From 2017 up to this year, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) remitted a total sum of N27.8 billion to the Federation Account. From the data obtained from the examination body, N7.8 billion was paid in 2017, the same amount in 2018, while N5 billion was remitted last year, and this year, 2020, the Board already remitted N7 billion, even before it could close its book of accounts.
According to the Head of JAMB’s Media Department, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, the 2020 remittances were divided in two. Half of the amount was remitted to the Federation Account, while the other N3.5 billion was indirect benefit received by the candidates who took the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) in the form of reduction in the cost of registration for the examination. Notwithstanding, the Board has promised to remit more money before the end of the year, after all the necessary accounting processes would have been completed.
This, no doubt, is good story. It is gratifying that since Prof. Ishaq Oloyede took over the mantle of headship of JAMB, he has exhibited seriousness in his approach to his assignments. Prior to his assumption, there were entrenched interests at the Board who were bent on frustrating all the innovations hitherto introduced by Oloyede’s predecessors.
For instance, issues of examination malpractices which have seen candidates obtaining scores they never got during the actual writing of JAMB examinations have become history. Previously, the Board’s headquarter complex at Bwari, Abuja, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), usually witness unprecedented traffic in the period of tertiary institutions admissions. The traffic are usually ignited by “merchants” who found JABM as a veritable institution to ply their illicit trade. During that period, people were heard openly discussing “sorting of JAMB results” in order to obtain upgraded scores.
Such nefarious activities then forced the nation’s tertiary institutions to dismiss JAMB examinations as being below standard and unacceptable. This was what eventually led to the introduction of Post-UTME examinations.
Apart from this, Nigerians and the international community have been told of how “snakes, monkeys and other bizarre animals swallowed” huge amounts of money at the JAMB office. All forms of under hand “hanky-panky” took place in the office, but those became history since the time Prof. Oloyede became JAMB Registrar. Even the ugly incident revolving around the 2019 JAMB examinations, where some candidates claimed they were allotted scores in subjects they did not take during the examination, and other sundry issues misconduct on the examination. There is no doubt that this year’s JAMB examination was as superlatively seamless as could possibly be, with results released early enough, although it could still be released immediately the candidate submits his or her answers, being multiple choice computer-based test examination.
But in all these, there is an area Prof. Oloyede is not getting right. It has to do with the cost of the examination. Prior to this year’s examination, candidates paid N4,500 to register for the examination. This year, the fee was slashed by N1,500 to N3,500. This is good story. It meant that more students, who hitherto could not have been able to take the examination due to the financial implication, had the opportunity to register and write the examination.
However, in the light of continued remittances of huge amounts of money to the Federation Account, The AUTHORITY believes that there is moral obligation to further cut down the JAMB registration fee.
This will provide opportunity for thousands of candidates who yet, could not afford N3,500 registration fee, to do so. Our findings show that there are several prospective candidates who did not attempt to write the examination because they could not afford to pay the amount of money prescribed for the registration.
Since JAMB is not a revenue generating agency by statute, there is no reason why it should by any stroke of imagination be competing with revenue generating agencies like the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in that regard. With JAMB remitting as much as N3.5 billion after an indirect return of N3.5 billion to the candidates that took the 2020 examination, it stands to reason that the cost for registration of the examination can further be slashed down without negatively affecting the quality and capability of the examination body to satisfactorily conduct the examination. There is no need creating the impression that JAMB is a revenue collecting agency.
This should not be misconstrued to mean that we at The AUTHORITY are against the evident level of accountability already established in JAMB. Far from it! As a matter of fact, it should become mandatory that every other government agency should follow the path already established in JAMB. This will translate to wiping off the so-called lack of accountability that is prevalent in our public institutions. They are obviously man-made and are being perpetrated by entrenched self interests.
If JAMB could further slash its e-pin registration fee to N2,000 or even less, there is no doubt it will still break even, since it would prefer to operate as the sole public non-revenue generating agency that can take up all its costs, as they have made us believe. After all, the Board still collects very highly for same Post UTME-related services, including mandating candidates to pay as much as additional N2,000 for access to print their admission letters, among other fees they charge for their service which are ancillary to the examination.
Even if these other sundry charges are retained, the cost for the e-pin registration should be further slashed down. After all, there is no guarantee that the money remitted by JAMB do not end up mismanaged when it gets to the Federation Account, since that has become the refrain in Nigeria’s public financial accounting system.