Determined to set a new record in the annual Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), Mmesoma Ejikeme had a date with fate: to make it or break it.

Mmesoma participated in the 2023 UTME, a computer-based standardized test administered by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). She passed the exams with a score of 249 but she preferred to go the way of “419” by forging her scores and producing a fake result of 362. With great composure, she firmly defended her fraudulent action, but later went on a full 360° to admit her fraud, following thorough investigation and further revelations by JAMB.

By her conduct, Mmesoma attempted to cast aspersions on the integrity of JAMB. The highly respected agency of the Federal Government came under scrutiny, and its efficiency was put to the test. But JAMB now stands vindicated.

Mmesoma attempted to play on the intelligence of the Anambra State Government and indeed, the public. Thankfully, the call by some quarters for fair hearing informed the need for an investigation panel independent of JAMB. For some reasons, some Nigerians suspected foul play by JAMB.   Personally, I found it unimaginable and had earlier suspected technical hitches on the part of JAMB. Now “the other side” has been heard—and loudly so too. Mmesoma has brought public shame to her family name.

The Igbo name, “Ejikeme”, means “It’s not by power”. But Mmesoma defied her father’s name, Ejikeme, when she moved to fraudulently power her way into fame, fortune and glory. She basked in the euphoria of her heroism but her joy was short-lived. Nemesis came early, with her name on top of the list. Mmesoma, which means “goodness”, honoured her name in irony.

Through academic prowess, many have conquered poverty. Mmesoma, from a humble home, proudly aimed to triumph over the grip of penury by going the extra mile. But she went too far and now the effort won’t count.

A teen at nineteen has a long way to go. But Mmesoma prefers to eye a long walk with the law. At her age, she’s ‘qualified’ for the journey if found culpable by a court of law. 

Nonetheless, because a mindset reset appears necessary, a “psychological counseling and therapy” has been recommended for Mmesoma by the investigation panel set up by the Anambra State Government. This is welcome.

Talent is not enough. This has often been said. Character is one of the most reliable keys to unlock success. Mmesoma climbed to the pinnacle of disgrace and comfortably fell like one on a self-destructive game. She went all by herself.

But she can start again. Mmesoma’s dream to be the best can still be genuinely achieved. If lessons are learnt, and she has a date with fate, she can fly on a golden wing.

To young people longing for greatness, never forget: Talent is not enough.

Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has advised a number of both established and startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.
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