Approximately 600,000 potential candidates have yet to obtain the essential codes that will allow them to be ‘transported’ to their mobile phones.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) will announce the extension of the deadline for ongoing registration for its 2021 unified tertiary matriculation examination (UTME) and direct entrance (DE) program unless anything unexpected happens at the last minute.
This decision could be linked to candidates’ difficulty in generating the needed codes for creating profiles using their unique national identification number (NIN).
PREMIUM TIMES has exclusively learned that only 1,012,000 candidates have registered for the UTME and only 30,000 candidates for the DE programme as of Wednesday afternoon, roughly 72 hours before the testing body’s May 15 deadline.
This number is modest when compared to the 1.9 million UTME and 200,000 DE candidates who had previously registered in 2020 during the same time period.
According to investigations, as of Wednesday, about 600,000 potential candidates who had started the registration procedure had not to get the required codes that were supposed to be sent to their mobile phones by the network operators.
The problem, according to some officials of the examination body who talked with PREMIUM TIMES on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the subject, is caused by the implementation of the mandatory use of NIN for registration.
“The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), which is in charge of issuing NINs, is expected to create the linked number that will be sent to candidates as soon as they enter their USSD code. However, this has proven challenging for the agency due to a shortage of manpower and technological expertise,” one of the insiders informed our reporter over the phone.
Another source accused mobile telecommunications companies for the delay in transferring codes generated to applicants, claiming that this is the poorest performance by JAMB since the adoption of the USSD mechanism for registration.
Some ad hoc personnel of the examination board, who were supposed to register for the exam using the same approach, have also reported irritation in their attempts to register for the exam.
On questionable call records, a police officer and a civil worker related to the ‘killer’ of an Akwa Ibom job applicant speak.
“We continue to submit the numbers to 55019 as directed by JAMB, but we always get the message that it is being processed and that we should expect an SMS. However, even after more than 48 hours, the SMS never arrives. On the phone, an ad hoc staffer who did not want to be identified informed our reporter, “I can now picture the difficulties the prospective applicants are having.”
Meanwhile, Bassey Udo, a parent who was attempting to change his son’s course of study for an upcoming 2020 university admission, told our reporter over the phone that despite paying the required fee, the one-time password (OTP) required to complete the transaction had not arrived for more than three days.
“At this time, we are unable to finalize the transaction. When I called MTN, I was asked if I had turned on the “Do not disturb” feature on my phone. They discovered, however, that I did not. As a result, they came to the conclusion that there was no reason not to receive a message from a third party. However, the situation has remained unchanged. I’m not sure what will happen to this boy if we fail to finish the mission.
JAMB keeps mum
Meanwhile, Fabian Benjamin, the examination body’s director of public affairs and etiquette, has refused to comment on the situation.
He promised to respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ query “soon.” However, as of the time of filing this story, he had not yet received his promised response.
It should be noted that JAMB had originally scheduled its mock exam for April 30, but it was later rescheduled for May 20. The quick-change could be linked to the challenges encountered during the registration process.
Meanwhile, a senior agency source who did not want to be identified told this newspaper that the optimum approach would have been to exempt applicants from using NIN.
“If we do that, I can tell you that the entire exercise will be completed in two days. However, we are unable to do so because the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy was impressed by our efforts and has written to our supervisory ministry as well as the federal executive council to express their gratitude. So, for the time being, we can’t go back on that,” the person said.
Prior to the test, the examining body is expected to meet with “stakeholders,” including members of diverse groups such as civil society and the media.
Network operators deny culpability
Meanwhile, mobile network companies have denied any responsibility for the difficulties candidates have encountered in registering for the exam.
The Association of Licenced Telecommunications Operators in Nigeria (ALTON), the operators’ umbrella organization, stated that its function is “just to deliver the codes to the candidates and not to produce.”
The association’s head, Gbenga Adebayo, said the delays could not be caused by telecommunication providers’ systems in answer to our reporter’s questions.
“We don’t oversee the process of generating the code for applicants; we merely provide “transport” access to their servers and rely on the examinations agency to build the code. Mr. Adebayo stated, “We don’t maintain their database, so we’re not accountable for generating the said examination code.”
“If the codes are formed and their servers do not upload them to the operators, there would be nothing on the link to deliver,” Mr Adebayo remarked when presented with the argument that the existing generated codes are “yet to be transported.” Operators are merely a mode of transport; if their servers fail to deliver the codes, the link (transport) will be broken. Maybe
NIMC fails to respond
The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) officials did not respond when contacted for comment.
Jamila Ahmed, the agency’s head of corporate communications, later responded to our reporter’s message stating she was on leave after she failed to pick up multiple calls received to her phone line.
Ms. Ahmed also recommended our reporter to speak with a man named Kayode.
However, attempts to contact Mr Kayode were unsuccessful since his provided cell phone number was not working. As at the time of filing this report, a message sent to the phone had not received a response.