It was then the Minister of Education, Mrs. Chinwe Obaji who in 2005 unilaterally imposed the conduct of Post University Matriculation Examination otherwise called Post UME on Nigerian students, to the gains of the universities authorities. The National Assembly then saw her conduct as a violation of an act not amended by it. The constituting of the Post UME, according to its not do-well Minister of Educationthen, Mrs. Obaji, was to curb the discerned inefficiency of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
While the proponent of the Post-UME didn't follow the due process, the National Assembly only made noise and allowed the gross manipulations of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo who believed so much in the “do-or-die” governance, to thrive.
But a lot of Nigerians criticized the 'learning' Mrs. Obaji, what were required of a Minister of Education. And this would amount to gross carry-over to the President Musa Yar'Adua's administration, which has mouthed much to ply on due process and the rule of law, if this illegality of Post-UME should thrive on.
We have been reading the sum of money the Nigerian universities authorities have been smiling to the banks with, since the invention of the fraud called Post-UME in 2005. Is it not fraud since it didn't pass through the due process? And even if it had passed through the due process, its touted objective of checkmating inefficient students before enrollment into the Nigerian universities is an overstatement. It is an overstatement because the universities authorities have tested the 'illegal' money amounting to millions of naira every new academic session and they can't afford not to enjoy the money anymore even when different authorities have called on them to stop the Post-UME. One can't define corruption better in Nigeria if not the unlawful practice of the Post-UME.
Equivocally, the Post-UME is beyond universities entrance examinations, because universities authorities have betrayed the gesture of its approval by Mrs. Obaji, even when it didn't grace the consent of the National Assembly. Since its imposition on the Nigerian child, universities collect N5, 000 and above from each student before he or she sat for the examination, after the student had registered JAMB with no amount less than N4, 000? Is education not for the poor as well in Nigeria?
Especially in Rivers State, many students who couldn't provide this money for the Post-UME and thereby retire to their fate could resort to shoddy businesses, which might include kidnapping and militancy. And those who perhaps had the money for the Post UME were not always given admission even when they performed well, a reason best known to the universities authorities in Rivers State and indeed in Nigeria at large.
Nigerians can remember in May 2009, at the convocation ceremony of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, the indomitable Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State attributed the growth of crime to lack of educational provision between 1983 and 1993. (But some people say the worst was from 1999 to 2007).
This writer doesn't believe in earnest that the period mentioned by the governor was only when there was clampdown in the education sector, but now that the Yar'Adua's government which professed rule of law and due process still allows irregularities such as the unlawful Mrs. Chinwe Obaji's Post-UME to continue to hold water in his administration. The Post UME is a threat to the JAMB which is the only lawful pre-university examination enshrined into law. How is Nigeria then curbing corruption?
Since this Post-UME wasn't recognized by the National Assembly, is there no need to probe Mrs. Obaji? Perhaps, she may have vital information to give on the agreement she had with the universities authorities before she made Post-UME a fad in Nigeria with total negligence of the National Assembly consent, and now the universities authorities are smiling to the banks to the peril of the already Nigeria's impoverished citizens.
Governor Amaechi might not know what this lingering Post-UME in the universities in Rivers State is causing the state, but his counterpart in Imo State knew. Students now gain admission into the university in the state as far as the student sat for the JAMB. While the Imo indigenes gain admission in that state, the Rivers indigenes and their visitors who are deprived admission into the university in Rivers state due to the questionable Post-UME, perhaps enroll into kidnapping and militants groups. Was Governor Amaechi not quoted as saying, “Schools were all down and a consequence was that the children began to look for the other means of engaging themselves and of course, one little crime led to another”?
In a related manner in March 2009, Governor Amaechi left an indelible mark in the minds of many people during the 47th Birthday and 16th Marriage Anniversary of the Senior Pastor of the Royal House of Grace International Church, Port Harcourt, Apostle Zilly Aggrey that his priority was to leave an enduring legacy in the state's education sector.
But what Governor Amaechi perhaps didn't take into cognizance was that this 'legacy' should not only be to better the public schools more than the private schools, but in making sure that in Rivers State, there is need that students gained admission into the universities without any privately owned policy depriving them, such as the Mrs. Obaji's Post-UME.
Apart from declaring a state of emergency in the education sector in Rivers State by building new primary and secondary schools in all the parts of the state, Governor Amaechi should as a matter of urgency declare the same state of emergency in the universities in Rivers State, ensuring that students with the list of 150 aggregate in the JAMB are given admission in this year's new university academic session, which every year comes up towards the end of the year.
Governor Amaechi can't be building 250 Model primary schools and 23 model secondary schools in the 23 Local Government Areas of the state, whereas children were deterred from attaining admission into the universities in the state, all because of the illegal Post-UME?
Building of schools in all the parts of Rivers State can never be much an enabling environment for learning, but when people are allowed admittance into the higher institutions, which Nigeria recognizes more than the model primary and model secondary school certificates Governor Amaechi is building.
One might not be vibrant academically at the early state in life, but becomes at last. Passing of either JAMB or Post-JAMB is not a criterion to accentuate one's intelligence, just as an award-winning writer doesn't rule the fact that he or she is the best. Intelligence should be determined by the department a student is in, and not by any external body like JAMB or Post-JAMB.
After all, was Prof. Wole Soyinka not a victim of Nigerian universities downsizing of Nigerian students, but what happened when he traveled abroad to study? He came out with flying colours to Nigeria her university gave him Third Class or Fourth Class? The same could be applicable to many Nigerian youths who are being downsized because of JAMB or Post-JAMB. Did Mrs. Chinwe Obaji herself write Post-JAMB?
Odimegwu Onwumere is the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA). 08032552855. [email protected]