What aileth thee, O JAMB!

“What can the matter be with JAMB? Is the Board going forward or moving backward?” “What else can JAM do but move backward? Be it bus or ‘molue’ or ‘danfo’ that jams, what you get is confusion, commotion, broken skulls and scattered limbs. It is worse when it is an aircraft that jams.” “I am not talking of ‘jam’ but JAMB – Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board.” “I see; but they both sound alike: JAM/JAMB. And, at any rate, what is the difference? JAMB jams hundreds of thousands of hapless Nigerian candidates every year?””Those ones fail exams and have to repeat. It is their own fault and not JAMB’s.” “You cannot so magisterially absolve JAMB of culpability. So many youths have been mercilessly panel-beaten by JAMB. Big holes have been drilled into the pockets of many parents” “Still, you must blame the candidates and not JAMB.

The present JAMB boss, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, has reduced the fees payable to JAMB by candidates” “I heard so. It is incentive to encourage the candidates to keep coming. And the more they come, the harder they fall. It is also to reduce the quantum of funds available to our thieving leaders?” “No! It is to lessen the burden placed on both candidates and parents. Prof. Oloyede is a conscionable fellow.” “That’s thoughtful of him. Times are truly hard. Throwing hard-earned money into any bottomless pit does not make much sense” “JAMB is not a bottomless pit; without it, no one gets admitted into any higher institution in the country.”

“That exactly is the issue. Nigeria’s problem is replicated in JAMB” “How do you mean?” “Over-centralization in a so-called Federal system: The same malaise systematically killing Nigeria also bedevils JAMB” “JAMB was meant to solve the problem of an unwieldy admissions process. By and large, it has succeeded” “But it has created other problems: It is biting more than it can chew. It has become an octopus and leviathan. Nigeria is, indeed, a country of contradictions.”  “How do you mean?” “A country that operates a free market economy does not allow for freedom of choice and multiple admissions process.” “If you consider Oloyede’s giant strides, you will be glad JAMB came to be.” “Am afraid it’s a mixed pot. Apart from returning money into government coffers, what else has he done?” “He has caught many thieves within the organisation; he has also discouraged examination malpractice by candidates, their parents and the CBT centres.”

“Where has that left the admissions process? Is it more transparent than before? Are the systems he put in place at great cost to tax-payers not compromised yearly by fraudsters?” “We all know corruption must fight back. Fraudsters always find a way to be many steps ahead. In times past, they were so far ahead that containing them was uphill, if not impossible, task” “Now nko?” “JAMB has caught up with them. It is working hard to be proactive so as to prevent malpractices rather than chase after shadows.” “Am glad you mentioned shadow-chasing. JAMB dangles in the air if its efforts are not complemented at two critical ends. Its head does not reach the ceiling while its legs are not touching the ground.” “That cannot be true! JAMB’s system is robust and it is, for once, taking the fight to scammers.”

“Don’t deceive yourself! The candidates JAMB deals with are formed in the crucible of election malpractice. Go to our secondary schools and see the monumental malfeasance that goes on there.” “That cannot be true! Government at all levels profess zero-level tolerance for election malpractice” “That is PR. All over the country, government gives principals, teachers and Ministry officials targets they must meet or else…” “That will be most unfortunate!” “Of course, it is but that is the truth. Students are aided to pass well in WAEC and NECO exams.” “Should that be the case, then, how can such students be expected to pass JAMB?” “You are beginning to get the point and the real reason JAMB is burdened with the scourge of run-away exams malfeasance. It is open secret that many candidates cannot pass JAMB, they can only scale JAMB?”  “Now, you are speaking in parables. What is the difference between passing and scaling?” “You pass when you merit your score. You scale when you are helped to the score assigned to you.” “I see!” “Go to WAEC and NECO examination centres and see the charade that goes on there. The best efforts of the examination bodies have been thwarted by a combination of insider-abuse and external collaborators.” “That exactly is what JAMB is up against. We must commend it for stoutly standing up to the challenge.”

“Wait until it succeeds. Why, for instance, has it not released the result of the last JAMB exams one month after? A post on the internet even announced its server crashed” “It is fake news from the scammers. I understand JAMB’s server is impenetrable and that the delay is due to JAMB cleaning up the system; separating the wheat from the chaff. Once that is finished with, the results will be released.” “Amen! Assuming JAMB scales the hurdle of scammers of its exams, how about the ogbonge exams malpractices in our institutions of higher learning themselves?” “How possible? Each university jealously guards its integrity and reputation and will never allow such a thing.”

“You don’t live in this country! Students who scam at secondary school level and scale JAMB by any means are not the ones who will suddenly learn how to study hard at University level.” “Then, they will fail and be advised to withdraw!” “That was then! Times have changed. This is the era of sex-for-grades and cash-and-carry lecturers. Money and position answereth all things in today’s Nigeria.” “That is unfortunate. Destroy education and destroy a nation!” “You are correct. See the way universities throw-way First Class honours these days! Even students who never saw chemicals and reagents, who did alternative-this and alternative-that, are awarded A+ and First Class.” “Where, then, are we heading? We must be heading backward, which portends no good for the future.” “That would have been better; but we are instead coasting at an alarming speed towards the precipice.”

LAST WORD: I was researching the above piece when legal luminary, Aare Afe Babalola, made his intervention published below. It raised five important issues, to wit, JAMB’s fight-to-finish with admissions fraudsters; the Board’s continued relevance; the quality of education; the disrupted University academic calendar, especially as it affects public Universities; and the undue but unusual delay in the release of last April’s exams by Oloyede’s JAMB. These are issues stakeholders must discuss with the passion and seriousness they deserve..

JAMB versus university admission fraudsters

By Aare Afe Babalola

I have read the interview granted by the Chief Executive Officer and Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Is-haq Oloyede… I commend and congratulate JAMB under Prof. Oloyede for taking on the gauntlet to fight these fraudsters in order to sanitise the system of admission into Nigerian universities. To address this issue, it is important to stress that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was established pursuant to Section 1 of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board Act, CapJ1, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 which came into effect on September 7, 1989. Pursuant to the law, JAMB has the general control of the conduct of matriculation examinations for admissions into tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

Nigeria, as we all know, is currently facing a labyrinth of problems; one of which is poor quality of education as a result of which our public universities annually churn out half-baked graduates who find it difficult to compete in the ever-competitive global marketplace. Everywhere all over the world, universities are established for learning and character. This is one of the main reasons why we whole-heartedly support the current JAMB war against admission fraudsters.

But then, the point must be made that admission fraud into our universities is not a new thing. It has always been there, may be not at the level we know it today. When I was Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University of Lagos between 2000 and 2007, I discovered that each time we wanted to start the Semester examinations, some students usually caused trouble to ensure that such examinations did not hold. We went into action and found that it was those who procured very high JAMB marks from “Miracle Centres” but who could not cope with the space and speed of Academic works that were the architects of the chaos to prevent the conduct of examinations.

It is, therefore, no surprise to me that JAMB has found a whole professor writing examination for his son, including accusations of some fraudsters collaborating with JAMB personnel. It was matters like this that led to my campaign when I was the chairman of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian universities that JAMB should be scrapped because the integrity of its examinations had been compromised. However, government in its wisdom, decided to adopt a middle way approach to the matter by directing that JAMB should not be scrapped, but instead that tertiary institutions could screen candidates they want to admit through the Post-UTME after such candidates have successfully passed their JAMB examinations.

In developed countries, every university has the right to screen the candidates it wants to admit. It also has the right to embark on other exercises, whether written or unwritten, to make it and its products stand out… While I agree that JAMB should continue to sanitize the admission process, it should not be done at the expense of international best practices. For example, all over the world, the university Academic calendar is usually between September and June. But the case is different with public universities in Nigeria where the pandemic strike actions afflicting Nigeria’s educational landscape has almost become a ritual with one strike action taking off no sooner than another one has just been called off, thereby nearly bringing the nation to its knees, educationally-speaking. For example, public universities in Nigeria are yet to complete First Semester works for the 2018/2019 Academic Session in the same country where private universities, including Afe Babalola University, are winding up for the session, ready to go on vacation. Indeed, the private universities have made preparations for admission for the 2019/2020 Academic session.

Most private universities, including ABUAD, are therefore disturbed at the delay in releasing the result of the last JAMB Examination which was conducted between April 11 and 18, 2019. I sympathize with parents and children, particularly the innocent ones, whose results are being withheld because of the misdeeds of others. It is on this note that I will like to appeal to JAMB to do the best it could to fast-track its on-going commendable Biometric Verification exercise and release the results of its recently conducted examinations so that when we are combating the fraudsters, the innocent parents and children do not suffer.

 

  • Aare Afe Babalola, OFR, CON, SAN, is the Founder & Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti.
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