No fewer than 27 Principals of Public Secondary Schools have smuggled 7,702 ghost students into the Register for payment of West African Examination Council (WAEC) fees by the Kogi State Government.
The State’s Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Hon. Wemi Jones, FCIB, disclosed this at a press conference in Lokoja while responding to some misconceptions being circulated on some sections of the media.
Jones said that the Principals of the affected schools deliberately imported the fictitious names with the intention to defraud the State Government, and vowed to make them the ‘scapegoat’
He recalled that the Governor had in 2023 declared free education from Primary one to SSS3 in Kogi, and one of its ingredients is the payment for all Internal and External examinations for pupils and students in public schools in the state.
The commissioner stressed that the Kogi Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, would vehemently resist attempt to sabotage the free education policy of the state government by any individual or group.
He said the ministry uncovered 7,702 ghost students after the erring school principals failed to partake in the verification exercise for the 2024 WAEC fee payment conducted recently by the Ministry.
He explained that the authentic register verified by the ministry which was initially submitted by the public schools” Principals across the state, was 15,033 students to benefit from the free WAEC registration fees initiated by Governor Yahaya Bello.
“It would be recalled that His Excellency, Yahaya Bello in November 2023 approved and released over N497 million to cover 15,033 students for the payment of 2024 WAEC examination fees for public schools in the state.
“The 15,033 students were arrived at by requesting the Principals of public Secondary schools in the state to submit the Registers of students in their various schools, which they did.
“After the release of the fund by His Excellency the Governor, we decided to conduct the physical process of ensuring that 15,033 students were duly registered to undertake WAEC through capturing.
“At the end of the capturing, we discovered that we had captured over 22,735 students far higher than the registered 15,033 students, and we decided to investigate what happened.
“After investigation, we discovered that some school Principals had inflated the figures with some fictitious names, even to the extent of getting names from private schools and importing those names into their Registers,” he said.
The commissioner further said that the ministry also discovered that the erring Principals had also imputed names of students who had written and failed WAEC in the past into the generated list.
He added: “So, we decided to physically verify those students using their 2021 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) which is JSS3 examination results for authentication.
“We then held meetings with all the Principals separately in each of the three Senatorial zones in Kabba, Okene and Anyigba, to conduct the physical verification exercise
“As at today, we have cleared over 14,400 out of the total number of 15,033 students which is about 95% of the students that Kogi State Government has paid for.
“The people making the noise and peddling falsehoods are the Principals of schools that have refused to come for this physical verification”.
According to him, a total of 27 Schools’Principals from six local government areas of Ankpa, Dekina, Igalamela-Odolu, Omala, Ofu and Olamaboro, all in the Eastern Senatorial district have failed to come for verification.
“Apparently these principals are the major culprits that attempted to defraud the system. I am assuring you that the principals of these schools will be made the scapegoat;
“They are the ones that will bear the brunt for all the ills and malicious statements perpetrated against the Ministry on the issue of WAEC payment,” the commissioner vowed.
He further disclosed that the Governor had recently signed into law the Bill for the establishment of Free Examination Registration for pupils and students in public schools in Kogi State.
He added that the governor had also released fund for the payment of JAMB fees for 15,033 students across the state.
He added: “We will stop at nothing to prevent anybody from sabotaging the effort government is making to positioning Kogi as number one in education in Northern Nigeria and the entire 36 States in general”.
The affected schools are: Ankpa LGA: Community of Arabic and Islamics, Ankpa; Community Sec. Sch Okenyi; Enjema Community Sec. Sch., Ofugo; Govt Girls Sci Sec., Okanekpo; Govt. Sci. Sch., Enabo; and Govt Girls Sci. Sec., Sch. Okaba.
Others include: Young Muslim Sec. Sch, Ankpa; Awo Community Sec. Commercial College; United Evangelical Church Sec. Sch., Ankpa; Okay Community Sec. Sch., Ika; Attarbiyatul Islamiya Sec. Sch., Okaba; Local Govt Special Day Sec. Sch., Ankpa.
Dekina LGA: Govt Sci. Sec. Sch., Olowa; Ukpo Community Sec. Sch; Community Sec. Sch., Agbada; Oganenigwu Community Sec. Sch.; Govt Sec. Sch., Odu.
Omala LGA: Community Sci. Sch., Olla; Bahama Community Sec. Sch.; Govt Day Sec. Sch., Abejukolo; Govt Sci. Sec. Sch., Ogodu; and Ife Community Sec. Sch; Igalamela-Odolu LGA: Avrugo District Community Sec. Sch.; Community Sec. Sch., Ugwaka-Olla; Govt special Sci. College.
Community Sec. Sch., Ugwolawo; and Govt Day Sec. Sch., Ikem-Ogugu, in Ofu and Olamaboro LGAs respectively.
The following LGA’S from Kogi East have all their schools cleared: Bassa, Ibaji and Idah.
Meanwhile, the Ministry has graciously considered and approved that Candidates who failed WAEC can now register for the Examination in Public Schools in the State at no cost to the State Government.
School Principals are to show evidence of the failed results for such candidates to be cleared before the registration.