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Students of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike have expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the ongoing first semester examinations for the 2019/2020 academic session which started on Monday.

According to the Public Relations Officer of the Students’ Union Government, Daniel Effiong, who is also a 400 level student of the department of Biochemistry, the ongoing examinations conform with global best practices. “The conduct of the exams have really met the standard world over and the students are quite satisfied. It is standard. The students are well-spaced, in strict adherence to rules against exam malpractice. Invigilation is also well-structured and the security officials are on guard. It is okay so far,” he said. Commenting, a 300 level student of the department of Computer Science who pleaded anonymity, also stated that the conduct of the ongoing examinations have been smooth. In her words, “the exams are going well. Only two students are allowed on one table. Invigilation has also been very strict. They brought invigilators from another department. So there is no room for exam malpractice. Everything is going well,” she said.

Regarding adherence to COVID 19 protocols, most of the students confirmed that social distancing and wearing of face masks were enforced in many examination halls. However, they stated that face masks were disallowed by some invigilators, following reports that some students used them to hide extraneous materials. They also noted that face masks were not allowed by some invigilators who said that they made it difficult to spot students who conversed in examination halls, because their mouths are covered.

Speaking on a few reservations, some of the students expressed displeasure over the University’s decision to open newly built halls, which they hitherto could not access, for the examinations. According to a 100 level student of the department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics who also pleaded anonymity, “new halls were opened for exams, but when we needed them for lectures, they were all closed. Their excuse was that the halls had not been commissioned. The lack of lecture halls actually made us miss some lectures, but now they are opening them just for exams.”

On the part of the lecturers, the acting dean of the College of Applied Food Science and Tourism (CAFST), Prof. Nneoma Obasi, stated that the examinations have been smooth so far, adding that most of the students have been punctual and well-behaved. She however, stated that some of the students caused problems for themselves by involving in fake course registration, and that there were some whose course registration was not properly done because they patronized roadside cybercafés instead of the University portal.

Speaking further, Prof. Nneoma Obasi stated that some students do not enter their examination codes properly, citing the recent case of about 100 students of her college. According to her, this meant that this category of students had no Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheets and, therefore, could not take the examinations. She, however, stated that the OMR issue of the affected students was resolved by the prompt intervention of Prof. T.U Nwabueze, the OMR chairman. She said that examinations would be rescheduled for all students who have genuine course registration issues, in line with the desire of the present administration of Prof. Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe to protect the interest of every bonafide student of the University. On the complaints that new halls were used only for examinations and not for lectures, Prof. Obasi stated that the new buildings have not been officially handed over to the University by the contractors, but were used at this time due to lack of space.

On the issue of security, the Chief Security of Officer of University, Sir Alex Okafor, stated that things have so far gone according to the plans of the security unit. In his words, “everything is moving on very well. The internal security personnel are doing their job. We also have men of the Department of State Security (DSS). Thier vehicles are parked close to examination halls. We also have men of the police force who are stationed at strategic points. There is another special team that patrols the university.”

Explaining the reasons for the heavy security presence during the examinations, Sir Okafor stated that the security unit was being proactive due to intelligence reports of activities of cultists. “We had intel of the activities of cultists with firearms who accost students. You know that during examinations, all students are on campus. So some cult members use it as an opportunity to confront rival cult members who would only be seen on campus during examination period. The other day, we arrested a cultist in possession of a fire arm. We are on alert. My men are not interfering with the examinations. We are only trying to stop students who have bad intensions.”

Recall that the ongoing examinations had been slated for last year, but were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the ASUU strike which disrupted academic activities throughout the year.