I am very sad that I have been forced by some very horrifying reports coming out of our various university campuses to seriously regret my earlier support for post-JAMB tests. I am highly disappointed that post-JAMB tests now present
Long before the universities were given approval to subject “successful candidates” in the University Matriculation Examinations (UME) to further tests, prepared and organized by them, I had been forced by the unspeakable waywardness and vulgar bazaar reportedly flourishing at the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) to call for the outright scraping of that body. At that time, the story was everywhere that all any candidate needed to be awarded very high scores in the
Also, JAMB always appeared overwhelmed and terribly worn-out each time it was organizing the examinations. Despite the huge sums of money flowing into its coffers from sales of forms, it never stopped singing about insufficient invigilators and inadequate security. But when widespread malpractices expectedly flourished as a result of its apparent lack of adequate preparation, it would adopt a lazy man’s approach, by cancelling the entire results of some selected centres which it, probably, instinctively, adjudged guilty of malpractices, not bothering a hoot that innocent students who may have worked hard for the examination and had resisted the temptation to cheat could be in those centres.
That was the depressing story of JAMB, and so, when it sought to safeguard its relevance by resisting the attempts by the universities to re-examine the candidates that had “passed” its UME, JAMB got very little sympathy from well-meaning Nigerians who were already dismayed by what looked like its determination to devalue university education in
In fact, after hearing from my friends who taught at the universities the difficulties they encountered with students whose deep pockets had purchased them very high scores from JAMB, how many of them could not cope with even very fundamental courses which should ordinarily be easy meat for any fresh O’level graduate, I thought that JAMB had outlived its usefulness. And since it also appeared irredeemable, I felt it should go. Universities can then organize their own entrance examinations and admit candidates they had by themselves examined and adjudged qualified, as is the practice in most countries of the world.
But the situation with the post-JAMB tests in the Universities is today proving to be far worse than the clearly hideous racket that flourished in JAMB in those dark days, which made most of us to eagerly support what we thought then was a wholesome arrangement by the universities, the major stakeholders, to sanitize the admission process and restore credibility to it.
In fact, one is now forced to even wonder whether it was concern for academic standards that propelled their move at that time or a desperation to have a “piece of the action” which JAMB appeared to be enjoying alone in a matter the universities thought they should also have a stake. What I hear now is that, in several universities, if not all, no matter what you write at the post-JAMB tests, unless you pay huge sums of money, there would be no admission for you.
At a particular university, I was informed that people pay as much as three hundred thousand naira (N300, 000) to secure admission in some departments and a little less to be admitted to read some other courses! I am carrying out extensive investigation, and would soon have with me inconvertible evidence of where and how these monies are demanded and paid. A parent I talked with recently lamented terribly when he related his experience. These monies, I am told, are not even demanded at hidden corners. It is now a clear case of open, transparent and official bribery and corruption. The universities have far exceeded what JAMB had done, or could have done. It is possible that in addition to the money they are paying, the young tender females among the candidates may be compelled to submit themselves to the teachers and admission or faculty officials in whose hands the power to give them addition rests.
Well, all I can say now, before I return to this topic, is that, President Umar Musa Yar’Adua’s Education Minister, Mr. Nwachukwu, must commence his assignment with a serious fight against this unhealthy practice with all the might and resources at his disposal. In fact, a major chunk of whatever efforts that would be deployed to reclaim our universities from decay should be directed to combat this malaise with every resoluteness and dedication, or else, in the next few years, we would have no semblance of universities in the land, as they would have all become merely Certificate Trading Centres.
Let no one think that the so-called private universities are better, and provide a reassuring alternative? Indeed, some of the people parading themselves as “Senior Lecturers” at those universities may not even qualify as Research Assistants in some of our public universities, even with their present dismal state. In fact, I am aware that many of the lecturers at the private universities were people who had failed at interviews for employment at some state-owned universities. Recently, I was told of one “professor” in a high-flying private university who is also the dean of a faculty there. But this fellow left one public university some years ago because he lacked what it took to attain such a position. I know that politics and nepotism comes to play in this sometimes, but this case was clear, as a former student of the fellow assured me. In fact, the only thing that makes some of the private universities appear more distinguished than the state ones may just be the high fees they charge.
I wonder what the position of the National Universities Commission (NUC) is on this post-JAMB racket? Why is the NUC behaving as if it is yet to become aware of the flourishing lucrative racket? Are there angles to this sleaze we are yet to know about, but which the NUC would help us understand?
This is very serious, because, despite this sad, disappointment arising from the attempt by the Universities to organize these qualifying examinations, JAMB, which is still struggling under the crushing weight of its enormous credibility burden, cannot still be trusted reassume its former status as the sole examining body.
It then means that the universities must be helped to save themselves from themselves before they destroy themselves by themselves. And I hope it is clear that it would not only be parents and students that would lose out if that happens.
Since the universities have proved themselves incapable of handling something as simple as qualifying examinations, it should then be clear to us that the decay is more deep than we had imagined.