Sunday Magazine

UTME: Parents, candidates groan over NIN

•We’ve registered 300, 000 so far –JAMB

•Exercise stressful and frustrating, say candidates

•We tipped NIMC’s officials to beat deadline –Candidate

•NIN ends multiple registration, enhances e-filling of candidates’

documents –Teacher •NIMC keeps mum

 

There is no doubt that many students seeking admission into the country’s tertiary institutions for the 2021 academic session will miss out in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), due to the abrupt introduction of the National Identification Number (NIN) as a prerequisite for UTME’s registration.

 

Sunday Telegraph’s investigation revealed that the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), saddled with the responsibility of conducting the entrance examination into the country’s tertiary institutions, hastily arrived at this unpopular decision, according to some stakeholders, at the meeting of its governing board held on March 22, 2021.

 

Sequel to this, 17 days after the decision to make NIN a mandatory requirement for the registration of UTME was reached, JAMB announced the sale of the application documents across the 700 centres nationwide to be concluded within 38 days (April 8 – May 15), while the examination is slated for June 5, through June 19, 2021, in spite of the difficulties encountered by the students at NIN’s centres.

 

According to a JAMB’s statement signed by its Head of Public Affairs and Protocol Unit, Mr. Fabian Benjamin, NIN is mandatory for any person to register for the 2021 UTME and Direct Entry (DE); else such student(s) will wait for the next academic year, 2022, to enroll.

 

“For any person to be registered for UTME/DE, he/she must supply his/her NIN. It is, therefore, mandatory for participation in the 2021 Registration Exercise.

 

Candidates are also to note that the registration for Direct Entry (DE) applicants would run concurrently with that of UTME candidates,” the JAMB’s statement read in part. It warned that there won’t be any extension of any kind for the sale of the UTME/ DE application documents, adding that Optional Mock will be held on Friday, April 30, 2021 for those who indicated interest and registered before April 24, 2021.

 

“The application documents will be on sale across 700 centres nationwide between April 8 and May 15, while the examination is billed to take place between June 5 and June 19, 2021,” JAMB stated.

 

A tale of mixed fortunes for candidates

 

Sunday Telegraph learnt that since JAMB announced its partnership with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) – the body which generates NIN – to ensure that students register for the NIN, a number of prospective JAMB candidates besieged the NIMC offices across the nation to get registered to no avail due to a number of misgivings there.

 

JAMB argued that NIN would work against all forms of registration infractions, which are the foundation of examination malpractices, though it later suspended the idea after hues and cries over alleged exploitation of students by unprincipled NIMC’s staff at different registration centres.

 

“We were forced to review our strategies and we arrived at a point that it was obvious that we could not go ahead with NIN as pre-requisite for registration because of the challenges that might affect the participation of large number of candidates,” JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, said then.

 

“To this end, we have decided to suspend the use of NIN for the 2020 UTME exercise. We have unanimously agreed to shift the use of NIN to 2021 when candidates would have been given enough time and opportunity to get the NIN,” he added.

 

But today, as the students and parents face the same fate at different NIN and accredited JAMB registration centres, they (students and parents) expected that with the difficulties associated with obtaining the National Identity Card and NIN, JAMB shouldn’t create undue bottlenecks for youngsters wishing to sit for its examination.

 

Both the NIN victims and successful can- UTME: Parents, candidates groan over NIN  didates were of the belief that the rushed decision was not in the interest of the country’s education system which has suffered serious setback in the recent time, arguing that the idea of NIN’s requirement for registration without an awareness and a reasonable time for the students to adjust and register, is a ploy to deny unsuspected students their rights to education in a bid to clear the admission’s backlog.

 

Thus, candidates lamented the stress they went through at NIMC’s offices with few computers and inadequate manpower, including large crowds in the scorching sunlight as well as bribe giving to facilitate the issuance of their NIN for the UTME’s registration.

 

One of the intending candidates for the 2021 UTME, Bayo Olanrewaju, who spoke to Sunday Telegraph at the WAEC Testing and Training Centre, by Excellence Hotel, Ogba, Lagos, said he is being frustrated by the new policy, saying that he had tried to no avail to register for UTME even with his NIN.

 

He said: “I have been here since morning and we are facing a network problem. The network has been bad and you can see how people are going up and down in frustration, chatting and spending money they don’t have just to buy food and snacks for themselves.

 

 

“This is what shouldn’t take us much time to do. I don’t know why JAMB is frustrating students every year with this policy when it hasn’t tried to improve the condition of these UTME registration centres. Even at the time of Salami, who introduced different paper typing in the JAMB, candidates still complained about the hastiness of that policy.

 

“NIN registration requirements are stressful and frustrating. Can’t they see it, that we are stressed out? After now, during the exam, some people’s computers will pack up and would not allow them to write the exam after all the stress.”

 

Although Bayo has collected his NIN, he felt there was no need subjecting students to such stress, saying that the students are whiling away their time visiting NIN centres and going through the hassle of registration just to gain admission in Nigerian tertiary institutions, whereas their counterparts who left Nigeria for Benin Republic did not go through such stress to secure their admission. “And those who do not have the NIN are paying to get it. We really don’t need these exploitations.

 

We are students, for crying out loud. All the sitting and standing here and there are a waste of precious time we would have spent studying our books.

 

Some of my friends have even gone to Benin Republic to study, though not for the NIN policy alone; there are other reasons they went there,” he added.

 

Chidera Okafor, who will be sitting for the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) (internal) this year was preparing to enroll for the 2020/2021 UTME examination but she was cut in the web of NIN requirement for registration which she didn’t find time to do not knowing it was the only way to register and sit for the exam.

 

Considering the exercise stressful and not having the required time to embark of on it, Chidera, who spoke with Sunday Telegraph at the NIMC registration Centre in Oriade Local Government Council, said she has concluded to leave the UTME to focus on her WASSCE since she doesn’t have NIN and may not have to queue in the sun or have N7, 000 to pay for immediate action.

 

“I will be considering sitting for the exam next year, 2022. After all, I am not running late. Let me just concentrate on this but I really want to sit for UTME, so that I stand the chance of getting into university this year.

 

But there is nothing I can do for now. If you choose to go through the normal process, you have to spend a month plus but if you want it immediately, you have to pay either N5, 000 or N7, 000 to collect it in three or seven days as the case may be,” she lamented. For these bottlenecks, Chidera has decided to shelve her idea of sitting for the 2021 UTME, even as she would have loved to sit for the exam but opportunity cost has played its role in her decision.

 

For Ayodele Josephine, who succeeded in registering her own at the Christy Caleb Int’l College by NNPC B/Stop Ejigbo, Lagos, the process is not only stressful but also frustrating; saying that for impatient people might leave the registration in anger if they are subjected to the kind of stress she was subjected to.

 

“This is the reason many people would rather pay money and carry on with their lives,” she quipped. She said: “It took me two stressful weeks to do my UTME’s registration. First, I had to go for NIN and spent one week there to get mine after paying the sum of N4, 000 while begging. After that, I went to my centre, where I spent another two days due to a network problem.

 

The first day, I went there, I couldn’t do anything because of the network, though I didn’t go earlier in the morning than I did today (Wednesday).

 

“There are many students of struggling parents, who are not able to afford this amount and still pay for the registration of their children. My friend has not gotten hers; she’s waiting for her NIN to come out naturally. I pray it comes out before the close of registration.

 

She was given a form for N200 and filing the form, she was given a two-week appointment for capturing. They asked her to go and wait for their call. I pray they call her before the registration is over.”

 

Also, at the Headquarters of Idemili North Local Government Area,, Ogidi, Anambra State, students pay N4, 000 or more to obtain NIN. They said without bribing the NIMC officials, the number will not come out in one month and not to talk about the card itself, which puts them at a disadvantage.

 

Asked why they resorted to giving money to the NIMC’s staff, Samuel Chukwunulu said they have limited time to apply for the UTME and if they keep waiting for the staff to do the needful, the essence of going for the NIN at first instance, will be defeated as they deliberately delay, so that the people can succumb to the bribery overtures.

 

“Those guys are criminals but it’s JAMB that empowered them to rob us. If JAMB had created awareness and had given us a good time to register, they will not see us to exploit except for those who like fire brigade approach to issues. I managed to get my own NIN through the help of one director. If not, I would have paid N5, 000 for it. This is unfair to us,” he lamented.

He noted that people paid as much as N10, 000 when the first deadline was issued but gradually reduced as the desperation among the people reduced as well.

 

Also, at the Institute of Criminal Justice and Criminology Administration, 7th Avenue, Opposite ‘K’ Close, Festac Town, Lagos State, Hammed Hassan was thankful to God for having qualified for the June Exam, saying that he can now go and prepare for the next phase of the challenges.

 

“I thank the Almighty Allah that after the whole stress, I have been able to register for the 2021 UTME. I can now go home and prepare for the exam. I don’t pray for network problems or my computer to go bad that day but I have to prepare against any challenge. I am happy, I can sleep now and wake up strong,” she enthused while eating her gala and Pepsi-cola.

 

At the same centre, a parent, Mr. Alakija Karmal, said NIN shouldn’t be a prerequisite for candidates to register and take part in an examination as it’s not an easy number to obtain through a national identity scheme, not even the elite, let alone students.

 

He said: “Following challenges associated with obtaining the NIN, JAMB should not have created this undue bottleneck for the students because there are foreign candidates, who sit for the UTME, who have no need for the NIN.

“NIN is not supposed to be expensive but citizens are being forced to pay various huge sums of money to be registered and the citizens are bearing the brunt of government’s failure to issue ID cards to Nigerians nearly 20 years when the project got underway.

 

“According to the DG, NIMC, Aliyu Abubakar Aziz, the commission needed 4,000 enrollment centres nationwide to carry out registration services anytime but a little above 1, 000 centres in place is the reason for the exploitation. JAMB is supposed to have stabilised its examination processes.”

 

However, Vincent Ezeme, a teacher and admission agent, said at the ETC Nigeria Limited, Ikorodu Road, Ilupeju Centre 1, Lagos, that NIN is good and will remove all the multiple registrations in the system and allow for fair play for all candidates, saying that exploitation that came with this announcement was more before JAMB suspended the exercise earlier but has reduced now.

 

He said: “The essence of NIN as a requirement for UTME registration is to reduce the rate of impersonations in the Nigerian examinations to a bare minimum. What happens is that when you put in your NIN in the platform, there will be an e-filling out of your information on the application documents because they are already in the system.

 

“With this, you will not be able to fake anything during the registration. And with the thumbprint, your bio-data props up. So, there is nothing to hide again. The NIN requirement is good but maybe, JAMB would have done a little more awareness which would have eased off the stress and financial exploitation that the students and parents are going through in the hands of unscrupulous NIMC’s unguarded officials.”

 

JAMB, last year, said it registered over 1.9 million prospective candidates for its 2020 UTME, with a few hours to the end of the exercise but there is fear that 2021 UTME may not see such a number of registered candidates owing to this NIN clogs to the student’s wheels.

 

NIMC keeps mum

 

However, when the NIMC’s spokesperson, Mr. Kayode Adegoke, was contacted to respond to the strong allegations of exploitation of students and masses by the staff of NIMC, he unwittingly and tactically refused to react to the allegations against the Commission.

 

He was contacted early Wednesday morning, April 21, 2021 at about 8:39am with inquiry into the matters but he replied to the message sent to him, promising, “would get back to you shortly,” but never did up to the time of filing this report. More worrisome, he deliberately refused to pick several calls put across to him af-  terwards.

 

JAMB: We’ve registered nearly 300,000 candidates

 

The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), has said so far, almost 300,000 candidates have registered for the 2021 UTME. Head of Information and Protocol, JAMB, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, who made this known to one of our correspondents, gave assurances that before the end of the registration period, candidates who genuinely wished to register for this year’s examination would have done so successfully.

 

 

Fabian, who accepted that the registration processes were being confronted with some hiccups, however, expressed optimism that no candidate would be left out in the registration for this year’s examination. He said: “Every candidate that decides to register this year will do their registration by the Grace of God “We can register all the candidates in less than a month and we have enough time to do that.

 

We have gotten up to 300,000 candidates though as much as there are hiccups here and there with the registration but before that time (registration deadline) everybody that wants to register would have registered. ”

 

Fabian further noted that foreigners do not need to possess the NIN before registering for the UTME. He explained that the waiver from the mandatory use of NIN for foreigners, was not undue advantage over citizens, noting that even though they were just stating their intent which majority of the times do not translate into reality, all foreigners must conform to laid down protocols at Nigeria’s embassies in whichever country they seek the admission from.

 

The JAMB spokesman reiterated that the NIN exercise was aimed at assisting the Federal Government capture the identities of Nigerians. “If you are a foreigner, we have registration provision for foreigners and in the form; you will so indicate you are a foreigner. We have foreigners who are in foreign countries and they will buy our form at our embassies in their own countries. “The essence of NIN is to capture your identity as a Nigerian and if the man is in the UK and he wants to write our exams, you cannot ask him to come to Nigeria to get his NIN before he can register.

 

But in case he comes to Nigeria and he wants to stay in Nigeria and write the exams, all other processes will follow. “But at this point, he is only expressing interest to come to school in Nigeria. We don’t even know if he will come.

 

•Additional reports by Caleb Onwe and Regina Otokpa

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