Workers at the Minna, Niger State headquarters of the National Examination Council, on Thursday, appealed to the Federal Government not to scrap the examination body.
When our correspondent visited the NECO headquarters, the tensed workers were seen discussing the fate that would befall them if the policy was implemented.
The Federal Government, it was reported on Wednesday, had decided to implement the recomemndations of the Oronsaye-Panel that listed NECO among 38 federal agencies that would be scrapped or merged with others. Though the Federal Government had not confirmed or denied the planned action, there was palpable tension in NECO on Thursday.
At the Information Unit of the council in Minna, officials refused to comment when approached on the issue. They only directed our correspondent to the Registrar, Prof. Promise Okpala. But he was said to be away when our correspondent got to his office.
However, a senior official, who pleaded anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the press, said there was no wisdom behind the attempt to scrap NECO.
“Let’s look at it this way: Britain is not up to half the size of Nigeria and it has about eight examination bodies. How then can Nigeria have only examination body?
“Secondly, why lump us with the West African Examination Council? WAEC does not belong to Nigeria, so what does the country stand to gain by handing over structures of NECO to WAEC?
“Thirdly, how possible is it for WAEC, or any examination body for that matter, to organise one SSCE in November and organise another one two months later, when they have not released the result of the one conducted in November?.
“Again, we should not be in a hurry to forget when Nigerian candidates suffered untold hardship in the hands of WAEC, which led to the birth of NECO.
“As at that time, open any newspaper and what you see are appeals by candidates asking WAEC to release their results. The coming of NECO stopped all that. Now, we are going back to the era of colonialism, may, be we should even hand over the Presidency of this country back to Britain,” he said.
Also, the Niger State Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Abdulhameed Danladi, in an interview with our correspondent in Minna, said though he believes government’s policies are dynamic and can be changed at any time, the decision to scrap the examination body must be given a second look in the overall interest of Nigerian educational development. He stressed that the nightmare Nigerians went through in the hand of WAEC should not be allowed to come back.
He pointed out that government has the right to make policies, but such should have positive bearing on the lives of the people because governance is all about people.
“My concern about scrapping of NECO is about the over 5,000 Nigerians working there that will lose their job.
“Here we are in a country where unemployment is on the high side and because of that, the government is coming up with a lot of programmes aimed at creating employment and mopping up unemployed youths from the streets and now you want to scrap NECO and increase the rate of unemployment in the country.”
He, however, argued that “what I don’t think is right is for government, in an attempt to solve one problem, start to create another. Examination is the only way to evaluate the performance of students and if you now scrap NECO, how do you evaluate candidates? If it is NECO that the Federal Government does not want, let them set up another one, but there must be an examination body that is wholly Nigerian.”
Danladi advised that rather than scrap NECO, the government should reposition it and add value to it for better performance.
A Minna-based human rights activist, Evangelist Udoh, called on the Federal Government to analyse the Oransanye report again.
“Why would any sensible person recommend that NECO be scrapped and its structures and statutory responsibility be taken over by WAEC, a regional body?”
Also, the Principal, El-Amin International School, Mr. Gabriel Ogah, while condemning the decision, said the impact that NECO has had on Nigeria education is unquantifiable. He called on the Presidency to have a rethink.
“Otherwise, they will be making another unpopular decision,” he said.
Also, a senior lecturer in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Dr. Okechukwu Nwaubani, on Thursday, urged the Federal Government to rescind its decision to scrap NECO.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that Nwaubani, of the Department of Social Science Education, said the council’s existence was in the interest of education.
According to him, scrapping NECO will be a setback to the present administration’s commitment to improve the quality of education in the country.
“The advent of NECO has made WAEC to improve on organising the external examination, since it knows that candidates have other alternative.
“Scrapping of NECO may reduce the number of candidates who have access to external exams in a year.
“If NECO is scrapped, the monopoly WAEC will enjoy may affect the quality of external secondary school exam in the country.”
Nwaubani said that government should remember that NECO is the only exam body owned by the country, since WAEC is a West African body.
“I urge government to rescind its decision to scrap NECO in the interest of quality education,” he said.
The don, however, said that scrapping the UTME was a welcome decision.
Nwaubani noted that it would spare candidates from wasting money in sitting for UTME and post-UTME exam.
Also reacting to scrapping of NECO, Dr Simon Ortuanya, the Commissioner for Education in Enugu State, said there was no cause for alarm.
Ortuanya noted that government must have weighed the consequences very well before arriving at the decision.
“Government’s decisions are always in the interest of the citizens. “After all, before the establishment of NECO, WAEC was the only external exam body and it was doing well.”
According to Ortuanya, having many exam bodies is good but having an effective and reliable one is better.
“I know government could have consulted widely before arriving at scrapping of NECO and stopping of JAMB exam.”
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