By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North, Favour Nnabugwu & Livinus Nwabughiogu
Abuja — Worried by the anxiety that has trailed the purported scrapping of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME and the National Examination Council, NECO, the Federal Government has cleared the air on the matter, saying that no decision has been taken on the matter.
Many groups including members of the National Assembly and labour unions have already kicked against the planned scrapping of the institutions, which have been providing services for students across the country.
Although the government is yet to issue a white paper on the recommendation of the Oronsaye Report, which recommended the reduction of government agencies to a reasonable number to save costs, a top government official last week leaked a report to state House correspondents, claiming that NECO and UTME had been laid to rest.
But the Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, told Vanguard in an exclusive interview in Abuja that the government was yet to take any decision on the issue and asked Nigerians not to panic.
According to Wike, it was improper for people to spread rumours about what the administration had not taken a firm decision on.
Wike said, “It is true that there was a committee set up to issue a white paper on the Oronsaye Report and up till now the committee has not presented its report to the government for examination and adoption to warrant the kind of rumours making the rounds and causing anxiety in the country.
“What Nigerians should believe and expect from the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is nothing but the best at all times. This government means well for the education sector and will therefore not do anything that will not be in the best interest of all Nigerians.
“If the government wants to take any decision on JAMB, NECO and the rest, such actions will be weighed and taken with the overall best interest of all and I can assure Nigerians that no such action has yet been taken.”
Wike explained that the government was rather working hard to reposition the education sector by providing necessary facilities and personnel for all the unity schools in the country as well as strengthen tertiary education to make it more useful to Nigerians.
According to the minister, the overall goal of the ministry was to meet the Millennium Development Goal and pave the way for some of Nigeria’s universities to meet international standards and be counted among the best in the world.
Wike pointed out that the present administration was also working hard to clear the rot in the education system by ensuring regular inspection of schools and training of teachers and other operators of the system to enable them to cope with the modern techniques of teaching and learning.
“The situation in the Nigerian education system is taking a better shape that it was when we first came in and we are not going to rest until we sanitise the situation for the interest of the nation and its people because education holds the key for the nation’s advancement,” Wike stated.
Vanguard learnt from competent sources that a crucial meeting of heads of parastatals had been slated for today to enable the administration to deliberate on the outcome of the Orosonya report, with a view to streamlining the agencies with a view to issuing a white paper.
The meeting, which is to be presided over by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, will seek the inputs of stakeholders to ensure a hitch-free implementation of the agencies to merged or scrapped.
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