“Most importantly, the introduction of Post-UTME examination has rendered the jumbo marks hitherto obtained by unscrupulous students from JAMB useless and irrelevant. Its revocation will pave way for the return of the abominable practice that damage the image of JAMB ”.
On the 2nd June, 2016 the Honourable Minister of Education was reported to have announced at the combined policy meeting on administration to higher institutions in Nigeria the scrapping of the post-UTME examination conducted by Nigerian Universities for the purpose of admitting fresh students to higher institutions. The Minister of Education was reported to have declared that the Federal Government and other stakeholders had absolute confidence in the examinations conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, and that there was no need for other examinations to be conducted by universities after JAMB exams. He quoted to have stated that:
“As far as I am concerned, the nation has confidence in what JAMB is doing, the universities should not be holding another examination and if the universities have any complain against JAMB, let them bring it and then we address it.”
Before proceeding to address the numerous issues thrown up by this statement, it is pertinent to state that this is not the first time that the conduct of the post UTME exams has come under scrutiny. In October, 2011 the country’s highest law making body, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria passed a motion brought by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Water Resources, Senator Heineken Lokpobiori, Bayelsa West and co-sponsored by 35 Senators including Smart Adeyemi, Ayogu Eze, Zainab Kure, Chris Anyawu and Dahiru Kuta declaring illegal the post-UTME examination conducted by Nigerian Universities for the purpose of admitting fresh students to the institution. The motion was not passed by the House.
I have made reference to the 2011 incident for two reasons. Firstly the argument made at that time on the exclusivity or paramountcy of exams conducted by JAMB mirrors the statement credited to the Minister about governments confidence in the abilities of JAMB. Secondly the counter arguments made at that time by proponents of the post UTME exams, which included references to facts and data, showing just how the exams conducted by JAMB could not be relied upon as a singular yardstick for admitting students are still very much relevant today. As I will subsequently show, nothing has changed since the decision by the Federal Government to permit the post UTME exams and the present moment. Indeed recent events and challenges met by students taking the examinations conducted by JAMB make the retention of post UTME exams more imperative than ever. In stating this I am not unmindful that Minister and the Registrar of JAMB Professor Dibu Ojerinde were reported to have stated that the Universities would still be free to “screen” prospective students. The question must nevertheless be asked as to how a University will be able to screen a student who seeks admission without some form of testing? Is the said screening supposed to take the form of individual interviews alone? How will such address the salient issues raised over the years on the unreliability of the exams conducted by JAMB?
Most importantly, the establishment of Post-UTME examination has rendered the jumbo marks hitherto obtained by unscrupulous student from JAMB useless. Its revocation will pave way for the return of the abominable practice that damage the image of JAMB.
THE PURPORT, SCOPE AND POWERS OF JAMB UNDER SECTION 5(A), (C)(II) OF THE JOINT ADMISSIONS AND MATRICULATION BOARD ACT, CAP J1, LAWS OF THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA, 2004
To address this issue it is important to examine the powers of JAMB as provided by las. Section 5(1)(a) of JAMB Act, provides for the functions of the Board as follows:
- The general control of the conduct of matriculation examinations for admissions into all Universities, Polytechnics (by whatever name called) and Colleges of Education (by whatever name called) in Nigeria
Section 5(1)(b) provides as follows:
- The appointment of examiners, moderators, invigilators, members of subject panels and committees and other persons with respect to matriculation examinations and any other matter incidental thereto or connected therewith
The combined effect of Section 5(1), (a) and 5(1)(c)(ii) is that the JAMB is statutorily empowered to set and conduct examinations, appoint examiners and other invigilators for the purpose of the examination set by the board.
There is nothing strange in this practice. The world all-over, each country usually sets standard for admission to universities in the country.
What is in issue is whether the JAMB board is the all in all or one stop shop with regard to university’s admission process OR do the universities have no role to play in admission process?
Put in another way, is it the position that anybody who passes JAMB examination must be admitted willy-nilly to university of his choice?
The answer is emphatic NO. The admission of everybody that parades JAMB results would certainly further damage the quality of tertiary institutions in the country.
The JAMB Act is very clear on the role of JAMB in admission process. To gain admission into any university, there is more than mere passing of the JAMB examination. This is clear from the provisions of Section 5(1)(c)(ii) of JAMB Act which provides that:
The placement of suitably qualified candidates shall be in collaboration with the tertiary institutions after taking into account-
- the guidelines approved for each tertiary institution by its proprietor or other competent authority;
It is clear from the JAMB Act that the guidelines approved by each university by its proprietors are essential factors in the placement of students. The universities are not meant to be arm-chair participants in the admission process.
Thus every university has statutory right to screen the candidates it wants to admit.
Before the introduction of Post-UTME, the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, under my chairmanship in 2003 met in Abuja, x-rayed the cankerworm and recommended to the government under President Olusegun Obasanjo that JAMB should be scrapped, because the integrity of its examinations has been called to question.
It is a historical fact that the introduction of Post-UTME was not decided by the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities alone; the matter was thrown open, with contributions from stakeholders and interested and concerned members of the different strata of society. The decision to establish the Post-UTME exercise was made at the Executive Council Meeting. Hence the Minister was careful in the choice of his words:
“As far as I am concerned, the nation has confidence in what JAMB is doing, the universities should not be holding another examination and if the universities have any complain against JAMB, let them bring it and then we address it”.
In the circumstance, we are back to status quo ante.
…to be continued
AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR, CON, SAN, LL.D