The full meaning of the acronym “JAMB” is Joint Admissions Matriculations Board. JAMB is notorious and does not need any introduction.
Unlike JAMB, Mmesoma Joy Ejikeme was before now a relatively unknown 19 year old female Secondary School leaver. She was one of the over 1.6 Million persons who sat for the 2023 JAMB examination with a view to securing admission into any of the Nigerian Universities or tertiary institutions.
Mmesoma has lately become a “household name”, so to speak, as her JAMB result saga dominated the air waves, internet and much more for the past one week.
As at the time of this intervention, Google search on “Mmesoma” produced about 7,740,000 results in 0.31 seconds. Another search about “Mmesoma JAMB result” produced about 6,490,000 results in 0.36 seconds while “Mmesoma Ejikeme JAMB result” produced about 2,040,000 results in 0.32 seconds.
In 0.23 seconds, there were about 39,900 results on “Mmesoma’s” videos. Short of dubbing it “Guinness Record in JAMB- a- THON,” Mmesoma Ejikeme’s pictures or images of different types are today splashed all over the internet for the wrong reasons. The internet never forgets.
The simple facts of this imbroglio were that Mmesoma gleefully claimed that she had the highest score of 362 in the 2023 JAMB UTME. She brandished a result slip to support her claim which was almost going to earn her a whooping N3Million scholarship from Innoson Motors among other perks.
Mmesoma Joy Ejikeme, native of Enugu State, attended a missionary school in Anambra State, alleged that she was being shortchanged as the highest scorer in the JAMB admission examination.
JAMB had earlier on its own announced that the highest score in the 2023 UTME was 360. Anambra State Government was on the verge of celebrating Mmesoma’s acclaimed academic excellence but rightly decided to double check with JAMB.
Following this innocuous inquiry from the Ministry of Education in Anambra State, things went awry. JAMB promptly denied Mmesoma’s claim stating that their highest examination score was 360 and the highest scoring candidate in the 2023 examination was not Mmesoma.
JAMB was emphatic that Mmesoma’s score was 249 and that her claims to a score of 362 and the accompanying result slip were fake, a product of wayo or byproduct of fraud.
As usual, Nigerians joined the fray and the nation was set ablaze to the extent that every other thing including the ongoing contentious proceedings in the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal and the biting effects of abrupt subsidy removal became insignificant.
The big issue that dominated the front burner of national discourses was “how to secure justice for Mmesoma”.
JAMB became another “public enemy” while INEC, the “original or certified public enemy number one” got a temporary relief.
While the saga lasted, many prayed different types of dangerous or negative prayers against JAMB. Let it not be that JAMB’s rebuttals were true and correct. Many prayed for “goodness and mercy” to follow Mmesoma.
Let it not be that Mmesoma was parading an “oluwole”, “akuruaku”, fake or “adigboroja” result. Many wished that the reputation of this young girl should not be ruined in the end because of inordinate desire to win big at all cost- a dangerous affliction that has sadly enveloped the younger generation of Nigerians. On this, many argue that the youngsters simply copied and improved on the transgressions of the older generation of Nigerians.
Talk of adults behaving badly and expecting the younger ones to be ethically correct.
On a very good day, Mmesoma’s score of 249 is a good pass grade that is modestly competitive but she went for broke claiming a score of 362 which is a killer score.
She did not keep her forgery to herself but chose to knowingly present her fake score with aplomb for public admiration and veneration as a gifted child.
Many believed that Mmesoma truly scored 362 and that JAMB had defamed, dehumanised, traumatised and debased her by rejecting her claims to past and present academic excellence.
In private and public spaces, many including those outside Nigeria believed Mmesoma and her well packaged fairytale.
Even when JAMB brought damning evidence of forgery against the young girl and invoking their rule books to slam a three year ban on her, not a few still doubted JAMB and hoped that the tertiary academic career opportunities in Nigeria of this otherwise promising young girl should not be abruptly put on hold.
Many were still hopeful that Mmesoma will ultimately smile to the bank with huge punitive damages to be awarded to her in court in the event that her claims were authentic, genuine and verifiable.
Not many had kind words for beleaguered JAMB and her officials. Most people could not keep an open mind.
Why should anyone keep an open mind about any public institution, organisation or agency in Nigeria? Can anything good come out of or from any public institutions or organisations in Nigeria after late Dora Akunyili’s star studded performance in NAFDAC?
Was it not in JAMB that a python was alleged to have swallowed tens of millions of Naira and nothing came out of it?
Is JAMB not a cesspool of corruption and is JAMB new to examination malpractices? Why should anyone keep an open mind when JAMB represents everything that is evil with Nigeria’s public institutions and agencies?
It was against background that JAMB instantly suffered the same mistrust that has afflicted Nigeria’s public institutions.
Who believes election results announced by INEC? Who believes news items that are broadcast from government owned television houses or radio stations or published in government owned newspapers or other news agencies including their social media handles? It is that bad.
Who believes government itself, whether at the Federal, State or Local levels with their “promise and fail” mantra on issues of security and welfare of the people? Who wants to give government and her MDA’s any benefit of doubt when impropriety is always attributed to public organisations in Nigeria?
While the drama and saga lasted, public opinion was clearly against JAMB. Many wanted JAMB scrapped even for reasons unrelated to the Mmesoma saga.
On the contrary, Mmesoma was pitied, consoled, empathized, believed and supported all at the same time. Ethnic reasons were remotely cited. Lawyers were falling all over themselves to offer her pro bono services either for altruistic reasons or to attract public attention to themselves. You never can know with Nigerians. Even a full funded foreign scholarship was offered Mmesoma.
No one cared about one of the twin pillars of justice that we must hear all the sides to a case. This is the famous Latin maxim audi alteram partem. The other pillar of justice is nemo judex in causa sua- no one should be a judge in his own cause or matter.
Ancient wisdom never goes wrong. You mus hear both or all the sides in a dispute.
In the end, just when it mattered most, Mmesoma caved in on the weight of compelling, convincing and credible evidence. When her supporters were brazing up for total war against JAMB, Mmesoma made a recant or a U-turn.
She ate her own words and apologized to JAMB and her officials. Mmesoma’s father also joined her in rendering apology.
The evidence against Mmesoma was damaging and damning. Even at that, cynics still had their reservations- let it not be that JAMB coerced her or that she made this volte face out of oppression. Obtaining involuntary confessional statements by reason of oppression of the makers are routine with the detaining authorities.
After all, law enforcement agencies in this clime have always recruited roughnecks to confess to non-existent crimes or implicate innocent fellows. Nothing is impossible in Nigeria.
But this case is different. Shamefully, investigations revealed that Mmesoma was not innocent after all. She was audacious, hardened and unrepentant.
JAMB came out clean but badly bruised by adverse public opinions about their service delivery. This is because public institutions in Nigeria are a huge joke.
All of them, without exception, suffer trust deficit and JAMB was used to demonstrate that. One hopes useful lessons were learnt by JAMB and other public institutions.
Now that Mmesoma has suddenly “realized” that her score is 249 and not 362 what next? She is already under JAMB’s administrative hammer. Poor girl!
But that is as far as pity can reasonably go.
Who are those behind this grand tragicomedy? Who helped Mmesoma to package a national lie that has put a permanent blur on her reputation?
Despite presenting conflicting two birthdays in her false claims, it must be accentuated that a 19 year old girl is not a minor under the law. As an adult, she can face full trial and if convicted will be made to face the full wrath of the law.
Beyond her belated apology, Mmesoma must help the law enforcement agencies to unravel more although the fear out there is that the poor girl may just be used to set an example while the real privileged culprits are let free.
A nation where many public officials get into office with rogue INEC results, with many parading bogus academic records, false dates of births, falsified NYSC discharge certificates does not have much to offer examination ethics.
In saner climes, these elderly electoral bandits and academic rogue characters should long have been in prison before the Mmesoma versus JAMB saga broke out. One does not need to call specific names because they are known although they are now clothed with immunity. Arraign or try these elderly crooks in court first before arraigning young Mmesoma. None should be left off the hook. Selective justice is injustice. We insist.
A new normal is possible!