Abuja- The Minister of State for Education, Mr Nyesom Wike, said on Thursday that the Federal Government had not scrapped the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the National Examination Council (NECO).
Wike said this in Abuja when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Education to refute media reports that the Federal Government had abolished JAMB and NECO.
He said that the Federal Ministry of Education was in support of the continued existence of the two examination bodies, adding: ``the Federal Government has not taken any decision to the contrary.''
According to him, the government has not taken any action on the recommendations of the Stephen Oronsaye-led Presidential Committee on Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies.
The committee had recommended that some agencies be rationalised, to reduce the country's recurrent expenditure.
Emphasising that the examination bodies had not been scrapped, Wike told the Senate Committee:``I want to state clearly that there was no time that this government scrapped NECO or JAMB. Government has not scrapped JAMB, neither has it scrapped NECO.
``We have not met as a government to say that NECO and JAMB should go or NECO and JAMB should stay.
``For government to scrap any of the two, there must be an amendment of the laws establishing them and the Senate can attest to the fact that you have not seen any letter asking for an amendment.''
The minister described the reports as ``mere rumours by those who are out to create disaffection between the government and the public by heating up the polity for political reasons.
``These people are mischief makers who will always want to pitch government against the public when no decision has been taken on a matter.''
Also speaking, the Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, said that JAMB was an instrument for national integration and should not be allowed to die.
``In the interest of the Nigerian child, JAMB should be allowed to continue to organise the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
``It’s a unifying factor; it is cheaper for the children, instead of running from one university to the other. We need to find a way of unifying Nigerians.''
On his part, the Registrar of NECO, Prof. Promise Okpala, denied claims that the body deliberately caused massive failure in its examinations.
Okpala attributed the failure rate in NECO examinations to its zero tolerance for malpractice, which made it difficult for candidates to cheat during examinations.
He said:``NECO does not fail students. We use the same crop of teachers that mark WAEC.
``We employ certain measures in combating malpractice because of the peculiar nature of the Nigerian children of today.
``The existence of NECO is to provide choices for Nigerian children because monopoly is not good for any society.''
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Sen. Uche Chukwumerije, urged the Federal Government to exercise caution before taking any decision affecting major institutions in the education sector.
Chukwumerije noted that issues that bordered on access to quality education should be properly thought out, to avoid any negative consequences.
``JAMB and NECO are key national institutions and we, as a National Assembly, are very much interested in what happens to the education of our people and education in Nigeria generally.
``We, therefore, believe that any major decision that is taken affecting the fate of the two key areas of education in the country must be carefully thought through because of the implications'', he advised.