“The governor will do the much he can for every child in the state to have access to quality education. However, the government can’t make unrealistic promises to make headlines,” – Prof. Chuma-Udeh, Commissioner for Education in Anambra State
Many Nigerians, it would appear, have already moved on from the sensation caused when 19-year-old Mmesoma Ejikeme of Anglican Girls Secondary School Nnewi, Anambra State, declared herself the highest scorer in the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exams – UTME. For weeks, the exam body, Joint Admission and Matriculation Board- JAMB came under heavy public scrutiny, while JAMB stood its ground firmly with overwhelming evidence that Mmesoma’s result was forged and later triumphed. Anambra State Government and the Ministry of Education, in particular, were similarly exposed to public scrutiny on account of the same case.
Eventually, Mmesoma confessed to forging her result all by herself with no assistance and then apologized. This event was a major lesson for those who had imported diverse ethnic narratives into the mix. Mmesoma also confessed to the committee set up by Anambra State Government that she forged her result and declared herself the best in 2023 UTME and it was this committee’s report that finally put the case to rest. But before then, some individuals and organizations, notably Innoson Vehicle, had offered scholarships worth about three million Naira to her. However, after the finding and her confession of forging her result, the scholarship was withdrawn. Although Gius Chibueze, also known as “BitcoinChief”, insists that his full international scholarship to Mmesoma stands. “I will still sponsor Mmesoma…we must not destroy the little girl’s future (because of) forged certificate”. But ever since, how has it been with Mmesoma and her family?
Mmesoma Ejikeme and her family who by then, were already national media sensations of sorts, also has to deal with the difficulty of their new fame and especially the discomfort that accompanied the disappointment that came with the forged result. Not many cared about how the family must now struggle to settle back into their normal life after such national publicity.
In an exclusive interview with Ebuka Onyekwelu of the West African Pilot News, Mr. Romanus Ejikeme, Mmesoma’s father, said that the entire episode affected their family seriously. He also said that many who made promises to them abandoned them. “You know how everything went. We were initially shocked. This thing affected us. Many people withdrew their pledges”, Mr. Ejikeme said. Reacting to offer of international scholarship and how far Gius Chibueze has gone with fulfilling his promise, Mr. Romanus said that his daughter is still at home. “Right now, I am at work. Mmesoma is at home, she was at home when I left for work,” he said with assurance. Already, schools in the United States, United Kingdom and other Western countries are in session and if Mmesoma is still at home now, then apparently, perhaps, the pledge by Gius Chibueze has not been fulfilled. On the question of what the government is doing to help Mmesoma move on, he said she is undergoing counseling. When probed further on the status of the international scholarship offered by Gius Chibueze known on Twitter as BitcoinChief, Mr. Ejikeme said that they are grateful to Chibueze. Although he declined any comment on whether Chibueze has secured any admission for his daughter Mmsoma in any foreign university or if he has procured her passport or engaged in any form of preparation for international education. However, Mr. Ejikeme maintained that they appreciate BitcoinChief. “We thank BitcoinChief, he is the only person that refused to back out. That alone is satisfying. We are in touch and I appreciate him,” Mr. Ejikeme concluded.
What is clear is that Mmesoma is yet to start school. It is also clear that the international scholarship offered by Gius Chibueze has not been redeemed, at least for now. However, it is not clear at what stage the offer is, or if Gius has abandoned his offer and moved on just as many Nigerians have moved on.
On the part of the Commissioner for Education in Anambra State, Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh, when contacted and interviewed on the issue, said that the government has moved to the next cause of action in helping Mmeosma realize her full potential. “She has apologized. Moving on, the government instituted a council of professors to counsel and guide her. She has been going through it. She was in my office last week after her session,” the commissioner stated. Speaking on what lies ahead, the Commissioner said that the governor is committed to ensuring that every student in Anambra state is in the best position to blossom, but can’t make untrue promises. “The governor will do the much he can for every child in the state to have access to quality education. However, the government can’t make unrealistic promises to make headlines,” Prof. Chuma-Udeh said.
As most Nigerians have now moved on, the Ejikemes are back to their reality, while also contending with navigating their new challenges amidst bruised national fame.
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