The recent convocation ceremonies of the University of Calabar (UNICAL) left many graduating students in tears, despite their robust preparation for a colourful outing. Sorrow crept in at the last minute when some of them discovered that their names were missing in the brochure that contains the full list of graduating students.
To worsen the situation, there were loud grumbling and murmuring over awards given to the best graduating students from various faculties because those awarded the prizes reportedly didn’t deserve the champions’ crown.
Our reporter gathered that disappointed students had hired graduation gown and invited their relatives to celebrate with them but they discovered that their names were not in the programme.
The 27th convocation was welcomed by the entire university community amidst funfair and high expectation. More importantly, the face of the 39-year-old institution wore a new look weeks before the convocation, right from the main gate to the inside.
But less than expected was the controversial award of best students’ prizes to some undeservinggraduating students.
Two cases were outstanding in these awards: the Institution of Public Policy and Administration IPPA and that of Social Sciences Faculty. One of the graduating students from IPPA bitterly complained to our reporter that the recipient of the best graduating student from the institution should be properly investigated. He alleged that the favoured student actually graduated with Second Class Lower but was elevated to Second Class Upper Division.
The case of best graduating student from Social Works Unit (of Sociology Department), who equally clinched the Dr. J. O. Charles’s Prize of N10,000 with his CGPA of 4.08, seemed more complicated as his result has not been approved by the Senate, just as his colleagues weren’t included among the graduating students.
It was reported that the said student went to his General Office after the convocation to break the good news to the Secretary to his Head of Department, who retorted, “How come and when did you graduate?”
Investigation by Campus Sun revealed a can of worms. It was gathered that one Abeng Obedience Akama with CGPA of 4.02, who graduated in 2011 was actually supposed to receive the prestigious prize, but it never got down well with some lecturers in the department who worked successfully to upturn it. The award was given to another student (names withheld), who finished in 2012 and his result yet to be approved.
As the controversies surge, protest letters have been sent to the Registrar titled, “An outcry/call for intervention” and “Mis-information and request for redress”.
The first was written by the class Rep and the Class Assistant while the second letter was written on behalf of all the 2011 graduands of Social Works.
The first letter to the Registrar reads in part, “We wish to draw your attention to the just concluded 27th convocation ceremony….where a student who has not graduated because his result is being prepared for senate approval alongside his colleagues in the same 2012 session, which is behind ours is being awarded the Best Graduating Student in the Department of Sociology and the said student did not even partake in the convocation but the name only appeared in the award page….whereas this is misinforming and capable of portraying the department in the light of ineptitude and non-chalance. We therefore call for redress, that the award be given to the genuine winner, Abeng Obidience Akama.”
Another letter titled, A Call to Order, also lamented the ugly trend, saying, “The graduands of the Sociology Department and Social Works in particular (for whom the said award is reserved) are not only calling for the authorities of the Department of Sociology to re-award this said prize appropriately but to also fish out the perpetrator(s) of this intellectual misdemeanor, with duly attached punitive measures”
When Campus Sun visited the HOD of Sociology/Social Works, Dr. Monday Ushie in his office, he was meeting with the Exams Officer, Dr. Mike Ushie, on the issue. He was filled with rage as he persisted that the matter is not a press issue and will not speak to our correspondent. According to him, the issue is just an internal oversight.
“As you can see, I’m very busy with result issues (pointing at his paper-filled table) and will not speak to journalists about that matter because it is an internal issue,” he said.
Efforts made to speak with the Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Eugene Ania, was unsuccessful, as he wasn’t on seat as at the time of filling this report.
When Obedience was contacted by our reporter for his reaction, he said: “Yes, I’m aware of what is happening. My take is for the right thing to be done because you never can tell who the next victim will be. In a place like UNICAL with high reputation, excellence should be our watchword, therefore it demands expressly that the prize for the best graduating student of the session should be given to the right person, who has the highest CGPA,which is the determining factor.”
He added that “in my very session which is the session that convoked, I’m perfectly sure that I have the highest CGPA. In fact, I’m the only person whose CGPA is above 4 points, that is the subsisting CGPA that the Senate has approved,” he said.
On the other hand, when Mathias was contacted by our reporter, he gladly appreciated his lecturers and fellow students who had considered him worthy of the feat. He noted that he was called and informed about his name appearing in the brochure as the best graduating student and he is “proud of that” and pleaded that if he is given the opportunity, he will love to also impart his knowledge to other undergraduates and society at large.
When he was asked if he is aware that his result has not been approved by the Senate, he responded that it is not within his authority to know if the result has been approved or not as he has written his degree exams before the last ASUU strike which affected all academic activities.
The question remains, who submitted the name of this best graduating student before it was included in the brochure, as both the HOD and his Secretary has denied knowledge of ever submitting any name?
Banking and Finance students have another bitter story to add to their presumed convocation. It was also gathered that all the 2011 graduates of the department who has collected their certificates could not find their names in the brochure. Ochem Able, a student from the department who collected his certificate since last year and came with family and friends for his convocation, said his name alongside his colleagues never appeared in the brochure.
In the same vein, the 2010/2011 students of Social Works unit recently petitioned the Registrar of the institution, pleading for their certificates to be issued after years of graduation. This also coincided with the complaint by some graduates of Political Science, Public Administration and Banking and Finance Departments, who suffered similar fate of not collecting their certificates.
According to the letter, their victimization and late certificate issuance may not be unconnected with the fact that they enrolled in the institution through Centre for Education Service CES which was originally designed as an evening/adult programme.
The letter reads in part, “After two years of graduation and convocation, we are yet to get green light as to when we will be issued with our certificates. Our contemporaries in the UME programme have been issued their certificates, gone for and returned from service, and are making progress with their lives, whereas, we (as CES students) are stuck with regard to the issuance, possession and utilization of our certificates.”