By Emmanuel Yawe
The most scandalous, bizarre and celebrated news coming out of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) since it was set up in 1978 was the claim in 2008 by a staff of the board that a huge amount of money – 38 million of Naira – put in her trust by the board was swallowed by a snake.
There could be no greater evidence of lack of accountability at the board than this strange claim of snakes swallowing money which came from a female staff at the JAMB office in Makurdi, Benue state. As the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu put it at a public function last year:
“Since JAMB was established more than 40 years ago, the total amount it has given government was N200 million; but in one year, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede has remitted N5 billion to government. The new JAMB registrar has been correcting many anomalies in the board. Within a year, he has been able to stop all the untold things that were happening there.”
In a country where news of massive theft of public funds makes the headlines on a daily basis, there is the temptation to view the new JAMB from the narrow perspective of stolen funds only. But this, certainly is not the case. More news worthy things are going on there.
Since his appointment as Registrar in 2016, Professor Is-haq Olanrenwaju Oloyede discovered that not only were the resources of the board being plundered but that the mismanagement going on there had adversely affected its core mandate. The examinations being conducted by the board produced such questionable results that each of the universities set up their own internal examinations to test candidates already cleared and forwarded to them by JAMB.
Thus apart from blocking the financial leakages in the board, he has worked hard to reposition JAMB and to rebuild trust in the examination processes at the board.
One of the innovations he has put in place is to convoke a policy meeting of all stake holders drawn from the academia, all former Registrars of JAMB, human rights activists, Labour organizations, media, administrators etc. He defines it as “a most potent strategic platform to share and validate the Board’s vision, solicit and obtain feedbacks and input”.
The Stakeholders Meeting and other forms of engagement are held periodically to exchange information and create awareness; they have thus become ingrained in all facets of the Board’s activities as it strives to achieve its mandate. Wider consultation has also been necessitated by the fact that the number of candidates at JAMB examinations has continued to be on the rise. In 2015, there were 1.4 million candidates. This year, 2019, there are 1.8 candidates, a rise of close to half a million in just five years.
This novel experiment of democratizing the policy formulation and operations of JAMB he further said is paying great dividends. Due to the wide consultations, the various technology devices used for examination malpractices have been properly identified and measures have been proactively fashioned out to address them.
These measures include the prohibition of such items as watches, pen/biro, mobile phones or similar electronic devices from the examination venues. The list of banned items also include calculators or similar electronic devices, USB, CD or similar storage devices, books or any reading device, cameras, ATM cards, erasers, recorders, microphones, earpieces, Ink/pen readers, smart lenses, smart rings/jewelry, smart buttons, blue tooth devices and key holders.
In addition to these banning’s, the examination centres known as CBT Centres no longer require password from candidates to provide any of the services to them. All they need is to login with CBT Centre User Account and enter the candidates’ email/profile/code/registered phone number to render the service. Another security measure is to track all login activities. It is also now an offence to demand for any password of the candidate before rendering any service.
In order to ensure the effectiveness of these measures, JAMB is partnering with security and various agencies of cyber crimes, moving of some services to the registration portals in order to prevent extortion of candidates, stop attempts on cloning of registration SIMs through the use of technology, disband syndicates of CBT Centres and Cyber cafes abolish candidates from patronizing cybercafes and others and the sale of materials related to JAMB registration or examination at Centres (Compact Disc, examination pack, examination question and answer, etc).
The achievements of the Board in the 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) according to the Registrar would have been less spectacular without the benefits of involving stakeholders of JAMB.
Today JAMB has not only improved on its service delivery, it has enhanced the credibility of all examinations conducted by the body. Not only are the universities more confident of results produced from JAMB examinations, some are considering putting an end to their internal post UTME examinations just as other government and private institutions are turning to JAMB to help conduct their examinations.
But the most frightening aspect of the reforms is the use of ten fingers, finger print matching machines across the years. This is intended to expose those who have over the years have made a living out of impersonating candidates and writing exams for them. The Registrar has given a hint that there is an on-going technologically backed investigation of these dubious characters. The scientific identification of the fraudsters and some of their beneficiaries will soon be in his hands. Soon, some who are in very high positions now will be exposed to public odium by the thief catcher at JAMB.