Nigerians cheered. JAMB (Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board) had remitted N5 billion to the federal government. We saw it as government working. Glory, even JAMB can remit money to CBN for the good of the Nigerian people.
The agency also said it had so far remitted more than N5 billion to government, the highest ever in the 40 years of its existence.
A statement signed by JAMB’s Head of Public Relations, Fabian Benjamin, said in Abuja on Sunday.
Unfortunately, that does not make it right. When JAMB charges more than it needs to run its exams into our tertiary institutions in Nigeria, it hurts the future of Nigeria. I do not understand the basis for JAMB to be remitting money to the federal government.
JAMB is not NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation). We know that NNPC exists for the purpose of remitting funds to the federal government. JAMB should not emulate that feature. It is totally unnecessary.
JAMB is a vehicle to test and ascertain the readiness of our young people to transition from secondary to tertiary education. It is not supposed to be a revenue generating entity for the Nigerian government. .
If that is the new vision of JAMB, to show efficiency in the utilization and management of funds, we have a problem. Yes, it is a problem, because it is not necessary. I was expecting the federal government to reject that money with this instruction to JAMB Management: use it to further reduce the cost of subsequent JAMB fees and next time only charge to be revenue-neutral.
The world is investing in the future of its young people. Indonesia has free education up to university level. In Nigeria, we are turning our government-only entity that determines who enters our tertiary institutions into a cash milking factory. That is wrong.
Yet, I do not support government waiving any fee. I just ask that JAMB keeps its money and makes sure it does not charge more than required. The only benefit poor Nigerians get from the government is tertiary education which is heavily subsidized. Allowing everyone to compete for the available spots, irrespective of income level, will help the nation.
We know that Nigeria does not have cash. But the revenue from JAMB will not fix anything. We know where to go for revenue: we have NNPC, LNG, and other entities structured to generate revenues for Nigeria. JAMB is not supposed to be one. And government should make it clear to JAMB that it does not need its money. Let the exams be affordable, accessible and revenue-neutral. Set the fees to the extent that you can cover all your expenses. Do not wire anything to CBN.
Of course, they need to commend the Registrar of JAMB for his leadership. He has shown excellence by turning JAMB around with excess cash capacity. Government must acknowledge that. But we just have to thank him while challenging him to focus more on making the exams more affordable over fattening our national purse. The kids will take care of our national purse, if we get their futures right.---