The National Examinations Council (NECO) has said the initial placement of the Council on the the list of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), that remit 25 per cent of generated revenue to government coffers has taken a toll on its activities.
The Registrar/Chief Executive, Prof. Dantani Ibrahim Wushishi, made this known in Minna during a press briefing to mark his one year in office.
Wushishi said though NECO was removed from the list in June 2022, over N6 billion was deducted from its Treasury Single Account (TSA) when it was on the list, adding that the exam body needs money to meet its obligations.
“From 2021 to June (this year), the Minister of Finance has deducted from NECO’s Treasury Single Account the total of N6,023,145,000:23K.
“We also need to pursue the money removed, the 50 per cent is supposed to be taken as operating surplus and give us the rest to settle our debts, so we have another battle for the reconciliation”, he said.
Speaking on the debts owed the Council by some state governments, Wushishi said NECO has recovered part of the money, but lamented that over N2 billion still remained unpaid.
“When you talk about the issue of debts, we have done a lot. We have recovered some, some states are still indebted to the Council to the tune of over N2 billion. This is for over so many years, from 2012 till date. We are making efforts and some states are responding.
“And through our efforts to make sure we solve our problems, we have a commitment with the Accountant General of the Federation, and the states we have MoU with, we can take the MoU to the Accountant General’s office to deduct from source but we are very tactical about it, because we also have to sensitize the state governments on the need to keep this place afloat, and it is the payment of what they have subscribed for in the council that will keep this place afloat.
“So we are tactically doing that and we are getting the result and we have not yet taken any state to the Accountant General office”, he said.
Wushishi said the Examination Council has deployed cutting-edge software to ensure efficient grading of candidates in its various examinations.
He said the software would ensure the precise grade value for every subject.
“One of the innovations that will bring to bear in the conduct of the examination is determining the way and manner we determine the grade number, which relates to the allocation of grades for various subjects to students.
“Formerly it was done manually and there are processes that are followed in doing that manually, but when I came, I felt it is necessary to align ourselves and some of our operations with the in-thing, which is technology, and we felt there is need for us to have a software that will enable us determine precisely real values for subjects after our exams. So we had a workshop for that and we were able to now deploy standard software to determine grade and marking”, he said.
On the successes recorded in recent times in the conduct of the school-based Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) and its external version, Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), as well as National Common Entrance Examination of unity schools, Wushishi said he was able to put in place mechanisms to drastically reduce cases of malpractice and other challenges.
The NECO boss listed some of the measures to include deployment of robust security surveillance for exam papers and officials, improved welfare mechanisms for staff and examiners, and the use of foolproof software in selection of NECO staff on monitoring duties, among others.
“In 2020, we had over 30,000 cases of exam malpractice. In 2021, we had just about 20,000 and this year, we have confidence it will reduce to the barest minimum. In our last BECE, the malpractice was about 600 cases and this year, it was less than 100″, he said.
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu and the governing board of NECO for their great support to the Council, Wushishi said the exam body relies heavily on money generated from candidates’ registrations for its various capital projects and other activities that relate to conduct of exams.
He said some of the policies and innovative reforms he initiated in NECO have brought about positive turnaround of the Council and more efficient conduct of all its examinations within Nigeria and some other neighbouring African countries, including Niger Republic and Gabon, among others.