For the Eyes of NECO Registrar
I was on a visit to Sokoto when a friend informed me of the admission fraud taking place in some Federal Government Colleges. He narrated to me what happened to his daughter whom he felt has been cheated by unscrupulous parents in Lagos . What actually happened is that Mustapha Ibrahim, the father, is an indigene of Sokoto State living in Lagos with intense interest in educating his children, well, like many other parents these days. One of his daughters attended a private school in Lagos and sat for the National Common Entrance Examination, both sittings, and scored fairly good marks, enough to earn her admission into the College of her first choice – Queen’s College Yaba, Lagos – if not merit, at least on state quota.
When the admission results came out, Mustapha visited the school to find out whether his daughter is listed among the princesses. Unfortunately, she was not and, naturally, he was covered with sadness. His dream – and that of his daughter – of pursuing an academic career in the best girls’ college in the country has been shattered. She will not be a princess.
Perhaps, he implied, the girl did not perform very well. After all, Queen’s college is very competitive. So he headed home. But before he could leave the premises of the school, the voice of curiosity called and counselled: “Return to the board and find out who were those more beautiful indigenes of Sokoto that blocked the chance of his daughter and what actually were their measurements.” It was there that his sadness turned into the anger that remains to date. He is busy since that day going into every relevant office and dropping his infuriating findings.
First of all, he found that the only one girl was admitted from Sokoto state, instead of two. Aha, marginalisation, he cried. He recalled that the policy on unity schools allocates two candidates to every state in every federal government college outside its boundaries. Here, even on this basis, Mustapha reasoned, there is a room for the accommodation of his daughter in the prestigious school.
The second and most surprising observation was the name of the only girl admitted from Sokoto on quota – Mabudu Modinat – with registration number 154776BB who attended Aunty Ayo International School , Eti Osa, Lagos . Modinat scored 182 points in the second test. Mustapha quickly went into analysis. Modinat, he thought, must be a Yoruba by tribe, not only from her surname Mabudu which does not exist in Hausa but also from the first name. If she were from Sokoto, the first name – Modinat -would have read Madina, with an ‘a’ instead of ‘o’ and without the last t, the placement of which is peculiar only to Yoruba nomenclature.
In addition, if Modinat had schooled at Sokoto there would have been a probability of her being an indigene of Sokoto State since there are thousands of southerners who acquired indigene status through sheer residency in the North. But Modinat schooled at Aunty Ayo International School at Eti-Osa, Lagos !
Modinat could be an isolated case, Mustapha reflected with caution. But pressed further by the ‘devil’ of curiosity, he tried to see if his conclusion on the fraudulent candidature of Modinat can be confirmed by the situation in other states. He went through the admissions given to candidates of other states, especially those from the North. Here, the fraud became clear. The coincidence, even if there was any, requires the probability of the Big Bang to happen. ‘Modinat’ was a universal phenomenon on the list pasted at Queen’s college. What applied to Sokoto also applied to many states of the far North.
Mustapha quickly copied his findings and believing that he has discovered a fraud in an era when the government is fighting fraudulent practices in all their manifestations he printed them in a table and started circulating the copies to all the states concerned through their liaison offices in Lagos . He also distributed them to some newspapers, all with the hope that the concerned will be triggered to wake up and fight for the right of the poor children so cheated.
So far, as at when we met in Sokoto a fortnight ago, nothing has come out of the complaint from any government in the North. The issue is perhaps moving from one desk to another before finally it reaches the Commissioner of Education of each state who will then write a memo to His Excellency who will in turn direct the Honorable Commissioner on what to do. That blessing of His Excellency will take several months to get, if it ever comes on matters like this. Finally from the commissioner downwards, a couple of years will be needed before any action is taken.
Now I feel we do not need to wait. I can now understand why my son, Abba, could not get admission into King’s College Lagos. But that is not the issue here. What is at stake is Justice. In the remaining paragraphs, I have presented my contribution as to how the fraud could be avoided and I sincerely hope that the authorities concerned, namely NECO, Federal Ministry of Education, all the Federal Government Colleges and all State Ministries of Education, will take note of them. I have given the full data on the discovery of Malam Mustapha at Queen’s College in the table that appears on this page.
First, let us note that neither the Federal Ministry of Education nor NECO has any fault in this. Objectively, we must dissociate them from any blame. In fact NECO deserves our commendation in that it has computerised the admissions into Federal Government Colleges. That is remarkable, and the computerisation, in spite of its limitations, must remain. It is the surest road to justice.
The situation is brought about by the fraudulent intent and behaviour of parents who know that the computer can never detect, as the human mind would do, any fraud when a parent filling the form for his child decides to fill the wrong state code with the intention of stealing the quota of that state. We understand that stakes are high but parents wishing a better tomorrow for Nigeria should not train their children in corruption at an age as early as ten.
Once the computer is fed with that wrong information, like Ejiegbu Ngozi (Sokoto), Onitiju Afolarera (Kebbi), Fagbuyi Seun (Katsina), Kusuji Folashade (Jigawa), Onuogu Nkechi (Adamawa), Afun Anu Oluwapo (Yobe) and Badejo Omoshalewa (Nasarawa), there is nothing it can do but sort them out as valid indigenes of the respective states indicated. So after both the first and second tests, it will go ahead to award them admissions into schools of their choice based on quota and other criteria like merit and environment. Obviously, NECO will go ahead, especially under pressure to release the results from the public, to issue admission letters as sorted out by the computer. This is the height of transparency. The fault of the computer is that it is not a Nigerian.
NECO can do very little than the computer if we consider that there are hundreds of thousands of candidates applying to sit for the exams. Using the computer also discounts the prejudices of the human factor. Thus, given the quantum of work and the pervasive degree of nepotism among Nigerians, using the computer to collate results and award admissions remains imperative.
Having established the need to use the computer and having also established its inability to detecting fraud of the kind in question, we must move to the manual domain to find a solution to the problem. Fraudulent parents in Lagos and other urban centres will continue to claim states to which they do not belong. They will not stop the practice until and unless they are deterred from it following the following measures.
One, the duty to check the state of origin of the admitted students lies with the schools. When a candidate with the name Onuogu Nkechi arrives at Queen’s College to register, normally she will be required according to the requirements of NECO to present an indigene certificate of a local government in the Jigawa State she claims to come from. The school authority using its sixth sense should automatically notice the near impossibility of Nkechi’s claim such that if she fails to produce the indigene certificate or presents a fake one her admission will be cancelled. However, not all schools I realise have the sixth sense, and those who do may not be interested in using it. That is why all thirteen candidates in the list shown in the table are confirmed sitting tight in the classrooms of Queen’s College, right now.
So we need an additional check point on our road to justice. A second suggestion is that NECO, I will advise, should take the extra pain and cost of sorting out and printing all admissions given to each state nationwide. It will then examine every admission, since the admitted candidates are very much fewer than the candidates that applied. I believe it will be in a position to raise many questions regarding the admissions. For example, it would have found out that half of the fraudulent practice at Queen’s College came from a school called Tinubu Methodist Primary School on Lagos Island . Any surprise, when the His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos state, another Tinubu, narrowly escaped impeachment on allegations of fake certificates some three years ago? NECO can then decide to take punitive measures against such primary schools and, as well, dismiss the candidates involved in the fraud, regardless of their levels in the schools. This is the price for their underrating the intelligence of NECO and miscalculating its sense of prudence. It is the deterrent of future occurrence.
Thirdly, NECO should trek the extra mile to send the printout of the sorted list to every Ministry of Education such that it is left to the state to pursue its case or not whenever it discovers a foul play is committed against it. It will raise the case with NECO and demand a reinstatement of its right. I believe NECO will be very willing to oblige. This option alone would have solved the problem if it were not for the ineptitude of our state Ministries of Education.
The best option lies in the combination of the three: getting schools use their sixth sense, where they have one; NECO scanning the results with the intention to fish out the fraud itself and advise the schools to be on the alert; and NECO, still, sending the printout to states who we implore should take particular and immediate interest in ascertaining the indigeneship of every candidate bearing their names.
I know the Registrar of NECO to be among the few Nigerians in position of authority today who hate fraud to the core, just like his JAMB counterpart. I am sure when this article reaches NECO Registrar, he will, I predict, set up a committee to investigate the matter and he will be the first to order the dismissal of all candidates who have gained admission through this fraudulent manner in the past and present. I hope the composition of this committee will not be limited to NECO officials alone. There is the need for concerned people like Mal. Mustapha Ibrahim to participate in the exercise.
While I invest my hope in the Registrar, I implore on those of us concerned to grant him the time to investigate the matter accordingly. On our part, we assure him of our indomitable defence against the assault ballistics of the parents affected. Mr. Registrar, you remain our only hope, now and in the future.
S/No Candidates Names Exams No. Schools attended State of origin Admission Remarks Scores
73 Ejiegbu A. Ngozi 168738CJ Tinubu Methodist Pry. Lagos Island , Lagos Sokoto Merit 186
147 Mabudu Modinat 154776BB Aunty Ayo Intl. School , Eti-Osa, Lagos Sokoto State Quota 182
146 Osinmade 168723HE Tinubu Methodist Pry. School, Lagos Island , Lagos Sokoto State Quota 184
125 Onitiju Afolarera 168750JA Tinubu Methodist Pry. School, Lagos Island , Lagos Kebbi State Quota 181
123 Fagbuyi Seun 168761FH Tinubu Methodist Pry. School, Lagos Island , Lagos Katsina State Quota 183
102 Kasumu Kemi 168740CD Tinubu Methodist Pry. School, Lagos Island , Lagos Bauchi State Quota 184
40 Kusiji Folashade 168781JE Tinubu Methodist Pry. School, Lagos Island , Lagos Jigawa Merit 188
117 Ayolagbe B. Bisola 168319FC Qatob Day Nursery/Pry. School, Ikeja, Lagos Jigawa State Quota 184
118 Umeco Victory 188806GC Prince Charles Intl. School , Ajeromi/Ifelodun, Lagos Jigawa State Quota 176
243 Onuogu Nkechi 154879JA Air Force Pry. School, Eti-Osa, Lagos Adamawa State Quota 171
96 Tokumba Tutua 340204CC Ebun Oluwa Nursery/Pry. School, Ikeja, Lagos Adamawa State Quota 180
150 Afun Anu Oluwapo 256815CG Emmanuel Pry. School, Kosofe, Lagos Yobe State Quota 179
161 Badejo M. Omoshalewa 168398FF Qatob Day Nursery/Pry. School, Lagos Island , Lagos Nasarawa State Quota 173
Admission of Northern States candidates into Queen’s College – Yaba Lagos (2004/2005 session) based on quota system.