In order to curb the menace of impersonation experienced in the conduct of its examinations, the National Examination Council (NECO) has procured 8,000 biometric machines and 20 Toyota Hilux Vans worth over N800 million to resolve some of its challenges.
The acting registrar of NECO, Abubakar Gana, said the equipment were procured to enhance operations in the areas of logistics and overall security of its examination in Minna on Friday.
Mr Gana said this procurement makes it the first time NECO is deploying biometrics for the conduct of its Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE).
Mr Gana said the board generated about N2 billion through the sale of scratch cards to candidates and returned same to the Treasury Single Account of the Federal Government.
“The last time the council bought vehicles was in 2013. We have also bought 8,000 units of biometric capture machines, which can verify the identity of candidates, as well as record attendance,” he said.
“In the last year, we were able to save money and seek approval from the board and Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP). The essence of the biometric is to deal with impersonation to help sanitise the system thereby having quality standards.”
In the past, NECO has been making use of scratch cards to register candidates. Some Nigerians argued that the use of scratch cards remain the reason for high malpractice in conduct of the examination.
However, the recent procurement of the biometrics machines cost the council N500 million while the 20 Toyota Hilux cost N327.8 million.
Each of the vehicle cost N16.3 million while a unit of the biometric machine cost N62,500.
‘We have been borrowing vehicles’
Meanwhile, NECO board Chairman, Abubakar Saddiq, said the procurement of the equipment was necessary as the council had in the past been borrowing vehicles to enable it run its examinations.
Mr Saddiq said impersonation had become a major problem in the conduct of its examination.
“Last year, we went to INEC to beg for vehicles to enable us run our examinations. We learn from our mistakes and decided that this year we are going to organise a hitch-free exam.
He said examination materials “will reach their point in time now, impersonation has become a major problem.”
“I monitored exam last year and was not happy because I saw those who did not register but sat for the examination. With this improvement, we can now go round with the machine and get to book anyone who impersonate.”
Mr Saddiq explained that the council’s ICT unit would now be improved and effective for the conduct of any of its examination.
When asked on how the board intends to use biometric certification in over 10,000 centres, Mr Saddiq said the procedure is fast “and two schools can share a machine.”
”A machine belongs to a school but two centres can use one machine, it doesn’t take time. We have already mapped out our logistics.”
According to him, “you know why we have to deal with the scratch card issue, it became a source of leakages financially in NECO and also racketeering.
”Cards are hoarded and students find it difficult to get the card and precisely because of that, prices go up, what is realised is going straight into our TSA account. As you’re registering, as you’re paying, it is recording on our TSA account. So it improves transparency also,” he said.
While commissioning the equipment, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, said the procurement was aimed at boosting the operations of the council.
Mr Echono, who was represented by the Director, Human Resources in the ministry, Abubakar Koko, advised the management of the council to ensure that the equipment were well maintained for the benefit of humanity.