CLAIM: Two best graduating students in Ekiti State University were awarded N100 and N2000 respectively
EVIDENCE: One of the recipients confirmed the amount, while the other refrained from commenting. However, EKSU has said that it was a long-standing tradition of the institution, and that the management upwardly reviewed it after the public outburst and it would be effective from its next convocation ceremony.
Perhaps because of their outright meagreness, the prize awards stated in a letter received by two best graduating students of Ekiti State University (EKSU), a school that says it aims to produce “graduates adequately equipped to handle contemporary socioeconomic and environmental challenges”, has earned the backslash of the Nigerian netizens.
This prize money was stated in a letter signed by Dr S.O. Afolabi on behalf of the school’s registrar, Akin Arogundade, and dated June 13, 2018.
The letters were addressed to Messrs Uwagwu Oluwadamilare Samuel of the Department of Crop Production and Bamisaye Tosin Tope of the Department of Civil Engineering, both of whom graduated as their respective departmental best in the 2017/2018 academic session.
While the former received the Prof M.A. Faluyi Prize Award, a prize valued at two thousand naira (an equivalent of $6.5) for his heroics, the latter was awarded the Ado-Ekiti Patriotic Front Prize Award, valued at hundred naira (equivalent of $0.326).
Although, it has been over a year since the letter was issued, Nigerians on different online fora, from Twitter to Facebook were not economical with showing their angst at the reward system in Nigerian schools.
“How can we rewire the education system in Nigeria when the best graduating student is awarded a sum of two thousand naira? Nigeria is indeed rushing to deliver itself,” came the question asked by a user on Twitter.
“Why won’t people do Yahoo Yahoo, when we don’t show them that Education is important,” read another tweet.
“Yahoo Yahoo” is the slang used for cyber fraud in Nigeria.
“This is Nigeria where nonsense is regarded than useful things,” quipped a Facebook user.
Dubawa contacted Mr Uwagwu Oluwadamilare Samuel. He confirmed to us that truly he received two thousand naira for being the “best graduating student in my department”.
Mr Samuel declined to comment on how he felt when he received the prize.
“Well, that was the prize. I can’t say why it was meagre. It’s just what I got,” he told Dubawa.
As for Mr Bamisaye Tosin Tope, he’s yet to respond to Dubawa’s message to confirm the letter. However, he “loved” and commented with “smiles” on a Facebook post he was tagged by a user, Moran Cee Onyemaechi, who claimed he “chatted [with] the recipient and he confirmed it!”
EKSU AGAINST OTHER NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES?
In the University of Ibadan, all first class graduates are at liberty to have their Masters studies for free. This is according to the university’s 2015/2016 session best graduating student of the Department of Statistics, Mr Odewole Olaolu Joseph.
“For [being] the best graduating student, I got nothing. [The] only reward I got was just the access to come back for Masters without paying, with a monthly stipend of 25k.
“And if anyone who had a First Class isn’t interested in coming back for MSc at the department, [that means there’s] no reward,” revealed Mr Olaolu.
On another hand, Mr Emeka Donald Ayo, one of the two 2017/2018 session best graduating student of Local Government and Developmental Studies in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, told Dubawa he received a “HP laptop and letter of recommendation” for having the highest Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) in his faculty.
This was given to all other best graduating students in the university’s other 13 faculties, and also to his departmental mate with whom he had a tied CGPA, Mr Donald said. The overall best graduating student, he added, was given money by different companies.
COMPARING PRACTISE IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES TO THE WORLD…
Being a yearly academic awardee while in college, Ely Jay Gomez Enaje, graduated as the 2015 most outstanding student in Agricultural Technology at Bicol University, Philippines.
The Filipino informed Dubawa that she “was recognised during the recognition [ceremony] for outstanding students who excelled in their class” with “medal and certificate”.
Also, earlier this year, India’s University of Mysore awarded its Best Graduating Master’s Student, Mrs Emelife Chinelo Stella, a Nigerian, with 20 medals and five cash prizes during its convocation.
Similarly, graduating best in the 2012/2013 academic session (with a CGPA of 4.86) at Usmanu DanFodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS), where she had her first degree in Applied Chemistry, Mrs Chinelo compared Nigeria’s reward system to India’s in an interview with Premium Times.
“Both are supposed to be laudable,” the said of the two countries. “However, India celebrates academic excellence the way it should. Every convocation ceremony in Nigeria, there is a best graduating student but no one ever talks about them except in really rare cases but that’s not same with India, as you have seen clearly.”
BUT WHY IS THE PRIZE MONEY THAT MEAGRE?
Majority of those irked by the amount in question questioned how educational excellence is less gratifying while such ventures as entertainment receive number spinning bumper rewards. They mostly call out reality shows like Big Brother Naija whose 2018 winner, Miracle Igbokwe, went home with nothing less than 45 million naira ($146,580). In this year’s edition, the prize has been said to increase to 60 million naira.
We tried getting answers on why the amount in question is meagre but calls, text and WhatsApp messages sent to the school’s Registrar, Mr Akin Arogundade, were met with silence. A mail, to which the Registrar was copied too, requesting clarity on the prize monies from the school also hasn’t been replied.
Instead, Simisola Awe, a student of law in Ekiti State University, explained that the money is likely meagre because it is a “testamentary will”. Here’s her explanation to this:
“A person might decide to award the best graduating student of a department yearly N2000 when the amount had value. The person may not be alive but the person would have put it in his will, which is called testamentary will. The family will divide the property but still give that share of money to the school authority. Every time students are convoking, that money will be given to the school [because] the school is like a trustee to the will, and they definitely have to give the money no matter how small it is.”
“THE PRIDE IN ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT SHOULD BE SELF-FULFILMENT”, SAYS REGISTRAR
The Registrar/Chief Executive of Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Josiah Olusegun Ajiboye, told Dubawa that strive for excellence should not be prize driven. Rather, he explained, it should be for self pride.
“Apart from the external reward, the intrinsic value of education should satisfy anybody. You do not wait until someone gives you a prize. The pride in academic achievement should be self fulfilment.”
Mr Josiah added that “scholarship and quick job offers should accompany such excellence.”
BusinessDay contacted the Registrar of the university, Akin Arogundade, on Monday, July 8, 2019, to verify the authenticity of the viral letter that contains N100. Although Arogundade did not explicitly state that the letter was issued by EKSU, he simply said the management has reacted to the letter and upwardly reviewed the said value of the award prize.
“That award was instituted in the university more than 30 years ago,” Arogundade told BusinessDay on phone. “I am sure you know the value of N100 then.”
“At the time the award was made, it was a good money compared to the present economic reality,” the statement issued by Bode Olofinmuagun, EKSU Head of Directorate of Information and Corporate Affairs, read. “It is in the realization of this development that the Senate of the university has reviewed the value of the prizes in this category to a minimum of N50,000 for corporate bodies and N100,000 for university prizes.”
This fact-check was done in collaboration with a Dubawa Fact-checking Fellow working for BusinessDay, the leading medium for up-to-date news and insightful analysis of business, policy and the economy in Nigeria.