By: Abdurrahman Onifade Bello
“A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem.” – Albert Einstein
The news stimulated many Nigerians with hysteric euphoria, that the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) remitted a whooping sum of N7.8 billion last year alone to the Federal Government. Prior to this time, reports had it that the total amount remitted by the Board to the FG between 2010 and 2016 was a little above N50 million. That is less than one percent of what has been remitted under the current dispensation. This is really commendable.
Statistics revealed that about 1.7 million applicants sat for JAMB last year. If each applicant had obtained the form at N5,000 only, the total sum generated from sales of JAMB forms would have been N8.55 billion. But some applicants could apply and still not sit for the exam; especially children of the big guns in town. JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede, divulged some weeks ago in Kwara State that N12 billion was the total income from the proceeds of examinations for Nigerian and non-Nigerian applicants. What a transparent Registrar have we!
Basically, this revelation and remittance of such amount show that a few people with conscience still exist in our nation. Also, it has brought to the fore how some government agencies and boards generate humongous amounts of money but yet have the money stolen by their officials and their cronies in the corridors of power. After all, it is no news that official corruption has been legitimized by corrupt officials in the nation.
While remitting the billions to the FG seems meritorious, it equally shows that there is need to review applicants’ fees downward. Swami Vivekananda once said that “if money help a man to do good, it is of some value;but if not, it is simply a mass of evil, and the sooner it is got rid of, the better.”The money remitted by JAMB has not translated to any good for the citizenry from the FG; not even in the education sector which still gets an appalling 6-7% appropriation. The FG does not need the billions; JAMB should therefore not officially rob the masses of their insufficient daily bread.
Realistically, many applicants find it tasking to obtain JAMB forms annually. Save the fact that some politicians use JAMB forms as their constituency projects, which eventually ends with their party loyalist and acolytes, many applicants undergo unpleasant pains to save for JAMB. Or perhaps, a few lucky applicants may obtain their forms from the proceeds of their parents from petty trading. These parents and their children/wards abound at Dugbe, Gbagi, Aswani, Oshodi, Afikpo, Onitsha, Mararaba, Zuba markets, to mention a few. Many less-privileged applicants hawk sachet water, sweets, gala, newspapers, etc, in traffic, just to save for their aspirations of getting tertiary education.
From the foregoing, JAMB under its current Registrar must identify itself with the masses whose educational aspirations are at times truncated by financial constraints. It is no news, not a gladdening one, that Nigeria has overtaken India as a nation with poorest citizens in the globe. Pathetic. Therefore, a review of JAMB forms to N2,500 or less will go a long way to amelioratethe plight of a teeming youth population who long for tertiary education but handicapped due to lack of finance. It could be late to start this year as the exams are already slated and close, but following JAMB and subsequent ones are good avenues to revamp the fee structure favourably to the masses.
If truly education is the most powerful weapon which you use to change the world, as stated by late Nelson Mandela, affordable access to its pursuit is invaluable to the desired change. If change has not ceased to be the mantra under the present political dispensation of the APC-led FG, then change should be practically effected in JAMB applicants’ fees. Should JAMB continue to collect billions from the masses (majority of whom are poor) to remit to the FG, with a large number of them still not getting the quality of education they deserve, then it would be assumed that it is robbing Peter to pay Paul. After all, a government which trivializes funding education does not deserve to make stupendous revenues from the same sector.