Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has asked the House of Representatives Committee on Finance to remove the agency from the annual budget by granting it total autonomy.
The JAMB Registrar, Ishaq Oloyede, who made the appeal while appearing before the committee at the ongoing deliberations on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF-FSP), said there are conditions before the JAMB could be removed from the annual budget.
According to him, one of the conditions is that JAMB should be allowed to review the examination fees upward.
He explained that the board decided to review the fees downward in 2017 after remitting N7.5 billion, adding that the amount charged for registration fees was reduced from N5,000 to N3,500.
Oloyede said given the current economic realities, the federal government should allow JAMB to revert back to N5,000 and be autonomous.
While claiming that no country, except Finland, charges as low as Nigeria, he added that no country funds such an examination body fully.
He said: “There is nowhere that government funds this type of examination. They actually provide some support for the institution because students pay some token as registration fees and from it, they bear the responsibility of salaries and provide some succour. We are comfortable to be taken off the budget but there are conditions. One of the conditions for example, when students registered in 2016, we collected N5,000 and that had been on for five years before I joined. When we came in, we remitted N7.5 billion. We felt it was too much and approached the federal government to reduce the fees. We have not added a kobo since.
“I believe we should revert to the N5,000 we were charging. Given the inflation, if we charge N10,000 — I am just giving it as example — nobody will ask the federal government for one kobo. I am not aware of anywhere in the world, except maybe Finland, that charges as low as JAMB is charging. In Finland, we know that everything is free. We are hearing that you are planning to borrow billions. We are all going to sink at the end of the day. If there is anyway anybody believes he can save this country, we should start doing that. The earlier we start the better for us.”
Responding, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Saidu Abdullahi, said the lawmakers are concerned about the impact on the disposable income of Nigerians.
While commending Oloyede for his prudence and transparency in managing the affairs of JAMB, the lawmaker however argued that reverting to N5,000 means transferring the burden of operating the board to parents and guardians.