Perhaps, the controversy surrounding the conduct of post-University and Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, may now be put to rest. The Nigerian Senate, which had kicked against the policy, penultimate week made a detour. The lawmaking body adopted the report of its committee on education, which gave nod to the conduct of the test by universities and tertiary institutions, and pegged the cost of purchasing a Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB form and post-UTME at N6, 000. This amount is to be shared between JAMB and the universities on N4, 000 and N2, 000 arrangement. Chairman of the committee, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, who presented the report, also suggested that the JAMB examination should hold on weekdays to reduce cases of impersonation. But JAMB said this would take a toll on its resources and man hour.
Since the introduction of the policy about five years ago, the test has been generating a lot of controversies. The National Universities Commission, NUC, and JAMB kicked against the policy. Parents and candidates also see the fees charged for the test as double taxation. But the Committee of Vice Chancellors, CVC, insisted that the post-UTME was necessary because it assisted in weeding off unqualified candidates. Last month, the matter was tabled on the floor of the Senate but the issue was referred to the committee on education.
The registrar and chief executive of JAMB, Professor Dibu Ojerinde also welcomed the Senate decision. Professor Ojerinde believes that the lawmakers must have put a lot of things into consideration before arriving at the decision. "Whether they like it or not anybody can do anything he or she likes, JAMB is still in charge of admissions into tertiary institutions in the country by law and practice." He stated. For him, admissions into higher institutions are collaborative, "collaborative in that we all do it together; we used to do it together and we would continue to do it together for the interest of the Nigerian child."
Prof Ojerinde said JAMB did not have the capacity for conducting UTME examination on the weekdays as suggested by the Senate except government was ready to shut down all the schools for three days – a day before the examination, the day of the examination, and a day after. "Those who are not in school who want to do the examination, so they would abandon their jobs, their offices, and begin to travel up and down but again, they must have looked at certain things."
A parent, Stanley Akor Okpeh, also commended the Senate for the decision and said the examination would assist the universities to admit only qualified students with good characters. "I discovered it is better to decentralise the admission of children from JAMB. A situation whereby a vice chancellor do not know the caliber of students admitted into his or her institution is not good for the nation. Any caliber of student can be offered admission by JAMB based on their exam scores but the post UTME would now serve as a screening machinery to actually look into the capability and whether the said student is worthy to be an undergraduate in that respect. Those that addicted to drugs would no longer be getting admission, the same with cultists."
Okpeh believes that pegging the amount of money to be paid by prospective candidate would go a long way to reduce to the barest minimum the corruption been perpetrated by some JAMB officials through admission racketeering.
"When JAMB was admitting students alone, some of the officials collect as high as N30, 000 and N100, 000 before they give admission to children. But with this post-UTME, this would reduce drastically because the JAMB officials would no longer be able to guarantee admission slot again.
"My child has been in the house for the past three years because I can never take part in such corruption to get my ward to higher institution. Not that he did not have good scores; the problem has to do with corruption. We can take a cue from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. INEC has commissioners in all the states to ensure decentralisation of the electoral process."
Ibrahim Yakasai, deputy director of information and public relations of the NUC traced the decision to conduct test to a meeting between the NUC, JAMB, and the vice chancellors of Nigerian universities sometime ago. Yakasai, however, expressed happiness that the Senate has finally seen reasons for the conduct of the examination.
"Admission must still go through JAMB; only JAMB can admit the student into Nigerian universities. The post UTME has not taken away the powers of JAMB to issue admissions to students into Nigerian universities. What the post UTME did was to allow the individual universities to now screen the available candidates that have taken exams and take the best, and they would still submit the names to JAMB for JAMB to give them admission, there is no conflict. The JAMB exam is the only exam you can take to enter into Nigerian universities."
Nigeria has a total of 118 universities – 36 federal, 37 state-owned and 45 private universities.
JAMB was established by Act of 1989 to administer a centralised admissions system for universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education.