‘We would have missed 2020 UTME’
STUDENTS preparing to write this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), on Saturday, heaved a sigh of relief, relieving their apprehension about not being able to sit for the examination had the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) not suspended its directive on the possession of National Identification Number (NIN) as a requirement for the examination.
This was just as mixed reactions greeted the suspension, with prospective candidates who had successfully registered and obtained the NIN reserving no pleasant words for JAMB for subjecting them to unnecessary hardship.
Some parents and other stakeholders commended JAMB for the decision to put the policy on hold, describing it as a right step in the right direction.
Reacting to the development, the deputy national president of the National Parents/Teachers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) and South-West coordinator of the group, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, said the suspension was an appropriate decision.
According to him, prospective UTME applicants “have gone through hell” in the last few days just to register for NIN as part of requirements to sit for the UTME this year.
He told Sunday Tribune that he monitored the exercise in some centres in the South-West, especially Lagos, and found out that the NIMC officials turned the crowded situation to opportunity to milk students.
These officials, he said, collected as much as N4,000 per person before registering them and in some centres, where there was no light, they were also asked to pay additional N1,000 to fuel their generators.
“Things were that bad. And it is very unfortunate that NIMC officials have turned themselves to police people who ask complainants to pay for report sheets to take their statements,” he said.
While urging Federal Government to ensure it provides all basic things necessary for NIMC to have seamless registration for all Nigerians and to also caution corrupt officials in the system to make the process work, the PTA leader said the students could be made to register for NIN once they move from junior to senior secondary school level.
How JAMB can register applicants without stress —Ex-Private school association chair
A former chairman of the Private Schools Association in the North-Central zone, Mr Joseph Nwoke, has commended JAMB for the postponement.
Nwoke told Sunday Tribune in Jos, the Plateau State capital, that the directive was too impromptu and subjected the students to untold hardship while trying to meet up with the deadline set by JAMB.
“It is a laudable initiative, but the time was just too short for the students to get registered. I strongly believe that it can be modified in such a way that it will not bring hardship.
“It is good that it is deferred to 2021. My suggestion is that every state’s ministry of education can be saddled with this exercise as soon as they get admission into secondary schools.
“And in the alternative, they can use this as a prerequisite for admission into tertiary institutions in addition to the basic requirements,” he said.
Tolani (surname withheld), a prospective candidate, who reluctantly spoke with Sunday Tribune on Saturday, in Ibadan, Oyo State, narrated her experience and those of others at the Ibadan office of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
“For two weeks, beginning from before Christmas, I was getting to the NIMC office before 8.00 a.m. every day, and I was not leaving until past 3.00 p.m.
“I only wanted to collect the NIN; I had already registered for the identity card more than a month before then, but I was only issued a temporary slip, without the NIN, and was asked to come back to be assigned the NIN. There were many others like me.
“We returned home every day in frustration. They would either tell us there was no network on their computer, or that they had “no data” from Abuja. Yet, we saw some people drive in, in jeeps with their children and they were attended to.”
Tolani said that at a point on one of those days, a female official of the NIMC offered to help her obtain the NIN if she could part with N1000.
She did not have the money that day, but, according to her, the parents, even though they didn’t like the development, gave her the money when she was going the following day, out of desperation not to make her miss another year of UTME registration.
Suspend policy till 2023, ex-NAPPS boss counsels JAMB
A former president of National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Dr Bolajoko Sally, has advised JAMB to said put the policy on hold till 2023 and not 2021 it annouced.
According to her, many factors will still militate against the implementation of the policy next year if it is made mandatory.
She said the government and JAMB in particular did not put into consideration majority of students living in villages and towns where they cannot access NIMC centres to register.
She added that the parents of such students do not have money to transport them and lodge them in hotels where centres are available for the period they would spend before scaling through the registration.
The process itself, she added, was sluggish as many NIMC officials would not start work until 10.00 a.m. and would want to leave their duty posts by 12 noon to pray and then feel reluctant to work with zeal on return.
While the situation could still be handled fairly in the southern part of the country, Dr Sally noted that students and parents in the North would need lots of sensitisation to get it right.
“So, there are just many things to battle to have seamless registration exercise and all these would take years, except we don’t want to be sincere with ourselves as a country.
“That is why it would be better if this policy is put on hold till another three years,” she said.
Parents relieve experience, offer solution
Parents and guardians have described the decision by the JAMB Board as a welcome development.
Some parents in Abuja said the suspension was a welcome development in view of the number of Nigerians that would have been prevented from realising their ambition of furthering their education by the enforcement of the NIN policy.
Mr Jonathan Amande, a civil servant, who said he conveyed two of his children around some of the NIMC enrollment centres in Mararaba, Nasarawa State to some city centres in Abuja on Thursday in vain, noted that the experience was bad.
He called on the Federal Government to release adequate fund to the commission so as to expand their enrollment centres across the country in order to make the exercise seamless.
Amande said he was not against the use of NIN for UTME registration but insisted that the right thing must be done by providing the necessary facilities and equipment for the exercise before coming up with such a policy that would have far-reaching implication on the people.
Mrs Margret Ibezem, a social worker in Abuja, said even though one of the children preparing to register for the UTME had succeeded in obtaining the NIN, she noted that the decision to suspend the use of NIN was right.
Some parents, who spoke to Sunday Tribune in Ondo State, disclosed that officials of the agency had been using the rush to extort money from both the students and parents who visit the NIMC office for registration.
They claimed the officials work in connivance with some touts who act as agents for the NIMC officials.
Speaking on the development, the chairman of Parents Teachers Association (PTA) in Akure South, Kole Ibitoye, said the suspension was a relief to both parents and students who have been keeping vigil at the NIMC offices across the state.
Ibitoye said over 2000 prospective candidates of JAMB visited the NIMC office across the state on a daily basis, with no positive result, saying the NIMC offices were ill-equipped for the registration.
He advised the JAMB management to design a new way to register prospective candidates
He, however, condemned the whole process, saying registering an underaged was against the constitution of the country.
“Only 18 year old citizens are eligible to register as Nigerian citizens, but asking underaged to register because they want to write JAMB is unconstitutional,” he said.
A parent and lecturer at Federal Polytechnic Ado-Ekiti, Mr Joel Adekunle, expressed displeasure over the activities of some officials of the NIMC, alleging that “these people never show any compassion towards the candidates who are young persons.
“I was there days ago and I can see what candidates are being made to face before registering for this exercise.”
‘Nigerian factor made a mess of essence of policy’
A parent from Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, Mrs Dolapo Afolayan, also described the decision as a big relief, saying that the Nigerian factor made a mess of the essence of the registration.
“Is it the money or time wasted so far or the stress? No matter the necessity of the registration or the essence, Nigerian factor has made mess of it all. Non-availability of computers is the major challenge in my own observation,” she said.
Another parent from the state, Mr Usman Abdulkadir, said “My concern is that most people, especially, parents would relax now with the suspension, waiting for next rush. I got it done because we started early since the announcement. Since, it’s the government’s policy, we should obey. That’s my take.”