The Federal Government has denied scrapping the National Examinations Council (NECO) and Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
The denial is an apparent backpedalling following the opposition that greeted the move, which Presidency officials disclosed to newsmen. Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, who made the denial yesterday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Education, described the purported scrapping of NECO and UTME as a rumour.
His words: “I don’t know where they got the information that government wanted to scrap NECO. Government has at no time scrapped NECO and UTME. “Even if the government has to scrap any of these agencies, it has to give reasons for its action. No position has been taken.
I don’t know where the rumours are coming from.” With those words, the minister, Mr. Wike soothed frayed nerves of Nigerians, staff of the two exam bodies and members of the Senate Committee on Education. He was reacting to queries from the Senator Uche Chukwumerije-led Education Committee over reports that the Federal Government had concluded plans to scrap NECO and UMTE.
In his submissions, Wike said although, the Professor Stephen Orosanye Committee, set up to look into the cases of overlap of agencies, had recommended the scrapping of NECO and JAMB, the government was still in the process of taking a final decision on the recommendation.
Wike said the White Paper committee set up to review the recommendations was still working. Earlier, Senator Chukwumerije told the minister that UTME and NECO were the two institutions which offered Nigerian students access to quality education.
He also bemoaned a situation whereby the Federal Government could suddenly decide to scrap the two agencies even when the laws that set them up were still very much in place. He said: “The Senate is very interested in what happens to the education of our people and education generally because these two institutions monitor access and quality of education in the country.
We are particularly interested because there are implications for the people should the two institutions be scrapped. There will be the issue of unemployment and there will be the issue of costs.”
JAMB Registrar, Professor Dibu Ojerinde in his contributions before the committee, canvassed the retention of JAMB, adding that any contrary move “would be grave for the Nigerian child. Each child would have to purchase forms for the university he wants to go”.
He told the committee that UMTE was the only sure way of addressing the diverse problems of the country including federal character.
Related: FG may reconsider scrapping of NECO, UTME