ERC Kicks Against Punishing Candidates for State Governments’ Profligacy
Today, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Head of National Office, Mr. Charles Eguridu, while announcing the release of the results of the May/June 2015 WASSCE, disclosed that candidates from public schools in 13 states would not have their results until their respective state governments pay up their registration fees. This is following on the heels of an announcement made two weeks ago by WAEC that 19 states were indebted to it to the tune of 4 billion naira.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) considers this decision very insensitive and unacceptable and urges WAEC to immediately reverse itself in the interest of candidates whose future will be severely threatened by this unfortunate decision.
To start with, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemns the debtor states for their gross irresponsibility, unbridled corruption and financial recklessness which are the reasons they are indebted to WAEC. We also readily concede that WAEC has the right to pursue the payment of debts owed to it in any way it deem fit so far it does not go beyond the ambit of the rule of law. In sympathy with WAEC, the ERC hereby calls on all the debtor states to immediately settle all outstanding debts and commitment with the body. We particularly urge WAEC to publish the names of the debtor states so as to expose them to public scrutiny.
That being said, the ERC however feels that WAEC approach to recovering its debt is dangerous and condemnable. As far as the ERC is concerned, notwithstanding the desperate financial situation that may have compelled WAEC, threatening to punish ordinary children for the crimes committed by profligate state governments is highly insensitive and certainly unacceptable. Nigerian children and their parents are not responsible for the near bankruptcy of some of the states. Rather many of the candidates affected by this unfortunate decision are children of workers and civil servants whose salaries, since the beginning of the year, have also been unpaid for months by many of these state governments.
In addition, the decision of WAEC to withhold results of the candidates has disturbing ethical and moral implications especially in relation to the spirit and provisions of the Child Right Act (2003). As a public institution, WAEC is obligated by the Child Right Act (2003) to make the best interest of the child the paramount consideration in all actions. Part 1 (Subsection One) of the Act states that “In every action concerning a child, whether undertaken by an individual, public or private body, institutions or service, court of law, or administrative or legislative authority, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration”. To us in the ERC, using children as bargaining chip in order to compel defaulting state governments to pay up their debt is certainly not in the best interest of the child and to that extent flouts the spirit and tenets of the Child Right Act. Actually, the implication of WAEC’s decision is that the education pursuit of many of the candidates will be truncated as they may have no O’ level results to process admission into tertiary institutions of their choice. As a public organization that deals with the education needs of children, we expected WAEC and its officials to be more circumspect and sensitive.
The ERC cannot accept a situation where candidates are punished for the profligacy and ineptitude of state governments. We therefore call on the labour movement, civil society organizations and all well meaning Nigerians to prevail on WAEC to:
(1) Immediately reverse this insensitive decision and release the results of candidates from the 13 debtor states
(2) Henceforth, use other means, that does not include withholding of candidates results, to pursue the payment of debt owed by State government.
(3) Publish the names of the debtor states so they can be exposed to public scrutiny
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Michael Ogundele
National Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary