Nigeria’s Biometric Nation as JAMB Introduces Biometric Capture for Exams

Nigeria’s Biometric Nation as JAMB Introduces Biometric Capture for Exams

Good news from JAMB (Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board) as it sees more young people aspiring to attend universities in Nigeria: “Meanwhile the bulletin also noted that the slash in the UTME fee by the federal government had increased the number of candidates who want to sit for the examination.” Very happy for the voices we put together for the action effected for that change.

That said, the plan to use biometrics in JAMB exams will set a new basis for universities and all tertiary institutions in Nigeria to do so. After all, what is the value of JAMB using biometrics if the universities cannot use same biometrics to validate that incoming freshmen are the same JAMB had tested. So, as JAMB marches ahead with biometrics, contractors are already smiling because universities will need same equipment. Had NIMC (National Identity Management Commission) been fully operational, Nigeria could have consolidated all these disparate databases in one.

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) says it will not rescind its decision on the use of biometrics in the conduct of its Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).

This is contained in the board’s weekly bulletin issued on Sunday in Lagos.

According to the bulletin, the importance of biometrics in the conduct of the board’s examination cannot be overemphasised.

It noted that the Biometrics Verification Machine (BVM) was introduced by the board in an attempt to get rid of the numerous forms of examination malpractice.

It said the BVM was a security mechanism used for the authentication of candidates’ identity as it provided access to the individual data, based on physiological characteristics.

We need to fight exam malpractices, and using biometrics will surely help JAMB. Yet, it does not end there. The problem is that every university, polytechnic and college of education will get in line, embracing biometrics. And just like that, personal bio-data becomes permanently warehoused in schools which are not specifically suited for such. One will hope that brokers will not pay to trade on them!

Then after schools, employers will do their own biometrics to confirm that the same student is the very one applying for jobs.

Certainly, government needs to get NIMC going to avoid this biometric paralysis in the nation. It does not need to be this way. Yes, Nigeria cannot be a biometric nation, from telecoms (SIM card) to banking (BVN), and now university entrance exam, you do not need to kill more than one tiger to be nicknamed “the killer of tigers”.

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Isn’t it ridiculous that in a country that is hell-bent on centralising governance now abhors the very things that actually deserve centralisation? We are really specialist in doing things the opposite way.

We run a federal system that is actually unitary in practice, then we have the NUC lording it over all the universities. You have the ASUU as a bargaining conglomerate, then we have JAMB deciding who the universities admit. With all the unification conglomerates all over the place, even when they are really the problems, we have done everything to keep them alive and kicking, while showing contempt and disdain to any idea that questions their efficacy and usefulness.

On the other hand, Immigration Service is maintaining its own database and biometrics, FRSC have theirs, the banks have their BVN, the telecoms have theirs, INEC is there, even Customs have theirs; and in all of these paralyses, we still have a certain NIMC, with government paying salaries there, only God knows what its job actually is. Now JAMB wants to join the league of Biometrics Keepers Association of Nigeria…

Other than awarding contracts and getting kickbacks, no one else can explain why we need disparate databases to keep an individual’s biometrics.

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