Why Ojerinde was Removed as JAMB Registrar

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Sack linked to differences with Education Minister

Paul Obi in Abuja

New facts and details have emerged on why the former Registrar, Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, was shown the exit door by the federal government. 

THISDAY gathered that Ojerinde had since the arrival of the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, been marked down for dismissal by government because of the incessant in-fighting, differences and disagreement with the minister,  particularly, on the 2016 admission exercise into universities and other tertiary institutions.

The insistence by JAMB to rely solely on Computer-Based Test (CBT) for the conduct of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) was said to have irked Adamu, who had vehemently argued for a paper type of UTME, specifically, for candidates who are  not computer literate and those in the rural areas.

The crisis of personality was believed to have taken a down turn after the cancellation of the Post-Universities Tertiary Matriculation Examination by the minister. 

Adamu, it was believed, relied on the push by President Muhammadu Buhari, who had resolved to reposition the education ministry with trusted hands where many head of parastatals would be sacked to also terminate Ojerinde’s appointment. 

A source in the ministry had revealed that “for us, the removal of Ojerinde as Registrar/Chief Executive of JAMB did not come as a surprise. The minister is very smart because he knew he was dealing with a professor. What Adamu did was to wait for an opportunity when many chief executives officers would be involved.

“If Ojerinde had been sacked earlier, it would be seen to be politically-motivated. But now that many of them were affected, nobody can read politics into it.”

Another source gave further details, clarifying why the crisis between Ojerinde and Adamu persisted.

He said:  “After the cancellation of the Post-UTME, it was clearly stated that admissions will be based on the three criteria of merit, catchment and educationally less developed states. Since there is no Post-UTME, after sending them the bigger list, what Ojerinde did was to prepare a list that reflected these three criteria.

“Nobody knows what the authorities of universities told the minister and based on whatever they may have told him, Adamu advised him to withdraw the list in his own interest. Ojerinde is another stubborn person, especially if he knows he is very right in what he is doing. He declined and refused to withdraw it.

“After examinations, JAMB usually send print out to the universities. JAMB sent a bigger print out. But after the agreement that admissions will be based on the three criteria, JAMB  sent out a smaller print out which reflected the three criteria. The universities were not happy that JAMB conducted admissions. If you look at the Act establishing JAMB, it empowers JAMB to conduct admissions.

“But the universities are saying the University Act empowers the Senate to conduct admissions. But the Act establishing JAMB has not been repealed. When you make a law, it doesn’t automatically overpower it. You either repeal it or retain  but  without prejudice the other. So, there is so much confusion.”

“It was this disagreement, that sensing danger,  Ojerinde, quickly moved to withdraw the list of candidates that was forwarded earlier to the universities, in respect of the minister’s earlier directive.

“But it was very late. Ojerinde should have withdrawn it earlier. This was just the cause of their disagreement. Despite the protest from the vice chancellors, the minister was solidly behind him during the cancellation of the Post-UTME.

“If he had withdrawn it, I can tell you that Ojerinde would have escaped the tsunami which shook the education sector on Monday because he did very well in JAMB, especially with the introduction of Computer-Based Test,” the source maintained.

A senior Director in the  Ministry of Education who pleaded anonymity said:  “Ojerinde disobeyed ministerial directive and if you call that fighting, that is your own interpretation.”

The announcement was contained in a statement JAMB Head of Media and Information,  Dr. Fabian Benjamin.

Benjamin had explained that, the decision was sequel upon the need  to allow “the senate of universities perform their statutory responsibility of conducting the selection of candidates and refer it to JAMB for confirmation in line with the admission criteria of merit, catchment and educationally disadvantaged states as directed by Adamu, during the policy committee meeting in Abuja

Benjamin had said the earlier list was sent to help fasttrack the process of admission so as to allow other tiers of institutions also conduct their admission.

“Candidates should not panic because this is part of the process of the 2016 admission exercise. JAMB regrets any inconvenience this decision would have caused the tertiary institutions,” he had stated.

Ojerinde, had given conditions for the 2016 admission insisting that JAMB would only give approval “after appropriate screening of the candidates by the institutions.”

He  further stated that “JAMB wishes to state that the latest list of candidates sent to all the tertiary institutions contains candidates who qualified for screening based on the individual institutions capacity. It’s not in any way an admission list.

“However, if this list is not sufficient for the need of any institution, such institution can source from the omnibus printout earlier sent to them by the board. The public and all tertiary institutions should note that admission would only be approved by the board after appropriate screening of the candidates by the institutions.

“The list which is made up of candidates who met the national cut-off point within the set criteria are sent to the institutions.”