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Hiccups, compliance as WASSCE begins

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The 2020 West African Senior Schools Certificate Examination, WASSCE, eventually kicked off on 17th August, after more than three months of delay following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in China in 2019.

The WASSCE which was supposed to have been concluded before now, took on Monday amid hiccups notably centered around late arrival of examination materials, rumour of leakage of examination papers as well as the arrest of some candidates allegedly involved in examination malpractices.

The social media went agog late Sunday with stories of the leakage of Mathematics question papers. But the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, on its twitter handle dismissed it as fake news, warning candidates to be wary of what it called scammers.

“This is fake. Scammers do this every year. Only gullible candidates fall prey.”

No fewer than 1,550,000 candidates are writing the examinations from about 19,129 centers nationwide. The exams would end on September 12.

The examination was initially billed for April 6 – June 5, but was suspended due to the outbreak COVID-19 pandemic. Head of National Office of WAEC,  Patrick Areghan, said while on tour of some centers in Lagos that he was impressed with the level of compliance with COVID-19 protocols.

Areghan warned that the council would deal decisively with any act of malpractice, irrespective of who was involved. He warned principals that they would equally not be spared, if any act of malpractice was recorded in their respective schools during the duration the examination.

“Right now, with the aid of technology, we have caught a supervisor in Nasarawa and a candidate in Rivers trying to snap a question paper and send outside for solution. These persons have since been handed over to security agents for necessary actions. We will stop at nothing to ensure that the integrity of our examinations is not compromised,” he said.

He dismissed the possibility of lowering the standard of the examination as a result of the pandemic, adding that it would not be obtainable.

Areghan said the council was faced with the challenge of increased cost of conducting the examination, as it had engaged more supervisors and invigilators.

In Oyo State, the exercise began on a faulty note as examination materials and external supervisors arrived late in some schools.

Investigation  in the state capital, Ibadan, showed that the examinations did not begin on schedule, due to the late arrival of invigilators and examination materials.

Some schools started the examinations almost an hour behind the 9.30 a.m. scheduled for its commencement because of the late arrival of invigilators and sensitive materials.

Mrs Bolarinwa Oluyinka, Vice-Principal (Academic), Ansar-Ud-Deen High School, Ibadan, said: “I cannot say the reason why the WAEC supervisor is late; immediately the person is here, we are already set and will commence the examination.”

However, the COVID-19 safety protocols, including social distancing, were adhered to by the authorities of the schools visited.

Mrs Grace Oluwasogo, chief invigilator, Isabatudeen High School, Ibadan confirmed that the sitting arrangements were made in line with the WAEC procedures.

Mr. Fasasi Abdullahi, principal, Islamic High School and Chairman, Oyo State Committee on Safety Protocols for Schools on WASSCE, noted that the committee had sensitised all secondary schools in the state to that effect.

Mrs Folasade Ayodele, principal, Oba Akinbiyi Model School, Ibadan, noted that the main hall was being earmarked for the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) for the JSS III students, hence the use of classrooms, corridors and laboratories for the examinations.

24,454 students write exams in Kano

A total of 24, 545 exit students made up of 11, 400 in 27, 454 in public schools and 16, 460 in private schools in the state spread across 538 designated centres are taking the exams in Kano State.

At GGSS, Sabuwar Kofa, an official of the school, said about 30 students would write the examination in the centre.

Mr. Jerry Adaji, principal, First Grade Comprehensive School, said 30 candidates would sit for the examination in the school.

“On a normal setting, we have 55 students in a class, but with COVID -19, the students are divided into 14 per classroom,” he said.

Enugu, Anambra, Ondo, Plateau adhere to protocols

Anambra State Post Primary Schools Service Commission (PPSSC) expressed satisfaction with the level of safety compliance.

Mrs. Ifeoma Okaro, chairperson, PPSSC, said in Awka that most of the schools were adhering to guidelines put in place to safeguard lives of candidates and officials involved in the examination.

Prof. Kate Omenugha, Commissioner for Basic Education, said the state government had set up a COVID-19 compliance monitoring team that had been going round on daily basis since schools resumed on August 4.

Similarly, Secondary Schools in Jos, Plateau, and Ondo state also adhered strictly with safety protocols.

Prof. Adesegun Fatusi, Chairman, Ondo State Inter-ministerial Committee on COVID-19 said all the schools visited complied with the guidelines.

In Jos, Joseph Gimba, principal of Government Secondary School West of Mines, said his students were in high spirits as they sat for the examination.

He said 68 students registered and were sitting for the examination in the school.

At St. Louis’ College, Jos, all the guidelines put in place were observed by the students.

Mrs Peace Egborode, Vice Principal (Academic) of the college, said all the necessary arrangements had been made to ensure strict adherence to safety directives.

At the Federal Government College (FGC), Independence Layout, Enugu, the principal, Mr Ejeh Usman, said no fewer than 506 students were participating in the examination.

Usman said the school deployed infrared thermometers to check temperature of students before entering the examination hall.

He said hand-wash facilities and sanitizers were positioned at strategic locations within the school environment .

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NIGERIA

Ijaw nation vows to resist national water resources bill

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Following its earlier condemnation by different groups and individuals, the Ijaw Nations Development Group (INDG) has condemned the reintroduction of the National Water Resources Bill in the National Assembly, vowing to resist it vehemently.

The INDG described the bill as not only provocative but also a complete distortion of Nigeria’s federalism, insisting that reintroduction of the bill was the height of insensitivity to the plight of ordinary Nigerians.

Ijaw stakeholders, who stated this yesterday during a virtual meeting attended by over 100 participants, lamented that the Federal Government sent the bill to the National Assembly without engaging the states and peoples that are the direct stakeholders but only acknowledged them as footnotes.

The Keynote Speaker at the meeting, Anthony George-Ikoli (SAN), described the bill as a deleterious agenda.

“Taking a critical look at the National Water Resources Bill 2020, currently in the legislature and our national consciousness, I am compelled to align myself with more speakers, who in recent times, have come to the conclusion that such a bill can only be the product of an undisclosed, deleterious agenda,” he said.

He explained that true federalism usually serves to recognize the rights of the constituent units to ownership and protection of the same, noting that by its vesting sections, the bill represented an egregious distortion of federalism.

“The Federal Government has not only deprived the states of the minerals and mineral oil in the land within their territories, but it is also now plotting to take the only resource left for the states to administer for the benefit of their people through the National Water Resources Bill,” he added.

He said the time was past when the Ijaw nation would sit aloof and watch, but it was time to set an agenda for its legislators at all levels.

Another speaker and Niger Delta activist, Ann Kio-Briggs, said it was disheartening that the Federal Government was tampering with the rights of Ijaw people and the Niger Delta region.

“Water represents life and belongs to my people, we live on and by the water. For the first time, the Ijaw have to wake up because they have taken our land, oil, and air through pollution and now, they want to take our water. It is our responsibility to protect our rights,” she stated.

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NIGERIA

Finally, APC concedes defeat, admits Edo poll free, fair

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The governing All Progressives Congress on Monday conceded defeat 24 hours after Governor Godwin Obaseki, of the Peoples Democratic Party, was declared the winner of the Edo Governorship Election.

Chairman of the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, in a statement titled, “Edo State Governorship Election: Victory for Democracy,” which he signed, congratulated Obaseki over his victory.

Buni said,  “Edo State Governorship election is over, the winner has been declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the person of the Mr. Godwin Obaseki, candidate of the People Democratic Party.

“We hereby congratulate the winner of the election, the people of Edo State and all Nigerians. The peaceful conduct of the election and its outcome represent a victory for Nigeria’s democracy

“As a party, we join our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, to affirm our ‘commitment to free and fair elections’ in order to strengthen ‘the foundation for our political and moral authority.

“ We commend INEC, our security agencies, and all political parties that contested the election for the successful conduct of the election. As a governing party, we will take every step necessary to support the Federal Government to consolidate all the gains achieved. “

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NIGERIA

Government has no business running refineries — Osinbajo

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The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said the problems associated with Nigeria’s refineries will persist if the Federal Government continues to own and run them.

He noted that experience has shown that refineries were better managed by the private sector hence the need for the government to restrict itself to providing the regulatory framework for such businesses to thrive.

Osinbajo said this at a virtual meeting organized for the All Progressives Congress bloggers and social media influencers at the APC National Secretariat, in Abuja, Monday.

According to him, it was time for the nation to do more to develop its gas and renewable energy resources which are cheaper and cleaner.

He said, “If the refinery is left in the hands of the government, it will continue to experience the same problem it is experiencing now. I do not think that it is the business of the government to run the refinery. It should be the business of the private sector, which is why we are trying to focus on assisting the private sector to develop modular refineries.”

Speaking further Osinbajo said, “There is a 100,000-barrel capacity refinery about to come on stream and we hope it will by the next year. It is completely private and closely located near the Port Harcourt refinery so that it can share the facilities of the Port Harcourt refinery. We are hopeful it will come on stream in the first quarter of next year.

“There are also six modular refineries that are almost ready. There is a Niger Delta Petroleum refinery in Delta state, there is another one in Imo, there is also another modular refinery in Edo State.

“We engaged the oil-producing communities to find a new vision for the Niger Delta and we tried to encourage modular refinery that will give the people in the oil-producing states a stake so that the modular refinery is not just private but the people there have some stake and equity.

“The whole idea is to support as many private refineries as possible. We are also waiting for the Dangote Refinery with 250,000 barrels capacity which is bigger than all of the government refineries put together.

“In the next two or three months, we will see the private sector playing a bigger role and things will quickly improve. We hope that this particular effort will complete the refurbishment of the refineries which will be completed soon but I am more hopeful of the private effort been the key to the future.”

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