JOHN ONAH, Abuja
The National Examinations Council (NECO) has frowned at alleged extortion of some candidates sitting for the 2020 Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) warning that it will sanction any schools found to be charging above the government-approved fee of N9,850 as registration fee.
The Acting Registrar of NECO, Abubakar Gana, gave the warning, when the House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services paid an oversight visit to the Council in Abuja.
The Acting Registrar who acknowledged that the act of extortion of candidates was becoming rife, added that the examination body had written memos to Commissioners of Education of the 36 states and FCT, notifying them to take actions against the extortions going on in their schools, which ran contrary to the directive of the Federal Government.
According to him, some schools were charging between N19,000 and N20,000 as registration fee for SSCE.
To this end he noted that NECO would not sit down and watch candidates defrauded while trying to pursue education.
Gana said the council would engage members of the committee to monitor its examination and report any infraction to guide the council on appropriate actions to be taken.
“Not quite a month, we wrote to all the Commissioners of Education, highlighting that some schools, both public and private, are overcharging candidates. While the NECO fee itself is N9,850, some are even charging N20,000 in the name of administrative charges.”
“Most of these schools are miracle centres and what they do there is that they perpetrate malpractice. Candidates who are lazy and don’t have confidence can go to the extent of paying N50,000 to register so they can have their way.
“We are on it. You too have a very critical role to play. We will make sure that in all our activities, we would make you part of the monitoring team so you can see what is happening and at your own convenience, write a report to us,” he said.
Gana, who took the committee through the mandate of NECO, appealed to the National Assembly for the review of NECO’s budget, lamenting that the exam body has not embarked on any capital project for the past three years.
He said apart from conducting examination, NECO was finding it difficult to execute one project due to low allocation to the agency.
He said in 2018, it was budgeted that the council will purchase 18 Hilux pickups but only N7 million was released to it which couldn’t even buy one.
Responding, the Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education and Services, Prof Julius Ihovbere, said the committee had a lot of confidence in NECO and those managing the agency.
Ihovbere said from the feedback from his constituency, NECO was doing exceptionally well.
“We believe that the role you have played, the only way to better appreciate it is to imagine a Nigeria without NECO,” he said.
According to him, the limitations faced by NECO were not from the inability of the Council to deliver but because of the challenges confronting the exam body.
He expressed confidence that both Senate and the House of Representatives will approve a review of NECO’s budget to enable it execute its mandate.