Last Month, the Head of the National Office of the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, Mr. Charles Eguridu,publicly lamented the fact that no fewer than 19 states in the country were owing the Council a mind-boggling debt of N4billion for examinations written for indigenes of their states on credit. Understandably, WAEC expected the debtor-states to live up to their respective responsibility by paying up in order to provide for the Council, needed funds to organise future examinations .
The Council was to underscore its plight when on August 10 it released results of its most recently organised Secondary School Certificate Examination but withheld those of students from 13 debtor-states.
We consider the development a big shame on the state governments who voluntarily opted to sponsor relevant examination fees for affected students only to abandon the students at the end of the day.
In the first instance, we do not believe that students initiated the demand on their state governments to assist in paying their West African Secondary School Certificate Examination, WASSCE fees.
We do not also believe that parents of the students did; neither did the authority of their respective schools.
Simply put, the governments of the debtor-states succeeded in politicizing the future of the affected students not withstanding whatever meaning anybody would read into the action.
We note that such vain promises begin at the electioneering campaigns when in desperation to curry the favour of electorates, politicians tell the people what they want to hear but which they will not fulfil at the end of the day.
In a world where youths are almost becoming endangered species given the scaring indices of national unemployment figures alongside increasing crimes traceable to youths restiveness and failing family values, we condemn this dangerous behaviour by our politicians and their governments.
But for the godly benevolence of WAEC in rethinking its decision to withhold the results of secondary school students from the 13 debtor-states, there would have been further dip in the already fragile relationship between affected governments and their people.
We are relieved by the Council’s disposition to tamper justice with mercy by releasing results of government-sponsored candidates of indebted states following the intervention of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF.
We however doubt the possibility of the 13 states’ governments paying the huge debt of N4billion to WAEC as promised. Our fears are hinged on the prevailing economic situation in Nigeria, the low returns from the Federation account, mounting local and foreign debts, outstanding staff salaries, fluctuating exchange rate and sundry states’ debts yet unpaid, running into trillions of Naira.
Most of the states’ federal allocations are swallowed up in banks’ accounts due to outstanding debt repayment obligations. Hence, after each month’s allocation, many of the states go home with little or nothing- not enough to pay political appointees. Where then would the N4billion to pay WAEC come from? Only the Chairman of NGF who bailed out the 13 state governments will tell.
Going forward, what WAEC should do is to ensure that only state governments that clear bills ahead of any examination will have their students allowed into the halls. That way, the issue of ‘promise and fail’ by state governments, as it is the case presently, would be avoided.