Some students preparing to write this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), on Saturday, said they feared They won’t sit for the examination had the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) not suspended its directive on the possession of National Identification Number (NIN) as a requirement for the examination.
However, prospective candidates who had successfully registered and obtained the NIN reserving no pleasant words for JAMB for subjecting them to unnecessary hardship.
Some parents and other stakeholders commended JAMB for the decision to put the policy on hold, describing it as a right step in the right direction.
Tolani (surname withheld), a prospective candidate, who reluctantly spoke in an interview on Saturday, in Ibadan, Oyo State, narrated her experience and those of others at the Ibadan office of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
“For two weeks, beginning from before Christmas, I was getting to the NIMC office before 8.00 a.m. every day, and I was not leaving until past 3.00 p.m.
“I only wanted to collect the NIN; I had already registered for the identity card more than a month before then, but I was only issued a temporary slip, without the NIN, and was asked to come back to be assigned the NIN. There were many others like me.
“We returned home every day in frustration. They would either tell us there was no network on their computer, or that they had “no data” from Abuja. Yet, we saw some people drive in, in jeeps with their children and they were attended to.”
Tolani said that at a point on one of those days, a female official of the NIMC offered to help her obtain the NIN if she could part with N1000.
She did not have the money that day, but, according to her, the parents, even though they didn’t like the development, gave her the money when she was going the following day, out of desperation not to make her miss another year of UTME registration.
Mr Jonathan Amande, a civil servant, who said he conveyed two of his children around some of the NIMC enrollment centres in Mararaba, Nasarawa State to some city centres in Abuja on Thursday in vain, noted that the experience was bad.
He called on the Federal Government to release adequate fund to the commission so as to expand their enrollment centres across the country in order to make the exercise seamless.
Amande said he was not against the use of NIN for UTME registration but insisted that the right thing must be done by providing the necessary facilities and equipment for the exercise before coming up with such a policy that would have far-reaching implication on the people.
Mrs Margret Ibezem, a social worker in Abuja, said even though one of the children preparing to register for the UTME had succeeded in obtaining the NIN, she noted that the decision to suspend the use of NIN was right.
Some parents in Ondo State disclosed that officials of the agency had been using the rush to extort money from both the students and parents who visit the NIMC office for registration.
They claimed the officials work in connivance with some touts who act as agents for the NIMC officials.
A parent and lecturer at Federal Polytechnic Ado-Ekiti, Mr Joel Adekunle, expressed displeasure over the activities of some officials of the NIMC, alleging that “these people never show any compassion towards the candidates who are young persons.
“I was there days ago and I can see what candidates are being made to face before registering for this exercise.”
A parent from Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, Mrs Dolapo Afolayan, also described the decision as a big relief, saying that the Nigerian factor made a mess of the essence of the registration.
“Is it the money or time wasted so far or the stress? No matter the necessity of the registration or the essence, Nigerian factor has made mess of it all. Non-availability of computers is the major challenge in my own observation,” she said.
Another parent from the state, Mr Usman Abdulkadir, said
“My concern is that most people, especially, parents would relax now with the suspension, waiting for next rush. I got it done because we started early since the announcement. Since, it’s the government’s policy, we should obey. That’s my take.”
Culled from Nigerian Tribune