From Peter Okore, Umuahia
In pursuance of her policy of zero tolerance for corruption, the Abia state government has ordered the immediate cancellation of the just concluded Preliminary Test Session (PTS) Examination into State-owned Schools of Nursing and Midwifery.
It has further directed that all the qualified candidates involved should re-sit the same examination without any extra fees charged. This is also as the government has made it clear that the present Alex Otti-led administration of Abia state will no longer tolerate the alleged corruption and impunity that have been going on in state-owned Health institutions over the year.
The state Commissioner for Information and Culture, Prince Okey Kanu who announced these measures during a media chat with newsmen in Umuahia said the new steps were taken following the recommendations of a committee put together by government to look into the circumstances and events that characterized the conduct of the recently held PTS Nursing examination, which involved individuals, students, officials and stakeholders.
Sources reported that a lot of exam-mal-practices and irregularities were common features at the exam Hall and venue of the cancelled PTS examination . Money was allegedly used to buy marks , while some stakeholders and influential politicians forced candidates on the authorities. Apart from these, Students who were involved in the exam had protested showing their disapproval and rejection of the mode and conduct of the said examination, just as lists from some stakeholders were given preferences in choice of candidates .
The Information-boss, who was flanked on both sides by the Principal secretary/ Chief Strategist to the governor, Mr Chinenye Mba- Uzochukwu and Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ferdinand Ekeoma, said in order to show transparency in all activities of government, the only option left was to order the immediate cancellation of the PTS Nursing/ Midwifery exam.
His words:” As a responsible government, a committee was set-up immediately and its preliminary report was that the examination should be cancelled immediately, while investigations into the matter continues. It also recommended that there should not be any extra examination fees on the students.
The committee met with some of the affected stakeholders and representatives of the students who petitioned and protested, the leaderships of the various institutions that were involved and others . Since the examination was conducted as CBT, computer-based test and so , the vendors who provided the technology were also interviewed by members of the community. After these interviews and observations, it became clear that the exam could have been conducted better in a manner that would have maintained the integrity that is expected of any examination”.
According to the commissioner, a number of roads in both Aba and Umuahia were under rehabilitation or maintenance. “ In a bid to improve government’s Ease- of- doing business, issuance of Certificate -of-Ownership (C-of-O) would now take 30 Days to process. The transaction period may be reduced further with time.”
Adding his voice, the SA on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ekeoma declared: “ What the government has just done is in line with the campaign promises of Dr. Alex Otti. Don’t forget that he declared a state of emergency on the Health sector. The Principals of the schools of Nursing and the rest of them were all assembled and addressed on this posture of the governor on Health. They were made to understand that Government was aware of all the things and corruption that have been going on there. They were, therefore warned that going forward , such a thing would not be tolerated.”
In a reaction, a retired Matron in the state health Ministry, Mrs Clementina Osulo supported the intervention of Government into the happenings in the state-owned Schools of Nursing and Midwifery, . She contended that influences in the admission of candidates into the schools have led to lowering of standards of graduates of the institutions, over the years. She pleaded that Government should go into the root- cause of the admission rackages there, saying that efforts be intensified to bring sanity in the profession to make for quality healthcare delivery.