There was tension on Monday in Umuahia, Abia State capital as nursing students from four Schools of Nursing in the state protested their exclusion in the re-scheduled Preliminary Test Screening (PTS), exam.
The protesting students besieged a Computer Based Test ( CBT) centre at Olokoro Road by Old Timber, Umuahia where the test was holding.
The situation almost degenerated into a chaos as the students who demanded immediate cancellation of the rescheduled exam nearly became restive.
Security operatives including police and Department of State Services, DSS personnel were drafted to the centre to help quell the situation.
Some of the protesters who surged into the premises of the exam centre and switched off the generating set.
They demanded that the exam be halted and called alleging foul play.
One of the visibly agitated students who pleaded anonymity to avoid victimisation told Vanguard that only about 250 students out of the over 400 students that wrote the initial PTS exam were shortlisted for the exam.
She alleged that all those who were among the 75 students that passed the cancelled PTS were deliberately excluded in the rescheduled exam.
She also claimed that admission forms were sold to over 3000 candidates and over 400 admitted after the entrance exam.
The student also alleged exploitation in the school of nursing, lamenting that it was painful for one to be “screened out at this stage after spending so heavily.”
”I spent over N270,000 just to enroll into the school. The payments were not receipted except N30,000 Development fee and N10,000 Government revenue. There was no other receipt issued to us.
”We were meant to stay for six months but after about three months they said we should sit for PTS. The result was supposed to be out after two weeks but it took about two months before it was released.
”They picked those they wanted to favour and dropped others. That was why Government cancelled it after the initial protest.
”Why should they admit over 400 students since they know they have only 75 slots?”
One of the parents among the protesters, Onyebuchi Ndukwe, said he had spent over N1.5 million for his child and a ward in the school of nursing only for them to be excluded in the end.
Ndukwe who said he was among the people that led the first protest to the Government House brandished the original copy of his son’s O’Level result which showed eight Bs and one A, querying why he should be excluded for alleged deficiency in O’Level.
He alleged compromise on the part of the organisers and called on Gov. Alex Otti to thoroughly investigate the reasons behind the controversies.
Some of the Principals of Nursing Schools in the state declined comments.
Reacting, Commissioner for Health, Mrs Ngozi Okoronkwo, who was present at the centre to oversee the situation, said only those whose O’Level result had been authenticated were shortlisted for the test.
She however, said more results were yet to be authenticated, while appealing for calm.
”There is no need for agitation because we are following due process”, she said.
The Commissioner assured that everybody with authentic O’Level result would be allowed to participate in the rescheduled exam.
“I myself want to make sure that anybody with authentic WAEC result will participate in the exam. That’s why I’m here. I have been here since 7:00am and will be here till the end. They should calm because everybody will pass through the process.
”Everybody knows there is a process and we are following the process. The Principals were to bring the list of their students with their WAEC results for screening. And what we have here is the first batch. Some of the students had fake results and were screened out.
”Understand that they protested before the exam was cancelled. We did not decided on our own to cancel it. And the Nursing Council is involved and due process must be followed.
”We have even taken further precautions in the CBT exam to make sure that once any student finishes writing, the result comes out immediately. The student will sign so that tomorrow the person will not claim anybody has changed his result.”
Asked why the schools admitted more than the slots allocated to the state, the Commissioner said it was done by the previous administration.
She said she current Government had already stopped outrageous admission to avoid the unnecessary heat.
”This was what we met on ground. If you look at the new admission we have done, it was not this bloated. It was around hundred and something so that even if we have failures it will still fall within the aloted number.
But admitting over 400 is outrageous. Even the classroom where the students stay cannot take 400 students.”
Recall that after the initial protest last month, Governor Otti promised to investigate the allegations.
After some weeks the State Government directed immediate cancellation of the first exam and promised a fresh exam would be conducted for all the students.