Sometime in 2005, University admission seekers received perhaps the most shocking news of their lives. The then Minister of Education, Mrs. Chinwe Obaji, introduced a strange policy of subjecting candidates another round of psychological torture of having to sit for another examination which will later be called post-UTME or post-JAMB depending on who is doing the talking. This policy made it mandatory for all tertiary institutions to undertake the task of further screening candidates after their JAMB results before giving admission. According to Mrs. Obaji, candidates with a score of 200 and above will be shortlisted by JAMB and their names and scores sent to their universities of choice which should then do another screening test in form of aptitude tests, oral interviews or even another examination.
Note that at that time, universities were only mandated to take a critical look at the candidates to ensure there are fit to study the course of studies for which they have applied. The government was silent on the issue of how much should be charged per candidate. The silence of the government on this issue of critical importance soon created the vacuum for profiteer university administrators to take advantage of!
Recently, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, announced at the opening of the at the 2016 Combined Policy Meeting on Admissions to Universities, Polytechnics and other higher institutions in Nigeria that the Federal Government had full confident in the examination body (JAMB) and that there was no need to subject the poor candidates to further psychological stress. He said “As far as I am concerned, the nation has confidence in what JAMB is doing, the universities should not be holding another examinations and if the universities have any complain against JAMB, let them bring it and then we address it. But if JAMB is qualified enough to conduct tests and they have conducted test, then there will be no need to conduct another test for students to gain admission.” (Vanguard June 3, 2016 my emphasis).
As I have written earlier, the strongest argument for the introduction of the post-UTME was the noticeable defects in the integrity of the JAMB examination which threw up all manner of quacks to the universities. But with those issues resolved with the introduction of several innovations in UTME like the Computer Based Test (CBT) and others over the years, can we still there are any legitimate reasons for the so-called post-UTME?
The corruption-ridden university administrators doing their utmost using their powerful lobbyists to undermine the government in their attempt to get fat cheques at the candidates’ misfortunes since the post-UTME system is lacking in accountability anyway. These men (and women) will stop at nothing to milk the vulnerable candidates of their hard earned money. Under the guise “screening fees” or any other name they are called they make the poor candidates in some cases as high as N10,000 with no guarantee of admission that excludes hidden charges for logistics.
In their desperation to gain admission, students are forced to travel long distances (and at short notices) to write these so-called exams at additional costs to the candidates.
These same universities publicly admitted the existence of cultists on their campuses when it was obvious that the federal government in the late 1990s was ready to vote large funds into the anti-cultism campaigns. Since money was involved, they could make such admission, had money not been involved, these university administrators would have sworn to the heavens that they had no single cultist on their campus.
This is why I will argue for the “no fee” screenings to test the resolve of the loudest advocates of post-UTME. The federal government should mandate these universities to conduct the screenings for free. At this point, one can hear a deafening silence because will go a long way ensuring proper quality control over the processes. I am also using this opportunity to call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies to extend their searchlights on the institutions of higher learning so that some unscrupulous university administrators do not feed fat on poor candidates’ hard earned money from this madness called post-UTME!
Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN is a social commentator based in Lagos, Nigeria.