IN this chat with Saturday Sun, JAMB’s Head of Public Relations, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, addresses some of the issues raised by candidates and protesters. Excerpts:
In your press statement, you accused education consultants who applied to run the exam as CBT centres but failed as being behind the recent protest before the Lagos State House of Assembly, by JAMB candidates. Do you have any concrete evidence to support your allegation or is it a case of mere speculation?
Yes the evidence is that most of the people we saw on the video clips are the same individuals who had approached us and got approvals for centres. We were to do examinations in their centres but the centres were short of our requirements so we had to move our candidates from there. Go and find out who owns Wisdom CBT centre in Yaba, you will discover that its the same popular education consultant. Check the place and you will get all the answers you need. We have evidence of some of them trying to offer money to compromise the sanctity of the examination but our fool-proof system caught them. We know what they are fighting for. It’s simple, a return to the old order were business will be as usual. Nigerians should note that CBT has the capacity to fish out all perpetrators of malpractice. They made spirited efforts to thwart the entire exercise but failed and now they have gotten an opportunity in the complaints of the candidates to organise a protest. Please ask yourself why were they not doing protest during the Paper and Pencil Test. With all the ills associated with the system they were comfortable with it. Yes, we may have our shortcomings but with the support of Nigerians we will get it right.
The candidates who complained of being locked out of the exam because of system failure would want JAMB to reschedule the exam for them. Is that option being considered by JAMB?
It’s not possible for any candidate to be locked out. Yes, there could be centres where our systems delayed but we ensured that such candidates write their examination and utilized their given time even when we have to stay late into the night. This is also not proper but the point is that all must get the time provided by the law of the examination. One of the advantages of CBT is that even when your system goes off your time still remains. Some of you media people have monitored our examinations and must have seen how it is operated. In this part of the world, nobody accepts failure. We must look for excuse. For those that scored high, the system worked but those that failed the system must have done something wrong. I have not seen any body that will say he or she failed genuinely. We conducted examination for over a million five hundred candidates and I don’t think we were expecting everybody to get the same scores. Those that scored high, where did they write their own?
Others complained of receiving different versions of results. What is responsible for this and what is being done to stop it? What do you plan to do for candidates who are so affected and who have genuine cases on this score?
These speculations were visible only with candidates that wrote their examination on Saturday 27th Feb, and when we noticed what was happening we ensured that it never happened. In the business of the conduct of public examination, we see a lot. There was this candidate that claimed he scored 399 and the whole media was awash with it until we debunked it. Such situation does happen but we don’t want to run the examination on the pages of newspaper and television stations.
There’s no doubt that there is bound to be some teething technical hitches with a new exam system like the CBT, but what genuine efforts is JAMB making to address the human tragedies that this transition is bound to throw up such as the ones that we are dealing with at the moment?
A lot has been done by us, but the challenge is the lack of support from the public. It appears once somebody’s child fails, the entire system is bad. At the moment, the Federal Government through NCC (Nigerian Communication Commission) is erecting centres for us and when they finish we would have solved a reasonable number of the challenges. The public has shown serious cooperation by providing centres but some of the centres are not very suitable and they are at the moment our headache. This is why we keep telling Nigerians that whatever is the teething problem can be overcome once the centres being constructed with state-of-the-art facilities are completed.
You advised aggrieved candidates to take their complaints to JAMB’s Public Complaints Unit. Could you, by way of practical examples, tell our readers in a way that will reassure them, how many of those complaints you’ve successfully attended to or resolved in recent times, taking time to state the nature of the complaint, the persons involved and the state of the problem now.
One of the advantages of CBT is its flexibility and this manifested when some candidates who genuinely missed the examination and came with proof that they were sick, we rescheduled the examination for them. Others who could not see their results, we showed them the way to check and they saw it. Some contested their results, we showed them the marking scheme and we allowed them to mark themselves (their papers) in the presence of ICPC, EFCC and other security agencies and they were very satisfied. Note that not a single case was proved against us.