Nigeria is a peculiar country – a country in which people applaud every situation – good or evil. In our first encounter with elementary English Literature, we came across Robin Hood. This was a man in Nottingham in one rural part of England, who showed himself allergic to corruption.
Incidentally, Robin Hood grew up at a time when his part of the world was totally consumed by corruption, perhaps in the same magnitude as we have in Nigeria today. Robin Hood formed himself into a one-man riot squad. He was interested in the redistribution of wealth. He dispossessed people of their ill-gotten wealth and instead of retaining the proceeds for himself, he gave them to the poor. We applauded Robin Hood to the high heavens!
Today, Nigeria is doing the exact opposite of what Robin Hood did in his days; and we are applauding Nigeria. In virtually every aspect of life, Nigeria is taking from the poorest of the poor and giving to the rich. As they say in local parlance, it is the pot that contains water that you put more water. Just one example here will suffice.
See what the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, is doing to our children a bulk of whom with their parents have gone into perpetual debt in trying to afford the bogus annual tax charged for the entrance examinations. We are applauding JAMB!
We have searched everywhere, but in vain, for the law that empowers JAMB to go into active mercantilism; and, therefore, to prepare its Trading, Profit and Loss Account the way it is doing today. And we are applauding JAMB for ranking next to crude oil in revenue generation – at the expense of the poor!
We have maintained, perhaps with monotonous regularity, that JAMB was established in 1978 with the mandate of ensuring uniform standard and the conduct of matriculation examination and placement of suitable candidates into the nation’s universities. The enabling law has since been amended severally to include all tertiary institutions in the country.
The idea of standard and uniformity was to avoid a situation where some candidates got multiple admissions which deprived others the opportunity of gaining any admission.
Put simply, in just the same way that the Federal Government organizes common entrance examinations for placement into its unity schools, JAMB stepped in to organize entrance examinations into, and maintain uniform standard in, all the tertiary institutions across the country.
A particular aspect of JAMB’s operation has attracted intense public attention latterly: Two years ago, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede was appointed the Registrar of JAMB. It is instructive that in the 38 years of JAMB’s existence before the arrival of Prof. Oloyede, only a paltry sum of
N54 million operation surplus had been remitted to government coffers. But in the two short years of Oloyede’s Administration, JAMB remitted a whopping sum of N15.6 Billion into the Federal Government Treasury. We have no hesitation in crediting the new feat to the introduction of the Single-Treasury-Account by the President Mohammadu Buhari Administration.
This was where JAMB plunged head-long into mercantilism! And once it turned shylock, profiteering, which was an unintended consequence, became its major motivation.
For the past five years, JAMB has had an average of 1.7 million candidates every year for its entrance examinations. If JAMB charges
N1,000 for its forms, that will produce a bomber harvest of about N1.7 billion, which will be more than enough to cover the running cost for JAMB’s operations.
We have observed elsewhere that when people no longer know what to do, they begin to do everything. That is where the loss of one genuine purpose invariably leads to the pursuit of a dozen pseudo purposes. This is clearly the position of JAMB today. From the sweat of the poor, it is left with so little to do; so much to eat; so much to steal and so much to throw about as evidenced by the numerous court cases littering our courts today.
In a serious clime, JAMB would have no business, existing as an autonomous body. We see JAMB as a body that is busy for a maximum of 4 weeks in any given year. The search for a reduction in the cost of doing business should start with JAMB. Here, the solution is simple: just collapse JAMB into one small aspect of the National Universities Commission, NUC. We do not need more than that to conduct the common entrance examination into our tertiary institutions.
Over the years, JAMB has created some myths around itself. It gives the impression that some candidates passed while others failed. In a placement test, there is nothing like pass or fail. What we have are high and low scores. Such scores are also relative. In a year where the scores are high, a candidate might score 300 marks and not meet the cut-off point. But where there scores are low, a candidate might score 100 marks and meet the admission requirement.
In all this, we are not in a hurry to forget that this administration rode into power on the back of very lofty promises, particularly in the area of education. During the campaigns leading to the 2015 elections, the APC promised to devote 20% of the annual budget to education. This promise is contained on page 14 of the Document, Securing Nigeria’s Future.
On the same page 14 of the Document, the APC promised to establish at least six Universities of Science and Technology with satellite campuses in the various States; and also to establish technical colleges and vocational centres in each State of the Federation.
On page 9 of the twin Document, “Roadmap to a New Nigeria” given to Nigerians in the build-up to the 2015 elections, the APC promised” free tertiary education to students of Science and Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; and also to provide free tertiary education to Education students as well as pay them stipends pending their employment as teachers.
We trusted the administration and gave them our votes. With barely one more year to go, they have not lifted a finger in performance!
Our people are right that those who are incapable of fighting in a war should at least be able to escape with the Crown Prince. It is a crying shame that our tertiary institutions are still on strike for more than 9 months in any one year.
An administration that has defaulted serially on its promises to the people should at least be seen to be doing something about these perennial strikes. Nigeria once had an educational system that was the envy of the entire world but where did the bottom fall off in all this?