The National President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, has called for the composition of a ‘Common Committee’, to resolve the controversy over the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) result of Miss Mmesoma Ejikeme.
Osodeke spoke in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday, as
the result saga continued to generate reactions across the country.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), had, on Sunday, withdrawn the result of Mmesoma, alleging manipulation of her scores.
The Head, Public Affairs and Protocol, JAMB, Dr Fabian Benjamin, in a statement, said that Miss Ejikeme claimed to have scored 362 in the 2023 UTME, but actually scored 249.
He said that the claim had attracted her a N3m scholarship and the candidate was also set to be honoured by the Anambra State Government when one of its top officials put a call through to JAMB to confirm her claim.
He said that the Board, following the request, revealed that she scored 249 and not 362.
Benjamin said the result showed 362 that the candidate was claiming was manipulated.
He said that some of the 2023 UTME candidates were parading such fake scores in order to get an undue advantage.
However, the candidate, on Monday, in a new viral video, denied manipulating her result while saying that there might have been a possible technical malfunction in the board’s system.
Mmesoma insisted that what she had was an original printout from the board’s portal, with her father also insisting on her innocence.
The Board, however, after the video, reiterated that the UTME result being paraded by the candidate ”is patently fake” and went on to bar her from sitting for its examination for the next three years.
Reacting to the issue, the ASUU President said there was a need for the ‘common committee’ to unravel which party was being economical with the truth over the issue.
According to him, there is a need for a proper investigation before running into conclusions in whatever form, by members of the public, in a bid not to malign anyone.
”For me, I don’t see it as right to respond to this whole thing now that it has not clearly been defined. JAMB is claiming its own right and the candidate too is making her own claim.
“My advice to Nigerians at this moment, however, is not to be in a hurry to draw conclusions. Let us all wait for a central report.
“Like I mentioned earlier, there is the need for both the Federal Government, owner of the JAMB and the Anambra Government, the home state of the candidate, to come up with a common committee, to carry out a thorough independent investigation on the matter.
“Through this, we will be able to determine the truth, that is what we should do.
“Having said this too, JAMB should also strive to restrict itself to its core mandate or function of conducting examinations and setting benchmarks.
”The idea of it being the one conducting an examination, setting the benchmark and doing admissions too, should be looked into” the unionist stated.
According to the ASUU boss, the board will not have found itself in this current situation if it had restricted itself to just conducting the examination and forwarding results of candidates who subscribed to the respective institutions of higher learning.
”This is what we have been saying over the years. JAMB should know where to draw the line.
“We are saying that if for instance, 10,000 candidates who subscribed for the University of Ibadan as their first choice wrote the examination, their results should be harnessed and forwarded to the Senate of that university to do the admissions by itself.
“They should be the ones to determine whom they admit and this should not be the role of JAMB,” Osodeke argued.
Also, Prof Bola Oboh, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics and Research) University of Lagos, told NAN that there was a need for an in-depth investigation into the entire drama.
According to Oboh, it is rather worrisome to witness such development unfold, wondering how the persons involved could have been able to manipulate the entire process.
The professor of Aquaculture and Aquatic Ecotoxicology noted that the entire development was a wake-up call to the universities and other systems.
”To me, this whole thing is worrisome and calls for a thorough investigation on the side of both JAMB and those involved in the alleged result forgery. I believe that there are some manipulations somewhere.
”Really, seeing all these unfold is disturbing because, there could be more of these fake results in the process, where the results are not as high and therefore not discovered or celebrated.
‘The current one is trending because she had declared herself the highest scorer, contrary to what JAMB has, and is being celebrated.
“We need to see the whole picture clearly. You know, this is creating concerns because the said Miss Ejikeme came out to declare herself as the highest scorer.
“Now, this calls for caution even in the universities too. It behoves that we redouble efforts when it comes to screening of the candidates that seek placements for the various programmes,” Oboh stated.
Also speaking, a one-time Education Minister, Prof. Chinwe Obaji described the development as disturbing, stating that JAMB may be right with its position on the matter, judging from past antecedents.
According to her, in this age and time, with Artificial Intelligence and technology, anything is possible.
Obaji told NAN that JAMB, as a test body, was not new to issues of forgery or manipulation of results, with the quality of software at its disposal, designed specifically to grade, store, trace, retrieve, protect and authenticate results of millions of candidates over time, among other functions.
“I do not think there is a need to doubt JAMB. The highest scorers in its examinations are brought forth randomly as indicated in their system, after the collation of scores or performance of individual candidates. And going by this, Ejikeme is not the highest, as she is claiming.
”Now, the question should be, why did the Commissioner of Education of her home state first place a call across to JAMB, for the authentication of Ejikeme’s result, just before the Anambra government was about to honour her?
“What will JAMB gain going after this young girl, of the over 1.6 million candidates that sat for the examination? Something must have gone wrong somewhere and needs to be unravelled.
”And this is why I stated that in this era of Artificial Intelligence and technology, anything is possible and it will be too bad if we are using them negatively,” she added.