The Oasis Reporters
January 11, 2020
The refusal of northern Nigeria’s foremost University, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria named after it’s Fulani founder who was the aristocratic Premier of Northern Nigeria to offer admission to a high scoring Thomas Goodness Shekwobyalo seemingly based on her possible sex and religion, has exposed its underbelly as a feudalistic entity that resents anything or anyone who is not like them.
Universities in civilized climes look forward to admitting grade 1 top scoring candidates. That is their chance of producing potential inventors and game changers in industry, science, technology, etc to make life better for its citizenry and the globe, while they bask in the glory of the excellence attained.
But no, not Ahmadu University, Zaria. A university that was grudgingly set up in the ambience of reluctance. Before the geographical entity that doubles both the South East, South West and then Midwest regions put together could roll in plans for a University, the South West already had three. In Ibadan, Lagos and at Ile-Ife The South East had the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Even the newly created Mid-West region carved out from within the South West three years after the nation’s independence, hit the ground running, before the north would set one up that they say is the largest university in Africa. Maybe, they’ve nor visited Universities in Egypt yet. The intimidating presence of educational establishments in other regions finally forced the Northern region into setting up the Ahmadu Bello University in1965. The University of Ibadan commenced in 1949. 16 years before the north conceived and delivered it’s own.
Over the decades, admission procedures have always been opaque at ABU Zaria. Many of its students were usually admitted through remedial programs or from lists sent in by traditional rulers, too military officers or bureaucrats.
But the new north is fast emerging, with young smart teenagers presenting high class and intimidating credentials, yet ABU Zaria puts on thick lenses to scrutinize merit based candidates and in that wise, and under that retrogressive regime, Thomas Goodness Shekwobyalo was denied admission to study medicine.
One, she is female. Secondly, she is a Christian. But then, she is a northerner
The public furore and indignation on social media was so embarrassing to the feudalistic north. Like some face saving compulsion, The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board(JAMB) suddenly “ordered Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) to admit a female candidate from Niger State,Thomas Goodness Shekwobyalo medicine instead of the Anatomy she was offered.
But it is left to Shekwobyalo to either accept or reject.
Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede gave the directive in Bwari, Abuja at a review meeting with the representative of the Commissioner for Education in Niger State, Bello Attahiru, the Admission Officer of ABU, Haruna Ali Mohammed, representatives of the Civil Society Organisations and top officials of the agency.
Although the girl and her parents were invited, they refused to show up after reassurance that they will come.
Many had alleged that Miss Shekwobyalo
was denied admission for medicine because she is a Christian.
Some claimed that she scored 302 to come top in Niger State but religious factor was used against her.
At the review session where all the facts were laid on the table, it was also realised that by average score, she was not the best from the state despite her 302 score in UTME.
The breakdown of the three best candidates from Niger is as follows: Isah Mujahid(UTME,296; Post-UTME, 303; and Average Score, 299); Hassan Ruqayyat Ndaisa
(UTME,275; Post-UTME, 309; and Average Score, 292) and Thomas Goodness Shekwobyalo (UTME,302 ; Post-UTME, 274; and Average Score, 288).
But JAMB discovered that ABU decided to peg its Merit List at two candidates per state leaving out Shekwobyalo from those shortlisted for medicine.
Imagine this : Northern region has an embarrassing shortfall in medical doctors. Yet, they can afford the luxury of denying merit based students the choice of studying medicine. Unless of course, its for the “right persons”.
Shekwobyalo also changed her course to Anatomy following a call/advisory she allegedly received from ABU.
She could not, however, present any evidence to JAMB or identify who advised her to change the course.
Notwithstanding, the JAMB Registrar, Oloyede said it was wrong for ABU to limit its Merit List to two per state.
He also said: “Contrary to insinuations, this meeting has shown that Shekwobyalo was not discriminated against on religious or ethnic basis.
“We discovered that she has changed her course from Medicine to Anatomy.
” I spoke with her but she said somebody called her to change to Anatomy. Up till now, she has not shown any evidence.
” We discovered that ABU did something wrong. They were distributing merit on state basis. They decided to offer Medicine to two candidates per state.
“One of the achievements of this meeting is how to legitimize her admission into Medicine( MBBS).
” We have decided to reverse her Anatomy admission. ABU should put her on notice that she has been offered to read Medicine. It is left to her to accept or reject.
“JAMB exists to ensure fairness and justice to all. I have addressed many similar cases in about seven universities without sensationalization on the basis of religion or tribalism”.
The Director of Schools and Educational Services, Mr. Bellu Attahiru , who represented the Commissioner for Education, said: ” It is obvious she was not discriminated along based on religion. I will let the Niger State Government know the facts as laid down today. We thank JAMB for reversing her admission from Anatomy to Medicine”.
In the presence of all stakeholders, the Admission Officer of ABU, Haruna Ali, effected Shekwobyalo’s course to medicine.
Meanwhile, public spirited Nigerians have offered the young girl scholarships to study somewhere else. According to unverified reports, about six scholarships have landed her way.
An angry comment came from a social media activist who said, “this matter has exposed a wicked plan on the part of the authorities of ABU, that can be implemented in diverse ways. Gaining entry is not synonymous with graduation. The evil forces can easily regroup to ceaselessly frustrate her studies all the way, through a combination of structured obstacles. My advice to the young girl and her parents, is to look elsewhere. At least the struggle has proved a point”.
If the young girl looks elsewhere for admission, Ahmadu Bello University would be forced to equally look away from such retrogressive policies that has held them down for so long.
The University is currently in search for candidates to fill the soon to be vacant Vice Chancellorship position. So far, eminently qualified Christian professors are pretending not to like the position. They are showing no interest. The general belief is that the University that belongs to both Christians, animists and Muslims of Northern Nigeria, has to now belong to the core north Muslims alone.