Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, has urged the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board to stop giving “preferential scores” to students in Northern Nigeria who sit for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.
He stated this on Monday as a guest on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ breakfast programme.
According to the governor, students in the North should not be given lower cut-off marks but the same cut-off marks as their counterparts from other parts of the country for them to be competitive nationally and internationally.
JAMB Established in 1978, JAMB is the government agency saddled with the responsibility “to conduct matriculation examinations for entry into all universities polytechnics and colleges of education in the country and to place suitably qualified candidates in the available places in these institutions”.
Before now, JAMB set cut-off marks across the country but the Board recently cancelled general cut-off marks for admission into tertiary institutions for the 2021/2022 academic session and gave institutions the freedom to set their individual minimum benchmark for admission.
El-Rufai also said the current closure of schools in the state was the major goal of bandits and terrorists oppressing the state but he vowed that they won’t win.
He said, “The north has always been behind in education, we’ve continuously been the disadvantaged region right from independence even though we’re given preferences, JAMB scores and all that. That has not helped, in fact, it has made our people lazy.
“Against this differential JAMB and FG (Federal Government) scores, I think people should be encouraged to work hard and compete and we are prepared to make our children in Kaduna State to be competitive, not only in the state but globally.
“The schools are closed now because, on the advice of security agencies, they need a couple of months to undertake massive security operations. They are doing that. We are confident that from the next two weeks, we would start the gradual reopening of schools.
“We have moved many of our students in rural areas that we are not sure we can protect to urban schools, thereby increasing the congestion in urban schools that we can protect.”
“The continuous closure of schools is exactly what bandits and Boko Haram want and we are not going to let them win but we must put the safety of our children and teachers first,” the governor noted, adding that the gradual reopening of schools would commence soon.
Furthermore, the governor said that the state has attracted over $3bn foreign and local investments in the last two years despite the menace of banditry.
According to him, the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies are overwhelmed, hence, the need to train hundreds of vigilantes who will bear arms and confront the marauders who operate from the forests of Kaduna.
“This banditry is essentially a rural phenomenon but it has moved to the urban areas,” the governor lamented.
He said that when the menace of banditry started in the state about three years ago, “it was essentially a rural phenomenon and that has not affected our ability to attract investments in the state”.
“In the last two years, we’ve attracted more than $2bn, close to $3bn of foreign and domestic investments into the state.
“We’ve also engaged in massive infrastructure across the state, everywhere,” el-Rufai explained.
Kaduna has perhaps been the worst hit by the nefarious activities of bandits and kidnappers in recent times in spite of the heavy presence of military formations and institutions present in the state.
The military has no fewer than six military formations in the city. The military formations include Jaji Military Cantonment; 1 Mech. Division Headquarters, Nigerian Army, Kaduna; New Barracks, otherwise known as ‘Kotoko’ Barracks; Old-Site of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna; Kalanpazi Barracks (Artillery Regiment) and the Nigerian Air Force Base.
But according to the official statistics by Governor Nasir El-Rufai administration, the vicious marauders killed at least 525 innocent lives, kidnapped 1,723 between January and June 2021.
On July 24, marauders invaded the country’s foremost military institution, the Nigerian Defence Academy, Afaka, Kaduna, killing two officers and abducting one.
The NDA campus is opposite the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka where bandits abducted 39 students on March 11, 2021. The bandits had demanded N500m to free the captives.
On April 20, 2021, bandits had also kidnapped at least 23 students of Greenfield University and a member of staff.
On July 5, 2021, around 2 am bandits, stormed Bethel Baptist School, Damishi, Kaduna, and abducted 121 pupils, according to the Proprietor of the school, Rev. Ishaya Jangado.
In some cases, bandits released some of the students after their parents parted with millions of naira as ransom but a few students haven’t been lucky to make it out alive.
The situation has dealt a terrible blow on education in the state as over 5,000 schools in Kaduna remain shut following the ongoing military operations to flush out bandits from the state.