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Students protest poor exam performance
By Segun Balogun
March 19, 2010 03:24AM
Students of the Lagos State University tell the state governor their minds. Photo: NAN

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) chapters in all higher institutions in Lagos State on Thursday peacefully marched to the office of the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, to protest the poor performance of students sitting for secondary certificate examinations.

The protest was the students' reaction to the result of the 2009 November/December Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) released on Tuesday by the National Examinations Council (NECO).

The registrar of NECO, Promise Okpala, disclosed in Minna, Niger State, that 4,223 out of 234,682 candidates, representing 1.8 percent, passed with five credits and above, including English and Mathematics.

Mr. Okpala added that 12,197 candidates, representing 5.2 per cent, passed with five credits and above, irrespective of subjects.

“We are annoyed at the result,” said Ahmed Agbabiaka, the senate president of NANS. “Just on Monday, we were discussing the educational problems we have and unknown to us, such all-time poor result will be released the next day.”

The students are demanding that the 26 percent budget allocation for education sector recommended by UNESCO be implemented and an investigation should be carried out to determine the reasons for the woeful failure.

“That is what we want; the future of future leaders have been short-changed,” said Mr. Agbabiaka, who also disclosed that the protest, which is scheduled to take place in all the 36 states, will be staged later in Abuja.

One of the placards carried by the protesters berated the federal government for allocating just six percent of its 2009 budget to education. The placard compared Nigeria with other countries like South Africa (35 percent), Singapore (37 percent), Botswana and Ghana (29 percent).

The students, after waiting outside the governor's office for about forty minutes without seeing the governor, forced their way inside.

“What we want is for the governor to listen to us and see our plight,” Mr. Agbabiaka said. “We can't leave our respective campuses, some of us are from Epe, only for us to come here and not see the governor.”

The fact that the governor did not physically come out to address the students angered them. “Market women came here to protest, labour congress came here and others, the governor addressed them. Does it mean we, the future leaders, count for nothing?” asked Akinola Bahorun, the representative of the School of Oceanography.

After more than one hour of waiting, interspersed with brief meetings with the protesters' representatives, an official of the state government, Rasheed Muri-Okunola, came out to receive the petition from the students.