By Gabriel Dike
The registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, was on a sort of rescue mission to the Lagos office of the board recently. His task was not unconnected with the avalanche of complaints by candidates trying to register for the forthcoming exams.
But it was gathered that it turned out to be an eye-opener, as he discovered that many candidates were the architects of their problems. He was acting on the public outcry that some intending candidates for the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) were having issues with registration. He, however, found out that the opposite was the case. He was forced to ask: “Where are the crowds or 600,000 candidates shut out from the 2021 UTME registration?”
Oloyede was shaken to see how candidates trying to register failed to adhere to simple registeration guidelines, starting with sending the right code. He discovered that many underage candidates had registered or were about to register. He also found out that tutorial centres were behind some of the hiccups in some JAMB offices.
Many of the underage people spotted were between 14 and 16 years. Many had finished secondary school while others were still in SSS 3. Some of the “kid candidates” told the registrar that they got double promotions in primary and secondary school. One of them claimed that she was promoted from primary four to six. Another said she was moved from JSS 1 to JSS 3.
Most of these applicants either used their mothers’, fathers’, brothers’, sisters’ or friends’ phone numbers to register, instead of their personal phone numbers. Others sent wrong codes and even those who sent correct codes did not comply with other basic instructions.
Daramola, a student of a Federal Government school in Lagos, said he had registration issue because he used his mother’s phone to register for the UTME. Twice he was told: ”Your fingerprint can’t be captured twice.”
Another candidate, Precious Olowoye, told the registrar that she couldn’t register because of lack of funds, while Esther was sending the wrong code to JAMB portal. Oloyede discovered that she used her teacher’s phone. He told her: ”You are not mature for university education.”
The 17-year-old candidate confessed it was her mother that handled the registration. It was discovered that the mother started the process on June 5, 2021, without the NIN but sent the correct information to the JAMB portal on June 7.
Stephen admitted that his sister used her phone to get NIN and his fingerprint could not be captured. He disclosed that he got another NIN and later ran into trouble with fingerprint capturing.
Janet Ajisefinni said she generated her code on June 8 but was told that the name did not match her NIN. She was informed that someone used her phone to get NIN.
The mother of 15-year-old Esther Akintola said her daughter has been sending texts since April for her JAMB code. She discovered that the first time she sent a message to the JAMB portal was on May 1, second time was May 11, and there was no record of her NIN, and third time was on May 19. She claimed her daughter started preparatory classes at age one. When she was in primary 4, she was given double promotion to primary 6; ahe was again promoted from JSS1 to JSS3.
Reacting to the anomalies, Oloyede said: “I have not found any problem beyond the noise made by parents. Parents and operators of tutorial centres, especially mothers, are the ones responsible for the inability of their wards to register for the 2021 UTME.
“Parents are the ones compounding the problem for their children. Some of the challenges candidates are facing are caused by parents who are doing the registration with their phones for them.
“Why would a mother handle registration exercise for her child with her phone? The candidates are supposed to register with their phones. Vital information was sent to their mothers’ phones and they failed to pass it on to their wards.
“We asked candidates with genuine issue to go to any of our state offices. I only found two candidates with genuine reasons in our Lagos office. The implication is that the rest or their parents caused whatever challenges they are facing. Candidates seeking university admission cannot read simple instructions on how to go about the UTME registration.”
Oloyede also accused operators of tutorial centres of being behind examination malpractice.
Said he: “The operators are the ones that asked candidates to hold on for direct entry. We registered over two million candidates for 2020 UTME. Now, NIN has made it difficult for cheats to register and the figures have reduced.
“Private tutorial centres are holding the system to ransom. Every dilapidated or abandoned building is used as tutorial centre. The centres are avenues to perpetrate exam fraud. Most of the teachers who teach in such centres are dropouts from schools.”
He appealed to state ministries of education to regulate the activities of tutorial centres. He commended the decision of the Lagos State government to sanction some schools for alleged misconduct: “We want to capture data for national planning for government, universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. NIN has done a good job by reducing fraud.
“NIN helped JAMB discover that candidates were doing double registration. We have passed this information to the NIN management. The figure for this year will be reduced by up to 700,000. Where are the crowds parents and tutorial centres were making noise about?”
The JAMB registrar said: “Go and see the effects of what private universities have produced after admitting the underaged. We will use NIN age recorded by the candidates. If we continue with NIN, there will be some sanity in the registration process.”
Another candidate, Williams, was asked how he got two NINs. He confessed he used a friend’s phone to register for NIN but found it difficult to submit his fingerprint. He used his own phone and got another NIN.
Adeoye used his cousin’s phone for registration, but could not produce his personal phone. Oloyede advised parents of the underage girls to enrol them for ‘A’ Level classes.
He said: “Some candidates who had issues used their mothers’, brothers’, sisters’ or friends’ phones to process their UTME. Many of them sent wrong codes. As at last week, only 17,758 candidates could not register, 80 per cent of them have no business not to have registered.
“Even Lagos, where parents claimed thousands have not registered, had 3,200 with issues; Kwara, 1,300; Oyo, 1,000; Kano, 1,000; Abuja, 1,300; Imo, 83; and Ebonyi, 87. Where are the 600,000 candidates shut out of the UTME registration, as being speculated?”