While a number of centres believed in the capacity and deployed them fully, a large number of them, for economic and mischievous reasons under-utilised the capacities and created the initial bottleneck. We monitor them online and have to nudge centres before some deployed as low as 10% of the capacity as can be seen from the records of the top 10 and lowest 10 centres.
Opening of more registration points for each centre has its advantages and disadvantages. Among the disadvantages is where Kindle E-learning Centre Abeokuta in connivance with Honey Comb Ibadan, with the unethical technological support of Bright Technology, Abeokuta, opened a lot of registration points only for us to discover it was done to fraudulently register candidates in Oyo and other places.
At the initial stage, the same gridlock witnessed in vehicular traffic happened on the vending software, creating slow speed which we quickly addressed. An evidence of the success recorded in this regard is that One Million, Seven Hundred and Thirty-One Thousand, and Thirty-Nine (1,731,039) candidates registered within five weeks. The registered number has even surpassed the projected 1,500,000 candidates. This is the first time such a large number of candidates will be registered within such a short period
Though technology exists to make things easy, the fear of technology appears to be the problem people are contending with. There are no serious technical issues; we use telecommunication services and the process made it easy for registration to be done on smart phones. You may wish to recall that during previous exercise, it was common to hoard Scratch cards, create artificial Scarcity and extort candidates. Liberalisation of sale points this year ended that scam of black market.
PIN VENDING SYSTEM
Hitherto, the Board used scratch cards for its services. The service providers also charged 30% of the value of the card being sold as commission. Beyond the huge cost, this system is bedevilled with corruption and other sharp practices. Through rigorous and painstaking planning, we eliminated the scratch card system in the just concluded registration without any commission apart from what we paid the banks to create profile, thereby saving billions of naira for JAMB and the Federal Government.
The measures taken so far are meant to restore confidence in JAMB examinations, block leakages in the system, guard against multiple registrations by candidates and ensure better data capturing of the applicants such that examination malpractices by candidates and sharp practices by people with vested interests will be significantly curbed if not totally eradicated.
In 2016 only four banks were accredited for the registration exercise. This year we invited all the licensed banks to facilitate easy procurement of e-PINS. Indeed, all the Banks agreed to deploy their staff to each of the 691 CBT centres for ease of procurement. In reality however, only 100 centres have Bank-agents posted to the Centres as agreed.
Please find below, the verifiable Table of Banks and individuals used for sale of 2016 UTME in comparison with those of ongoing 2017 UTME:
The expectation was that candidates would have had their e-mail accounts before they register for JAMB. Nevertheless, to cater for those who might not have their own e-mail accounts, we made provision for the creation of e-mail accounts and the banks agreed to carry out the responsibility. For this service of creating profiles we paid banks a sum of N300 for each registration.
More importantly, in spite of the human and material resources devoted to public information and general enlightenment about procedure, many candidates were not doing the right thing at the beginning of the registration, making it easy to shift the blame to the process. A number of Banks and Interswitch also introduced some cumbersome processes to maximize profit, we moved immediately to restore order hence the success in registering the huge number ever recorded in the history of the Board. No candidate was expected to visit any cyber café for any of the services.
My predecessor rightly stopped involvement of cyber cafes in 2015 because of their sharp practices. They mismatched details of candidates, exploit candidates and cause all kinds of irregularities. I have no reason to review that position despite tremendous pressure.
THE COST OF REGISTRATION
The registration fee has always been N5,000:00 for the Scratch Card, N500.00 for the reading text book and N700:00 for the registration centres as the cost of their services. This has remained the same. The only difference is that instead of registering to obtain the scratch Card, candidates register for their e-PINs. We also insisted on direct payment in advance by the Vendors into Government purse through Remita and eliminated racketeering, hoarding and outright forging by the suppliers who duplicated pins to defraud the Board.
TIMING OF EXAMINATION TO MAKE FOR ADEQUATE PREPARATION BY CANDIDATES
Many candidates who register for the Board’s examination are those who are at the verge of taking their Senior School Examination. Those candidates sit for our UTME which is usually in March/April when they are not fully prepared for either our examination or the SSCE. This contributes to some extent to the poor performance by many candidates.
What we have done this year is to ensure that the examination is scheduled in such a way that the candidates would have prepared for both UTME and SSCE.
To achieve this, we met with other sister examination bodies to harmonise our timetables not only to ensure that candidates are prepared but also to avoid any clash of examination dates.
For the umpteenth time, I would want to use this opportunity to emphasize the fact that awaiting results candidates are eligible to register and sit for our examination. The only difference is that no candidate will be recommended to JAMB by any institution unless he or she is declared qualified for the course. Candidates are required to upload their results as soon as they are released.
SATISFACTORY EMERGENCY OPERATION
One would have asked why we have to within eight (8) months change the technology being used. It is simple, we were forced by necessity.
Each of the major examination-related contractors was invited to defend the exorbitant charges. Two who were each annually paid over one billion Naira (N1B) appeared very difficult. After exhaustive engagement, we agreed to charges of about Seven Hundred Million Naira (N700,000,000) for both.
It was very close to the examination that one of them suddenly retracted and insisted on about a billion Naira. This was when it became clear to us that we need to quickly put up the alternative which is cheaper and more effective.
A lot of the sponsored publications were asking why we could not continue to retain the contractor. They did more than that to thwart our efforts. With a little of about Two Hundred Million (N200M), we have built an internal system to deliver the examination. This is a major step in the right direction with a lot of savings for the Board and the Government. JAMB has also been able to increase the capacity of the in-house ICT members of staff to discharge their responsibility thereby protecting unnecessary exposure of questions and strict monitoring of result from manipulation.
It will interest you to know that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) generates close to Eight Billion Naira(N8 billion)every year but is left with less than Two Hundred Million Naira (N200 million) at the end of each year. This is unsustainable and wasteful. We are designing and operating a system that when fully completed, all infrastructure which are installed this year is in place, apart from payment to owners of CBT centres, less than Five Hundred Million (N500 million) will be expended annually on examination.
We could also have gone for easy way out, but it is unpatriotic hence our determination to step on powerful toes to end waste, restore integrity of our examinations, and either increase returns to Government by at least N5 billion annually or reduce price of UTME form to N3,000.00 per candidate. This is a major reason for the recent sponsored campaign of calumny against JAMB.
We need your support and prayers against corrupt but powerful stakeholders who vandalized our process, instigated outcry, attacked our key personnel and infrastructure to hoodwink the nation. We have crossed all difficult land-mines; we are cruising to success by the grace of God.
The points above are to assure all of you that JAMB remains committed, capable and more resolute than ever, to serve with sincerity and integrity for the ultimate benefit of the higher education sub-sector in particular and Nigeria at large.
Education is the right of every Nigerian irrespective of their challenges and other consideration.