Vera Anyim, Dunamis Church And NOUN: A Comedy Of Errors – By Ibrahim Abubakar

THE truism, “two wrongs do not make a right”, appeared justified recently when an incident in an Abuja church culminated into a grievous comedy of errors. A lady, Ms. Veronica Nnenna Anyim, ruffled the feathers in the social media when she claimed that she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Law from the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). She made the testimony during a well-attended church service at the popular Dunamis International Gospel Centre in Abuja.

As it turned out, Anyim had only made a big mistake because the NOUN does not offer a “BSc in Law” but the universally recognised LLB. She herself recognised her mistake which she tried to correct in a Facebook post. Eventually, she reconciled with her pastor, an id the NOUN was exonerated.

But the damage had already been done, not only to her image as a law graduate but also to both the Dunamis church and the NOUN. In the first place, Anyim, a police officer, had exposed herself as an undeserving claimant to a law degree through her obvious poor grasp of the English language during her testimony and her forgetting the real name of the degree that she got.

The questions being asked in the media were: how could a university graduate, a “learned” one for that matter, be so poor in her presentation before the mammoth crowd? How could she forget that universities don’t offer BSc in Law but LLB? Even the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president, Yakubu Maikyau, had weighed in, dismissing Anyim’s initial claim of obtaining a BSc in Law.

Other commentators in the social media community questioned the manner of her grilling by Dunamis Senior Pastor Paul Enenche. They asked: why should he embarrass her with so much gusto, throwing her under the bus for making a simple mistake? Was the Church not meant to be understanding and appreciative of the lady’s feat? She had fulfilled a life-long ambition, becoming the first person in her family to attain an educational zenith, i.e. obtaining a university degree. Didn’t she deserve a pat on the back instead of public ridicule?

Her pain was palpable. She was, as she wrote, “disheartened because I couldn’t speak English like lawyers. I was labeled a liar for mistakenly saying BSc instead of LLB.” She reminded her perceived tormentors that “the rejected stone can become the cornerstone.” She related how “shattered” she was, sitting through the church service that day.

Many had hoped that the man of God, a man she regarded as her spiritual leader, was less combative and more paternal; he should have even gently reminded her about her mistake. Instead, he seemed to have enjoyed the laughable spectacle of her utter confusion.

To the general public, the NOUN was at first open to ridicule for “fathering” a dullard as a law graduate. Many wondered if Vera was the best example of its output as an institution of higher learning. Her apparent shaming was suggestive of the university’s academic standard. They questioned the university’s offering a “Bachelor of Arts” in Law while all others offer LLB.

However, the reality is not what we saw in the cyberspace. Anyim, Dunamis and NOUN were not exactly what their images projected through the testimony incident. By accomplishing the feat of obtaining a law degree – warts and all – Vera Anyim has scaled a hurdle many other Nigerian youth are at pains to achieve. Not being able to speak “lawyerly” English is not enough justification to downgrade her. This writer knows many lawyers who cannot speak perfect English in a crowd but yet are excellent in their career. Vera deserves accolades for becoming the first person in her family to graduate from university.

Of course, graduating with a third class degree after failing to do so for many grueling years, she could not have represented the best example of NOUN’s output. It is to the NOUN’s credit that she was only midwifed to pass through the university without flying colours. The university could have been thumped down standard-wise if it had awarded first or second class honours to her.

NOUN is a no-nonsense institution which places premium on quality education. Dullards or layabouts cannot casually escape the excellent academic gatekeepers at the university. Little surprise, then, that NOUN graduates at the Nigerian Law School were reported to have given their colleagues from conventional universities a run for their money in academic performance.

On Dunamis, there was a sigh of relief when Anyim and her pastor reconciled after the church apologised for the “stone thrown” at her and she accepted the apology. “The Senior Pastor feels deeply concerned (for his action) and had already reached out to her,” the church said in a press release. Forgiveness is a mark of faith, and both sides have to be commended for seeing and accepting their mistakes, as well as embracing forgiveness. At the end, the whole issue appeared to have been a laughable incident that is full of errors. Correcting the errors by all concerned has brought relief to everyone – the graduate, the church, and the university.

Abubakar is a journalist based in Kaduna and can be reached on [email protected]

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