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    April 11, 2017

    ​This year’s registration process for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), to the candidates, is a bundle of frustration and agony. Report KAYODE OLANREWAJU, MOJEED ALABI and DAN ATORI

    Three weeks after the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) commenced registration for this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) into higher institutions in the country, there is no respite for the prospective candidates. Lack of adequate computer systems, power outage, poor Internet service, long queue as a result of the huge crowd of candidates, are among other hiccups militating against the ongoing UTME registration across the country.

    The candidates and their parents, who are still licking their wounds, have continued to recount their various unpleasant experiences, following the inability of some them to register for the examination.

    These candidates’ tales of woes range from spending days at the banks ase the registration PIN, and at the Computer- Based-Test centres to register for the examination, which the Mock Examination earlier fixed for last Saturday, had to be suspended.

    Investigations by New Telegraph have revealed that despite various efforts including the introduction of Remita payment mode by JAMB to assuage the hardship the candidates are going through, yet, there is no respite for the candidates. Following the hardship and shoddiness being experienced by the candidates since the admission registration process commenced, JAMB on Saturday was forced to suspend the Mock Examination, which was earlier scheduled to hold on the day, while the deadline for sales of forms and registration that is expected to close on April 19, has been extended till Friday, May 5, and consequently the UTME billed for May 6 to 20, has also been postponed to begin on May 13.

    This is as the candidates have continued to lament the rigorous tasks and process they have to undergo in order to register for the examination, given the long queues of the candidates at the banks and CBT registration centres. According to JAMB, the Mock Examinations for interested candidates is to familiarize them with the CBT systems and generally forecast the challenges that may be faced ahead in order to proactively address them. The release signed by the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, stated: “It is just a rehearsal for us and candidates who want to experience the situation to expect during the actual examinations.”

    But, key stakeholders in the nation’s education sector including the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Association of Tutorial School Operators (ATSO), among others, have expressed worry over the poor conduct of the registration exer cise and the abrupt cancellation of the Mock Examination.

    In an exclusive interview with New Telegraph, the National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said the flop being experienced by candidates is not unconnected to JAMB’s lack of deep thinking on the part of its leadership. He advised that JAMB should return to its original mandate and stop subjecting innocent Nigerian students and their parents to unnecessary hardship. Ogunyemi, however, noted that the position of ASUU on JAMB has not changed either, saying changing the leadership of the examination body is not the solution to its many challenges, but the complete overhaul of the entire system.

    He said: “The new JAMB leadership is actually in a haste to make changes forgetting the fact that positive changes come with deep thinking and planning. We do not need to personalise the matter, but we have always maintained the position that JAMB has lost its focus and must be overhauled before meaningful changes can happen. For those who hope that the appointment of the new leadership would herald a new system, they must have realised their mistakes going by the crisis created by the Board.” Similarly, the National President of ATSO, Oludotun Sodunke, said the failure of JAMB under Oloyede was long foretold, adding that rather than building on the legacies of his predecessor and modifying his lapses, Oloyede was busy running down the entire system.

    According to Sodunke, the inability of the new leadership of JAMB to carry key stakeholders along in his policies had formed the foundation for the current crisis. “Oloyede planned for his failure because the handwriting was everywhere. The new registrar’s arrogance is his undoing,” Sodunke added, saying: “How would JAMB accredit only 600 CBT centres across the country to register about 2 million candidates within one month? Does that follow logic? Candidates are still undergoing registration and you wanted to hold mock examination.

    It is unfortunate.” However, the National Public Relations Officer of SSANU, Comrade Abdulsobur Salaam, said it would be too early to trade blame over the postponement of the UTME mock examination and the stress being experienced by candidates over registration.

    In fact, at the three CBT centres at the Osun State University, JAMB Office and at Agunbelewo area of Osogbo, the Osun State capital, some of the candidates, who described their experience and the JAMB’s policy as unpalatable, also recalled how one of them slumped while on the queue, but was revived by the other candidates. For candidates in Niger State registering for the UTME, which began on March 20, is the same story of woes as some of the candidates narrated how they had to spend days in the banks and CBT centres before they could register.

    When our correspondent visited the CBT centre at the College of Education (COE), Minna, the Remitta mode of payment introduced by JAMB was still cumbersome as candidates have to wait endlessly for the turn amid the crowd. A parent, identified simply as Hamisu, however, called for urgent reversal to the former process of registration for the UTME, insisting that the introduction of the remita mode of payment has not mitigated the hardship facing the candidates in acquiring the e-PIN.” “I have been in Minna for the past three days; the day I arrived we were given tally number, but the systems were so slow that only few of us could be attended to while many of us were asked to come the next day,” Mairo Allawa from Munya Local Government Area of the state said.

    He condemned the process in view of the challenges faced by the candidates at the various stages of registration. Besides, the N5,500 charged by JAMB for the registration fee, candidates in Niger State explained that they were charged extra N200 for opening of email at the centres, while the operators of the CBT centres charged N700 for registration exercise respectively.

    Similarly, in Kaduna, it is the same story of agony and hardship as the candidates had to stay till midnight at the centres for them to register. To Al Ameen Kabir the exercise sometimes extends to 1am, due to the problem inadequate banks as only four banks were designated by JAMB for the sales of PIN.”

    “The system is so slow that it takes the candidates between one day and four days in the banks to get their PIN,” Kabir said, blaming the cumbersome process on the limited number of CBT centre in the state when compared to the high number of prospective candidates. According to him, there are only three CBT centres in Kaduna, which are at El-Khalil Malali Centre; SMC and the other at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA). In Edo State, lack of adequate computer systems, power outage, poor Internet services, long queue as a result of the huge crowd, among other hiccups are factor militating against the ongoing registration.

    The candidates have continued to lament the hiccups trailing the ongoing registration exercises at various centres the state, where New Telegraph investigations revealed the unbearable hardship the candidates are going through at the designated centres. Some of the candidates, who narrated their experiences, blamed the delay on poor or malfunctioning internet network services, power outages, favoritism and alleged sharp practices against some CBT officials, lack of effective communication between JAMB officials and operators of the CBT centres.

    When New Telegraph visited some of the centres last Friday, there were long queues at the Gurella Computer Center on Uwz Street, Off Sapele Road in Benin; Iyayi Computer Complex at the University of Benin and Da Civic Centre on Airport Road respectively. Part of the problems, according to the New Telegraph investigation is the shortage of staff in most of the banks to attend to the candidates, despite the hectic process, resulting to long queues of candidates in the banks. In Ibadan and Oyo, anger, agony and frustration are the best words to describe the mood of candidates at various registration centres visited by the New Telegraph, as they have struggle daily to register for the examination.

    At some of the designated banks visited, candidates complained of slow services, just as some banks complained of network hiccups, resulting to heavy human traffic and long. Adeola Oyeniyi, who was lucky to complete her registration on Wednesday evening after spending several days at the CBT centre at Bodija, Ibadan, told New Telegraph: “The JAMB urgently needs to re-engineer this process to reduce the hardship the candidates go through daily since the commencement of the registration exercise. It has taken me more than a week before I could complete the registration because of the huge number of candidates struggling to register.”

    Meanwhile, prospective candidates in Zamfara had called for the extension of the registration deadline, to allow many of them who are yet to register to do so.

    Some of the candidates expressed dismay over the exercise, saying the difficulties characterizing the process of registration at the computerbased centres and bank call for urgent modification of the process.

    At the JAMB Office in Alagbaka area of Ondo State capital, there was long queue and heavy human traffic, when New Telegraph visited the office. As at the weekend, some candidates besieged the JAMB Office in order to beat the deadline for the registration. When New Telegraph visited the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) CBT centre, there was long queue of candidates awaiting their turn for the biometric capturing.

    Blessing Funsho, a candidate aspiring to study Medicine at the Obafemi Awolowo University recalled that she had been on the registration process for the past four days to no avail. At the college’s branch of Zenith Bank, candidates were on a long queue to pay the UTME fees; a process which a security officer at the bank, Mr. Abdullai Usman, said had been smooth and hitch-free despite the queue. Another candidate, Kausarat Bello, expressed dissatisfaction with the new registration process and pleaded with JAMB to extend the deadline for the UTME registration, as some candidates are yet to understand the registration process for the examination.

    “For a whole week I have literally kept vigil at the bank seeking to register and in the end it was a really frustrating experience,” Bolade Afolaje, a female candidate in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital had told New Telegraph.

    The situation is so precarious in Ilorin because some JAMB officials were alleged not to know how to operate the computer systems. For instance, some candidates hinted how one of the officials does not know how to hook on to @yahoo sign, and she has to be changed following several complains by the candidates.

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