Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Why Must Students Take UTME Every Year?

By Farooq Kperogi 

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

First published on Facebook and Twitter on June 28, 2021.

Why do students have to take the UTME (the mandatory entrance exam to get into Nigerian higher education institutions) every single year even when they have no need to? 

The SAT, America's rough equivalent of Nigeria's UTME, has a 5-year validity period.

That means if, for any number of reasons, you're not able to get into a university in a particular year, you can submit scores from any test taken within 5 years. 

Requiring students to take the UTME every year seems to me needlessly exploitative. 

I know a student who had great UTME scores from last year but had no success getting a place at the university of his choice even though he had more than the minimum entry requirements. He retook it this year and fell short of the minimum cutoff by a wide margin. 

If he were in the US, he would have submitted his scores from last year.

Several credible people have told me that the current JAMB registrar, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, is an exceptionally honest, smart, and innovative man who is receptive to fresh ideas. I hope someone can whisper this suggestion to him.

JAMB can organize UTME several times in a year, not just once, but should allow test scores to have at least a two-year and at most a five-year validity period.

No Tears for Nnamdi Kanu

By Farooq Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

First published on Facebook and Twitter on June 29, 2021.

I’ve known since the beginning of the month that Nnamdi Kanu would be arrested and extradited to Nigeria, but my informant swore me to secrecy, so I kept the information to myself. Today he has been arrested and extradited to Nigeria. 

While the mass resentment against Buhari in the Southeast is a justified response to his systematic exclusion of and open rhetorical and actual hostility to the region, Nnamdi Kanu is NOT a symptom of the Southeast’s legitimate angst. He is a different but related problem.

Kanu is a violent, vulgar, venomous-tongued thug that should never have been allowed to exploit the valid angst of the Southeast to rise to prominence. The intolerant, unthinking IPOB cult he has built has become a problem not just for Nigeria but for the vast majority of Igbo people everywhere. 

When Kanu was burst forth to the forefront of national and international visibility in July 2015 through the Buhari regime’s thoughtless handling of Radio Biafra, I took the time to listen to him on Radio Biafra. I found a man gibbering vulgar, violent, incoherent, hate-filled but comical rants. He called Nigeria a “zoo”— or the “zoological republic”— and Nigerian citizens “monkeys” or “ill-educated vagabonds.”

 He labeled Igbos who didn’t share in his idiocy as “Hausa-born children in Igboland.” His rants were also filled with racially self-hating, negrophobic rhetoric, such as his claims that black people were inherently intellectually inferior and incapable of deep thought. He said he was a “Jew.” He hasn’t changed since then.

He makes no effort to be persuasive. He simply revels in tasteless abuse, intentional prevarications, infantile temper tantrums, and a melodramatic display of rank, comical illiteracy. In my July 2015 column, I said the only people who would take him seriously and be affected by his message were people who already shared his twisted, hateful ideals, which made shutting down his station pointless. “I can bet that it does not speak for nor reach the majority of Igbo people, and that most Igbo people would snigger when they listen to it,” I wrote.

But the Buhari regime made Kanu more popular than he is worth. He was spewing his rib-tickling inanities on the fringes of the Internet and on a barely known radio station. Then, suddenly, when he started attacking President Buhari, Nigerian authorities moved in swiftly to contain him. They announced that they had successfully jammed his radio station but came back a few days later to refute an alleged libelous falsehood the station made against Buhari!

Of course, news of the “jamming” of the radio and the press release refuting what the station reportedly said against Buhari (after it was supposed to have been jammed!) caused the station—and the ideology it espouses—to make national and international headlines. And there was an enormous spike in the number of searches for “Radio Biafra” and “Nnamdi Kanu” on Google and other search engines.

This, combined with Buhari’s unambiguous antipathy toward the southeast, has sparked a resurgence of Biafran and neo-Biafran movements and periodic sanguinary communal upheavals. This was completely avoidable. If the government had ignored (or quietly diluted) Kanu and his Radio Biafra and demonstrated even token large-heartedness toward the southeast (and the deep south) in the immediate aftermath of Buhari’s epochal electoral triumph in spite of opposition from the region, we wouldn’t have known of Kanu and IPOB. But Nigerian authorities couldn’t stomach an insult at Buhari.

Whatever it is, I have no tears for Kanu. No reasonable person should. But I think the man needs more sorrow than anger because he is obviously mentally unhinged.

Kano's Hisbah Should Arrest the Aso Rock Mannequin

By Farooq Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

First published on Facebook and Twitter on July 2, 2021.

The Hisbah in Kano appears to be angling for a global prize in theocratic idiocy and thuggery. They've destroyed beer bottles belonging to non-Muslims, arrested a non-Muslim for wearing a "satanic" hairstyle, apprehended Kano Muslims for not fasting or praying, and such other insane Talibanic excesses.

Now, they've run out of humans to oppress and are fixing their crazed, lecherous gazes on mannequins (eww!), which they say are "un-Islamic" even though every Muslim country on earth countenances mannequins in shops!

Well, let's put the theocratic overzealousness of the Hisbah moral police to a more productive use: There's a dangerous, breathing mannequin in Aso Rock pretending to be Nigeria's president. Let them go and arrest him!

Doesn't Look Like Power Will Change in 2023

First published on Facebook and Twitter on July 4.

Before our very eyes, Nigeria is relentlessly transiting from a pretend democracy to an abject, one-party, fascistic monocracy. 

Governors and legislators elected on the platform of the PDP are being bludgeoned into switching political party affiliation to the APC, and even the wispiest voices of dissent are being crushed with the most brutal state-sanctioned violence.

 That, my friends, is NOT the behavior of a government that’s preparing to leave power less than two years from now.

Lauretta Onochie and the Ephemerality of Outrage

By Farooq Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

First published on Facebook and Twitter on July 8, 2021.

There’s something I call the ephemerality and impotence of outrage in Nigeria that Nigerian government officials intimately understand and routinely exploit to the maximum advantage, which often ensures that they ride roughshod over basic decency and get away with it without any consequence. 

By ephemerality of outrage I mean the transience of anger over boneheaded government policies, the fleeting nature of indignation over injustice, and the impermanence of initially energetic coalitions that emerge episodically to fight against unpopular government decisions.

Impotence of outrage simply means the absolute ineffectiveness of the perpetual temporariness of dissent and resistance over particular policies and issues.

This is how it often goes: The government comes out with an outrageously thoughtless policy, or a government official is caught in an otherwise career-ending scandal, or suchlike outrage-generating matter. For a few days, there’ll be frenetic online chatter and intense media coverage, and situational pressure groups will emerge to make demands on the government. 

A few days later, another scandal emerges— or is engineered by the government— or people just get fatigued, and outrage over the previous scandal recedes into nothingness until the next scandal comes, which follows the same cycle as the previous one.

That’s precisely why the government chose to scandalize the moral sensibility of the nation by appointing a vile, rabid APC partisan like Lauretta Onochie as an INEC commissioner in violation of the constitution. They know their act will instigate the predictable evanescent outrage on social media, inspire the emergence of momentary but impotent protest groups, invite intense news media coverage, and then blow over without any change.

The day a critical mass of Nigerians decides to stay the course on an issue or a scandal and resist the seduction of the next scandal, this will stop. I don’t know when that will be. But this is a good time to start.

Nigerian Corruption is Embedded in this Mangled Expression

By Farooq A. Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Native English speakers say, “Cut your coat according to your cloth.”

But Nigerian English speakers say, “Cut your coat according to your size.”

Interpretation: The native English expression exhorts people to not live above their means, but Nigerian English speakers (unintentionally) mangled the original English expression to prod people to live according to their desires even if they don’t have the means to fund the desires.

If, for example, you are large and want to cut a coat according to your size but don’t have sufficient cloth to cut it to your size, what do you do? Maybe steal? Or ask someone with access to the public till to steal and share with you? Little wonder that corruption is endemic in our culture.

“Cut your coat according to your size” is, as I pointed out, obviously an incompetent mimicry of the more traditional “cut your coat according to your cloth,” but it’s amazing, nonetheless, how an expression that was distorted in ignorance somehow unwittingly encapsulates a culture’s sociolinguistic toleration and enablement of systemic corruption.

"Cut your coat according to your cloth" is actually the elliptical version of "cut your coat according to your cloth, not according to your size." Your "cloth" is your means and your "size" is your desire. In other words, if your means and your desire don't match, scale back your desire and stick to what your means can afford.

A vast swath of Nigerians with little or no cloth-- and large sizes-- want big coats—or are ridiculed for not having big coats. That’s a big motive force for corruption."

Related Articles:

Politics of Grammar Column