By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday asked the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), to suspend the planned use of the National Identity Number (NIN) in the registration of candidates for its Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
The decision was consequent upon a motion sponsored by Hon. Zainab Gimba (APC, Borno), which was unanimously adopted.
Leading debate on the motion, Gimba argued that the planned use of the NIN as generated by NIMC for the registration of candidates was too sudden, and may lead to denial of several Nigerians the opportunity to seek admissions into tertiary institutions.
She explained that her call was necessitated by the need to carry out adequate sensitization, as well as for the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to create more registration centres, especially in the nation’s remote localities for easier access.
According to her, JAMB should delay implementation of the policy until 2021, in order to allow more time and better awareness for prospective candidates. “Younger Nigerians and minors constitute the larger number of those yet to be captured by NIMC mainly due to the prior registration criteria which captured only persons aged 18 and above”, she stated.
The lawmaker submitted that “registration for the 2020 UTME is billed to commence in December 2019 and examinations to commence March 20th, 2020. This means intending candidates have between November and January (three months) to register with NIMC, and subsequently get registered for the UTME”
Supporting the motion, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi (APC, Plateau) argued that majority of the candidates seeking admission into tertiary institutions suffer to get money for registration and subjecting them to obtain NIN would amount to increasing their hardship.
“There are students that go through hell to buy JAMB forms. If you therefore ask them to go and process NIN before getting registered, you will be unfair to them. I would suggest that JAMB should suspend this policy until the NIMC is able to capture at least 80 percent of Nigerians”, he stated.
Also speaking in favour of the motion, Hon. Da’u Magaji (APC, Jigawa) noted that it will be insensitive to subject candidates for UMTE to such stress noting that using the NIN as criteria to registering for JAMB would affect students from rural communities.
When speaker Femi Gbajabiamila put the issue to question, it was unanimously adopted and the House therefore mandated its committee on tertiary education and services, and the NIMC to identify challenges in capturing Nigerians, with a view to tackling same, including increased funding if necessary.