Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Afe Babalola

The founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), has expressed fear that the cancellation of this year’s West African Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) may promote criminality.

Babalola described the decision as not only ill-conceived but posed a dangerous threat to the lives of the country’s future leaders, adding that the destinies of 1.5 million students, who registered for the external examination was hanging in the balance with the withdrawal of Nigeria from the external examination.

He said it was wrong for the Federal Government to have taken such unilateral decision due to the fear of Covid-19, when other participating nations have not withdrawn their students from sitting for the external examination.

The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, had last week announced the Federal government’s intention to withdraw Nigeria’s candidates from the examination due to the hazard posed by the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement personally signed in Ado-Ekiti on Tuesday and made available to journalists, the legal icon said the federal government should allow the WASSCE to hold in the empty spaces in the tertiary institutions which can accommodate 1.5 million registered students without defying Covid-19 protocols.

Speaking on the withdrawal, which he said was not well thought -out, the legal luminary said: “It is my firm belief that the future of these 1.5 million young Nigerians who have registered for WAEC should not be put in jeopardy. It is a well-known fact that all schools, colleges and tertiary institutions in the country are currently shut down.

“This affords the Federal Government the opportunity to use them for WAEC examination. What the government should do is to prepare the empty rooms for WAEC examination – fumigate the halls and the premises, use face mask, provide sanitizers and ensure that WHO rules are obeyed to the letter.

“WAEC Law provides for a National Committee of WAEC in all the five countries. With that at the back of our minds, one would have expected that this matter should have been taken up by the National Committee of WAEC in Nigeria and the general body in Ghana before the declaration to withdrawal Nigeria from taking the examination”

The University’s administrator wondered why Nigeria had taken such hasty decision, when other four countries under the WAEC umbrella have not cancelled the WASSCE in their respective countries.

“Are the other four countries not affected by Covid-19? What steps have the other countries taken which would enable them to take WEAC examination which we cannot take? Why is Nigeria the only country out of five that is pulling out of the annual examination? Are we saying that other four countries do not appreciate the lives of their students?

“Why was the issue not turned over to the Nigeria body of WAEC or the general body of WAEC in Accra before the declaration of withdrawal to Nigeria? Did the Hon. Minister take into consideration the moral and legal implication of Nigeria as a signatory to WAEC laws or the effect of such unilateral declaration of withdrawal?”

He said what was required to take the examination is proper management, consultation and discussion instead of unilateral cancellation of annual international convention.

“If the Federal Government insists that there would be no WASSCE this year, the students are not just losing one calendar year but losing an integral part of their entire lives which is gone forever by such declaration. We should always remember that after all, time is life and life is time.

“The Federal Government should allow the WASSCE to take place in the empty spaces which are wasting away in our tertiary institutions, secondary schools and elementary school which can conveniently accommodate them with a lot of social distancing and due compliance with WHO rules.”

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