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UMTE: JAMB’s Registrar On Fire Over Re-Assigning Candidates

It is certainly not a good period for Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) this time, as Stakeholders in education sector have continued to criticize the board for the policy of reassigning candidates of universities with surplus applicants for the Unified Matriculation Examinations (UTME) to other universities with lower number of applicants.

JAMB had at its 2015 Combined Policy Meeting, held on July 14, 2015 in Abuja, announced the adoption of a policy whereby candidates of universities with surplus applicants for the Unified Matriculation Examinations (UTME) are reassigned to other universities with lower number of candidates.

According to the Registrar/CEO of JAMB, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, the policy will be beneficial to the “needy Universities” with lower number of candidates, as it will ensure that these universities will have more candidates to admit. According to him, candidates will have better chances for admission in the universities they are re-assigned to, contrary to situations where they would await for admission in the universities of their first choices until the admission exercise close and forfeit their admissions in the session.

Reacting to this development, the provost of Michael Otedola College of Primary Education, (MOCPED), Epe, Lagos Prof Olu Akeusola said the policy grossly violate candidates right to choice . According to him, JAMB posting candidates to any university apart from the one they want was a clear violation of their fundamental human right to make choice. He asked, ‘how one can be posted to a university he never applied?, if the person is not qualified by the parameter of that institution he applied, he should be told and not imposing choice on him’.

He also called for the decentralizing of the JAMB for the purpose of the having effective planning in the nation’s tertiary education The former chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Lagos, chapter Dr. Karo Ogbinaka in his reaction said the policy will certainly not be palatable for the JAMB’s Registrar, Prof Dibu Ojerinde and the organization he represents.

According to him, with the policy Ojerinde’s and JAMB powers will be put to test as many protesting parents and their wards have accused the authorities of the University of Lagos of raising the admission cut off mark indiscriminately. He said JAMB should be blamed for any problem arising from the policy; saying that the body can only conducts UTME, while the Universities will in turn carry out the actual admission processes.

“JAMB has come out with a new policy; saying that “the new policy will help needy universities with lower number of candidates than their capacities to admit more number. “It said it would assist JAMB candidates to have better chances of admission into the universities, contrary to situations where they would await for admission in universities of their first choices until admission exercise lapses” he said.

According to him, there is more to this policy than the eyes can see. “The assumptions that informed these policies are too presumptuous and gratuitous. Parents and candidates do not choose only courses, they also choose Universities. This is informed by many factors that include prestige, location, history and quality of faculty of the Universities. The name of a University, if it is one that is reputable could be a door opener. This explains why many candidates go on to choose the same University as their first and second choice.

This may be wrong; but it does not in any way allow JAMB to play an assisting and helping role. The law that sets up JAMB does not give it such moral responsibility. Again, when candidates and parents   make their choice of Universities and courses they were unaware of the new policy. It was a hidden game plan now being imposed on Nigerians. It should also be noted that the financial capability of parents also determines the choice of Universities”.

“This policy has been implemented with immediate effect. Consequently, the eligibility for post-UTME screening in the University of Lagos like other universities in Nigeria has been determined by JAMB. In effect, only candidates whose names were forwarded to the University by JAMB are eligible for the 2015/2016 post-UTME. Ineligible candidates would have been re-assigned by JAMB to other universities.

Such candidates should contact JAMB for assistance.” This is impunity. Does JAMB has the power to declare a candidate ineligible without the candidate consent; more so after sitting for an examination. From where did JAMB draw her power to reassign universities to candidates?

Why should one even do a qualifying examination into a university that is undersubscribed? Why are these needy Universities not exempted from the UTME? How Nigerians write qualifying examinations in order to secure admission into foreign Universities? Is JAMB writing her own pre-death dirge?”he said.

According to him, the policy may be good in intention, but it is evil in operation, saying that JAMB has clearly operated like an organisation that conceived change without any notion of change management. He accused JAMB of treating parents and candidates disrespectfully and even with disdain, saying it was difficult to match JAMB’s reasons with intentions. “The other perspective of JAMB’s action is from the angle of needy universities. Is JAMB a salesman for needy universities? This is what is at play and JAMB seems to be working for a cartel.

Many Nigerians are seeking overseas admission for their wards in places like Ghana, UK, USA, Bulgaria, and others. Just recently the High Commissioner of Australia had a live and Radio interaction with the University of Lagos students on the prospect of pursuing post graduate studies in Australia; even on scholarship. Why should a Nigerian University be needy? JAMB in our considered opinion is using her idle time to think for and manufacture candidates for Universities that are not competitive. Universities should be encouraged to be competitive.

This can be achieved if they have areas of high competencies, quality faculty and cutting edge facilities for learning and research” he added. According to him, the wasted and looted funds by the leadership of the Niger Delta States in Nigeria are enough to make the region higher education hub in the West Africa sub region and the Universities in the Northern States of Nigeria can be raised to the standard that even Nigerians from the southern part would seek admission in such institutions. He added that JAMB is simply by the new policy assisting lazy, indolent and opportunistic institutions to reckon.

He added that the new policy was going to deny oversubscribed universities quality candidates. “Why should candidates with high scores be transferred to other Universities? In most cases, many candidates prefer that their courses be changed to ones whose scores they have met. In the University of Lagos for example, this policy will put pressure on the JUPEB programme as those bent on attending UNILAG or no University, irrespective of the programme, will seek refuge in this direct entry programme.

Nobody came to the rescue of public primary and secondary schools when parents were pulling out their wards in large number in the recent past. Private school benefitted greatly from this drift of students. How comes JAMB is becoming so compassionate to help needy universities? The word “needy” as used by JAMB for some universities is tricky. Is it that they are unattractive, failing, uncompetitive, mushroom universities? Is it that they are not in need of any other thing, qualitative and quantitatively, apart from would-be students?” Karo said JAMB did not explore all options in her attempt to help both the candidates and universities.

“Let us consider a few of such. JAMB ought to have provided a list of needy universities and the course available for candidates. This way the candidates will be allowed to seek admission in their preferred Universities and also have the option to take automatic admission in the selected post UTME second choice. This way the so called oversubscribed universities will not be denied their high scoring candidates, the candidates’ right to choose and compete for space in their preferred Universities will not be violated” he said .

According to him, universities should not be allowed to carry out any form of post UTME and candidates should also be given the right to select Universities of their choice from available universities. Also reacting to the development, the former chairman, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, Unilag chapter, Prince Joseph Adefolalu said Prof. Dibu Ojerinde should be called to order by President Muhammad Buhari to save the souls of the innocent children who sat for 2015 UTME and passed by probing Ojerinde dishonest activities on the indiscriminate placement of the successful candidates into Nigerian Universities.

He said that it is sad that JAMB, in its own wisdom, implemented the new policy without recourse to either the candidates that sat for the exams or their parents who are the major stakeholders in this matter. According to him, this is not only an act of coercion but impunity and dishonesty of the highest order on the part of the headship of JAMB. “The implications of the obnoxious policy as introduced by JAMB at the middle of the 2015 admission processes are too many.

Amongst include, that many of the brilliant students that scored good   marks in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation examination (UTME) may lose University admission this year because of the bad intention or selfishness of Ojerinde to send them to either Universities in those states that are under “Boko haram” attack or Private Universities.

He said with the recent development one may begin to look at various allegations against Ojerinde on this matter, such as that he has business relationship with proprietors of some of the private universities to recruit students for them. Adefolalu said that, Ojerinde introduced the policy fully known that it will cause crises to destabilize President Buhari’s led federal Government Administration.

He said that JAMB had restricted candidates from making choice of University and now overnight, made policy to allocate candidates to Universities that are different from their choices without recourse to the candidates. “I don’t think that there is any allegation of corruption that could be more terrible than this because education is life”. Apart from the fact that I am a Unionist or activist, I am a parent and stakeholder in this matter. I cannot fold my arms and be looking when I knew that the lives of innocent children are being tossed with” he said.

He said that Ojerinde should be sacked without further delay and JAMB should be directed to send the list of the candidates who sat for 2015 UTME and passed to the Universities of their choices; According to him, the activities of the JAMB in the past five years should be probed, saying that no University in the country should charge more than N2, 000.00 for the post UTME screening   under any disguise.

He called for the appointment of substantive Minister of Education without further delay and appealed to all parents and students to maintain peace, saying that nobody should subscribe to the payment of any post-UTME screening until the issue of admission placement is resolved. The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of JAMB, Dr .Fabian Benjamin who spoke with The UNION on phone said that the purpose of the new policy was to assist students to gain admission rather than allowing them to waste their whole time waiting admission from their preferred schools.

According to him, the reason behind the new admission policy was not only to help candidates get admission but also to get admission on time, saying that the new policy does not stop universities from grading their students. “What we are saying is that if you score 180 in UMTE you can gain admission in any university if the your preferred university has filled it carrying capacity. You know there is no how you can admit someone with 180 and leaving some with 280.

We are trying to save these candidates from long awaiting admission. JAMB is only sympathizing with these students because there are limited spaces for every university,” he said. He said the big universities are overloaded and one can imagine 8,000 students seeking for admission to study law in a university that will take only 250 candidates for law! What happens to the remaining 7750 candidates, will they wait endlessly and hopelessly till the end of the admission?

-Titus Eleweke

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