The Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Ishaq Oloyede, recently spoke with journalists on his encounters as the agency’s helmsman after one year and his future plans, ROYAL NEWS correspondent was there. Excerpts:
Journey so far
At the level of JAMB, it has been very rough, very challenging but it has also been very rewarding. When we started in 2015 we did not realize that we were going into a serious war. Initially we thought it is a call to duty, but when got there we realized it was not going to be easy because of entrenched interest. The capacity and network of such interest if you are not careful one will derail. But with the support of all of you we have been able to sail through, principally because we were conscious of the fact that, we have a specific term in that office. We shall not allow the first year to go and then the second year to plan and at the end of the day the third year. We felt that we should start what we believe we should do. That was why we had to change the process and procedure through which we are conducting our examinations; through which we are registering. We needed to do that because we believed that was the right thing to do.
By our previous engagements, we are conscious of the fact that, bodies outside Nigeria conduct examinations of this type, and it had not been that expensive and as tortuous as it appears to be in Nigeria. So we were committed to changing the process by internalizing the process rather than outsourcing almost everything we do. We also believe that the technology we were using was outdated.
Coming from me people would say no ‘how will you say that you are the champion of the technology,’ because, I started the CBT as Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin. We were the first university to start to use the CBT for the purpose of examining and conducting our screening. We were immediately followed by University of Lagos.
That was why we had to speak with the telecommunications company for us to start the new technology. Thank God. It was rough initially not because it would not work, because many people thought that it should not work. Many people were even afraid that it would not work, but we were committed to it as that was the right way to go and we were able to do it.
Justification for JAMB Form sales date
We have conducted the first exams with the new technology in 2017 and now we have started selling the registration forms for 2018 UTME. At that time many people were saying why only one month for JAMB registration? Some genuinely and some mischievously. The genuine ones wondered to register about 200 million candidates is too short a period.
They were genuine. To me I believe that is the right way to go. For example prior to 2016 we used to sell JAMB for between five and six months in theory, but in practice we sell 90 percent of the form in 30 days over the past five years. Because many people did not have the fact of the new method, even the National Assembly, they say we should extend it to two months. We said no problem. We continued what we were doing but we opened the registration for another two weeks after the closing. Before the closing we had 1.7 million candidates that had registered. For the two weeks after closing we had over 1000 additional.
By January we should be registering about 30,000 every day. That means the last one month is for registration. So those criticizing do not have the facts. But within the last 30 days a lot of people will be saying we should extend. It is the tradition that the last one week to the expiration of the deadline that people will be rushing.
Again, we discovered that last year, most of the cyber cafes were extorting candidates because of opening of email addresses. But that is not the major issue, the major issue is that they were opening the email addresses and retaining the passwords. That is why the cyber- cafe operators are hauling curses on Oloyede now. They are not making the required money.
Within the last one year students across the country had paid over N 300 million to JAMB for correction of names for wrong spelling at the CBT centres. We look at it that why a large number of the candidates would have mistakes in the spelling of their names. Another aspect to the story is that some made the mistake deliberately. Some register with different names. That is why most of the time about 400,000 names is duplications.
Though, they pay us, but it does not pay the nation. They pay N5, 000 for every registration but it is not in the interest of the nation because the nation will not be able to have accurate statistics about the number of candidates. We will be going with the false impression that we have 1.7 million registered candidates and out of that 300,000 might get admission. And we will be planning for non existing candidates. That is one side of the story and we felt that despite the fact that they pay, this is not good money. We blocked that process. What have we done this year? Write your name yourself on your phone. You cannot say in the process of writing your name you made a mistake. But once you register that name and go to your pin immediately, a code is sent to your cell phone. Once you get that number take to where you will buy your form. The pin is already tied to your name. That will give us accurate record.
Taming Cyber fraudsters
Last year candidates registered with their ten fingers. I was boasting all about that nobody can register twice, not knowing how dubious some
Nigerians could be. In our findings, we discovered that Nigerians beat us to it. They did what they called ‘combination.’ They would go to cyber cafe operators, pay N20, 000 per person for the fraud. We couldn’t. The greatest problem came from the parents particularly, mothers who were paying any amount-ranging from N50, 000 to N200, 000 to fraudsters. We have a case of two of our staff who signed an agreement with a fraudster.
That is the environment we have found ourselves. You can see that we are making effort to see that as people are coming from one angle, we are devising ways of blocking them. Many people taught it is business as usual. They would go to the minister, the villa etc, but anywhere they go; they found out that government has changed. With the current administration, you are on your own. They couldn’t find support from the ministry, from the presidency to upturn what we were doing and that gave us the strength. Since those who entrusted with the responsibility are backing us by doing what is right, we believe that the onus is on us to make use that we continue to do what is right.
This year, we have introduced so many other restrictions. That whatever, people do in their cafes we could monitor from Abuja apart from the CCT camera. We have devised a system that once you switch on your system we could monitor what is going on with or without the CCT camera. During the year we expended a lot of money on expanding our facilities. Facilities belonging to JAMB directly across the country were less than 2000 in 2016, but within 2017 we have expanded them close to 15,000 now. What we have done is that all our CBT centres between 90 and 150 seaters, we have turned them to 270 seaters. We also established new ones in addition to ones built for us by National Communications Commission (NCC). While doing this, we have also created a better way of doing things. Last year our staff would have to be looking for how to download the questions. This year, we want to do the push system. The onus is not on our staff to download, the onus is on us to push the system. We realized that some other people are taking advantage of that. That means our staff simply goes with the server and awaits instructions.
We have also been able to reduce the cost and block leakages. During the year we made close to N12 billion in terms of income. Of course, we have to spend money to generate money. We paid over one billion Naira to CBT owners. We paid our examiners and so on. At the end of the day we had our surplus of N7.8 billion which we returned to government coffers. We retained a little to conduct this year’s examination.
What we have also done is that, we believe that JAMB is not a money generating centre. Our intention is not to generate money, but we are also not a money wasting centre. We have not increased any service charge rather we are reducing cost. Everything is done online. Candidates would not need to go to Bwari. Those days in the process of traversing between their stations and Bwari many ladies were violated.
We have gone a bit further now by looking inwards. That is why we created the Central Admission Processing System (CAPS). That means no tertiary institution is expected to come to Abuja for admission. It is now done online.
When we started the admission this year, many universities were shouting that it would not work, because people will be afraid of new thing. We told them that any one that has problem should come to Abuja. Then we concluded that there were some social issues related with admission. Many of our admission officers go for admission and they are paid night allowances. If you now say do it online, they would no longer be paid those allowances and that would not make things work. Even staff at my own end too, when they travel they are paid night allowances, but with this system they don’t need to travel.
The second problem with CAPS is that the admission exercise is not been done in the universities more than before.
Why I returned money to FG coffers
The money I returned to the federal government’s account is meant for the government and I don’t see any reasons why such among of money should be in my possession. Also, the action was not to castigate any of my predecessors because they are people I know very well and I have very high regards for them. Not that money were embezzled in the past but process of getting things done may be so expensive which accounts for high expenditures. Therefore, it is the methods we are adopting that his paying us. Therefore, I don’t think I have done anything special; rather, I have done what is expected of me.
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