Parents of two students who sat for the May/June 2018 WASSCE, Masters Chukwuemeka Kelechi and Chibueze Emmanuel Chukwuma are crying blue murder
Okey Sampson, Aba
In line with his administration’s promise to reward excellence, Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu on August 27, while marking the 27th anniversary of the state, showered cash awards on three students from each of the three senatorial zones who obtained the best results in the May/June 2018 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). Speaking at the event, Ikpeazu said that Abia State has maintained first position in WASSCE, back-to-back for three years.
“I cannot give awards to all our brilliant children but I want to use these three to tell them that the sky is indeed the stepping stone for each and every one of you.”
The governor in appreciation of their performance rewarded the students with N1 million each. However, the award has gone awry, few months after it was bestowed on three students.
Mr Chukwuemeka Mba and Pastor Emmanuel Chibueze, parents of two students who sat for the May/June 2018 WASSCE, Masters Chukwuemeka Kelechi from Ehere Community Comprehensive Secondary School (ECCSS), Aba and Chibueze Emmanuel Chukwuma of Ofali Agwu Secondary School, Ohafia who recorded the best results in Aba and Ohafia zones respectively, are crying blue murder; lamenting that their sons were robbed of what were legitimately theirs by fraudulent government officials.
They alleged that the names of their children were substituted with names of students who did not even sit for WASSCE, thereby deceiving the governor into giving awards to impostors, who did not deserve it and in the process putting the Abia school system into ridicule.
Parents of the affected students alleged that the authorities of the Secondary Education Management Board (SEMB) connived with the parents of the two students who eventually received the award by corruptly substituted
names of their children with impostors who did not write the school exam but received awards they did not deserve, describing the action as “a clear sign of deepening moral decay and fraud in the civil service which deserve to be dealt with.”
One of the parents, Mr Mba in a petition to the governor said: “The fact is that those presented to you on August 27, 2018 who received the N1 million award as the best students were not the SS3 students who sat for the May/June 2018 WASSCE and obtained excellent results which you rightly decided to reward and encourage.
“Rather, those presented to you were SS2 students who did not sit for the May/ June 2018 WASSCE, stressing that the receivers are still in school expecting to sit for WASSCE next year.”
In another letter to the principal of ECCSS, Mba whose son made the following result in the May/June 2018 WASSCE: Christian Religious Studies A1, Civic Education A1, English Language B3, Igbo A1, Mathematics A1, Biology B3, Chemistry C4, Physics B3 and Animal Husbandry A1, accused her of deliberately replacing his son’s name as one of the best students for the award with that of one Master Ogbonna Dike, who he alleged did not write the exam as at the time of the award and urged her to do the needful.
Equally, Pastor Chibueze whose son made the following result: Economics B3, Civic Education B3, English Language B3, Mathematics B3, Agricultural Science A1, Biology C5, Chemistry B3, Physics B3 and Animal Husbandry B3, alleged that is son, Chukwuma obtained the best WASSCE result in Ohafia zone, but that the award was given to one Master Kalu Ifeaanyi from his school who did not sit for the school exam.
According to him, “Available record showed that my son, Master Chibueze Emmanuel Chukwuma of Ofali Agwu Secondary School, Ohafia, who sat for the May/June 2018 WASSCE made the best result from the school and indeed Ohafia zone and is supposed to be the one that should receive the governor’s award”.
He, like Mba called on those concerned to ensure that justice was done and their children given the award they deserved.
Speaking on the issue, Dr Charles Chinekezi, Civil Liberty Organization (CLO) Aba Unit chairman, said, “What officials of SEMB did was criminal, condemnable and totally unacceptable. We are only giving the culprits an opportunity to remedy the mess before it gets out of hand; where nobody will be able to help them any longer because the issue will definitely go out of the hands of the state government.
“The best thing for them to do is to do the right thing by recommending those that are abi initio due for the award because civil servants cannot in any way become cog in the wheel of progress of those young stars”.
A human rights activist based in Aba, Mr Moses Ogbonna said he was not impressed with what Dr Chigbu did in respect of the award and the response he gave for his action. “We were informed that the award was meant for the three best WASSCE students in the state from the three zones, this was done to encourage students in public schools to work hard.
Ogbonna said it was wrong for the officials of SEMB to have deceived the governor into giving the awards to people who do not deserve them. “What SEMB officials did was a criminal deceit, a fraudulent deceit. If officials at the helm of affairs gave the governor wrong names for him to approve and give out award, it is criminal deceit and I believe something drastic should be done to such persons.
“I believe the governor meant this award as an incentive 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 WASSCE, that’s bad.
When contacted, the Principal of ECCSS, Mrs L.N. Ojogho said as a person under authority, whatever she did in respect of who received the award was based on directive from the former director of SEMB, Aba zone, Dr Chigbu Charles.
Reacting to the allegation, Dr Chigbu who has been transferred to a secondary school, said the cash award given by the governor was not for the best students in May/June 2018 WASCE in the state but for other examinations he could not specify. His response sharply contradicted what is in Abia state government official website.
HOW GOVT WEBSITE REPORTED THE AWARD
As part of events marking the 27th anniversary, Governor Ikpeazu had honoured three best performing West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) students from each of the senatorial zones of the state.
The three students who received cash gifts of N1 million each from the governor 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.
Speaking while handing over the cash gifts to the students, Governor Ikpeazu expressed delight that Abia State has maintained first position in WASSCE, back-to-back for three years.
According to him, “I cannot give awards to all our brilliant children but I want to use these three to tell them that the sky is indeed the stepping stone for each and everyone of you.”
He assured that his administration will continue to mainstream education through the provision of adequate infrastructure, retraining of teachers and encouragement of high performing students and teachers within the Abia school system.
When the Commissioner for Information, Mr John Okiyi Kalu arranged for a meeting to ascertain what truly happened and the parameter used to determine who were the three best students, Dr Chigbu reinstated what he told our Correspondent that the letter sent to his office for the award did not specify WASSCE and that was why he used several competitions attended by the students.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Chief Ifeanyi Agbai who was also a member of the committee for the Abia 27th year celebration where the award was given, insisted that the parameter remains students’ performance in WASSCE and that he was not aware of any other parameter.
Several efforts to reach the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ikechi Mgbeoji on the issue were not successful. However, Okiyi said the governor was misinformed on the parameters used for the award.
“The governor believed that the awardees were the best in the May/June 2018 WASSCE from the three senatorial zones. Adequate corrective measures will be taken,” he assured.