Elections over WAEC: X-raying Government’s misplaced priorities

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By Abdulgafar Olorede

It was on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, when the cancellation of the year 2020 WAEC became the news of the day as a result of one of the psychosocial implications of the novel virus named COVID-19 which had thrown the world from blue to black of a country in danger.

Announcing the misplaced priority in the name of decision, the Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu said: “Schools under the control of the Federal Government will not be reopening for the forthcoming WAEC exams.” He added: “WAEC should suspend exams and urge State Governments to toe Federal Government line. This is not the right time to reopen,’’

In another submission the minister affirmed while addressing state house correspondents after the virtual Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, that: “None of the schools under the control of his ministry will resume until schools are considered safe enough.”

If the above were of the opinion with imbalanced equity of decision with political utilisation and actualisation of Federal power, then why Federal government can’t lay an embargo on the forthcoming Edo and Ondo election? Instead, they’ve turned themselves to seasonal filmmakers that Nigerians watch day-by-day. If not Oshiomole, it would be Izeyamu, Obaseki or Akeredolu or the two political strong parties known dramas or Mr Ibrahim Magu the recent suspended EFFC Chairman who has fired his integrity.

Can we all pause and ask our Federal Authority this salient point, election or exams, which exposes people to the threat of COVID-19? Who are those that have been carrying this virus the students or political class? Virtually, without any stress, it’s our so-called leaders even though we’re all religious animals, we could say all the victims meet their angel wing due to their time to leave.

As a result of urgency, this issue has called for questioning and challenging, which had brought upon different opinions from Individuals. Educationists, Stakeholders and Knowledgeable Political associates while measuring the Federal Government’s decision right or wrong, which many of the interviews were in support of the Federal Government’s decision in separate interviews.

Prof. Clement Kolawole of the Department of Education, University of Ibadan, said the government was in a better position to regulate its programmes based on the information and facts available to it.

He added: “Although the development is a surprise, it is better to stay alive than to cause untold hardship or expose our children to COVID-19 through WASSCE.”

Also speaking, Prof. Oyesoji Aremu of the Department of Guidance and Counselling, University of Ibadan, said there were implications for writing WASSCE on the wellness of the students, parents and officials who would conduct the examinations.

To him, “Although WAEC has assured the public of ensuring the best of COVID-19 protocols, it goes beyond that given that examination itself could bring about a state of anxiety in students and their parents.

“Here, it becomes much more expedient to also ensure mental wellness of the students while also safeguarding COVID-19 protocols.

“This is not only for the students, but also for examination officials who may also be at risk. Chances are that there could be student to student transmission in the course of writing examinations because chances are high that students will discuss with one another.

“There could also be students to officials transmissions either before, during and after a paper is written,” Aremu said.

He also cited the likelihood of high rate of examination malpractice under the guise of wearing face masks.

“WAEC officials would have to guard against it in order to ensure quality assurance of the whole exercise whenever the new date is set for the examination,” he said.

Prof. Adams Onuka, an education evaluation expert at the University of Ibadan, on his part, said it was imperative to be cautious at this time.

“Since the government is expected to protect the lives of the people, they must have weighed the available options, did analysis and came to the conclusion that only those who are alive can benefit from writing examinations.

“So what use is it for people to write examinations and then lose their lives? Who then will benefit from the fall out from the examination?

“It will not benefit anybody; parents, students, government and the nation.

”Therefore, we have to make haste slowly,” he said.

Onuka, who noted that Kenya had already cancelled the school year, added that it was ”better to lose one academic session than to lose a single soul to the pandemic.”

He said except states were sure that adequate arrangements had been made to check community spread of the virus, reopening of schools and examinations should be put on hold.

“Afterall, we lost sessions in the past to strikes and heavens did not fall,” Onuka said.

From the above submissions to the meat of the matter, we could say all the scholars are all right in their submission with their levels of presentations and knowledge, but the point is that they should have addressed in the same way that all the forthcoming elections should be cancelled if our education can call for COVID-19 suicide then why not Edo and Ondo elections? The misplaced priority must be addressed for equity and utilisation of Federal Powers.

To the authority, it’s time to know that COVID-19 is like other deadly viruses that come and leave, it’s time we learn how to manage the situation and continue the smooth running of our dear country.

If not a misplaced priority, our Federal Government should allow (WAEC) exams to hold the same way they know how to deliver their elections why they can’t deliver just secondary schools examination.

It’s proof to many of us who attended public secondary schools where most secondary schools have up to 10 blocks, and with this, our students can be shared in strata to all these available classes to get the examinations done strictly under COVID-19 protocols.

While putting in planning and energy towards the forthcoming Edo and Ondo elections on how to win the election in order to add feathers ahead 2023 election, the Federal Government should reconcile on the suspension of 2020 WAEC examination with the same energy on how the exams can be get done without crisis.

In conclusion, if not for misplaced priority, it’s high time our government realised the need to beat above the line to accept the fact that COVID-19 has come to stay and stop jeopardising the best interests of Nigerians rather we should look for ways to modulate the current situation pending the time the appropriate drug will be presented.

And if truly the suspension of 2020 WAEC was in the best interest of Nigerian students to avoid unforeseen death or health challenges amidst Nigerian students, teachers and WAEC personnel, then it calls for Federal Government equity of decision to avoid the announcement of any State elections soonest. It’s time we lived to overcome this pandemic. Tough and rough time never last, but tough people do. Our country needs to remain tough pending the time solutions will come to cushion the deadly novel virus.

Abdulgafar writes from Osun State. Phone Number: 08167238124 or Email: [email protected].

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