By Frank Ikpefan, Abuja
The Senate on Tuesday announced plans by the National Assembly to amend the law establishing the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to peg the age limit for admission seekers at 16 years.
The Upper Chamber said it had identified two major areas to be addressed in the proposed amendment for the examination body to function better.
Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Akon Eyakenyi, announced this during an oversight visit to the JAMB headquarters in Bwari, Abuja.
Some public universities have pegged their admission age at 18 for candidates who meet the requirements for admission.
Eyakenyi said: “Our own work is that of making laws, to legislate. We have identified two major areas that we need to go into the process of amending the Act establishing JAMB. That’s the area of support we will give.
“Other than that, we also intend to pass on what we have seen today to the appropriate ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), the Federal Ministry of Education, to ensure that the support JAMB needs is given to them.”
The senator, who stressed the importance of education to the development and future of Nigeria, said the sector deserves maximum attention as quality education can only be achieved through funding and commitment of teachers and students.
Describing JAMB as a bridge between the secondary and the university, Eyakenyi said the board was a necessary vehicle for the delivery of quality and standard education in Nigeria.
“If the products from the secondary schools are not properly catered for to be assessed before turning them into the university, definitely you will have a problem,” she said.
Eyakenyi hailed JAMB for the smooth conduct of the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), saying the exercise was free from malpractices.
The senator recalled that each candidate had different questions to answer, describing JAMB Registrar, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, as a round peg in a round hole.
The committee wondered why JAMB had almost 100 per cent performance of its 2020 budget and over N500 million devoted to workers’ welfare, apart from their regular salaries.
Oloyede told the committee that the board does not have powers to disqualify any candidate on the basis of age.
The JAMB boss explained that individual institutions could decide on who to admit, as was the case with the University of Ibadan (UI), which does not admit candidates below 16 years.
He added that the board’s budget was only 75 per cent implemented as the government issued a directive that 25 per cent of funds budgeted should be returned to the Federation Account.
Oloyede said JAMB workers were given incentives to avoid the temptation of colluding with fraudsters to perpetrate malpractice while conducting its examinations across the country.
According to him, parts of the expenses were for their local travels, transportation and allowances.
He added that JAMB also sought the approval of the National Wages, Incomes and Salaries Commission to pay its workers the 13th month salary every year.