Barely a month after conducting the 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculations Examination (UTME), the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) released the results last weekend. The exam candidates had been anxious, for the results of this year’s UTME were delayed compared to recent years’. Although many candidates have yet to access their results simply by text-messaging “RESULT” to 55019 from their registered phone lines, JAMB has explained that it is due to poor network service from some GSM operators.  The network providers are currently working to remove the technical hitches.

JAMB registrar Professor Ishaq Oloyede, who announced the release of results, said out of about 1,792,719 candidates who sat for the exams, 34,120 candidates had their results withheld for examination malpractice and 15,145 withheld for further clarification. Other infractions he identified were multiple registrations, manipulation of biometrics and deliberate destruction of power sources during the examination. “We were able to identify a large number of impersonators who have been writing UTME for candidates,” Oloyede said. “We have also tracked the registration centres and the computers used. In cases where we were able to ascertain the culpability of the [CBT] centres, we delisted them.”

Since his appointment as JAMB registrar in 2016, Professor Oloyede has left no one in doubt about his determination to fight exam malpractice as well as corruption in the exam body. As opposed to what was obtainable in JAMB before, he has returned billions of naira to the coffers of the federal government each year. This year, he has returned N5billion.

We have nothing but praises for the registrar who was a vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin. He should continue the good work, in spite of the reported sabotage and blackmail within JAMB itself, as those who were benefitting from corruption struggled to continue doing business as usual. Security agents must ensure that no harm comes to Prof. Oloyede. It is satisfying to hear him commending the police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for helping to track and arrest exam offenders this year.

An interesting revelation that JAMB makes each year concerns the number of candidates who passed the UTME. From Oloyede’s breakdown of the candidates’ scores this year, it is clear that only about 430, 000 scored 200 and above, a number that is even less than the total capacity of 171 universities existing in Nigeria today. The numbers to be admitted by polytechnics, colleges of education and several private universities have not been included. And 361, 718 candidates scored between 180 and 199 this year. What then prevents universities from admitting all those who passed the UTME and have obtained the required qualifications?

The reason is not far-fetched: there is multi-faceted corruption in Nigerian universities. It is about time anti-graft agencies directed their searchlights to them. Many of them are known to have received bribes in hundreds of thousands of naira for prized courses in the Medical Sciences, Law and others. As a result, many candidates that did not score up to 180 are likely to be admitted while many who scored above 250 will be rejected. We are not even referring to the post-UTME conducted by the institutions themselves – it is not corruption-free.

Cleansing of UTME and university admissions is a step towards cleansing the entire education system. If the university system is corrupt, it likely will produce graduates who are not worthy both in character and in learning. Educated parents and teachers are partly to blame also. As reported by Prof. Oloyede, “In Nigeria too, examination malpractice is exacerbated by the insatiable greed and desperate antics of parent  who are hell-bent on inducting their innocent and not-so-innocent children into the world of sharp practices and corruption.” What lessons are these adults teaching their children? A widely circulated post during the general election in February this year reads: “This is a country where professors rig elections but expel students for exam malpractice.”

All in all, we commend the UTME candidates, their parents and their teachers who conducted themselves well.  The issue of 15-year-old Ekele Franklin, who emerged the overall best candidate this year with 347 score but may be denied admission on account of his age should be looked into. One should not be punished for being honest or being brilliant. If he had lied about his age, would anyone have discovered? And since at a young age he could score so high, what will prevent him from excelling in the university also? In the 1970s and ‘80s, the minimum age requirement for admission into university used to be 18 years. Now it has been lowered to 16. Age restriction in admission should now be abolished. In Europe and America, there have been reported cases of geniuses who were admitted into university at age 6 and 8.

With: The Oracle Today

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