The choice of 120 score marks over 400, for admissions into the nations universities is yet to die down, and staff of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) have joined the sing-song of condemnation, just as they accuse the management of untoward acts.
However, in a comprehensive response to the grievances of staff, the management of JAMB described their memo as a product of some few individual staff who wanted to use the platform of Union to ventilate their personal and selfish interest.
“This can be seen in the petition written against them by a group of staff. Find attached the letter,” JAMB Spokesman, Dr. Fabian Benjamin said
The staff allege that corruption, tribalism, and favouritism is the order of the day in JAMB.
In a memo made available in Abuja, the staff called for a return to standards, accusing some management staff of working with universities’ authorities to undermine the Board.
In the September 13, 2017 memo, the staff detail malfeasances that are killing staff morale and making the Board an object of public ridicule.
Reproduced below is a copy of the memo to staff, which was forwarded to management, and the management response to everyday.ng.
The Congress of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), JAMB Branch on Wednesday, 13th September, 2017 met over some disturbing trends and events in JAMB, especially as it affects staff welfare, terms and conditions of employment and work environment generally.
The Congress with the theme: Canvassing for Stable Administration and Conducive Work Environment for Maximum Productivity and Development also took into consideration the General Mandate of JAMB as it is enshrined in the Acts that established It. Consequently, the Congress having critically reviewed these trends and events hereby resolves as follows:
1) That the statutory Objective and Mission of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) is to ensure uniform standards in the conduct of Matriculation Examinations and the placement of suitably qualified candidates into the union’s tertiary institutions.
But JAMB in its response stated: “Uniformity of standard in the conduct of public examination ensures that all candidates are examined on the same scale of difficulty level. Please note that there is difference between conduct of matriculation examination and placement of suitably qualified candidates. These are two different roles played by the Board and intended to achieve national unification and perhaps economic resuscitation as may be explained later. The letter as sent to me exhibited ignorance in this marked differences and confused matriculation examination with admission/placement procedure. The Board especially with the transition from paper pencil to CBT has ensured that its questions are calibrated to the same level for all candidates irrespective of schedule of examination (Matriculation examination). So the Board has not deviated in it responsibility of ensuring uniform standard. May be because of ensuring that the senate and academic Boards of all tertiary institutions exercise its powers of determining admission criteria as contain n their various laws establishing them, the writers of the union letter construe it to be an act of distorting uniformity. No matter how long one has gone on a wrong path it is always better to make a turn and take the right way. The general practice all over the world is that tertiary institutions determine their entry requirements and not imposed on them by an agency or body of government. Nigeria cannot be an exception as that is the global best practice.
2) That the functions of the Board as stated in the Acts that established it remain, valid and sacrosanct.
JAMB Response. The function of the Board has been followed logically over the years. if you see the various act establishing the Board, you will notice that it has been fashioned after similar international organizations to conduct matriculation examination and hand over results to institutions and play the role of a regulator in monitoring the placement of candidates to ensure that only suitably qualified are placed. May be you should look at the laws establishing the Board and also the various laws establishing the institutions for you to make an informed decision. Note also that the Board was established by the universities to address the challenge of duplications in application and admission of candidates and not to usurp the powers of the institutions.
3) That the Management is obviously favouring Consultants and Tertiary Institutions respectively contrary to the statutory provisions of the Acts that established JAMB and thereby violating the Civil Service Rules with regards to staff welfare and condition is of service
JAMB RESPONSE. This question is premised on lack of understanding of how government operates. Firstly, no staff of the Board has lost his or her schedule as a result of their presence rather they have enhanced and created more work opportunities for the staff. Most of the IT services of the Board were handled by contractors before the coming of the present management. On arrival he made it clear that the fees being paid were too high and would want staff to be offering all IT services done by contractors before and the ones that would be done in future for security of the Board’s examination materials and other security details. To achieve this staff need training and mentoring. This is how the idea of consultants came to be. Approvals were obtained from relevant authorities and it is as a result of this that over 5 billion naira was remitted to government, an amount much more than what has been remitted in the entire 40 years of the Board’s existence. These consultants have been told that they are to in a short time provide services assigned to them, train the staff to do same and depart. Today we are conducting admission on what we call CAPS anchored by staff who were trained by consultants and are masters of the CAPS. The just concluded examination was done on a software that has cost the Board less than 100 million as against the over 1 billion before and the consultant has handed the software that has save over a billion naira of public funds over to the IT department and the staff are being retrained for the 2018 exercise. The labour complaint is built on support for the Board to maintain the old order of corruption rather than staff empowerment. On tertiary institutions ,the Board only respected the powers of the senate and academic Boards to determine entry requirement as stipulated in their various laws.
4) That the Management hired a company, Center Trade Limited to usurp one of the critical functions of JAMB in verifying and accrediting centers for the Computer Based Tests, a function that is a key and primary duty of Quality Assurance Department in JAMB. Reports from the fields indicate that the firm is demanding inducements from the centers before such verification and accreditation.
JAMB RESPONSE: This was a job that was done by a company and paid over 120 million naira. In the last nine years the Board spent each year a 120 million naira on the same exercise which the present management has engaged a company that collected less than 35 million naira. The management should be commended. Please note that the conduct of this exercise is not new as this is not the first time a company will be doing it but this is the first time that it will be so cheap.
Staff position: There are also some disturbing speculations that the Management wants to further emasculate the functions and duties of Test Development (TD) Department, the same way it did to QA.
JAMB RESPONSE: You rightly said speculation, the reality is that no department has been emasculated rather all department are repositioned for maximum delivery of set targets.
5) That Management has disenfranchised our staff from performing their duties as stipulated in their letters of employment by continually engaging Consultants in every aspect of our traditional functions and operations.
Response: This has been adequately answered in (3) above.
6) That the Management tactically abdicated our constitutional Functions and Mandate to process admissions of prospective candidates by curiously according full autonomy to Tertiary Institutions concerning such processes.
Response: The Board has never conducted admissions for institutions in its entire life. What it did last year was todabbled into the powers of the senate and academic Boards of institutions and the institutions resisted this vehemently. May be you will need to look at the laws establishing the Board and the ones establishing the Universities or have an interaction with the management of NUC the regulatory body in charge of universities and you will get the truth of the matter. It is quite unfortunate that people who call themselves staff of the Board do not know basic facts about procedures associated with examination and admission. Global best practices of how institutions are administered points to the fact that all institutions determine their intake and are graded differently on the basis of their acceptability by the labour market and their admissions patronage.
7) That the Management has tarnished the image of JAMB by accepting and approving a questionable “120” cut-off mark for the last UTME admission exercise against all conventions and expectations, especially in view of the global focus on JAMB to maintain its credibility and improve standards and values in the education sector.
Consequently the situation is such that the citizenry, associations and groups like the National Association of
Nigerian Students (NANS) have been criticizing JAMB, besieging and picketing our Headquarters, bringing the Board to disrepute.
Response: First, be informed that the Board’s examination is not a major entry determinate for admission. The SSCE results by WAEC,NECO and other similar examination bodies are. It will interest you to know that the Board’s examination is a selection examination done through the ranking of the candidates. If today we have sufficient opportunities for all candidates to be admitted to programmes of their chioce, there would be no need for the Board examination again. As explained earlier, institutions all over the world set their entry requirements and not imposed by a regulator on them. What transpired at the policy meeting with all Heads of tertiary institutions and all regulators of Polytechnics, Colleges of Education and Universities in attendance where the Union leaders were not in attendance was to allow institutions to set their entry requirement according to the laws establishing them and their peculiarities of patronage and standard. Institutions all over the world are known and rated differently according to their set entry requirements and other perimeters of output and labour market considerations. The entry requirement to gain admission to Cambridge is not the same with East London University and others. However the 120 cut off mark is not a fact that once a candidate scores 120 then h/s will be admitted in any university of his or her choice, no. It is a benchmark that no university should go below. Most institutions have opted for marks even higher than the 120. What is the cut off mark of the candidates that go to foreign Universities in places like Ghana and others, zero and when they come back we celebrate them without asking why they were admitted with no cut off marks but punish our poor brothers and sisters whose parents are poor and cannot afford to send them abroad with unrealistic cut off marks. They keep writing examination year in year out without success, they become very frustrated and some result to criminal acts while spaces abound without being filled in a system that can’t provide for all. Some institutions in an attempt to fill their spaces due to this unrealistic cut off marks even go behind the doors to admit candidates with zero marks who can ‘afford’ to bend the system. Are we concern over the capital flight on school fees etc? The flexible policy on cut off marks is meant to address all these abnormalities and reposition our education. For top flying universities, 200 and above is their cut off marks but for others they can make do with 180 and some below.
8) That the Management is using the back door to encourage Post-UTME (screening and examination) exercises, which is a socio-economic and educational aberration in the country since our examination standards and processes have improved tremendously over the years.
Response: The pronouncement on post UTME was a ministerial directive and has nothing to do with management. The Board is also expected to obey the directive.
9) That the Management from all indications, is apparently workingto scrap JAMB by endorsing the Post-UTME exercises, which curiously favours the Tertiary institutions the primary constituency of some of Management staff.
Response: The Board is under the supervision of the ministry of education and not the other way. So if there are directive from the ministry we are bound to respect it. When last year the Minister banned post UTME we equally respected it and there was no issue so why will respecting this one have issues from the labour. Are they being sponsored by certain interest, let them channel their letter to the appropriate authority.
10) That the Management only favoured their associates, friends, wards and relations who formed the bulk of the ad-hoc staff engaged for some negligible hours during the last UTME exercises by paying them between the sum of Three Hundred Thousand andNine Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira respectively (N300,000.00and N950,000.00) while our staff were paid less than Two HundredThousand Naira (N200,000,00) for an exercise they spent more than ten challenging days and nights! That management should stop paying flat rate allowances to staff for duties they are assigned to save them further pains and anguish
Response: The primary responsibility of each staff of the Board is the conduct of examination and we are paid salaries for this responsibility every month even when we do not do examination. If we are now conducting examination we should not be asking for another payment other than allowances to facilitate our movement and accommodation to ensure that we deliver on this mandate. It is unfortunate that the letter written by NASU is insinuating that another set of payment should be made. Support staff brought from other organisations are not staff of the Board hence they were paid slightly above our staff. The Board staff have other allowances that were paid that these staff didn’t receive.
11) That the Management’s so-called “Reward System” is strangely skewed to patronize a particular section of the polity as witnessed during the Post-UTME monetary awards where staff who conducted the examination in the Registrar/CE, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede’s former place of work, University of llorin(Unilorin) and Akure zone strangely won.
Curiously, the locations of the centers that won are from the same region while the awardees were all from the same tribe tool.
Response: One of the challenge of merit system is that it could produce such results and create so many speculations. It is possible that only staff of a particular religion, tribe or region could have won the award. The selection was done blindly using a committee comprising very senior members of staff reflecting national spread with management insisting on merit. May be next year we will use federal character principle and not merit. However, commendation should be given to management for even doing something for staff. This is the first time such award will be given. Whoever got it is first a staff before being qualified. Thank God the recipients were from different tribes reflected all the component of religion and regions of the country, the complaint is just that they travelled to do examination in the West. It is not true that they were from one tribe, at least there was an Ejembian Idoma and someone from either Bayelsa or Rivers. This is the challenge of our nation.
12) That the awards should have been given to the centers that had verifiable daunting challenges and to those who worked under adverse and severe conditions respectively but still overcame such trials than otherwise.
Response: There is no rule or procedure that is exhaustive, if you include their suggestion today you will have the SSANU also saying no it should be so or so. The best to me is just blind selection based on merit irrespective whether two brothers will get it.
13) That since the Management raised and mandated a Committee on Monday, February 6th, 2017 to look into the Issues of “Skipping” in JAMB no official statement has been made by the Management concerning the Committee after It had submitted its report a long time ago.
Response: The Board does not have the powers to implement this process. The report of the committee has been sent to the relevant agency and we are waiting their decision which will be communicated to staff.
14) That the Management is playing politics with the recommendations of the Welfare Committee, which It curiously set up last year apparently to better the working conditions of staff. From all indications, the report of the Committee has been swept under the Carpet.
Response: Management made it clear that it has completed work on the report but waiting for the Governing Board’sinauguration to submit to them. It has the option of submitting to the Ministry but you all know what that outcome will be.
15) That the Management is not committed to the welfare of our staff such that staff morale and enthusiasm to work is at its lowest ebb since the establishment of JAMB forty ago.
16) That promotion examinations and results are no more credible and transparent with results not promptly released and published anymore but rather enmeshed in Intrigues; shrouded in secrecy, thereby fertilizing the grounds for corrupt and manipulative tendencies.
That the results of 2017 and 2018 promotion examsrespectively be released arid published immediately. That test items for promotion exams should also cover job experiences in JAMB
Response: Promotion and other examinations in the Board are done through CBT and results are seen instantly. The last promotion was done and staffs have seen their results with interviews done for senior staff going to directorate cadre and the list has since being forwarded to the ministry for final approval as the Board does not have a Governing Board yet. The approval just came in two days ago and letters are being typed for distribution to deserving staff. Please be informed that no staff has ever missed a year of promotion if mature for promotion, there are organisation in this country where staff are not promoted after reaching maturity for years. We will continue to ensure that every deserving staff is promoted when due in line with public service rules and regulations.
17. That the Management is maliciously and indiscriminately transferring staff unde the guise of repositioning the Board. Curiously, most of the staff transferred were at one point or another sponsored and trained by the Board thereby causing it huge economic wastages now, an action that is against the cardinal points of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. Yet, strangely, the Management is currently rather sponsoring and trailing Consultants to replace them. On the other hand, some of the affected staff were transferred based on some questionable and frivolous “Intelligence reports”.
Response: Transfer is a normal routine in the public service. If there is any case of victimization let them bring it up with evidence. Don’t forget that there are some of these staff that have actually requested for this transfer.
18) That the Management has created a scary environment in JAMB where our staff now live in perpetual fear of being victimized; being transferred or sacked, Staff now face series of harassments, intimidations, humiliations, scorn and impoverishment without let or hindrance.
Resp; Not a single case is known to me. Scary environment is ambiguous.
19) That the issue of conversion/upgrading of our members is long overdue for consideration, especially In view of the fact that such category of staff had committed so much time and resources towards this end, Also not to discourage staff from acquiring education and skills towards improving capacity, which is beneficial to the Board ari its growth?
Response: This is applicable to the same issue of approval before undertaking study leave as treated below. For those who have approval their case is being treated with the promotion and confirmation committee.
20) That our members who presented qually be accorded their full privileges and rights, especially in view of the fact that the same Dorben Polytechnic, Abuja certificates are accepted in other government ministries and agencies respectively.
Response: Before a staff undertakes a programme in tertiary institution h/s is expected to obtain approval. If they failto obtain necessary approval and such they submit such certificates, they are supposed to be punished for using official hour without permission to undertake such courses. The staff in question have no approval and management cannot encourage others to violate official regulations guiding in service study.
21) That the period of time stipulated by Management to refund the UTME cash advance is short and cumbersome, and has rather traumatized and impoverished staff who are paying back the funds,
Response: An examination advance that was given in May and payment of advance directed to end in September should be applauded. If this period is no sufficient for advance payment of less than 100,000 naira then I don’t know what period should be.
22) That the case of state coordinators who are refunding money should be revisited in accordance to Civil Service Rule and Financial Regulations.
Response: These staff are supposed to have been dismissed based on public service regulations but management felt that they should refund what was stolen and they should go and sin no more. But with the position of Union they will be dealt with accordingly may be dismissed in line with the public service rule and handed over to security agencies for further prosecution.
23) That overtime allowance should be paid to deserving departments and staff respectively.
Response: Overtime is an earned allowance and not paid arbitrary. The Registrar has made it clear that all staff should close by 4pm as it was with the former regime except for those on essential assignments and they are paidovertime. Paying staff for what they have not done is corruption. There was no general over time before so it should not be there now.
24) That the 28-day transfer allowance of Mr. Chinedu Odinko, a driver and that of other staff similarly transferred be paid to cushion the effect of the hardship they are experiencing while the case of Mrs.Zalnab Ajanaku of Test Administrations who was unjustly laid off be reviewed unless there is evidence against her to suggest otherwise.
We once again reiterate our true desire and preparedness to partner with the Management and other stakeholders towards the implementation and sustenance of developmental Initiatives and innovations that will uplift the general vision, interests and vision statement of the Board.
Finally, we unequivocally state that the welfare and rights of our members should not be undermined but should be respected and preserved according to international labour laws, practices, treaties and conventions.
Response: Payment of allowances has a procedure and once the staff fulfils that procedure h/s will be paid. In the former regime staff were transferred and not paid but the case is different now hence their request. They never asked in the former regime because they were being compromised.