Tertiary Education in Nigeria

Mmesoma’s JAMB Result: Technology And Challenge Of Fact-checking

Chain-reaction, copy-cat journalism without fact-checking is the latest bane of a new-age reporting. It is expected that the field-less reporters would soon swoop on the latest Mmesoma video, writing stories that promote her version, without any analysis to give perspective to what has happened so far.
12 months ago
3 mins read

Confident, linguistically enabled, sagacious, but sorely disillusioned. That was the disposition of Miss Mmesoma Ejikeme in a social media self-presentation to clear the air on some serious JAMB result accusations. With her articulate, free-flowing and terse account of the trajectory of the issue so far, Mmesoma easily reflects an intelligent 16-year old girl, who has come under the indiscretion of hugely misfiring institutions, JAMB and journalism. Let us be clear: this is not to exonerate that beautiful, but thoroughly and nationally harassed poor girl. It is also not to convict JAMB by media trial. It is to reawaken journalists, who are trifling with one of society’s most sacred institutions: public media.

Mmesoma Ejikeme, a student of Anglican Girls Secondary School, Nnewi, was accused by JAMB of inflating her scores to 362 in the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exam (UTME). For coming top in Nigeria, or fraudulently so, Mmesoma won a N3 million naira scholarship from Innocent Chukwuma, owner of Innoson Motors, who is reportedly on his way to rescinding the scholarship if really Mmesoma cheated. JAMB has also threatened to prosecute her. But, Mmesoma’s account shows that an investigation is still ongoing, with her own accusations of a quick response (QR) code mix-up. She also says she printed her result from JAMB’s portal. Yet, JAMB has made many definitive statements about forgery.

READ ALSO: Innoson Challenges JAMB, To Continue N3 Million Scholarship For UTME Top Performer

Recall that a JAMB spokesman, Fabian Benjamin, in a counter announcement, said that Mmesoma’s real score was 249, prompting a torrent of backlashes against the student, mostly from the social and conventional media. As of July 4, JAMB has reportedly cancelled Mmesoma’s result (249), and placed a three-year ban on her for criminality. Another fake result purportedly from one Gerald Atung, was also reported by JAMB. The case involved a false claim of scoring 380, whereas, according to JAMB, Atung did not even buy the exam forms. We have yet to read media analysis of journalists’ interviews with either Miss Ejikeme or Mr. Atung. If ever the interviews happen, they will still be belated in light of the many media pronouncements on Mmesoma.

Carryover of official mischief with impunity

The Buhari’s days and years were characterized by countless official gaffes, each of which was capable of causing officials’ resignations or the defeat of a ruling party in subsequent elections. Covid-19 palliatives, animals swallowing money, wanton looting of public treasury, INEC electoral jamborees, highly controversial court verdicts, political party highhandedness, triumph of non-state actors, social anarchy, naira redesign bedlam, fuel subsidy jingoism, serial disobedience of court order, wanton labour strikes, marathon inflation, economic hardship, and insecurity. The list is endless. Britain has had three prime ministers in one year, with some resigning for as little as self-confessing that they lacked the capacity to carry through on their election promises. Remember Liz Truss’ 45 days in office, from September 6-October 20, 2022.

There seems to have been a carry-over of sorts to the Tinubu era, with a raft of recent misjudgments. The hasty announcement of fuel subsidy removal, the near selective appointments of elective posts in the 10th National Assembly, no comment from Mr president during the first week in office, when 80 people were killed in insecurity resurgence. The latest is JAMB’s usurpation of court powers in the Mmesoma result imbroglio, whose end and outcome we all await. If we judge by the standards for which Nigeria is known, then the odds will definitely be against Mmesoma to clear her name.

No doubt, the biggest loser is journalism

For the fourth time in a month, the emptiness of Nigeria’s floating, internet journalism has come to the fore. On Wednesday, June 21, Assistant Inspector General of Police, Hakeem Odumosu (retd.), debunked media reports that he had been appointed chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). On June 21, 2023, the federal government discredited media reports and widespread rumours of a 114% salary increase for top political office holders. What about the conflicting media reports about Tinubu’s foreign trips before and just after taking office as president?

Chain-reaction, copy-cat journalism without fact-checking is the latest bane of a new-age reporting. Individuals sit in their rooms, and simply rewrite any flying news. They make any nonsense to go viral in the name of breaking news. Journalism has become one of the most endangered species, because technology has effectively bastardized the profession. The mass media have joined the social media as bastions of fake news, disinformation and poor-fact checking. At least, 79% of online newspapers do not have field reporters at all, yet they report news by the minute. It is expected that the field-less reporters would soon swoop on the latest Mmesoma video, writing stories that promote her version, without any analysis to give perspective to what has happened so far. The perspective must include the call for intervention by tech experts as made by Oby Ezekwesili, former Education minister. Journalists cannot afford to dwell only on breaking news, without following up on developing news.

For the social media, it is a problem of fake news. But for the mass media, with identifiable addresses, owners, editors and reporters, it is a case of carelessness and professional irresponsibility. Today’s journalists use technology to obviate age-old journalistic standards that were not set by technology. Such standards include fact-checking, field-reporting, live interviews, candid photographs, interpretative and investigative journalism, and sub-editing.

For real, computer-aided reporting fuses data generation with information reporting, thereby sacrificing the editorial process of transforming field data into useful information for the audience. Therefore, while the JAMB saga continues to unfold, much to the shame of journalists, a new vista of challenge awaits the Nigeria Union of Journalists, namely, what is the role of journalism to modern society. This is especially as we await the projected negative effects of artificial intelligence to fully manifest in Nigerian journalism.

Dr Marcel Mbamalu is a veteran Journalist, Editor and Publisher of Prime Business Africa

Follow on Twitter: @marcelmbamalu

Dr. Marcel Mbamalu is a communication scholar, journalist and entrepreneur. He holds a Ph.D in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and is the Chief Executive Officer Newstide Publications, the publishers of Prime Business Africa.

A seasoned journalist, he horned his journalism skills at The Guardian Newspaper, rising to the position of News Editor at the flagship of the Nigerian press. He has garnered multidisciplinary experience in marketing communication, public relations and media research, helping clients to deliver bespoke campaigns within Nigeria and across Africa.

He has built an expansive network in the media and has served as a media trainer for World Health Organisation (WHO) at various times in Northeast Nigeria. He has attended numerous media trainings, including the Bloomberg Financial Journalism Training and Reuters/AfDB training on Effective Coverage of Infrastructural Development of Africa.

A versatile media expert, he won the Jefferson Fellowship in 2023 as the sole Africa representative on the program. Dr Mbamalu was part of a global media team that covered the 2020 United State’s Presidential election. As Africa's sole representative in the 2023 Jefferson Fellowships, Dr Mbamalu was selected to tour the United States and Asia (Japan and Hong Kong) as part of a 12-man global team of journalists on a travel grant to report on inclusion, income gaps and migration issues between the US and Asia.

1 Comment

  1. It’s so unfortunate that the ones reverred Nigerian media has now become gleeful purveyors of fake news.

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