud was elevated to the next level with so much impunity. It will not be surprising therefore if the parent who played a role in the examination cheating comes on Facebook or any social media platform, or anywhere else actually, to bamboozle the public with wonderful tales of a so-called brilliant child.
As my informant, who was also writing the UTME exam narrated, they were all in the hall on their assigned seats. And while the examination was about to start, some elderly man walked to a side of the hall where they were seated, asked all them in that area to move to another side of the hall after which he brought a set of candidates to occupy that side of the hall.
And that was not all. A number of other persons suspected to be Youth Corps members, were then stationed at that area and would later be going round dictating answers to exam questions to those “special candidates” brought to take over their seats.
According my informant, the perpetrators were so unto themselves that no other person could benefit from the fraudulent act by way of eavesdropping on answers being dictated to the ‘special candidates’ because the parents had paid for the malpractice going on right there in the presence of other candidates with no fear, whatsoever, of any repercussions.
Yet, I think I have heard JAMB talk of having cameras installed either in the examination hall or in the computers, or in both, for the computer-based examination.
Nonetheless, camera or not didn’t really stop that elderly man in that hall acting as an invigilator from going round boasting and distracting the rest of the candidates genuinely trying to write the examination. He was said to have been threatening: ‘Well, some of you have written this same exam before and will write it again next year and yet may not be successful.”
He boldly continued: “If you want to score over 300 mark, you know what to do. You can reach me on so and so address or phone numbers (which he was said to have actually read out). It will cost you, N250, 000. With Two hundred and fifty thousand Naira only, you will score over 300 marks and then say good bye to JAMB,” were the kind of song he was said to be ‘singing’ gleefully around the hall with impunity.
And I was like, Whaaaat? Are you sure of what you are saying? The young candidate said to me: ‘Stay there and be all that surprised. There is so much examination malpractice going on in Nigeria aided by parents who pay those concerned for it.’
According to this candidate, before they were called into the hall, some parents, especially mothers, were parading all over the place, negotiating and bargaining, especially on phone, possibly with invigilators as one could hear words like; ‘ok, you will get the alert now’, ‘yes, I have sent it,’ ‘check your phone,’ ‘Please make sure s/he scores over 300 marks,’ etc.
And all these were happening in broad daylight, in an open place with hundreds, if not thousands of people watching! It is the same way special centres and arrangements are also made for some students to write WAEC. At the end, they parade straight A’s even when they don’t know Jack, which is glaringly clear when interacting with some of them. There is simply nothing in them to justify the exceptional results on paper they are parading.
Yet, we are slapped left, right and center every day with the slogan, fight against corruption, to the extent that most times when we are reminded of our status as one of the world’s most corrupt countries, we kick.
Despite claims by the Federal Government that it is dealing with the menace, Nigeria remains one of the countries with the perceived highest corruption in the world.
The 2018 Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International sometime in January this year, ranked Nigeria 144, tied with Kenya, Mauritania, Comoros and Guatemala out of the 180 countries surveyed.
Nigeria moved four places up the ladder, from 148 out of 180 countries in the 2017 to 144 out of 180 countries in 2018.
Against the background, you can begin to understand why someone could register 64 times to write UTME for 64 candidates.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board in a report, last week, said it caught someone it described as a “notorious cheat” who had registered for the UTME 64 times, with the intention of writing the examination for 64 candidates.
JAMB added that overall, no fewer than 100 examination cheats at the time of the report, had been arrested by security operatives across the country during the just concluded UTME.
The examination body lamented that multiple registrations inflate annual registration for the UTME exercise by up to 30 per cent. And in its Weekly Bulletin released in Abuja last week by its spokesperson, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, JAMB said the fraudsters were engaged in multiple registrations to facilitate impersonation during the examination.
JAMB also said that data available to it showed that the practice was prevalent in virtually all the states of the federation, including Abuja.
According to examination body, the arrest of the culprits was made possible by the comprehensive and mandatory identity checks conducted on those taking the examination, with a view to fishing out professional ghost writers before the release of the results.
To that effect, results of two Computer Based Test centres in Abia State were said to have been cancelled over what JAMB described as “widespread irregularities” during the UTME.
Very interesting move there but that might just be a tip of the iceberg because in almost all the centres and even outside of them, all manner of cheating was and had taken place for the exam.