The challenges associated with National Development: the JAMB experience

JAMB commencement 2020 admissions

The road towards national development is not only tortuous but also fraught with varied and multifaceted challenges. Interestingly, many of these challenges are occasioned by the peculiar nature of the country under consideration. Therefore, it goes to show that a nation that boasts of highly-patriotic citizenry will face different kinds of challenges while nations that are unfortunate to be mostly peopled with unpatriotic and self-centered citizens will always achieve different outcomes on almost every matter even on issues as mundane as adhering to basic traffic rules.

The point should also be made loud and clear that ours is a destiny distinct from all
around us. This is owing to our God-given endowments which are widely celebrated.
The Board, as it is constituted, occupies a strategic position in the education sector of
the country as it is charged with the responsibility of selecting suitably-qualified
candidates for the nation’s tertiary institutions which, of course, would constitute her
manpower of tomorrow.

One of the challenges facing the Board is the limited carrying capacity of our various
institutions. Furthermore, there is high demand for certain programmes that are seen
as being more lucrative in the labour market whereas, in reality, the spaces are not just
there for every aspiring candidate. To distribute available spaces fairly, the Board has devised various strategies and technologies to ensure fairness, equity and transparency.

It is our firm belief in the Board that technology is central to national development. This is because it doesn’t only engenders fairness, but also touches the lives of everyone. It could be a veritable ally in our march to national progress only if it is given the priority it

Interestingly, our efforts at deploying state-of-the-art technology have come with a lot of challenges as many naysayers have viewed it as being too sensational and self-serving. As such, questions have been repeatedly asked as to the functionality of many of our innovations as they find the positive news emanating from the Board too good to be true.
However, the implications are there for all to see. For a start, the Board was able to make unprecedented refunds to our national coffers owing to the many savings in terms of the costs of many of our operational processes, prudence and fiscal discipline, among others.

Some examples will suffice. First, we were able to cut down on the cost of administering
our examinations by simply adopting a different technology. Secondly, our approach to national duty is devoid of pandering to selfish interests as what was paramount in our minds was how we could, in our own little way, actuate national development by keying into the transformational agenda of the present government. In essence, we were thinking
of what we could do for the nation as opposed to what the nation could for us.

From this scenario, it is obvious that national rebirth and greatness can be predicated on three things: embrace or deployment of appropriate technology whether acquired, transferred or developed locally; fear of God while the third is the patriotic zeal that makes a citizen forgo his personal comfort for the good of the nation.

Part of the challenges we faced as an Agency of government is that some people hell-bent on changing the narrative  were sponsored and coordinated vitriolic Public attacks aimed at blackmailing the Board into submission.  This explains the preponderance of commentaries that are the products of sponsored propaganda by vested interests.

One of the malaise militating against national development is the lethargy that is fast becoming the hallmark of our collective experience. For instance, the Board had suspended the use of NIN for our registration and had urged the public to enrol as it had only suspended not cancelled the programme and would be looking in that direction in subsequent years. It is rather unfortunate that Nigerians have gone to sleep on that.

Thus, it is highly regrettable that nobody seems to be ready to continue to impress it on our collective will that the importance of enrolling far outweighs the immediate goal of simply registering for an examination. Someone out there should be able to tell us that the
possession of NIN is a national duty that should be embraced by all. A nation that is
not ready to sacrifice will hardly see any breakthrough as giant strides are achieved through great sacrifices.

In JAMB, our eyes and ears are closed to unnecessary pontificating. We are focused and determined to make a difference by contributing our best to national development.

Similarly, the Board firmly believes that national development depends mainly on the quality of her workforce. This is the reason why in JAMB, illegal admissions are never condoned as candidates admitted through the back door are more often than not indifferent to rigorous academic work. It is to be noted that Illegal admissions can occur through admitting low-scoring candidates in place of high scoring ones and bypassing the Central Admissions Processing System (CAPS) which is a software that automates
admission processes devoid of human intervention. This system does not rob institutions of the powers conferred on the Senate of each institution to decide the kind of students they want to admit provided they exercise this power in line with the National Admission Policy.

This implies that they will set all requirements in conformity with the Federal Government guidelines on admissions. The law also allows institutions which do not have sufficient subscriptions to fashion their entry requirements in such a way that will attract suitable candidates thereby preventing them from doing anything under the table. The setting of cut-off points by institutions is also part of the measures of addressing irregular admissions.

In case of infractions, the Board also ensures that the right of candidates are protected. As such, when illegalities are perceived by candidates, they are expected to demand that the right thing should be done. Therefore, it is not acceptable for a candidate to take admissions that are not offered through the right platform which is CAPS.

On a final note, many have also devoted valuable spaces on the pages of newspapers to talk about the Board not being a revenue generation agency. We have always maintained that we are not a revenue generation agency but a responsible agency that is bent on setting the pace in terms of the management of public resources. As much as we are not a
revenue generation agency, we will not waste what is given to us in trust. Through
our action, the common man is able to attain dividends of democracy as our application document is the cheapest in the whole world courtesy of Mr. President’s directive that slashed the cost of our application document.

It is surprising that many are not keying into our efforts to fight profligacy. Therefore, if we truly desire a nation we can be proud of, then we should support the drive towards
such. We all must collectively support good and condemn evil. Let us not hide under
frivolities to support what is not good. Rather, we should fight for what would be
in the overall benefit of Nigerians. Let us build our nation on ideas, innovations, fairness, equity and transparency and, as Bhagat Singh said, “Bombs and pistols do not make a
revolution. The sword of revolution is sharpened on the whetstone of ideas.’’

** Culled from March 2, 2020 edition of JAMBulletin

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