Following deliberations by President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo and other selected senior aides of the president few weeks ago, there had been nationwide reports of the plan of the FG to scrap UTME, NECO, NAPEP, and others.
On Wednesday (yesterday), while speaking at the opening of an international workshop on Teaching, Learning and Methodology at the Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Youth and Student Matters, Mr Jude Imagwe, gave an indication of the reversal of the government's plan.
According to Imagwe, the Federal Government was still studying the recommendation of the Oronsaye Panel and expressed the hope that the two bodies would remain after due consideration.
Imagwe, who spoke at the International Workshop, said the two bodies were enactments of the law and created for specific purposes towards the advancement of education in Nigeria.
The presidential aide said: “At the end of the day, we will keep our own. NECO will be strengthened.”
Imagwe, who reiterated that President Goodluck Jonathan was committed to the development of education in the country, called for support for private universities and described ABUAD as “the product of a man’s vision for quality education.”
The workshop, which attracted lecturers from universities, polytechnics and colleges of education was based on the need to restore solid teaching to the nation’s tertiary institution.
Meanwhile, the last may not have been heard on the controversy over the White Paper on the Oronsaye Panel report which recommended the scrapping of the National Examination Council (NECO) and the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) currently being conducted by the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board(JAMB).
A source close to the Presidency revealed that while the Presidency was determined to shed off some weight as recommended by the Oronsaye Panel, certain vested interests might make nonsense of such efforts.
At the bottom of the problem may be percuniary rather than patriotic interests. The White Paper, was still being discussed at the Presidency as confirmed by the Minister of Education, Professor Rukayyat Rufa’i, when some interested parties deliberately leaked it to the press with the intention to generate public opinion which, it was hoped, would portray to the Presidency that the public was against the scrapping of NECO and UTME.
Meetings have been going on with the bodies concerned and with relevant sections of the public with the aim of getting their support to kill the decision before it becomes law. One of such meetings was held recently with Vice Chancellors of Universities in attendance.
During the meeting, the Chief Executive of the body was said to have intimated the Vice Chancellors with some of the steps being taken by his parastatal to improve examinations at the pre- university level. A source close to the meeting revealed that the officer unusually acceded to all the requests made by the Vice Chancellors present at the meeting.
The Executive Secretary of The Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Julius Okojie, has consistently stated that the scrapping of NECO and the UTME can only serve to improve the quality of education in Nigeria since the NECO certificate is not tenable outside Nigeria but candidates who usually score high marks in the Commission’s examination as compared with WASC results have consistently condemned the call that the body be scrapped. Already, in spite of the conduct of the UTME by JAMB, all universities across the country still conduct the UTME which also attracts additional fees from candidates seeking admission.