SENATE PROBES 'ILLEGAL' POST-UME IN VARSITIES
Senate has mandated its Education Committee to undertake a comprehensive investigation into the activities of universities conducting the post- Universities Matriculation Examination, which has been declared 'illegal.'
It was a heated debate in the Senate on Thursday as Senators were clearly divided over the propriety of the post-UME as a cross-section of the chamber said universities have usurped the powers of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
The session, which was presided over by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, described the examinations as illegal, unconstitutional and wicked.
The Senate resolution was predicated on a motion by Chairman of the Water Resources Committee, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri (PDP, Bayelsa West and co-sponsored by 35 Senators including Smart Adeyemi, Ayogu Eze, Zainab Kure, Chris Anyanwu and Dahiru Kuta.
Lokpobiri in his lead debate argued that JAMB is statutorily empowered to conduct matriculation examination for entry into higher institutions and also permitted to appoint examiners, moderators, invigilators, members of the Subject panel and committees and other persons with respect to matriculation examinations.
Senator Lokpobiri noted that the act where universities have usurped the powers of JAMB by charging fees and subjecting candidates to series of test and interviews before they are admitted into higher institutions.
The sponsor of the motion presented two newspapers where the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde openly disapproved of post-UME.
After his presentation, Senators became clearly divided into two camps. Those who argued that the post-UME be scrapped included Datti Baba-Ahmed, Ayogu Eze, Nkechi Nwaogu, Ahmed Lawan, Abdul Ningi, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Nenadi Usman, and Emmanuel Paulker, Bayelsa Central, PDP.
Works Committee Chairman, Senator Eze described post-UME as 'a big rip-off of our people and a rape of our laws. The law doesn't even empower them to conduct the examinations.
Ahmed Lawan who chairs the Public Accounts Committee noted that as representatives of the people, 'we know where the shoe pinches. The examination is extortionist, illegal and wicked. Monies collected from post-UME is clearly illegal since there's no law backing it up.'
Former Finance Minister who now represents Kaduna South, Senator Usman said no matter how noble intentions are, 'if they are illegal, then they are illegal. Every coin has two sides. if JAMB is faulty, then, the law setting up JAMB should be rectified.'
But Senator Aisha Al-Hassan slammed her colleagues who opposed post-UME. She argued that quality education which post-UME seeks to entrench should not be sacrificed because it does not favour some people.'We should be saying thank you to the universities for the post-UME. They are out to give qualitative education to our children. People condemn when it suits them and tend to condone when it suits them.
'It's common knowledge that JAMB has failed. I, therefore, oppose in total, the scrapping of post-UME.'
Other Senators who opposed scrapping of post UME included Ibrahim Gobir, Sokoto East, Robert Ajayi Boroffice, and Olufemi Lanlehin.
They cautioned the Senate to thread softly on the issue, asking whether the Nigeria Universities had enough space to admit the turnout of JAMB every year if post-UME was scrapped.