The House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services, the Ministry of Education and West African Examination Council (WAEC), Nigeria on Thursday met in Abuja and resolved to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and governors on the WAEC examination.
The stakeholders in a meeting convened by the House of Representatives, however, agreed that if they were to make the September date for the examination a reality, there was the need to get President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governors’ Forum involved in order to arrive at a timely and effective decision.
They agreed that in the interest of the 1.6 million candidates registered for the WAEC examination, there was a need to agree on a date for the regional examination as time was running out for the country.
One of the options was to find a date acceptable as the head of WAEC national office in Nigeria, Patrick Areghan, revealed that it would take quite a while to print question papers and that other convoluted logistic considerations might come into play.
Areghan said that Ghana had wanted to have the examination in June, but had to shelve it because of its election this year and Nigeria.
He also revealed that it took a presidential directive for the Gambia to shelve its desire to have the examination before now.
According to him, Nigeria should decide if it wants to give its candidates what he called a COVID-19 exam certificate or a WAEC certificate in concert with the other countries.
“Getting parents to pay another set of fees might be difficult if the September date is missed. If the November option is considered, someone has to pick the bills,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono said that WAEC was one of the institutions that espouses regional cooperation and having a standalone examination will defeat the element of unity it portrays.
He further noted that if there was adequate funding, it should not take more than a week to get the examination ready logistically for the 19,000 examination centres across the country.
In his contribution, Rep Nnolim Nnaji wondered why that should be a problem pointing out that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affair spent over N13 billion as palliative for the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba reminded the members and all present that the decision they were to make was for examination date and not the resumption of schools in the country.
The members deliberated on if Nigeria could use its power as a provider of about 60 per cent of the finances in WAEC to dictate a date of its liking.
But stakeholders present eventually agreed that it was better to be democratic in arriving at a decision.
The chairman of the Committee, Rep Julius Ihonvbere ruled that the committee would approach the state governors via the Nigeria Governors’ Forum so as to be on the same page and get President Muhammadu Buhari to assist in the diplomatic effort to get the other regional countries on Nigeria’s side concerning the yet-to-be-agreed examination date.