The Federal Government on Saturday said of the 1,735,720 students that registered for this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, only 520,000 will gain admission.
Addressing journalists at the Federal Government College, Suleja, Niger State, after monitoring the examination, Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufai, blamed this on the low-carrying capacity of the tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
She said, “The major challenge is a country like Nigeria having 1.7 million sitting for examination. The space we have is 520,000 for federal, states, private universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.
“If one million passed, what are we going to do with the rest 500,000? We will not expand the carrying capacity without expanding the facilities.
“What are we going to do with the large number of students out there? I feel the pain. Mr. President is very much concerned. If you have students that have passed examination and they cannot have access, you can imagine their thought in the long run.”
Rufai called on private firms and individuals to invest in tertiary education.
Responding to a question on the high fees charged by private universities, she said the legal department was looking into the ministry’s right to challenge the fees.
Although she agreed that private investors had the right to recoup their money, the minister said government would consider legal options to regulate the situation.
The minister also denied knowledge of any White Paper recommending the scrapping of the UTME and the National Examination Council.
She said, “It has become a very controversial issue. I have made a statement before the National Assembly that the Federal Government has a white paper on this. I’m not aware that NECO and JAMB will be scrapped. If we are not aware, what are we going to make an analysis out of? Government has not taken decision on that.”
Rufai further blamed improper shading of answer sheets by candidates for non-release of their results.
“If they don’t shade their papers correctly, they may not have results,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board has arrested a middle-aged man who was identified as Isaac, for alleged impersonation at one of the Dual Based Test centres in Abuja.
The JAMB Registrar/Chief Executive. Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, said the registration number on his slip and answer sheet did not tally.
“The owner of the slip is from Enugu. He came here to impersonate another person. He had been handed over to civil defence who will hand him over to the police,” he said.
Meanwhile, no fewer than nine candidates were feared dead, while six were injured in an auto crash on the Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway on Friday.
The victims were said to be on their way to their examinations centre.
Police Public Relations Officer, Abia State Command, Mr. Geoffrey Ogbonna, confirmed the incident in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Aba.
He said seven persons including the driver died instantly, while two others died later in hospital.
Ogbonna said the candidates were travelling on a Hiace bus with number plate Rivers XY 249.
He explained that the driver, around 10.40am rammed into a truck with number plate Lagos XC 109 SLK, which was parked off the road at Obeaku-Ihie, Ugwunagbor Local Government Area of Abia State.
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