JAMB, Kemepade and the restitution Nigeria needs

By Busuyi Mekusi


Any human society depends on a set of rules, norms, restrictions, prescriptions, etc., to regulate people’s activities, and moderate their excesses. This is more so as human innate inklings would want to always go overboard. Readings in psychoanalysis are rife about the fact that the superego tends to ensure that libidinous propensities are put in check, in order not to drag the ego of a personality into opprobrium. To this end, religious codes, carved and popularised by religious institutions, laws enforced by agents of the State, legal provisions enforced through judicial processes, and social orders set by the society, and reinforced by members of approved adulthood, are emplaced to shape the behaviours and orientations of a human agency that grows within a particular socio-cultural and physical environment.

Notwithstanding these many attempts to mitigate outlandish manifestations, some would defiantly end up in prisons or correctional facilities because of the domination of their wish and thoughts by their boisterous ambitions and desires. These uncontrollable appetites for anti-social behaviours would best explain the gruesome murder of Oba Odetola, the Alagodo of Agodo, and others in Ogun State, the kidnap and dismembering of innocent Hanifa in Kano, the sustained killings of people in Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State, and other countless killings across the country for which Nigeria has transformed to a ‘slaughtering slab’. As we look forward to criminals purging themselves of their evil intentions, particularly corrupt public officials, bureaucrats, as well as funders and sponsors of bandits, kidnappers, terrorists and killer herders, the decision of Timipade Kemepade to seek forgiveness from the body that presides over the qualifying national examinations to higher institutions of learning in Nigeria, JAMB (Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board), arose in one the place of purgation of emotions in drama and restitutions in the matters of Truth and Reconciliation, in a violating and violated space like Nigeria.

According to JAMB, Timipade Kemepade was said to have recently written a letter of apology and request for forgiveness to it for getting involved in examination malpractice 21 years ago, blaming his action then on youthful exuberance. In response to the letter of the repentant fraudulent candidate JAMB, through its weekly bulletin released to air this plea for pardon, rejected the request for forgiveness by Kemepade but, instead, advised him to purge himself of the burdens imposed by the infractions, by willingly forfeiting all the certificates he fraudulently acquired with the result of the University Matriculation Examination. While waiting for the response or reaction of this penitent embattled candidate to the hard-line posturing of JAMB, the two obvious possibilities are that he would either do away with the contraband and its attached liabilities, like the Biblical Elisha rejected the compensatory gift of Naaman or keep the ill-gotten advanced educational foundational fundamental certificate and remain leprous like Gehazi who delighted in the accursed gift of Naaman. What JAMB is requesting of this ‘born again’ breaker of rules is simply restitution!

While Timipade Kemepade earns our commendation for this bold decision, we should be reminded that this is not the first time someone would confess to having obtained a certificate by default. There was the case of a repentant cheater that secured forgiveness and pardon from NECO in the past. The young lady who graduated from UNIBEN and acknowledged, through her ceremonial end-of-examination clothing historiography and narratives that is now in vogue, that she cheated her way through her course of study was to be stripped of her certificate, with one not sure if the matter has not been flushed down the toilet the usual Nigeria way.

The exorcising of the devil in Timipade Kemepade may not be strange, as some religious organisations emphasise restitution as a sine qua non by somebody that experienced transformation from ‘bad” to ‘good’ or accepted a particular mode of reaching the Supreme God, other than what they considered to be an estranged old order from which s/he is severing a relationship. Restitution is principally a legal process of compensating for losses or injury. It could similarly mean the act of making good what the culprit or the offender made bad, at a time in the past or restoration to a previous condition or position. Furthermore and as a form of recompense or indemnification, restitution could mean the compensation offered in return for what has been lost, injured or destroyed. As illustrative of the biblical Jewish society, the Mosaic Law and order on restitution was targeted at promoting a stable and peaceful human cohabitation, in terms of offense and neutralisation of hurts.

The South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s-led Truth and Reconciliation Commission was majorly a platform for: offenders during the obnoxious apartheid regime to confess to their evil acts; victims to know the truths about the atrocious behaviours that dehumanised them; past aggressors to ask for forgiveness and the violated to offer pardon, thereby assuming the locus of the privileged that could ‘give’ something. The foregoing was due to the fallouts of the racial abuse of blacks by whites, based on the assumed superiority of the latter to the former. However hard Archbishop Tutu tried to identify with victims who were mostly brought face-to-face with their violators, and told details of how their brutalisation and maiming were achieved by weeping certain times, most common victims remained disenchanted that while the anti-apartheid lords like Mandela got compensated with political offices, they had nothing to recompense for their traumatic apartheid past, even in the self-conceived post-apartheid Rainbow Nation that is still fraught with the echoes of racial sentiments and aggrandisements. Tutu exited recently with the notion of South African post-colonial disillusionment, laced with greed and abject corruption.

If the prescriptions of restitution as a concept and the South African experience are used as counterfoil for the faceoff between Timipade Kemepade and JAMB, certain manifestations are very clear: the institutional sense of deprivation and violation felt by JAMB, the recrimination and revulsion that arose from such feeling and the unpreparedness not to dispatch forgiveness, as requested by the offender, on the one hand, as well as the desperate desire for forgiveness by the offender, for the purpose of expiation, on the other. The attainment of forgiveness by Timipade Kemepade from JAMB would have justified his retention of the qualifying result he earned fraudulent, and those he got later. However, the insistence by JAMB that Timipade Kemepade should renounce his fraudulent accumulation from it, and the forfeiture of his additional certificates that were pursuant to the faulty foundation in question, is demonstrative of the need for restitution, which ensures a return to the status quo ante, or reversal of wrongdoing that will ensure a realisation of the old order.

Nelson Mandela’s emergence as the first democratic government in South Africa was compensatory and an attempt to restitute for the past years of white oppressive minority rule against the black majority. The initiative was similarly meant to achieve collective purgation of anger and revulsions by disadvantaged blacks during the dastardly era of apartheid. Like I mentioned before now, even though the new black political and elite class got rewarded somewhat, the majority members of the lowly black community are still of the opinion that the national forgiveness and pardon granted past offenders was a mere betrayal and an attempt to negotiate national reconciliation with their personal traumas. This is not to say that the negative application of the Black Affirmative Action, empowerment, cries for land expropriation, xenophobia, new racial stunts, etc., are clear testimonies of a nation in desperate need of healing, with a huge verisimilitude with Nigeria.

As the tangle between JAMB and Timipade Kemepade has brought to the fore the issue of restitution in our national life, it is expedient that the political and ruling class, as well as all Nigerians, should restitute their past and present acts of greed, corruption, manipulation, marginalisation, exploitation, dispossession, violation, brutalisation, systematic impoverishment, etc. against the helpless poor in order to achieve national forgiveness: from the poor towards the rich; from the misruled towards the rulers; from the exploited towards exploiters; from the brutally bandied towards bandits; from the terrorised towards terrorists! As we await the reaction of Timipade Kemepade to the negative response of JAMB to his request, we must be reminded that unforgiveness breeds revenge, and lack of restitution induces recrimination. May Archbishop Desmond Tutu weep no more about vengeful humanity!

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