By Uche Amunike
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, has called on the Committee on Finance in the House of Representatives to remove it from yearly budgets allocation and grant it absolute autonomy, while increasing the price of registration fees of the JAMB examination.
Speaking, while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Wednesday, in Abuja, during the public hearing on theMedium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), in preparation of the 2023 budget presentation by the executive arm, the JAMB Registrar, Professor Ishaq Oloyede made the request, but however stated that there were certain conditions that should precede the removal of JAMB from the yearly budgets.
One of those conditions, he said, is that JAMB should henceforth be permitted to review the examination fee upward. He explained that it had become expedient to do so because, in 2017, the board took the decision to review the fees downward after remitting N7.5 billion, adding that the amount charged for registration fees was reduced from N5,000 to N3,500.
He therefore submitted that the Buhari-led government should permit JAMB to revert to N5,000 and get their autonomy, considering the present economic realities in the country.
He stipulated that no country funds an examination body like JAMB fully with the kind of low charges like is seen in Nigeria, except Finland.
His words: ‘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 succours.’
‘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 N5000 we were charging. Given the inflation, if we charge N10,000– I am just giving it as an 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 any way anybody believes he can save this country, we should start doing that. The earlier we start the better for us’, he concluded.
On his part, the Deputy Chairman of the Finance Committee, Saidu Abdullahi, submitted that the law makers were concerned about the impact on the disposable income of Nigerians.
He argued that if the board reverted to N5,000, it would amount to heaping the burden of operating the board on parents and guardians.
The committee, however lauded Professor Oloyede for being prudent and transparent while managing the affairs of the board.