Uniform cut-off marks for all Unity Schools

By The Trumpet Editorial Board

The recent ruling by Justice John Tsoho on Olisa Agbakoba vs the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Education which put an end to discriminatory cut-off marks for admission into Unity Schools is a welcome development.

The learned Senior Advocate of Nigeria Chief Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) had filed a suit before a Federal High Court, Lagos asking the Court to stop the federal government from further using discriminatory cut-off marks for admission into Unity Schools across the nation. With this ruling, the nation could be on the way to proper unity and integration of our dear country, Nigeria.

It is an open fact that the principle behind applying different cut off marks for the 104 Federal Government Colleges, known as Unity schools across the nation based on gender, ethnicity and states of origin is discriminatory at the stage of our progress and development as a Nation.

In retrospect, the reason for all these can be rooted in the North then seen as educationally disadvantaged. It was then appropriate to use the disparity to encourage the affected states to catch up with the others.


The recent Court order for all unity schools to stop disparity requiring some states to have as high as 134, and some to have as low as 2 is an anachronism that is out of place at this stage of our development. Justice John Tsoho has put an end or a final nail to the coffin of this controversy.

This Court order is in alignment with the fact that like all provisions, to forge unity for a disunited and fragmented nation, there is a need to inject judicial sanity. This ruling is a clarion call for all students in Nigeria, no matter their states of origin or religion to be prepared for healthy competition in a free and fair enabling environment.

The ruling will remove all forms of discriminations prevalent in our unity schools to the shame of the vision and mission of the schools as enunciated by the nation’s founding fathers and past heroes. Unity can never be built on discrimination, marginalization, and segregation! We can no longer bring our children to the boxing arena of healthy education foundation with some of them blindfolded and ask them to compete with others.

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To prevent some states from being comfortable in an untenable situation, we must make our Federal Government Colleges, not only centres of excellence for healthy, non-discriminatory competitions, but make them places of our first elevens.

This is because it has been indicated that many years after different provisions for the educationally backward states to meet up with their contemporaries have been practised, such states are expected to grow their educational institutions and personnel through prioritized budgeting for education in their different states.

We cannot remain rooted in one spot in the name of educationally disadvantaged. We cannot continue to degrade our children by making it impossible for them to compete with their compatriots from other states. It is this healthy competition that made it possible for some Northerners to go to Universities of Ibadan, Lagos, Ife,
Benin, Nsukka to compete with their colleagues.

They were not found wanting. States that are beneficiaries of these skewed provisions must be encouraged to present their first elevens to these unity schools, instead of the present practice of flooding such schools with ill-performing sons and daughters of the rich and mighty.

They should do more of mobilization, coaching and injecting of more teaching personnel into their different ill-funded Institutions for the brightest and best to be fed into these Federal Government colleges.

Justice John Tsoho on Olisa Agbakoba

These colleges have now acquired a bad name because of disparities in cut-off marks for Unity Schools. How do we justify a cut-off mark of 160 points for candidates from Anambra or Delta States while fixing 2 points for candidates from Jigawa or Borno? Federal Government Colleges or Unity Schools must be made centres of excellence as originally conceived.

In a global village which the world has become, mediocrity should not be promoted over academic excellence. It is repugnant to equity, justice, and fair play. The Trumpet believes that unity must be built on equity, justice, and fair play and this must be reflected in all facets of the national life! To deny bright students an opportunity to further their academic career in a centre of excellence because some persons could not even score 20% in a competitive examination is tantamount to destroying the ethical foundation of the country.

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