By Lanre Adesanya
Irate candidates who sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, UTME, besieged the Lagos State House of Assembly to register their grievance on the exam and the examining which they alleged shortchanged and fleeced them, calling for the resignation of the registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde.
The protest however witnessed some degree of violence,spurred by an attempt by security operatives attached to the assembly to quell the morbid crowd of protesters who teargassed them, obviously intensifying the annoyance of the candidates having waited for over five hours without any response from the legislators.
The protesters also claimed that the protest was being staged in all state Houses of assembly across the federation but it was only the Lagos Assembly that was reluctant to give them proper attention.
The aggrieved candidates who stormed the Assembly complex in their numbers accused Ojerinde of corruption and incompetence to manage the examination Board.
Leader of the protest under the aegis of Concerned Parents and Education Stakeholders, Comrade Oludotun Shodunke, maintained that Ojerinde, who is a Professor of Test and Management has “outlived his usefulness”, noting that he (Ojerinde) has corruptly enriched himself through excessive and unlawful charges on JAMB forms.
Shodunke maintained that the JAMB form contrary to the directive given by the Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun to sell for one thousand naira, was sold by Ojerinde for a whooping sum of five thousand naira each to a total of 1.7 million applicants.
He alleged that the JAMB boss, in order to pave way for private universities to record high admission, failed many candidates, stressing that some of his best candidates abysmally failed the exam by a ridiculous score.
According to him, this year’s best candidate at my centre scored 130 in JAMB. Every year I make it a tradition to handsomely compensate the best candidate in my centre. Last year the best candidate after the assessment scored 280. When he wrote UTME, he scored 291. This year my best candidate in the assessment test scored 289 but to our total surprise he had 130. Another candidate who performed very poorly in the UTME said that she was surprise only to find out that she scored above 180.”
The spokesman added that Ojerinde in order to remedy his flaws added 40 marks to all the scores across board but later deducted it by 100 marks the following week, a development he described as gross incompetence.
Shodunke added that the registrar apart from his corrupt tendencies, failed to properly and credibly conduct this year’s Computer-Based Test, CBT, stressing that it is a sham and the worst since its introduction.
“This year’s UTME is the worst since the introduction of the Computer-Based Test. There is a systematic problem in the scores of candidates and a mixed up of subjects. Some candidates who chose Medicine had for their subjects Government and Literature-in-English instead of Biology, Physics and Chemistry.
“Many candidates forfeited the exam because many exam centres were changed less than 10 hours to the official time. Some of my candidates and many others in Lagos had to travel unexpectedly outside of the state to far places to write their exams, and as a result over 10, 000 candidates missed the UTME.”
He also alleged that Ojerinde was selling change of institutions and course e-cards while the exam was still in progress.
Shodunke further averred that candidates received scores before sitting the examination, describing the development as “incredible”.
He however urged the House to as a matter of urgency come to the rescue the victimized candidates’ plight, in order to forestall any further negative consequences the development would have on the teeming youths.
One of the affected candidates, Okelola Samson said that he read rigorously for the examination, but that JAMB gave him 170 marks which was against his expectation.
According to him, for the past two weeks, JAMB has been sending results that was not in tandem with our expectations. We expected good result but we were disappointed at the management with the series of marks they were sending to our phones.
“I am sure 170 was not my score and I am using this opportunity to call on the House of Assembly and the Federal Government to investigate this hiccup with JAMB,” he pleaded.
The protesting candidates shouted at the frontage of the Assembly that Prof. Dibu must leave as the Director of JAMB.
Another candidate, Adebisi Shonupe also shared his experience, and said that all the efforts put into the exam proved abortive with the action of JAMB.
“Dibu is marking down candidates to pave way for private universities and also deduct the scores of the candidates at his own discretion. We also received some of our results before we write the exam,” the candidates said.
According to them, JAMB changed exam venues without proper notification and over 10,000 candidates missed the UTME exam. He is also selling change of institution and change of course e-card, while the exam was still in progress.
The inscription on the placards included: “My system went off and nothing was done. ” “Kilode! You all have children.”
The Director of Next Level Academy, Abayomi Arowolo, who was an instructor to the candidates, said what JAMB did amounts to injustice.
“After the candidates finished the examinations, the JAMB added 40 marks to their scores and later removed it from the candidates’ scores. Some of the candidates are still writing the exam, so the Commission should be called to order.”
In his address, the Majority Leader, Hon Sanai Agunbiade commended the protesters for coming to the assembly to air their grievances, adding that their view would be given urgent attention.
He appealed to the students to stay calm. He also noted that it is not in the character of the house to delay in attending to such issue that bothers on national outlook from the state.
“We are your mouth piece so you have done well to have come to the house, we will channel your complaints to the appropriate quarters, I want you to also note that violence is not a tool for resolving issues, as meaningful dialogue can achieve more”, he said.