There is anxiety among parents and students in Kano, Zamfara, Niger and Katsina states over the National Examination Council (NECO)’s refusal to allow them access to their May/June 2019/2020 examination results, a month after it was officially released.
The examination body released the results on January 13, but withheld those of thousands of public schools’ students from Kano, Zamfara, Niger and Katsina over multi billion naira debts.
This development has created an atmosphere of uncertainty among parents who fear that their children may not meet up with the COVID-19 pandemic- disrupted academic calendar, particularly the post UTME screenings by universities.
Investigations by 21st Century Chronicle revealed that a piling debt running into billions forced NECO to shut its result servers and denied candidates from public schools in the affected states access.
Officials at NECO headquarters in Minna, Niger state, confirmed the debt profile of these states as the reason behind the withholding of the results, but refused to give details or speak to our reporters on record fearing backlash from the states.
The states, according to checks, funded the SSCE examinations of their students in public schools, who must have passed the qualifying exams.
Niger’s mounting debts
In Niger State, where the exam body is headquartered, candidates are yet to access their results following mounting debt which, a source in the education ministry said was more than a billion naira.
“We are still interfacing with NECO’s management towards arriving at a middle ground so that our children can be able to obtain their results,” the official, who declined being named, told our reporter.
21st Century Chronicle reports that this is not the first time Niger’s results would be withheld by the council over indebtedness.
In 2016, both NECO and West African Examination Council (WAEC) withheld results of 28,414 candidates from the state over N676 million debt.
The same scenario played out in 2019 when its obligation to the council alone rose to N470 million, leaving about 30, 000 candidates stranded.
The state’s current debt profile for the two exam bodies have risen to over a billion naira.
No state official was ready to speak for this story. Our reporter couldn’t reach the state commissioner of education, Hannatu Salihu, through her mobile phones. The phones were switched off, and she was not in her office when the reporter visited.
The spokesperson of the ministry, Malam Jibrin Usman Kodo, said the commissioner had travelled out of the state; and that he didn’t have the authorization to speak to our reporter on the story.
Zamfara’s N3.5 billion debt
21st Century Chronicle recalls that NECO, while appearing before a National Assembly committee in February 2020, lamented the level of indebtedness by states, while mentioning Zamfara as topping the list.
Mr. Jacob Ekele, NECO’s director of finance and administration, who represented the council at the hearing, put the amount of indebtedness by the state at over N1 billion.
It was learnt that the state government had entered into understanding with NECO to remit N100 million to the body monthly.
However, our reporter learnt that while the state government has been consistent for some time, it however, was unable to pay the agreement for January 2021 when the 2019/2020 results were released.
Director general, media, public enlightenment and communication to Zamfara state governor, Malam Yusuf Idris Gusau, said Governor Bello Matawalle’s administration inherited exams debt to the tune of N3.4 billion.
He said the state government has so far paid N1.5 billion to the various examination bodies, adding that the state remits N100 million to NECO monthly on instalment basis.
He said the government is supposed to pay NECO N240 million in February for the students who sat for exams to access their results, noting that it has so far paid N100 million while the balance is being processed.
Kano engages LGs to settle debt
Candidates from Kano state are also stranded and couldn’t access their results due to the same reason.
21st Century Chronicle also confirmed from officials that candidates who sat for the exams in Kano have not yet accessed their results.
Commissioner for education, Mohammed Sanusi Duru, told our reporter that the state government is working towards meeting its obligation.
He said, as at last week, the state government paid the sum of N50 million to NECO, adding that both the state and local governments are involved.
He told our reporter on Wednesday that he was working on a memo to that effect, noting in a few days the issue would be resolved.
Parents in Katsina are jittery
Katsina is another state where NECO withheld the results of students in public schools.
Malam Garba Malumfashi and Alhaji Sanusi Suleiman, the parents whose wards sat for the examination from Katsina College and Government Day Secondary School, Kofar Sauri, said they are afraid the delay may affect their children.
“My son Awwal has gone to check thrice but couldn’t access his results, and he is getting agitated by the day over the issue. I am appealing that the state government do something about this urgently,” Malumfashi said.
The state commissioner of education, Dr Lawal Badamasi, however, confirmed that all the exam bodies are yet to release results of candidates from the state because of unresolved issues.
“We have paid NABTEB completely and we are yet to get the results, likewise NBIAS, we have paid them completely and we are still waiting for the results,” he said.
“As for NECO, we have given them part payment and we are yet to hear from them. We will make inquiry into that and I will furnish you with the appropriate information including all the financial transactions involved,” he said.