■ Candidates, parents wait for JAMB technical committee, universities to decide their final fate in this year’s varsity admission
‘I’m worried. Nobody knows the criteria they will use to do the final selection’

By Gabriel Dike

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As you read this, the technical committee of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) on 2016/2017 admissions is meeting with admissions officers of universities, polytechnics, monotechnics, colleges of education, and innovation enterprises, to harmonise records on this year’s admission.
The meeting which started, yesterday, at the new campus of Bayero University, Kano (BUK), will end on Friday, August 26, 2016. It is after it that candidates who applied for admission into various tertiary institutions in Nigeria, will know their fate as final result will not be out until then.
Information made available to The Sun Education by Dr. Fabian Benjamin, the JAMB Public Relations Officer, said that the committee which is having the meeting, for the first time, with admissions officers from various tertiary institutions, will, among other things, want to ensure that the institutions concerned followed laid-down guidelines in offering admission to successful candidates.
The JAMB Technical Committee meeting and matters arising
Apart from merit-based admission, the committee would want to know whether the tertiary institutions obeyed the law on the number or percentage of candidates given admission based on catchment areas and educationally disadvantaged states. Tertiary institutions that failed to meet up with the standard may be asked to go back to the drawing board, to ensure that they did the right thing.
In the light of the development, there may be candidates who were the first who may turn out to be the last and there are candidates who were the last who will end up being the first. For now, everything appears to be in a state of flux.
As a matter of fact, this year’s admission exercise has been characterized as well as marred by inconsistent directives.  First, the Federal Government banned the conduct of Post-UTME which many stakeholders see as “honey pot’’ for Vice Chancellors. Later, government over-ruled itself and allowed  some sort of post-JAMB screening to be put in place after VCs tackled JAMB over the selection process.
Second, JAMB sent admission merit list to universities. Several weeks later, it withdrew it, citing the reason for the withdrawal as the need “to ensure that the University Senate perform its statutory responsibility of conducting the selection of candidates and refer it to JAMB for confirmation in line with the admission criteria of merit, catchment and educationally disadvantaged states.”
“The earlier list was sent to help fast-track the process of admission so as to allow other tiers of institutions also conduct their admission,” a statement issued by Dr. Benjamin noted. “Candidates should not panic because this is part of the process of the 2016 admission exercise. JAMB regrets any inconvenience this decision would have caused the tertiary institutions.”
Despite the advice to candidates not to panic, thousands of them and their parents have been kept in the dark about the selection process by the institutions thus creating anxiety among admission seekers.
The National President of Association of Tutorial School Operators (ATSO) in Nigeria, Mr. Sodunke Oludotun Michael, is one of those stakeholders not impressed by the reason given by JAMB for the withdrawal of the list.
In a chat with The Sun Education, he described the 2016/2017 admission exercise as sham and blamed the former Registrar, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, for what the candidates and parents are going through today.
“The problem of this year’s admission is not about 2016 UTME alone,” he said. “It was something that was pre-planned by Prof. Ojerinde from the beginning. He tried it last year but it didn’t work. This is because I had to mobilise students nationwide for a protest by students and our members, prompting the House of Representatives to threaten to take action. Even the Minister of Education was not pleased with what happened. This year, he re-planned and sold it to the Minister and he fell for it.”
For now, candidates and parents who are seriously worried and confused about the unfolding drama surrounding the 2016/2017 admission exercise are hoping that those involved in the admission would tidy up the mess.
Ordeals of candidates
Mr. Adelakun Ojo, whose 18-year-old son, Dare Ojo, was offered admission by JAMB in July to read political science at University of Ibadan, after scoring 265 in the UTME, said the family’s happiness was cut short when the board withdrew the admission stating it was the responsibility of each university’s Senate to decide the admission procedure.
The businessman explained that he had to restrain the boy from traveling to the university for necessary processing of his admission because he wasn’t too sure of the true position of things. He appealed to JAMB to provide information as regard the admission exercise.
Mrs. Agnes Nnadi, whose son, Kelechi, was offered provisional admission by JAMB to read petroleum engineering at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun (FUPRE), Delta State, is, as confused as others. She said everyday, her 20-year-old son, continues to check the university website with no success on when the 2016/2017 admission screening exercise would start. The only notice on the university website informed candidates who chose FUPRE as their first choice that the Post-UTME screening earlier scheduled for Saturday, 16th July, 2016 has been cancelled with the university promising to inform affected candidates of a new date “in due course.”
Eighteen-year-old Odeh Emmanuel, who scored 271 in the UTME, and who was among candidates that JAMB offered admission in July, said the withdrawal of the provisional admission has continued to bother him as he awaits details of the University of Lagos screening exercise. Emmanuel informed The Sun Education that since the offer of the admission he had visited UNILAG website more than 30 times and been to the institution, three times, to make inquiries about the screening. But on each occasion, he had come back with nothing tangible that could help calm his anxieties.
A Lagos-based journalist, Mr. Vincent Kalu, whose daughter picked FUPRE as first choice said the situation is worrisome as the university has kept parents and candidates in the dark over the admission exercise, lamenting that “everyday I check the university, it is the same old information but each time I come back home my daughter would expect me to have new information for her.
“The only information on the website is the one for July 15 notifying candidates of the cancellation of the post-UTME screening,” he sighed. “As a parent, I am worried about the situation. But for the financial implication, I would have opted for a private university. Nobody knows the criteria they will use to do the final selection.” Her WAEC result is okay, Kalu noted.’’ The young lady who scored 210 in the last UTME intends to study petroleum engineering.
With 224 score in the UTME, Zach Louis King who wants to read medicine at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, regretted not being offered admission by JAMB. But he is hopeful of getting admission during the screening exercise. He disclosed that he attempted a change of course at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, but was not successful.
Like King, Ileme Sochukwuma Joseph, who scored 214 and who applied to read public administration and local government at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is hopeful of scaling through if the university sticks to the admission merit list and the use of point system in its screening of candidates.
Seventeen-year-old Uche Chukwueke who scored 213 in the UTME and applied for medicine at University of Benin, complained like others that she was not offered admission in July by JAMB because her score was not up to the cut-off mark. Hence she changed her course to Physiotherapy. “I went for the screening test for which I paid N5, 000. Since the admission has been cancelled I hope the university will be kind enough to refund us our money as the Federal Ministry of Education directed.”
Hopeful candidates
Sixteen-year-old Toluwalase Lawal who scored 180 is hopeful of securing admission to read chemical engineering at the University of Ibadan. His optimism is based on the alleged national cut-off mark declared at the joint admissions meeting with vice chancellors.
With 184 score, Ezike Ihechi Eulanda, is hopeful of securing admission into Michael Okpara University of Agriculture to study economics while 16-year-old Bini-Inonoje Kelvin who scored 180 and who picked Lagos State University as his first choice, to read chemical engineering, said although he was not among candidates offered admission in July, he remained hopeful of securing admission if invited for the screening exercise.
Stakeholder’s reaction
Reacting to the development, the Proprietor of Royal Academy, Ibadan, Chief Laide Oluwaseun, said that, after the withdrawal of JAMB admission list, he expected universities to have put their house in order by starting the admission process stressing that, “many candidates and their parents are confused and don’t know what is happening. From all indication, the universities have not opened up on the admission exercise.’’
He picked holes in some public universities not considering, at the joint consultative admission, candidates whose scores met the national cut-off mark of 180 to 1999, adding that the omission would deny brilliant candidates the opportunity of gaining admission.
Universities’ position on the logjam
The Public Relations Officer of OAU, Mr. Mr. Olanrewaju Abiodun, explained that the reason for the initial delay was that their students were in session for 2015/2016 academic calendar. “We have started screening of the candidates and after that we will come out with the cut-off marks for each course,’’ he assured. “The screening is ongoing. Candidates are expected to go on line and register. The university has not decided on the number of candidates to admit. Last year, the university admitted over 7,000 students.’’
After initial delay, the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), began the 2016/2017, admission process into its various undergraduate degree programmes with the screening of candidates. The four-day Post-UTME screening exercise took off on Tuesday, August 9, 2016 with over 20,000 candidates jostling for 4,000 admission slots. Unlike other institutions, the university said the admission exercise would be done in accordance with the policy of the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja, thus it would check the UTME and O’ Level results of candidates who chose the institute and who scored 180 and above in the UTME.
The Public Relations Officer of the university, Mr. Adegbenro Adebanjo, disclosed in a statement that officials of the university, including the Security Unit, were on hand to check the documents of the candidates to confirm their eligibility. A team of the university management, led by Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Academic), Prof. Olatunde Arayela, who is the Chairman, Admission Committee, later went round to observe the conduct of the exercise.
The University of Lagos, after a long delay, asked candidates who applied for admission, and who scored 200 and above, to register online by paying N2, 500. Despite closing the door on those with 180 national cut-off, the university management warned that candidates must possess five credit passes at one sitting in relevant O’level subjects including English Language and Mathematics stressing that “candidates who will not be 16 years of age by Monday, October 31, 2016 are not eligible and need not apply.’’
The Public Relations Officer of UNIBEN, Mr. Michael Osasuyi, told The Sun Education that the university is currently sorting out issues regarding the admission and would get back to our correspondent.
For millions of candidates and their parents, the waiting game continues but two major reasons are responsible for the delay: one is that many of the universities are struggling to conclude the current academic session and the other is, many of them are trying to come up with new guidelines for admission in the face of the cancellation of Post-UTME by the Federal Ministry of Education.
Additional reports by Lawal Ifeoluwa, Jubril Amita and Bini-Inonoje Goodness