We have laughed much and made the compulsory number of memes, widely broadcast on Whatsapp. There is now a Twitter handle, @NigeriaSnake cashing in on the subject. The topic has really amplified the definition of Nigeria as an animal kingdom of sorts.
But the main issue should not be lost in the alarm, outrage or campaign for influence; this is another case of corruption and Nigerians must know the culprits involved, by name.
It is pretty absurd for the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) staff in question to have even thought of a snake ruse as the plausible explanation for the disappearance of N36 million. That could have been the explanation suggested by church members, to whom she probably confessed her dilemma. Given the gullibility to superstition in our society, someone would have advanced the excuse as sufficient. This kind of thing can happen; it happens in Nollywood.
Thankfully, JAMB has rubbished such snake nonsense, calling it a case of pure criminality and fraud by one of its staff. Now they must go ahead and tell Nigerians when this inexcusable criminality was perpetrated and by whom.
Did it occur under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, as some have observed on social media, or is it another instalment in the bottomless catalogue of calamities that have become quintessential of the Buhari administration? These facts need to be known and placed on record. Not just for the political implications it will have but to provide an objective guide into the depth of corruption in Nigeria’s institutions, particularly in the education sector usually esteemed as one of the key sectors that must stand firm for national development to take place.
Education in Nigeria has suffered from a terrible neglect and lack of prioritisation over the years and to realise that internal thievery has played a part in the rot should not entirely be surprising. The money in question accrued from the sales of scratch cards by JAMB and probably should have been used to purchase more examination materials to make the Computer Based Tests (CBT) more available and optimally functional. Thousands of Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) candidates who have had the misfortune of malfunctioning computers during their tests, subsequently frustrating their efforts of enrolling into tertiary institutions have a good reason to exercise the greatest outrage from this snake affair. Parents and guardians who had to grind through rocks to afford the cost of scratch cards for their wards need a comprehensive explanation by the authorities.
Their true satisfaction will come only when this ceases to be a subject of fun, and the real criminals named and shamed. This is a shame, less like the Aso Rock rats invasion and more like the diversion of IDP funds by former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal. Besides the odd invitation, Mr Lawal remains free and uncharged by any of the anti-graft bodies, a fact that may not inspire confidence in the demand for justice on the missing JAMB millions. However, it is possible that the person of interest may not be as high ranking as the former SGF, hence, may be more easily paraded as a sign that the government is serious about anti-corruption.
Should it turn out to be a Jonathan administration crime, we can expect it to be minted for political gain by the administration. In the event that it is not, it will count for a determination to sanitise the system. Either way, the Nigerian people will win.