Few months ago (August – precisely), the Abia State government celebrated the 27th years of the creation of the state, to mark the celebration, the governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu rewarded three best performing West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) students.
The reward was celebrated across the state as schools from the three geo-political zones in the state presented three students that received the reward.
However, as months gone by, Information reaching us has it that the much publicised N3 million award given out by Governor Ikpeazu in August to three supposedly best performing students in WASCE went into the wrong hands.
According to information made available by the Abia State Government in its official website, the award came as part of events marking the 27th anniversary of the creation of Abia State and Ikpeazu used the occasion to honour three best performing WASCE students from each of the Senatorial zones of the state.
The three students who received cash gifts of N1,000,000 each from the governor as best performing students in WASCE are: Master Kalu Ifeanyi of Ofali Agwu secondary school Ohafia, Master Ogbonna Dike of Ehere Community Secondary School, Aba and Master Ezera Samuel of Government College, Umuahia.
However, it was gathered that the three awardees have not even sat for WASCE, not to talk of having any result that would warrant them to win the awards of one million naira each.
The revelation, according to NewTelegraph started when one master Kelechi Chukwuemeka, who was adjudged to be the best graduating student from Ehere Community Comprehensive Secondary School approached Easy Life for Rural Youths, a human rights organisation based in Abia State to make a case for him.
Chukwuemeka’s complaints came from the backdrop that Master Ogbonnaya Divine is the person he just handed over the Senior Prefect position of Ehere Community Comprehensive Secondary School over to and was yet to sit for WASCE. Chukwuemeka as gathered was given award as the best student in all ramifications including WASCE where he got 5-As, 3Bs and 1-C.
Although there is nothing to prove he is the best performing in WASCE in Abia South Senatorial Zone (Aba Educational Zone), but the fact that someone in a school where he emerged as the best was miraculously chosen as the best in WASCE even without registering for the exam pushed him to call for thorough investigation to avoid miscarriage of justice.
The young man said: “Awards were presented to three best performing students from the three educational zones as the best performing students in the recently concluded 2017/2018 WASCE. One of the students that got the award was from my school (Ehere Community Comprehensive Secondary School, Aba), but the student in question has not even written the exam.
“I have the best result in my school and I have asked questions, but got no answer. When I went to commiserate with my principal on the death of her husband, she said that the award given was for an unspecified competition and not WASCE.But what the media reported that governor mentioned was WASCE. Up till now, there is no name given to the said competition, no date provided, and no organiser. When was the competition organised? “She kept directing people to one Dr. Charles Chigbu in Umuahia whom she said we should go to for further answers.
“The newspapers and the state government website quoted the governor to have said that the award was specifically meant for best in WASCE and the person presented from my school is ineligible and not qualified for that award and has not written the exam. “My claim to that is that the school has announced that I have the best result in my school and how can someone else be presented as the best without any examination? We want clarification to this issue. I urge the state government to scrutinise the issue.
“This is absurd. The state government should investigate this issue and save the image of our state. They should give the perpetrators of this evil the real punishment.”
When visited Ehere Community Comprehensive Secondary School to ascertain the school management angle of the claims made by Chukwuemeka, the Principal of the school was said to be bereaved as she recently lost her husband and therefore not on seat. The teachers met by our reporter said that all the school did was to obey the order from above.
They all maintained that superior authority gave them the order to present whom they actually presented, but that Chukwuemeka was their best graduating student. They referred our reporter to Dr. Charles Chigbu, who is the Director of Secondary Education Management Board (SEMB), Umuahia, for further information.
A senior teacher, who craved anonymity, told our reporter that the school couldn’t have done any harm to Chukwuemeka whom they love so much. She added that what took place in the Aba Education Zone also took place in the other two educational zones of Umuahia and the Ohafia. And when our reporter visited the two other schools involved in Ohafia and Umuahia, it was also discovered that the two other students that received the awards as best performing WASCE students are still in school.
When contacted, Chigbu said that the letter, which authorised them to bring the awardees never said it was for the best in WASCE. He however did not state the criteria specified in the letter. When pressed further on the parameter they used as the three awardees at the time of the award were the best students in Abia without any examination conducted to that effect.
He said: “We have the best students for WASCE and NECO; the letter never asked us to give them any award. We do our analysis every year after exams to know the best WASCE students in public and private schools.
“The letter sent to me never called for best students in WASCE. Though that was the announcement, but the documents I have never stated that and this has gone to the governor and they discovered it was just a mistake. I acted on the letter.
“The criteria specified in the letter for the award were what we followed. The awardees were qualified from each zone. Aba has over 112 schools and that student performed better in response to what the content of the letter demanded. In Umuahia and Ohafia it was same.
“Their emergence was as a result of many competitions held within that period. They represented the state even in Abuja. They never told us it was for WASCE best students. If they had told us we will not have deviated. Ask government, they have record. The A-B-C is clear; we acted based on the content of the letter we got from them.”
Meanwhile, The President and Legal Adviser of Easy Life for Rural Youths, Mr. Saint Moses Obonna, described the situation as an act of criminal and fraudulent deceit melted against the governor and Abia State in general. He said: “We are not impressed on the answer given by the SEMB director.
We were informed that the awards were meant for the three best WASCE students in the three zones. What took place was a criminal and fraudulent deceit. “If people at the helm of affairs gave the governor wrong names for him to approve and give out award, it’s criminal deceit. I believe the governor meant this award to be an incentive to hard study so that other students can emulate them and work harder.
So, if the people in charge went ahead and brought people, who are still in school to receive award meant for those who excelled in WASCE, that’s bad.”
All efforts made to reach the commissioner for education proved abortive as his mobile line remained unreachable, but in a telephone contact placed on the mobile line of the commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi-Kalu earlier on the matter based on the information on the Abia State Government website, he insisted the award was for WASCE best students. Okiyi-Kalu added that if anyone had shortchanged anybody by substituting the rightful awardees then the person will be brought to book.
He demanded to know those involved to ensure that there’s no miscarriage of justice and promised to investigate and speak with Chigbu and then get back to our reporter. After his investigation, which involved several hours of listening to both Chigbu and other persons involved in the community that planned the Abia at 27 years anniversary, Okiyi-Kalu got what seemed like different information from the one he initially had.
“I have spoken to the man and what he explained to me was that the committee never instituted the award to be for the best WASCE student and that even if they were to select the best WASCE student that the boy in Ehere Community Comprehensive Secondary School is not even the best. He said original parameter for selection was some quizzes and other competitions. “I now asked him, why didn’t you people guide the governor properly? Why did you allow him to say the best WASCE student? He accepted that to be a mistake.
The governor was not properly guided and I need to see the governor to sort out this problem. “If you made a pronouncement that these are the best students for WASCE in the three zones, it then means that the best WASCE students are the ones to receive this. If that is the basis, that means it wouldn’t be the boy from Ehere in Abia South, the one in Abia North and Central because they have not sat for the exam. The problem is just the way these people run programmes. There’s only one simple parameter to measure the best and that is through examinations.
I think there was a mix-up.” Okiyi-Kalu then requested to be given time to bring out an official government position on the matter. He said: “I will have to get the Commissioner for Education to find out his own perspective and then articulate a position because there has to be a solution that looks equitable.
“I can assure you that the governor may not have been properly briefed at the time he made the pronouncement and to the status of those students. If he was properly briefed that this is not the best WASCE students he will simply say that these are best performing students in Abia Schools.”
Official government position on the matter
After some time of waiting for official government position on the matter, Okiyi-Kalu, said: “The governor was misinformed on the parameters used for the award. He believed that the awardees were best in WASCE for the three senatorial zones. Adequate corrective measures will be taken.”
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