By Gift Chapi-Odekina
The House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services, the Ministry of Education and West African Examination Council, Nigeria Headquarters on Thursday took a hard look at options for the examinations.
The stakeholders however agreed that if they were to make the September date for the Examination a reality, there is need to get President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governors’ Forum involved in coming up with a timely and effective decision.
They agreed that in the interest of the 1.6 million candidates registered for the West African School Certificate Examinations, there was a need to agree on a date for the regional examination as time was running out for the country.
One of the options was to find a date acceptable and immediate as the head of WAEC National office in Nigeria, Patrick Areghan revealed that it takes quite a while to print question papers and that other convoluted logistic considerations might come into play.
Areghan said that Gnana had wanted to have the examination in June, because its an election year in the country, but shelved it because of Nigeria.
He also revealed that it took a presidential directive for the Gambia to shelve its desire to have the examination before now. So, according to him, Nigeria should decide on if it wants to give its candidates what he called a COVID-19 exam certificate or a WAEC Certificate in concert with the other countries.
According to him, getting parents to pay another set of fees might be difficult if the September date is missed, warning that if the November option is considered, “someone has to pick the bills.”
The permenent secretary ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echono said that WAEC is one of institutions that espouses regional cooperation and having a stand alone examination will defeat the element of unity it portrays.
He further noted that if there was adequate funding, it should not take more than a week to get the examination ready logistically. For the 19, 000 examination centres across the country..
Rep Nnolim Nnaji wondered why that should be a problem pointing out that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affair spent over 13 billions as palliative for the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Minister of state for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba reminded the members and all present that the decision they are to make was for an examination date and not resumption of schools in the country.
The members deliberated on if Nigeria could use its power as provider of about 60 percent of the finances in WAEC to dictate a date of its liking. But stakeholders present eventually agreed that its better to be democratic in arriving at a decision.
The chairman of the Committee, Rep. Julius Ihonvbere ruled that the committee will approach the state governors via the Governors’ Forum so as to be on the same page and get President Muhammadu Buhari to assist in diplomatic effort to get the other regional countries on Nigeria’s side concerning the yet to be agreed examination date.