The former Executive Secretary, National Universities
Commission, Prof. Peter Okebukola, has criticised the
recently announced method of admitting students into
tertiary institutions, saying it amounted to admitting
Okebukola, who spoke on the sidelines of the 2016 Speech
Day and Prize Giving ceremony of Queen’s College, Yaba,
Lagos, on Monday, said that the current guidelines put in
place for admission of candidates into Nigeria’s tertiary
institutions would only allow unqualified candidate to be
Okebukola, who was reacting to the recent cancellation of
the Post Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME)
by the Federal Government, said the criteria were still
unclear to stakeholders.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) had
on July 10, clarified that the 2016 admissions would be
conducted purely on the three existing admission pillars of
merit, catchment area and educationally less developed
It added that candidates were to present their Senior School
Certificate Examination (SSCE)/Advanced Level (AL) results
for verification and clearing purposes.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, had
announced the cancellation at a recent meeting on the
selection of candidates for admission into tertiary
Adamu had also warned that any institution that went
contrary to the directive would be sanctioned.
He added that institutions were, however, at liberty to
conduct their screening by cross-checking the SSCE results of
the candidates that must include five credits, including
Mathematics and English Language at a sitting.
Okebukola said: “Actually, I must say that we do not know
where we are heading to yet.
“The reason is that both the JAMB and the universities under
the umbrella of Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigeria
Universities (AVCNU) are not even sure of the criteria.
“We have yet to have any clear view of where we are going
yet, but I suspect that in another one week or two, we are
likely to know where we are going.
“As of now, the environment is still very cloudy on the post
UTME thing,’’ he said.
Narrating how the post UTME came about, Okebukola said:
“During my tenure as Executive Secretary, it started in the
form of screening.
“It was aimed at getting quality candidates into our tertiary
institutions, especially the universities.
“It all happened that in 2002, some of the vice-chancellors
after the UME came to me on a Sunday after the
examination the previous day.
“They reported that there was a big issue in a particular
university which I will not like to mention but they
complained that almost half of the students of the university
sat for the UME.
“And when I asked why, they said some persons who are
candidates of UME used these students to write the
examination for them as mercenaries.
“It then dawned on us that some of these people that
normally brandish high scores are not really the true owners
of such scores’’.
He said that it became apparent that there was a need insert
into the question of admission another layer of filtering.
He added that the development was what informed the
screening put in place at that period.
Okebukola said that if the institutions were to produce
quality graduates and earn the respect of other climes in the
country’s education system, it was the way to go.
He added that after due consultation with the Directors of
NUC on the issue, it was further discovered that the
development on the admission process was predominant all
over the place.
Okebukola said that a meeting with between NUC and JAMB
under the watch of the then JAMB Registrar, Prof. Salim
Bello, was also convened to discuss the development to find
the way forward.
“I was indeed pained and resolved that we must find a way
of getting quality graduates into our universities.
“We urged JAMB to conduct their multi-choice text, which is
only testing candidates’ cognitive potential and which does
not test how they speak English and how they write.
“And because we also found out that many of these
candidates that take this examination are very poor in both
written and oral English, we felt there should be another
layer of screening.
“However, I must emphasise that we did not label this
screening as post UTME test or whatever.
“We called it Post UME Screening even though we had initial
challenges with the National Assembly,’’ he said.
Okebukola added that the then President, Olusegun
Obasanjo also restated that JAMB’s law allowed it to do its
test and did not allow the universities to do any test.
He said that following the response, the NUC and the then
Minister of Education, Prof. Chinwe Obaji, decided to go to
the National Assembly to clarify issues.
The don said that it was agreed that there should not be any
form of multiple-choice examinations again on the CBT
He added that in its place would be oral questions and some
essay writing in order to assess the candidates’ writing skills.
Okebukola said this agreement was reached with the
National Assembly and the message conveyed to the
universities and JAMB.
According to him, it was agreed that after the multiple-
choice UME, the universities should carry out the essay and
oral screening as well as physical appearance.
The screening, he said, was also to ensure that such
candidates’ appearances did not portray them as touts or
cultists in spite from their academic proficiency.