Change has begun in Ilorin with Jephtah Abolarin.
As it is said, “The truth is bitter”. Whatever your definition of change, if we are honest with ourselves, we know that the current wave of change is one that touches everyone. We also know that a man who folds his hands waiting for another to feed him, will indeed die of hunger. So, why does it irritate the ears of some when the truth is told that, “Change begins with me”? Change begins with you and I. If you are a stakeholder in any situation, then you have some level of responsibility. This is something we live everyday and here we see it radically exemplified in the story below.
We didn’t know anything of Jephtah Abolarin until this morning. We imagine that most Nigerians have never heard about him too. It is very likely that he never intended to receive any attention from us. But this erstwhile third year student of Sociology in the University of Ilorin (Unilorin) deserves national recognition for voluntarily withdrawing from that school on account of his West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) results.
According to news reports, Jephtah wrote a letter to Unilorin’s Deputy Vice Chancellor (academics) on August 5th 2016, confessing that he cheated when he wrote WASSCE to obtain requirements for admission into that university. He wrote that examination when he wasn’t “born again” in his christian faith. Now that he has fully embraced Christianity, he has decided to start a fresh academic journey because “a career built on a faulty foundation cannot stand and will definitely collapse”, according to what he reportedly stated. Unilorin’s Senate has rightly accepted Jephtah’s withdrawal and wished him well in his future endeavors.
LinCornellah’s blog deeply respects this young man’s exemplary gesture. Although he may not have taken this step in response to the Federal Government of Nigeria’s “Change begins with me” campaign, we believe that he should be this campaign’s poster boy. He is a role model, as far as this campaign is concerned. We agree that the APC led government rode on the back of “Change” to get into office. We agree with those who argue that this government should set the pace in changing our country’s economic fortunes for good. However, we do not agree with those who argue that those who didn’t campaign for change should not be asked to change anything. This blog isn’t a mouthpiece of any political party. But remember that “little drops of water makes a mighty ocean”. Therefore, we believe that change begins individually before it attains cumulative or collective proportions.
Unfortunately, examination malpractice has become prevalent in this country’s schools. Although the Examination Malpractice Act of 1999 prescribes a fine of between 50 thousand and 100 thousand naira or imprisonment term of three to four years for perpetrators of examination malpractice, this prescription is seldom enforced. Thus, examination malpractice is fast becoming a norm in our country. This leads to loss of respect for products of most of our schools. Ultimately, this leads to poor job performance, bank failures, drug trafficking, kidnapping, economic sabotage and moral decadence in our clime.
If other beneficiaries and sponsors of examination malpractice follow Jephtah’s example, the scourge of examination malpractice would be non-existent in Nigeria. Our Universities would be in the leagues of top ranked universities in the world, if those who fraudulently fulfilled admission requirements to these universities decide to honorably bow out as Jephtah has done. Those who deserve to study in such Universities would graduate to move our country unto greater heights, if this happens.
Staff and Management of Universities also need to learn from Jephtah’s example. Examination malpractice is not the only bane of our universities. Cases of sexual harassment, contract inflation, favoritism in appointments and other reports of malfeasance abound in some Universities. Perpetrators of such acts need to repent of their ways, as Jephtah seems to have done.
Obviously, Jephtah’s conduct is an act of restitution. He has voluntarily surrendered what he illicitly acquired. Everyday, we read and hear reports about people who have acquired ill-gotten wealth. Politicians seem to be especially guilty of this. However, we seldom read or hear reports of acts of restitution. If change begins with each of us, ill-gotten wealth would be refunded to the right quarters and our country would pull out of recession sooner than expected.
It is likely that some people would blame Jephtah for deciding to withdraw from the University. It may be argued that he should have merely repented from examination malpractice and moved forward, rather than move backwards. God may have understood and forgiven him. But there are no half measures in restitution. We commend him for understanding this fact. As he moves backwards, we hope that his steps won’t take him too far back.
Did he also obtain his admission into secondary school fraudulently? Did he also pass Junior Secondary School (JSS) examination fraudulently? We hope he didn’t. If he did, we pray that God should overlook his trespasses. He is human, after all. From every indication, he has already learnt good lessons.
Knowledge isn’t just about paper qualifications. It is also about character and integrity. Jephtah may never return to Unilorin to study and obtain a certificate in Sociology like he initially planned to do.
As he goes back to re-write WASSCE examination, we recommend that the Federal Government of Nigeria should honor him for blazing a trail in examination related matters in this country. He merits a certificate in character and integrity. We wish him well.
- Cornelius Ellah