…Approves N9.6bn for 11 Ecological Projects
…N14.7bn for ECOWAS Biometric Cards
by Clara Joel
The federal government on Wednesday slashed the cost of procuring application forms for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination UTME, coordinated by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) annually, including that of Senior Secondary School Certificate also handled by National Examination Council (NECO).
UTME was slashed from N5,000 to N3,500 while the SSCE was reduced from 11,350 to N9,850 and Basic Education Certificate from N5,500 to N4,000. The cost review would take effect from January 2019.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave these approvals.
The decision was as a result of protest and appeals from parents and guardians over the exorbitant fees charged by the various examination bodies.
Prior to the action, the House of Representatives had urged the Federal Ministry of Education to slash the cost of application forms significantly as the development was robbing students of access to education.
The call was also necessitated by JAMB’s announcement that it remitted N7.8 billion to the federal government as proceeds from sales of UTME application forms in 2017.
The lawmakers had described JAMB as becoming a “revenue generating agency”.
Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education who briefed State House Correspondents of the development said, “Since the new administration came into office and a change in management and prudent management by JAMB, we have been able to see that most of what has been charged doesn’t have to be because a lot of it has been siphoned by corrupt officials.
“So, in answer to yearnings my parents, Mr. President directed that we should look into the possibility of reducing the charges.
“So accordingly, from January 2019, JAMB fees will be from N5,000 to N3,500 for the UTME, Senior Secondary Certificate charged by National Examination Council (NECO) from 11,350 to N9,850 and Basic Education Certificate handled by NECO is reduced from N5,500 to N4,000.
“As I said, our concerns are not to make money as such, we are not revenue-generating agencies. Since we found that JAMB has been able to bring into government coffers about N8 billion, we said we should relieve the burdens on parents”.
Asked if the reduction was as a result of the 2019 elections, Adamu said, “A good thing doesn’t have to have a reason. Whether it is because of election or not, I think parents deserve to have the fees reduced. And I think there is no better time to do a good thing than now.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said Council also approved 11 ecological interventions projects for N9.600,415,324 in Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Cross River, Adamawa, Bauchi, Jigawa, Niger ABU Zaria, Kaduna, and Abuja.
The said the projects are spread in Lagos – Jetty and Shoreline Protection Facilities, flood and erosion control in Oyo town, Oyo State, erosion control of flooded areas/road improvement in Owo, Ondo state, erosion control of flooded areas in Akampa in Cross River, road and stem water defiance in Federal College of Education in Yola, Adamawa, road and bridges at Dutse Saki village in Buguru local government in Bauchi, erosion control at Kazaure in Jigawa, intervention at Main Campus Phase II Site at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna, Erosion and flood control at Kontagunra local government are of Niger State, Gully erosion and road improvement at Army Post Service Estate, Kurudu Abuja and Erosion and flood control at Asharawa area council in Phase II in FCT, Abuja.
Adesina said Council also approved three industrial wastes combined incinerators for environmental friendly destruction of counterfeit and substandard regulated products. It was approved for NAFDAC at the sum of N267,585,160.
Another approval by FEC was the business plan for ECOWAS Biometric Cards intended to replace the current ECOWAS Travel Certificate. It is a contractor-financed project that will cost N14.7 billion.
Minister of the Interior, Abdurahman Dambazzau, explained that the project was a recommendation of West African regional leaders since 2016 as the ECOWAS travel papers can easily be faked.
The biometric cards are expected to be issued to about 13 million persons over the next 19 years.
To make it easier for Nigeria, the project will incorporate her National Identity Number (NIN). It is hoped that the new cards will help safeguard Nigeria’s borders.
The Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Sulaiman Hassan, said council approved two memos. “The first one is the furnishing of the federal secretariat complexes in three states of the federation, Akwa in Anambra State, Gusau in Zamfara and Yenagoa in Bayelsa State at the cost of N3.48 billion.
“It is the duty of the federal ministry Power, Works, and Housing to provide decent accommodation for federal agencies and other offices in various states of the federation to make their workings easier and more comfortable for better results.
“So these complexes have been completed and ready for commission before the end of the year.”
The council also approved the rehabilitation of some broken down bridges in the northeast region that were destroyed by insurgents at the cost of N813,458,132.
The first is on the road between Maiduguri, Dikwa, and Gamboru, second is at the famous Limankara, there is a bridge there that links Maiduguri to Dama, Goza, Honk and Yola at the cost of N331.2 billion and the bridge in Gombe State at the cost of N304 million. The total cost of the rehabilitation of the bridge is N813,458,132. The contractor is the Army Corps of Engineers that have a limited liability company, Sappers Engineering Limited. Why we gave to Sappers Engineering is because of the security concerns, no civil contractor will want to go there insecure.