By Ogochukwu Umeadi
It was the first few days of December, 2015 and the weather was still too chilly with the early signs of Harmattan.
I got an SMS from a number saying I had been admitted to study Film at the National Film Institute, Jos.
It was such an exhilarating experience. Finally, I was going to make something of my passion for storytelling. Over the next few weeks, I accepted the admission, paid my school fees and commenced registration.
In the course of my study, a number of my school’s staff often advised us – especially those of us who were offered admission by the school – to go and print out our original JAMB admission letter, also known as “regularization” if we want to go for the mandatory one year National Youth Service. But, when you’re a freshman studying a four year course, graduation seems to be so far away.
And so many of us didn’t do it at the time. This has come to bite us literally and figuratively.
Today, I was supposed to have been mobilized for the mandatory one year National Youth Service Corp, NYSC, but that hasn’t happened.
Most of my classmates whom I graduated with have all gone and are serving right now as I speak: some in Batch B Stream 1 and others in Batch B Stream 2.
Why haven’t I gone is the question I and those close to me, are asking.
On the surface, it’s because I’m yet to have my original JAMB admission letter, but, deep down, there’s more to this than meets the eye.
Is the regularisation real or hoax? If you go to any JAMB office nationwide, they will tell you that they have stopped regularization. But the same JAMB collects the sum of five thousand (N5,000) naira from students for this service.
I first got to know about this through an article on The Nation Newspaper, The University of Jos vs. JAMB, where a JAMB spokesperson referred students with issues of regularization to go back to their school and resolve the issue.
In his words, “JAMB stopped doing Regularization since 2017”.
I got admission to study film at the National Film Institute, Jos in 2015.
Now, this admission was given by the Institute and I was supposed to go and “regularize” the admission with JAMB.
Being a newbie, I went several times to JAMB office and several cyber cafe’s around but, I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do.
Severally, I tried to check my admission status but it wouldn’t go through. It was until I graduated that I understood what I was supposed to do and by this time it came with a warning that unless I did it, I wouldn’t be going for service.
I started doing the Regularization by March 2020 but, before I could pay, Nigeria went on lockdown and with the lockdown, JAMB payment portal was closed.
It was not until late October 2020 that it was opened and I succeeded in regularizing on November 2nd, 2020.
From November 2nd, 2020 up till now, I still haven’t received my original JAMB admission letter.
When I asked what was the issue, my school, The National Film Institute, said that it was because JAMB has refused to send the PIN with which the University of Jos (which we are affiliated to) will use in printing it.
But what is the struggle for printing admission letter really all about? Before 2016, Universities nationwide offer provisional admission to Students’.
In 2016, JAMB began offering admission to Students and with this every avenue some Universities used to make money like offering admission to some students in exchange for huge sums of money became a thing of the past.
Most University authorities didn’t like this and in 2021, they convinced JAMB to focus on just conducting the exams and leave the admission to them.
The University of Jos is one of the beneficiaries of this. With access granted to the University of Jos to print the admission letter, I thought my days of sorrow were over.
I have called Paulina Yache, the Institute’s contact person in charge of Regularization severally but, she too ran out of excuses and referred me to a Mr. Bitrus Gofup, in charge of regularization at the University of Jos.
Mr. Bitrus Gofup has been a torn in my flesh and in the flesh of other Students with the same issue. On the surface, Mr. Bitrus Gofup, a middle-aged junior staff at the Exams Office of the University appears as a genial and considerate father-figure who is out there to help students but deep down he is as corrupt as they come.
I called him severally and he continued to assure me that my original JAMB admission letter has been sent to JAMB and that very soon it will be out, only for me to go to his office on Thursday October 6th, 2022 to discover that my name was not on the list of students that will be mobilized for service during the Batch C registration. In fact, there was no evidence to suggest that he has worked on my file, nor minuted on it.
This was after receiving assurances from him that he has sent our names to JAMB and that we should be patient that we will soon have our original JAMB admission letters.
If he’s lying in order to get us very desperate to bribe him, it wouldn’t be far from the truth. One of our classmates and friend who has the same regularisation problem told me that her friend gave Mr Bitrus Gofup the sum of N10,000 to fast track the process for him. Another classmate of mine, said she gave him the sum of N5000, but up till now both of these students are yet to have their original JAMB admission letters, or gone for service.
We are tired of all this. I have spoken to several Professors on this matter. I have also spoken to the Rector of my school. I have written to the Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos, Professor Ejikeme, but, have gotten no reply.
Right now, we are at a loss how to move forward. We just want to have this sorted out so that we know if we should go get a job or just run abroad.
Ogochukwu Umeadi, writer-designer, wrote from Jos.