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30% of Parents Pay Illegal Exam Fees for Their Children, Says JAMB Registrar
•Examination board seeks autonomy, increased registration fee
Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede yesterday told members of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance that about 30 per cent of parents in the country were in the habit of paying illegal examination fees for their children with a view to achieving positive results.
The JAMB Registrar who spoke at an interactive session with the House Committee on Finance on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, said that there were so many fraudulent figures going around the country which Nigerians use to judge the admission process, out of the number of candidates that sit for the annual Unified Tertiary Matriculation Education.
While insisting that Colleges of Education across the country today were operating at less than 20 percent installed capacity because of lack of students to meet up their admission quota, he dismissed calls by some Nigerians that UTME results should be allowed to expire after three years.
He further said the board has N6 billion saved which it would be returning to federal government coffers.
He said, “We, as JAMB feels that we want to return revenue surplus to the federal government, but we are not comfortable with being categorised as revenue centre because this has created a lot of problems for us. I want to plead with you to allow us render what is the surplus to the federal government.
“Two years ago, we asked permission to retain N2 billion of our operating surplus and you approved that. I am happy to report that we have N6 billion saved from that which is meant to create what will make our cost of operation to come down. We are in the procurement process for that and unfortunately, we are not comfortable with the process. So, we had to cancel the entire process because there are so many other factors.
“N6 billion is too much money to waste. I will rather return it than spend the 6 billion and not being able to achieve the purpose for which it was meant. We may have to start the process all over again, but I don’t know if I will have the stamina to go through it all over again. If we are not able, we will have to return the money. One of our problem however is the disclosure we make. You just discover that because you said it, everybody wants to get that money.”
Also, Oloyede asked the House of Representatives Committee on Finance to remove the agency from the annual national budget by granting it total autonomy.
He, however, pointed out that were conditions before JAMB could be removed from the annual budget.
According to him, one of the conditions was that JAMB would be allowed to review the examination fees upward.
He explained that the board decided to review the fees downward in 2017, after remitting N7.5 billion, adding that the amount charged for registration fees was then reduced from N5,000 to N3,500.
Oloyede said given the current economic realities, the federal government should allow JAMB to revert back to N5,000 and be autonomous.
While claiming that no country, except Finland—charges as low as Nigeria, he added that no country funds such an examination body fully.
He said, “There is nowhere that government funds this type of examination. They actually provide some support for the institution because students pay some token as registration fees and from it, they bear the responsibility of salaries and provide some succours.
“We are comfortable to be taken off the budget but there are conditions. One of the conditions for example, when students registered in 2016, we collected N5,000 and that had been on for five years before I joined. When we came in, we remitted N7.5 billion. We felt it was too much and approached the federal government to reduce the fees. We have not added a kobo since.
“I believe we should revert to the N5000 we were charging. Given the inflation, if we charge N10,000– I am just giving it as example, nobody will ask the federal government for one kobo. I am not aware of anywhere in the world, except maybe Finland— that charges as low as JAMB is charging.
“In Finland, we know that everything is free. We are hearing that you are planning to borrow billions. We are all going to sink at the end of the day. If there is any way anybody believes he can save this country, we should start doing that. The earlier we start the better for us.”
Responding, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Saidu Abdullahi, said the lawmakers were concerned about the impact on the disposable income of Nigerians.
While commending Oloyede for his prudence and transparency in managing the affairs of JAMB, the lawmaker however argued that reverting to N5,000 means transferring the burden of operating the board to parents and guardians.