By Fr Pat. Amobi Chukwuma
During my primary school days, we usually had first term, second term and third term (promotion) examinations. The third term or so-called promotion examination was the climax of each academic year. The results were normally announced publicly class by class. The pupils who made the first, second and third positions were given special recognition and reward.
Loud applause from the teachers and pupils followed each of the first three excellent positions. Other pupils approached their class teachers to receive their report cards one after the other. The rest of the pupils’ results read ‘Passed and Promoted,’ ‘Weak Pass and Promoted on trial,’ ‘Failed and to Repeat the class.’ At the end of that day of decision, some pupils went home happy while some went home sad.
It was unheard of, that any pupil who failed the third term was promoted at all. Only those who passed weakly were promoted on trial. If they did well in the next class first term examination, they forged ahead. But if they performed badly, they were demoted. Justice and fair play took precedence. Academic impunity was not in practice in those old good days.
It was during my secondary school that I noticed some acts of impunity for the first time in my life. Examination Malpractice was polished as Expo. In WAEC or WASC Examinations, some teachers and students specialized in selling leaked examination papers. Some of them were real while some were fake. Those final students who depended on Expo were often disappointed academically.
On the other hand, those who studied hard were rewarded academically. Even some unfaithful final students conspired to use magic power to render the invigilator harmless or sleepy. In a certain year WAEC, some lazy students contributed money and made charms which would make the invigilator fall into a deep sleep during the examination period.
Such charm was in the form of powder which was blown into the air as the invigilator approached. Unfortunately, instead of the invigilator falling deep asleep during the examination, he was wild awake. All the student charmers failed woefully when the result was released.
Geographically, the higher you go, the colder it becomes. Similarly, as the years go by, the more impunity increases. Today, Examination Malpractice has been magnified in primary, secondary and higher institutions of learning. There are special centers where examination questions are answered and handed over to the students in exchange for money. Some teachers, instead of supervising the students during examination, write the examination for cash and carry students.
Even some parents sponsor their sons and daughters in the special centers. In higher institutions of learning, evil-minded students graduate by sorting. This is done in cash or in kind. The female students involved, sleep with the concerned lecturers as a condition for success. Their male counterparts pay in cash before service. Many students nowadays graduate through impunity. A medical doctor or a lawyer who graduated by sorting is a great risk to human life. This is appalling.
My native proverb says that an elder does not stay at home for a pregnant she-goat to give birth tethered. It is no longer the case. Today, the elders have eaten unripe fruits while the children’s teeth are set on edge. Tufiakwa! (God forbid!).
Injustice is now enthroned to the highest level in our country Nigeria. Corruption has developed wings politically and otherwise. Indeed things have fallen apart and the center can no longer hold. In fact Chinua Achebe in his novels titled “Things Fall Apart” and “No Longer at Ease” articulated it all. He prophesied and it happened.
The just concluded 2023 General Elections, tore things apart. The Presidential Election was rigged to the highest level that even animals are upset. Millions of Nigerians voted for progress but got regress. They voted for Success but Failure was announced as the winner. Indeed Failure is hereby promoted while Success is demoted. The jubilation that follows a successful presidential result is lacking. Even the presumed winner and his supporters are not jubilating. Something is intrinsically wrong.
The political impunity began with the coronation of fake bishops during the display of APC Muslim-Muslim ticket. Some questionable individuals were hired and oiled with cash to dress as bishops in the pretense that Christian clergies were in support of the same faith President and vice President candidacy.
The awkward dressing of the so-called fake bishops left much to be desired. In reality, genuine bishops do not attend such partisan political rally. This was actually when the rigging started. It was a religious compromise.
The 2023 Election umpire, Professor Mahood Yakubu, has written his name in mud instead of in gold by doctoring, compromising and rigging the Presidential election in favour of a preferred candidate. The election was not free, fair, transparent and credible. Violence was used to prevent electorates from voting for the candidate of their choice in some States.
Ballot papers and some electoral materials were destroyed in many polling centers. The stipulations of the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act were seriously contravened. The Certificate of Return was given in error. After manual collation and announcement of padded result, the umpire directed the aggrieved presidential candidates to go to court. How can you intentionally do someone harm and ask him or her to go to court?
A Lion and a Goat had a heated dispute and they went to court. In the court it was found out that an accomplice of the Lion was the judge. Can the goat obtain justice in the matter? A nice reward awaits the best answer. In sane society, Separation of Powers works effectively. The Legislature makes laws. The Judiciary interprets the laws while the Executive applies the laws.
The principle of Checks and Balances helps the three Arms of Government to be independent as well as acting as watchdogs of each arm in order to control any excesses. Unfortunately, in corrupt society, the three Arms of Government is usurped by the Executive Arm. This is quiet dangerous in democratic settings. How can justice be obtained when there is usurpation of powers?
Once upon a time, an antelope was running during the midday without looking back. Suddenly, an elephant was walking like a king from the opposite direction. He was surprised seeing the antelope running with such excessive speed without anyone pursuing her. The elephant stopped her abruptly and asked, “Why are you running like this?” The antelope replied, “The policemen are arresting all the goats in the village.”
The elephant asked rhetorically, “But you are not a goat.” The antelope replied, “With our current justice system it will take me twenty years to prove that I am not a goat.” She sped off again. Looking up and down, the elephant also started running away. This story is really germane in our country called the Giant of Africa. How can a giant descend so low in impunity and injustice?
What it takes evil to thrive in a society is for good people to keep silent. The Moral Law states that the means justifies the end”. It can never be vice versa. There are peaceful protests against the rigged Presidential and some Gubernatorial Elections taking place around the country. Some women even go nude to curse the perpetrators of the injustice. They cry that their votes must count.
The Nigerian Judiciary must rise to the occasion and defend our ailing democracy. If corruption enters the Bar, then we are finished. Justice must be upheld at all costs. Injustice must never be allowed to dethrone justice. The Holy Writ says, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverb 29:2). Shall Nigerians rejoice or groan in the next political dispensation, come 29 May 2023? Time shall tell. God, save us!