Gabriel Dike and Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Onyiuke Akachukwu Matthew, a former student of Nigerian Tulip International Colleges (NTIC), Abuja, can conveniently be described as a whiz-kid or a genius. In the May/June 2019 West African Senior Certificate Examination (WASSCE), he obtained 9As.
He wrote the November/December 2018 WASSCE as an SS11 pupil and got 4As, 3Bs and a C. Same year, he sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and scored 270. Throughout his secondary education, he obtained As from SS1 to SS111 (97.31 per cent.) He was on NTIC scholarship (100 per cent) from JSS1 to SS111. In the mock examination, he scored 9As and won JETS competition to represent the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In UTME 2019, his school, teachers and parents were expecting a high score but till date, JAMB has not released his result even when other candidates’ in the same centre in Abuja were released. The board alleged invalid entry into the exam hall.
Onyiuke Nimo is Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State. He insisted he went through the same screening like other candidates before being cleared to enter the exam venue. He suspected JAMB is holding onto his result because he scored above 380 in the UTME 2019.
He told Daily Sun: “I do not expect to be given any score less than 370 to be modest. But to be precise, I see myself getting a score within the range of 380-390, considering the thorough and painstaking effort I put in to make sure I left no stone unturned during my preparation for the UTME.
“I am someone who likes breaking records. I wrote the UTME last year and got 270. At that time, I was elated but deep down I knew I could do more. My preparation started last year (2018). I read all the topics in the textbooks and even more.
“To test myself, I wrote the WASSCE for private candidates in which I got 4As, 3Bs and a C. It still wasn’t enough. I answered all the past JAMB questions I could lay my hands on and solicited the help of my teachers when I had a problem with any question.
“When I was done with this, I proceeded to take simulations of the JAMB CBT both at home and in school. In each of those mentioned, I recorded nothing less than 320. Few weeks to the UTME, my school, Nigerian Tulip International Colleges, Abuja, organised extra lessons and CBT classes to prepare us.”
He spoke of his reaction when he checked the result and it read invalid: “I was shocked. I wrote my exam in one of the best centres in Abuja where no case of examination malpractice was reported. My schoolmates who had written alongside me had gotten theirs.
“I am not an emotional person so it did not get to me. We had a WAEC Chemistry paper to write, I had to go through the trauma of preparing for that paper bearing in mind that my UTME result has been withheld. I kept my calm though.”
What is going through his mind right now? He responded: “A lot. Firstly, I am shocked at how insensitive, inhumane, inconsiderate and evil people can get. This is the height of wickedness. The UTME result was released in May and this is August. I have been waiting for that result for almost four months.
“My school and parents have on several occasions written to JAMB, starting from the day after the results were released and still no single reply. I am totally disappointed in JAMB. They are a disgrace. They have failed. I read the JAMB news on the internet every blessed day and you just need to see the contradictions in their statements.
“I see people praising the JAMB registrar for a job well done but to be sincere, if they look closely, they’ll see that he and his workers are totally confused. They lost this year’s UTME as much as they’d like to admit it. They are punishing innocent candidates like my self without an inkling of what we are passing through. What they have demonstrated this year is pure evil.
“I didn’t meet him (JAMB Registrar) in person but delegates from my school did. They asked him to explain ‘invalid entrance into exam hall’ but his reply was that he does not deal with people in person. He asked them to open a ticket, which they did on June 14, but till this very day, we have not gotten a reply.
“My parents and I paid a visit to the JAMB office in Bwari and we were told that I didn’t thumb print. How absurd! That is the most embarrassing thing you can tell someone of my person. I personally made sure that my credentials appeared on the screen after thumb printing before and after the exam and I’m ready to swear to it.
“They claimed to use CCTVs but I do not know why that has not been used. They claimed to be arresting those found wanting in the area of examination malpractice. If they’re sure of their claim, why haven’t I been arrested? Another contradiction! People who cheat do not visit the headquarters in Bwari.”
He explained how he achieved the WASSCE feat this way: “I read day and night for JAMB but it worked out that that knowledge was very helpful in WASSCE. My experience from WASSCE also helped as I saw similar questions in both exams. I met my teachers who were familiar with the WAEC marking scheme and they enlightened me on how to go about answering the questions. The support from my teachers was massive and it went a long in giving me confidence to get such a result.
“Most importantly, I am lucky to have the background that I do. My father is a lawyer and my mother is an engineer. They have been drilling me from childhood. I got A1 in English and Civic Education and I owe that to my father whose spoken English I greatly admire and to me, second to none.
“I got A1 in Mathematics and Further Mathematics and I owe that to my mother who is mesmeric in that aspect. I will like to say that my teachers are the best set of teachers a student could ask for. They were with me through this setback from JAMB. My school, Nigerian Tulip International Colleges, Boy Boarding, Abuja, has really been my home away from home.
“I will like JAMB to take note that some of their questions this year were not correct. It is appalling that an exam of this calibre can produce such uncharacteristically wrong questions. They should take time to go through their questions in future so as to avoid giving people doubts about their professionalism.
“For example, I was asked: Who propounded the Theory of Mutation? The answer is supposed to be Hugo De Vries. I was disappointed not to see this among the options. An examination body like this should not be known for these mistakes. I would like to also give credit to WAEC for taking time to ensure that these mistakes in JAMB were not repeated in their exams.”
Why did he opt for Medicine and Surgery? His answer: “Passion. I really can’t see myself doing anything other than Medicine. I believe I can make breakthroughs in that field. Dr Ben Carson is my role model.”
Onyiuke will be 18 years old in September. He attended Mount Olive School, Onitsha, Anambra State, where he maintained the first position throughout. He was awarded the best graduating pupil in both cases.
At Nigerian Tulip International Colleges, Abuja, he again maintained his position at the top. He was awarded the best graduating student as well as the best science student.
Principal, NTIC (Boys Section), Mr Muazu Omeji, said: “Actually, Akachukwu’s performance in the May/June 2019 WASSCE is outstanding. But as a school, we are not new to such performance as our students have always excelled in WAEC, JAMB and other external examinations.
“Through similar performances, a good number of our students have won various scholarships to several universities across the world. One of our students who just graduated with a record-setting-performance at MIT was employed by Google even before writing his final papers at the university.
“Coming back to Akachukwu, he is a goal-oriented student with a trait of discipline and diligence. He is also an avid reader who effectively combines reading, recreation and sport. His feat in the last WASSCE did not come to us as a surprise because he has always demonstrated ability to excel in both curricula and extra-curricular activities.
“For instance, he never took second in his class, he never scored less than A in any school organised examination. He was the overall best in FCT in the 2018 Cowbell National Mathematics competition. He was the overall best in Abuja in 2019 edition of JETS competition. He was the best writer in the World Scholar’s Cup 2018.
“I wish to commend the management of NTIC for providing the enabling environment for him and other students to operate. Without the conducive class and hostel environment, well-equipped library and skilful teachers, his talent would have been suppressed.
“The school is bothered that his JAMB result is still yet to be released. Reasons for withholding the result are not known. We have written a couple of letters to JAMB but nothing has happened till date. More worrisome is the fact that no explanation was given as to the reason for withholding the result. I want to use this chance to further appeal to JAMB to release the result as it is already causing the innocent boy a great discomfort.”
Akachukwu’s father, Mr Chidi Onyiuke, said: “Considering his academic antecedents, we were expecting not less than 370 in the 2019 UTME.” He described the action of JAMB as depressing, embarrassing and most unfortunate: “We believe it is deliberate because of his probable high score. The inference of ‘invalid/ unauthorised entry’ is that he was not the person that wrote his exam.
“The implication of not releasing his UTME result will deny him admission into the university to study Medicine which is his choice of course.” He confirmed that he wrote a letter on June 16, 2019, which was received and stamped and a copy sent to the Federal Ministry of Education as well as various complaints in their ticketing portal. He and his son visited JAMB Office, Bwari, Abuja.
His next line of action is to approach the National Assembly and thereafter proceed to the law court for redress. He revealed that if necessary, he might send him outside the country to study.
Proprietor of Royal Academy, Ibadan, Oyo State, Chief Laide Oluwaseun, appealed to JAMB to explain why it refused to release his UTME result. He insisted the young lad could not be involved in examination malpractice: ‘’JAMB needs to consider his academic feats, appeal letters from his school, dad and check the CCTV at the centre he wrote the UTME to confirm that he actually wrote the UTME himself.’’