We have reached this point in Nigeria where people hold this notorious belief that hardworkingness in achieving academic success is a waste of time. While this belief is ridiculous and objectionable in any sane society, it is well embraced today in Nigeria. This is why many of our elected rulers in Nigeria are enmeshed, from time to time, in certificate racketeering and forgery. It is not uncommon to see people laughing at anyone who chooses to be a hardworking student. Such student will be asked; “Why should you burn midnight candle when you can sleep comfortably, keep your candle, and still achieve academic “excellence”?” This thinking is now preponderant—it is gaining wider acceptance.
When logic is made to stand on its head and it still sounds and looks logical, it means all is not well. All is really not well with us in Nigeria. Exam malpractice has become a norm. Anyone who talks, preaches, or writes against it is considered a sociopath. It is an exhibition of antisocial behaviour to think diligence is what is needed to make good grades in present day Nigeria. Exam malpractice cuts across all levels of educational pyramid in Nigeria. It isn’t about our higher institutions, those who see this ignoble practice as a way of life started it at the lower institutions (primary and secondary schools).
One of the most cherished adage says “charity begins at home.” It conveys the meaning that good behaviours and manners are learnt from home. This isn’t the case anymore. Charity has no beginning anymore (anywhere) because it does not exist. What begins at home now is how to cut corners. Students aren’t the ones engaging in malpractice in some cases. Do they have the boldness? Who born them? Those who born them (parents and teachers) are the actual culprits. This does not imply that all parents and teachers are criminals; many are decent. But not a few of them openly aid and abet normalization of exam malpractice out of “love” for their children and students.
What I find funny is when people (especially teachers and lecturers) use religion to justify exam malpractice. I have heard stupid talks and logics like “let’s “help” these students; they are our church members. They most not fail. If they fail, it is a slap on our church.” Or “the Christian lecturers are “helping” Christians among the students, let’s—we Muslims—also “help” Muslim students too.” People who do this (Christians or Muslims) only display sheer hypocrisy and bigoted religiousity. Though they speak in the name of religion and put on badges of religion, their actions are influenced by evil forces, crass desire, and pestiferous morality; they are far away from religion no matter how much they worship. If your religion teaches you to compete with adherents of other religions in exam malpractice, it means you have mistaken your religion to be from God. No single celestial religion encourages exam malpractice—retaliatorily or in any form. Even Idol worshippers will cringe at this logic.
Instances of exam malpractices are too many to cite. To cite personal experience would require writing in volumes. I will limit myself to two recent cases. One is the recently released results by the National Examination Council (NECO).
The other instance is the horrible “Degree for Sale” saga in the Lagos State University (LASU). Let’s take it one after the other. A month ago, the Registrar of NECO, Prof Dantani Ibrahim Wushishi announced the release of the July/August 2023 Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE). In his announcement, the Registrar who described the result as the best so far also acknowledged that there are cases of malpractice in all states of the Federation including FCT. He said 93 schools were found to have been involved in whole school cheating.
Let me say there is nothing new in that announcement. The figure of exam malpractice given by the Registrar should probably be a conservative figure. Exam malpractice has terribly permeated not only our schools but our education culture such that many will disagree there are exceptional schools. But truth be said, there are exceptional schools even if very few.
The Registrar also added that performance according to states shows that Lagos and Kano came first, followed by Oyo while Kebbi came bottom. Yet again, Lagos and Kano are among leading states with highest number of candidates involved in malpractice. While Maths, English and Civil Education take the lead in 2023 NECO exam malpractice, number of candidates with five credits and above, including English and Mathematics, is 737, 308 out of 1,196,985 which represents 61.60%.
This statistics, as far as I am concerned, is only useful to the extent that researchers will refer to itq as official statistics. However, the rot in the system is much more than what was reported. The fact that Maths and English are the subjects with the highest incidence of malpractice while candidates who got credits in the two subjects represent 61.60 percent leaves one in doubt if the statistics represents the reality. If there had not been massive malpractice in English and Mathematics, what would have been the percentage of candidates with credit in the two subjects? With this seemingly good performance, lecturers in the higher institutions will still struggle—using different eye glasses—to read exam booklets of many of these students when admitted. We are used to it. And before you know it, some shameless and perverted “Ogas At The Top” will instruct you to pass so and so students with so and so grades. What a shame!
Exam malpractice, if you don’t know, now takes a new dimension. Why do you even need to write exams that you know you do not need to write before you pass? Why should you waste your time to attend a university when you know you can easily buy the certificate it issues without you attending it at all? This is another ugly reality reported in Lagos State University (LASU). A sting operation (not too long ago) exposed certificate racketeering in the University. Some staff of LASU in the ICT department—in connivance with some lecturers in different departments—were caught in this ugly practice. The certificate racketeering syndicate, as reported, have genuine Lagos State University certificates that can be purchased by any interested criminal at the rate of between N2 million and N3 million. This depends on the course of study and perhaps your power of negotiation.
In case you want to purchase a degree, all you need is your money (N3 million) and O-level certificate. The number of credits you have (and in which subjects) will determine the course certificate that will be recommended for you to buy. If you do not understand why many think commitment to study as students is a waste of time, I hope now you know better. The act is so perfected that when you go to the school’s server with the matric number generated for you, you will find your details there (present) like any other bona-fide students. The saddest part of it is that these criminals will still find their way into government as rulers. That is why they find it very difficult to lead as patriotic leaders. All they do comfortably is to rule like malevolent dictators. To rule in this manner only requires wickedness, heartlessness, and maybe some sordid past.
All said, exam malpractice remains condemnable no matter how degenerated we are. Governments at all levels, school administrators, teachers, and parents should all join hands together to fight this evil. If we are already into this ugly practice, there isn’t any law or cultural ethos that says once you are a criminal you must always be a criminal. We can mends our ways and be responsible. I know writing against exam malpractice stands one out as odd. I will not be surprised if someone says I am stupid to assert that diligence is a virtue. We have reached that point.