Abuja – The Senate on Thursday mandated its Committee on Education to undertake a comprehensive investigation into the activities of universities subjecting candidates to examinations after the test by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation board (JAMB).
The decision was taken after an extensive debate on a motion on the illegal subjection of candidates to the Post-UME examinations by some universities.
Presenting the motion, Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri observed that JAMB was empowered to conduct matriculation for entry into all universities, polytechnics and colleges of education .
Lokpobiri further observed that the board was also responsible for the collation and dissemination of information on all matters relating to admission into tertiary institutions.
He noted that JAMB was the statutory body responsible for determining matriculation requirements and conducting examinations leading to undergraduate admissions and admissions to National Diploma and Nigeria Certificate in Education courses.
According to him, the laws establishing universities empowered them to hold examinations and grant degrees, diplomas, certificates and other distinctions to people who have pursued a course of study approved by the university.
He expressed the concern that the various universities charged fees and subjected candidates to series of tests and interviews which often took days to conclude.
The lawmaker said he was worried that these examinations were at grave cost to parents and guardians and a clear violation of the JAMB Act.
In his contribution, Sen. Datti Baba-Ahmed (CPC- Kaduna) said that the idea of Post -UME negated the principles of university examination.
Sen. Ayogu Eze (PDP-Enugu) also argued that the Post-UME examination was a rip off of unsuspecting parents and should be cancelled.
Eze said the law strengthened only JAMB to conduct examinations into universities and did not empower universities to conduct further examinations.
He alleged that “the universities are disobeying the laws of the land. They use this Post-UME to manipulate admissions and admit only those they wish to and ignore well qualified candidates.’’
He said if the integrity of JAMB was being questioned, JAMB should be overhauled, adding that the universities were by this act usurping the powers of JAMB.
Sen. Nkechi Nwaogu (PDP-Abia) also argued that subjecting candidates to a second examination was unnecessary, adding that if people had lost confidence in JAMB it should be strengthened to restore public confidence in the body.
Also contributing to the debate, Sen. Nenadi Usman (PDP-Kaduna) said the whole concept of Post-UME was illegal and against the law and should not be allowed to continue.
“No matter how good an intention is, if is illegal, it is wrong. I believe for the universities to want to go into Post -UME, something must have gone wrong with JAMB.
“So if the universities see something wrong with JAMB, they should bring a bill and if it scales through, they will have a law backing their actions.’’
For Sen. Ahmed Lawan (ANPP-Yobe), the scrapping of Post-UME was long overdue noting that it was an extortion of the people.
Lawan urged the senators to end the Post -UME issue once and for all since, according to him, this is about the fifth time the lawmakers would be debate the issue.
“The money collected for this Post-UME is illegal and an open-day robbery. We represent the people and we know where it pinches them most.
“Majority of candidates who write JAMB are the children of those who have little or nothing, because they come from poor backgrounds.
“JAMB has been transformed and so the universities must be made to stop exhorting the people and allow JAMB to do its work,’’ Lawan said.
Speaking against the motion, Sen. Aisha Alhassan (PDP-Taraba) said rather than condemn the universities, the Senate ought to applaud them for striving to ensure qualitative standard of education.
According to Alhassan, it is common knowledge that JAMB has failed because people pay others to write the examinations for them.
“We should be saying thank you to the universities for conducting Post-UME because they are out to give quality education.
“We do not have enough spaces in the universities to admit all those that JAMB passes and so this is the university’s way of further stream lining the admission of candidates.’’
Sen. Ibrahim Gobir (PDP-Sokoto) also opposed the motion, urging the senators to first weigh the merits and demerits of Post-–UME before utterly condemning it.
“Let us look at the reason and the genesis behind the Post-UME. People have lost confidence in JAMB. People score high in JAMB and yet they do not do well in school.
Also opposing the motion, Sen. Robert Boroface (LP-Ondo) said the Post-UME was a safety net for the universities to filter out candidates who used illegal means to pass JAMB.
The senators, however, voted in support of the abolition of the Post-UME and mandated its Committee on Education to report its finding within four weeks.
The House had in May 2010 ordered the Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission to immediately abolition the Post-UME examinations. (NAN)