Sponsored Ads

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


The examination timetable had just been pasted on the faculty board. As expected, students gathered and struggled, pushing their way forward to get a better view and copy, while some snapped with their phones. There were exclamations, curses, phone calls, excitements, anxieties and tensions in the air. Some students criticized the spacing for some high credit unit courses on the timetable, that they were too close to one another, cutting off adequate preparatory time. Unfortunately, the curses and complaints were like drops of water on a fowl’s back. Anyone who didn’t like it that way was free to skip the entire exams.

Otu was in his electronic shop at Eleme Street attending to a customer when the call came in. It was Ebuka, his colleague in school. He never joked with Ebuka’s calls as he was his right hand man and surest informant on departmental affairs. He hurriedly finished with the customer and called back Ebuka.

“Ebuka my main man! How you dey now? Wetin de sup for that una school? I see your call.”
“Oga O.T, your boy dey loyal o. I just wan tell you say dem don paste timetable o. anytime wey you enter school, come my side. I don photocopy your own kip.” Ebuka replied.
“You too much my brother, you too much. Mek I close business, I go drive enter your crib this evening. Meanwhile, I go send you small tin mek you use de call your babes. You do well.”
“Ah my Oga, na you do well o. Thank you Sir. We go see for evening now.”

Otu was not the kind of student that attended lectures regularly as he devoted more time to his business. In fact, he barely knew the names of all his courses without referring to his cell phone memo. It wasn’t a surprise when he had 2.1/5.0 CGPA last session. Luckily for him, he had managed to scale to his final year in such a tough department without any extra year. Thanks to the ‘machineries’ he usually put in place.

There was something about this exam that made Otu more worried than usual. There was a particular course he was going to write for the third time; Quantum Physics. Of all the courses, it was the one that killed his grade points the most. Even with the strong formation he plotted last year with reliable people, he still couldn’t sail through. This time around, he had to handle issues well or he may end up with another full session in school while his mates would be gone. It was never going to happen, he thought.

At exactly 6:05pm, he closed his shop and drove straight to Ebuka’s crib. He got the timetable from Ebuka and studied it carefully, his heartbeat almost doubling as he noticed the team of invigilators for Quantum Physics; one of the most dreaded lecturers in the department, Dr. Ologun was on the team. This man was an expert at using his red biro on answer sheets to subtract marks. He was also the most liberal at issuing malpractice forms. So many students had been rusticated as a result of his invigilation and nothing gave him joy like seeing students expelled for exam malpractice. Dr. Ologun, had witnessed his first son’s rustication from the same university for carrying a foreign material into an exam hall. This was one of the things that hardened his hearts towards students he caught in malpractice.

Otu was determined to scale through the kernel of the so called Quantum Physics. That’s why he came prepared to meet Ebuka, his course mate. After studying the timetable and commenting on the bad spacing of courses, they had some general discussions before Otu proceeded to his main purpose.
“You see, Ebuka, you have been my friend since we started this campus journey. I cannot count all the help you have given to me on this campus; from assignments to tests and everything. Please accept my humble thanks. This is for you. Call it my token of appreciation.” Otu handed over a brown letter-size envelope to him. Ebuka opened it to see ten crisp and clean pieces of five hundred naira notes. His eyes popped out in excitement. Now, he had money to take care of some food stuff and also renew his data subscription which had expired. He expressed his appreciation to Otu but Otu just waved him off in a cordial way.

“But I still need one final help. After this, we all graduate together and continue the good relationship we’ve started.” Otu continued. “I have connections with people in some places so getting you a job after school may not break any sweat. You have been very loyal so far.” That sounded very pleasant to Ebuka. The state of the economy was horrible. Only those with special connections could eat cake. He was willing to help his colleague so he urged Otu to continue with his request.

"I’ve studied the timetable carefully. You remember that year one course, Quantum Physics? I’ll be writing it again on the 15th.” He paused to see if Ebuka was following before he continued. “I need to pass that course else, I’ll have an extra year which is a nightmare. I’ve seen here you don’t have any exam that day and you’re the smartest student I know that can help me. All I need is to pass the course, I don’t care if it’s a D or E; I just need to be done with it. Please fill in for me on 15th.” He paused a second time, studied Ebuka’s expression for few seconds before reaching for his back pocket to pull out another set of cash. It wasn’t  in an envelope this time but the pieces were as neat and crisp as the previous—and even much more in quantity. Otu didn’t wait for Ebuka to finish processing the previous information. Or maybe, he was just adding a catalyst to the process. “This is thirty thousand naira, an advance payment. I’ll balance twenty thousand after the deal is done. You’re the best person that can help me with this. Please don’t let me down.” Ebuka was a very intelligent student, but a smart hustler too. He had earned his good grade point through hard work and other means—still hard work, technically. He knew what he was capable of. When he saw the new set of bills in Otu’s hand, his throat bobbed and he knew his mind was already made up. Heavens just knew how to answer his requests because he had been wondering how to finance his trip to Owerri after the exams and also have something to spend during the holiday. His Tecno tab broken screen also needed replacement. That was a lucrative opportunity for grabs and he would be insane to lose it. He would just need to study Quantum Physics handouts for a couple of hours and then deliver the following morning. That was one of the good endowments he had, which he was willing to use for his interest. He finally found his voice.

“My Oga, hmmmm, I have to say, this thing—this task, is not an easy one o. If it was another person, I would have said a big no but I will do it for you. It’s a general first year course so chances of identification are narrow. No problem, I will do it for you.”
Otu felt like a big stone was rolled off his chest when he walked back to his car. He inhaled deep the evening air and his soul was appeased. He was going to scale through. Ebuka was a reliable machinery. He was capable of handling any invigilator, including the famous Dr. Ologun. All he needed were the right documents.
The examination hall was enough to adequately contain fifty students but because of the spacing requirements, they were only thirty students sparsely distributed in the hall. Ebuka came in early and picked a convenient seat on the front row. Coming in late would raise unnecessary suspicion and extra investigation. Also, people on the front seat were often seen as angels while those at the back were seen as nonentities, thereby receiving maximum supervision. It was an ideology he had verified on several occasions. Last night, he had uploaded all the essentials of Quantum Physics into his head. He didn’t need implants or chips or tats. He was sure of delivering at least, a C grade.

“Everyone be on your seats. Do not—I repeat, do not turn over the leaf until I instruct you to.” The fat and grumpy-looking invigilator ordered before sharing the question papers. Dr. Ologun was not yet in the hall. Five minutes later, they were permitted to start. It was a two hour paper. The questions were tough but Ebuka was sure he could answer three out of the six very well; the rest, he would attempt. He started writing fast, downloading all he could, starting with the ones that were easiest to him. He did not even look at the student at his far right disturbing him for help.

The fat invigilator started conducting routine checks for documents. He checked every student for fee clearance card. When he came to Ebuka’s table, the young man did not even look up to give the invigilator attention. He just pointed to his card on his table. The fat man picked it up and studied the name and face on it. “Otuekong Bassey Etim, raise your face let me see.” He complied. It matched the stamped passport on the fee clearance card. “You may continue.” The fat man walked to the next person. Ebuka chuckled as the man left. Getting a fee clearance card and the faculty stamp on it was something five thousand naira could handle. He continued with his exam.

Fifteen minutes into the examination, the devil himself entered in the person of Dr. Ologun. The communication level immediately fell to zero and no head moved. He commanded so much influence even students without blemish were intimidated. He carried some papers in his hands. Some were malpractice forms, the other was a master list of those who registered for the course. He had gone through the stress of obtaining that from the course lecturer.

“Attention everyone, look up for a minute.” All heads were raised and all eyes were on the TuPac. “Before I start what I want to do, if you know you have anything on you, bring it out and drop on this table before me. You will not be punished but if I start my investigation and discover any bad egg myself,” he raised the malpractice form and flagged it before all. “You will not escape this form. You have thirty seconds to do that.” The seriousness on his face and his stern tone emphasized every word he said. It was no surprise when five students rose from their different seats to the front to surrender their ‘arms’. He kept to his words and gave them amnesty. He made another announcement. “Attention again. In your interest, if you know you are impersonating, please before I start conducting thorough investigation, stand up and leave the hall now. You will not be penalized, neither will your accomplice be. I give you my word.” He waited for one full minute before one student at the back stood up and left. Ebuka stared in disbelieve at the student that just left. He was gradually becoming tense. What’s wrong with this weak student? He was not ready to chicken out. The deal had been made. With that, he kept writing.

Dr. Ologun commenced his validation. He crosschecked names and registration numbers on the clearance card with that on the list. In some cases, he requested for other documents or gave a thorough pat down. When he got to Ebuka’s table, he paused and looked at him. “Young man, don’t you look familiar?” Ebuka summoned confidence and replied. “Yes sir. I’m one of your final year students. You’re our PHS 415 lecturer. I’m writing Quantum Physics again because I carried it over.” His curious scowl melted into a nod. “Let me see your fee clearance card.” He studied the card for some seconds and confirmed the details on the master sheet. That notwithstanding,  he still made a comment. “Why does your card still look new when you’re in final year?” Ebuka’s heart skipped a beat. He started to feel uncomfortable but he was not going to fall for the mind game. “Sir I applied for a new one in my year three after I lost the old one.” The lecturer was not satisfied with the response. “Let me see your ID card.” He brought it out of his wallet and presented to the curious lecturer. “Did you also apply for a new ID card because it looks new? Stand up.” He gave him a thorough pat down but found nothing incriminating. He eyed Ebuka suspiciously as he left him for the next student.

Ebuka knew the first mistake he made. He had given the lecturer concrete information about himself which could implicate him if anything went wrong. The lecturer would always know where and how to find him. Why didn’t he say he was his former student in 300L? He blamed himself for the mistake. On the other hand, that single truth made the lecturer believe other things he said. But he had to finish and leave the hall soon.

One hour later, Dr. Ologun went out of the hall to attend to some unknown issues. The noise level in the hall started increasing while the fat man was doing his best to put things under control. Ebuka had just finished the three questions but felt too uncomfortable to stay longer and attempt the others. He stood up and was about going to submit the script but Dr. Ologun returned and asked everyone to be quiet and seated. He was with several security men and the Faculty Officer, the only man who had the most accurate details of students, including a photo book.

“When I had said those impersonating should leave, I meant what I said. The grace period was over and I’m going to fish you all out so ladies and gentlemen, remain on your seats.” He started checking all over, narrowing the search down to only those that carried over the course. He knew they had the highest tendency of impersonating. No first year student would be stupid enough to do that.

Ebuka felt like urinating into his trousers. He had never in his whole life felt so tensed. He cracked his fingers nervously, over a hundred times. If only he was quicker to submit and leave. He seriously wished he did not take the deal from Otu. His final year in school was about to be jeopardized, he feared. In just few minutes of entry, Dr. Ologun exposed one impersonator with the help of the photo book. He had started the search from the back. The young man was pleading for mercy but it was too late. The devil had no heart. His answer sheets were seized and he was given the form to fill. That was direct rustication for both dealer and client, he knew. The security men dragged him out of the hall. Two more impersonators were exposed and the same process meted to them. Dr. Ologun was getting close to Ebuka’s desk but while he was checking someone else nearby, Ebuka heard a sudden commotion beside him. It was the student who was asking him for help earlier. The young man was fleeing the hall, pushing his way violently through a security man. He managed to escape with his papers through the window. He was smart enough to escape without being arrested.

Ebuka’s heartbeat became almost audible like a struck bass drum. He wanted to attempt the same escape stunt but he recalled the man knew him facially and would confront him later. But what evidence would he have against him? If he destroyed the answer sheets and fled, the lecturer’s testimony alone would be too lean to pin him down. He was about analyzing his escape route when he heard the familiar voice behind him, “Young man, let me see your documents again.”

Ebuka sucked in oxygen into his lungs and tried to steady his hands. His palms were sweating too. He picked up his clearance card and wanted to start giving some stupid explanation when the Doctor’s phone went off. The caller was the Vice Chancellor, requesting for Dr.Ologun’s attention in his office immediately. “Gentlemen, we’ll finish up later.” With that, the Doctor hastily left the hall with his entourage.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for reading and appreciating creativity.We hope to see you here again. Please feel free to drop your comments and suggestions as they are catalysts for improvement.