Pains, gains of mandatory use of NIN for UTME, DE registration

CLEMENT IDOKO writes on the challenges being encountered by some candidates in the process of registering for the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Direct Entry (DE) as a result of the introduction of the National Identification Number (NIN) as compulsory requirement for registration, concluding that the gains far outweigh the pains felt by candidates.

THE registration for the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Direct Entry (DE), no doubt, came with different challenges as a result of the introduction of the National Identification Number (NIN), a unique number to every Nigerian, being issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), as a mandatory requirement for registration.

Some of the challenges include inadequate enrollment centres for the National Identity Card, which some prospective candidates of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), have to struggle for days to get in order to register and generate their NIN for UTME or DE registration as prescribed by the board. There is also the issue of telecommunications and Digital Service Providers’ poor service delivery, connectivity failure, non-reimbursement for undelivered codes generated and malfunctioning of software.

Other challenges as listed by the registrar of JAMB, Professor Is-haq Oloyede include: “Candidates’ non-compliance with registration requirement, using wrong format to generate profile code while sending NIN to the Board’s USSD code (55019). Input of incomplete or wrong NIN to generate profile code and using multiple cell phone numbers to generate profile code with the same NIN.

“Use of special packages such as post-paid, promo bundles, Do Not Disturbed (DND) which usually block delivery of profile code to the candidate and the last-minute rush for the NIN enrollment by prospective candidates. CBT Centres’ violation of registration procedures, use of inadequate registration points such as only one or two instead of approved minimum of 10, warehousing of candidates by prior collection of registration fee, thereby constraining the candidates from registering at other available centres.

“Extortionate charge above the approved registration fee and cost of extraneous services, employment of incompatible computer systems and use of untrained and unauthorised personnel to register candidates.

As a result of this delay, the JAMB registrar said contrary to the board’s projection of about two million candidates’ yearly registration, only 1,134,424 candidates for both UTME and DE, have so far been registered as of May 15.

These encumbrances informed the decision of stakeholders at a meeting on Saturday, May 15, to approve a two-week extension for registration, to May 29. Accordingly, the 2021 Mock UTME earlier scheduled for May 20, will now hold on June 3, while the main UTME will hold from June 19 – July 3.

JAMB in quest of durable solution to the menace of examination malpractice in the country has continued to employ different strategies almost on a yearly basis to be ahead of the advancement and sophistication of the examination fraudsters.

It will be recalled that the board had migrated from paper/pencil test to the current Computer-Based Test (CBT), when it discovered massive examination fraud coupled with high level of impersonation.

However, the coming on board of Professor Is-haq Oloyede as the registrar of JAMB has made a lot of difference as various innovations have been introduced to reduce the incidence of examination malpractice. Although, the attempt to introduce the use of NIN in 2020, failed largely because a lot of Nigerians had not enrolled with NIMC.

Oloyede alluded to this when he mentioned at a stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja that the introduction of National Identification Number (NIN) in 2020 as a registration requirement for UTME/DE is by law, noting however that it was suspended for registration due to some circumstances.

The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with uncontrollable crowds at NIMC enrollment centres actually led to suspension of the use of NIN for registration last year.

According to him, the board embraced the policy in the 2021 registration exercise, following the directive from the Federal Government, noting however that the requirement for NIN is being enforced fully and field reports have shown a great improvement in NIMC enrollment and other critical processes.

In spite of the pains some of the candidates have completed the registration processes just as many have acknowledged that the benefits derived from the experience were enormous.

Janet Udokah said soon after she concluded her enrollment with NIMC, she was able to link her mobile phone with NIN which is in line with the directive by the Federal Government to avoid disconnection by her Glo network provider.

“I have opened an account with a bank already. These were some of the things I have been thinking on how to go about until this time. I have to commend JAMB for what it is doing. Even though it took me several days to complete the processes, it is a good thing.

Williams Obunde, who however, said he had enrolled for the National Identity Card a few years ago, noted that it took him almost two weeks to register for Direct Entry.

“Each time I sent my NIN to 55019 as instructed by JAMB to generate a profile code for my registration, the response I usually get was ‘unable to verify your NIN at the moment.’ This persisted until I visited the NIMC office at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, before it was rectified,” Obunde said.

A former executive secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Peter Okebukola, who attended a JAMB virtual stakeholders’ meeting on Friday last week, commended Oloyede as a strong reformer, saying the various innovations being introduced by JAMB to tackle examination malpractice would have lasting and positive effect on the development of tertiary education in the country.

Stakeholders have also agreed that the introduction of NIN as prerequisite for UTME/DE registration would drastically reduce the incidence of multiple registrations by candidates with intent to cheat during the examination. For instance, there was a case of a candidate who registered 233 times for the 2019 UTME.

According to JAMB registrar,  the board generated over N200million as candidates applied for correction of names, which he described as “premeditated errors.”

JAMB, however, said the introduction NIN would eliminate such multiple registrations because no two persons share the same NIN.

Nigeria Tribune gathered that some have already been apprehended by the board in an attempt to do double registrations as they thought it was business as usual.

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