Udora Orizu in Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services, the Ministry of Education and West African Examination Council (WAEC) Nigeria thursday agreed that if they were to make the September date for the WAEC examination a reality for the students, there is need to get the Nigerian Governor’s Forum (NGF) involved in coming up with a timely and effective decision.
Recall that the House at the plenary last Tuesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the decision of the Federal Ministry of Education withdrawing Nigeria from participating in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and other similar examinations.
It also mandated its Committees on Basic Education, Healthcare Services, Water Resources and Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance and report back to the House in two weeks.
The committees and the stakeholders at a meeting in Abuja agreed that in the interest of the 1.6 million candidates registered for the examination, there was a need to agree on a date for the regional examination as time was running out for the country.
In his contribution, the head of WAEC National Office in Nigeria, Patrick Areghan, said it takes quite a while to print question papers and that other convoluted logistic considerations might come into play.
Areghan said Ghana had wanted to have the examination in June because it’s 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, hence Nigeria should decide on if it wants to give its candidates what he called a ‘COVID-19 examination certificate’ or a WAEC certificate in concert with other countries.
He said: “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.’’
Also, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, said WAEC is one of the institutions that promote regional cooperation, and having a stand-alone examination will defeat the element of unity it portrays.
He noted that if there was adequate funding, it should not take more than a week to get the examination ready logistically.
Responding, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji wondered why that should be a problem, pointing out that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affair spent over 13 billion as palliative for the COVID-19 pandemic.
On his part, 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 it’s better to be democratic in arriving at a decision.
The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere, ruled that the committee would approach the state governors via the NGF so as to be on the same page and get President Buhari to assist in diplomatic effort to get the other regional countries on Nigeria’s side concerning the yet to be agreed examination date.