Early morning rain recorded across major cities and towns in Nigeria on Friday caused some candidates of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) to miss their examination schedule.
There were also others, especially at the Ekiti State University (EKSU), Ado Ekiti, who could not sit the examination due to technical difficulties with the biometric data capturing machines.
The 2022 edition of the examination conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) kicked off across 750 centres nationwide on Friday and will continue till Saturday, May 14.
Those affected by the rain were the candidates scheduled to sit their examination by 7 a.m. as they claimed they suffered difficulties in accessing their centres due to flooding and traffic gridlock, especially in Lagos, Nigeria’s busy commercial nerve centre.
But JAMB’s head of public affairs and protocol unit, Fabian Benjamin, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that though he sympathised with the affected candidates, the rules guiding the conduct of the examination would not permit JAMB to reschedule them for another chance.
Experience in Lagos
Across some centres in Lagos especially at Adamspring CBT centre, Career Builders Academy, both in Badagry; WAEC Testing and Training Centre (WTTC) and Wisdom House Centre, off Yaya Abatan, both in Ogba; Command Secondary School, Ipaja, and Lagooz Schools Orile-Agege, among others, there were reports of candidates who arrived their centres late.
NAN also reported similar experiences at Timeon Kairos Polytechnic and Professional Institute, Ile-Epo, on Lagos Abeokuta Expressway.
At the WAEC centre, some of the affected candidates, who were nine in number, stood by the gate and appealed for reconsideration of their case by the examination body.
At least six candidates missed the examination at the two centres in Badagry, even as they were asked to go home by JAMB officials.
The resident monitor at Adamspring CBT Centre, Saliu Amolegbe, confirmed that the downpour did not only cause some students to arrive late but also caused some setbacks in the examination process.
“The rain set us back a bit in everything today but because it is an assignment that has time, we had to come out to attend to the candidates. We had to give them an extra 30 minutes to get ready for the examination,” Mr Amolegbe said.
He said: “All centres around Badagry started the first session at 8:30a.m because of the rain so that we can allow time for latecomers. We didn’t start the verification until 7:30a.m instead of 7 a.m. So all those who came after 8:40a.m couldn’t write the examination because as soon as the questions were pushed on the server, no students could be verified again.
“About three candidates came late and were asked to go home. If we allowed them we would be questioned.”
He noted that the window of 30 minutes given should be enough for candidates to get to their centres and settle down for the examination.
The supervisor at the centre, Sonde Abiola, said the centre recorded no hitch as of the time our reporter visited.
“The rain delayed us for a while during the first session but we are good. The network is fine,” Mrs Abiola said.
At the Career Builders Academy, a parent, who identified himself simply as Mr Ikechukwu, said he brought his child for the 9 a.m. session and confirmed that three students were barred from writing the examination for coming late.
Mr Ikechukwu said: “I got here a few minutes to 9a.m and I met some people who came late trying to get in for the 8a.m session, but after going up and down without success they left for their houses.”
Meanwhile, some of the affected candidates who spoke to NAN, said they lived in communities in Ogun State and left their homes as early as 5:30 a.m. but were caught in a traffic logjam which they said was caused by flooding and broken down vehicles.
One of them, Chiamaka Ezeaputa, who lives in Ota, near Bells University of Technology (BELLSTECH), Ogun State, said she had alighted from the commercial bus and took a commercial motorcycle at an exorbitant cost, yet couldn’t get to her centre until 9:20 a.m.
‘No rescheduling of examination for latecomers’
JAMB spokesman, Mr Benjamin, told NAN that the development is unfortunate but that technical consideration would not allow the examination body to reschedule the examination.
He was quoted to have said: “If for instance, something happened to a centre as a whole, or there is a technical collapse in a centre, that one is understandable and the board could start considering a way out of it.
“But a situation where some candidates for the examination at a specific schedule attempted the examination, while others failed to, for whatever reason, that examination will not be rescheduled.
“We do not reschedule examinations, it has come and gone. There are rules guiding all examinations; ours is not an exception.”
Questions without comprehension
Meanwhile, at the Tip-Top Schools, located on Unity Road, Isasi, a border community between Ogun and Lagos States, candidates said there were questions that were not accompanied by the expected passages.
A candidate with registration number; 202210321095EF and examination number C58102067, Aishat Olokojobi, complained that she experienced a challenge with the English Language subject.
Miss Olokojobi, who gave her seat number as 067, said she was part of those scheduled for 9 a.m. and that when they complained, the officials at the centre only told them to move on to other questions.
“We just saw the questions but no comprehension passages. I was not the only one. We complained but we were told to move on to other parts. We never returned to those questions and we didn’t receive any assurance that they would be addressed.
Situation in FCT
GSS Zone 3, FCT, Abuja
The candidates and officials of the centres and the examination body expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the examination across many centres visited on Friday by PREMIUM TIMES reporters.
There were, however, some cases of minor technical hitches and overcrowded halls witnessed in some centres by the newspaper.
For instance, at the Government Secondary School, Zone 3, a centre named Dantata Universal Services had 200 candidates cramped together in a hall that is not big enough to provide a conducive atmosphere for the candidates.
The proctor at the centre, Ibrahim Hamzat, an engineer, said there was nothing he could do since the hall was what was provided for the examination.
He said: “We cannot prevent some candidates from sitting for their exams because of the capacity.”
An official of the school, who craved anonymity for fear of sanctions, said the school management made the halls available for JAMB candidates, and that it’s the responsibility of the officials to maximise it. “We have provided the venue for exams. How the officials make use of it is their responsibility.”
One of the candidates who sat the examination at the centre, who simply identified herself as Chidera, said there was a delay before the first session of the examination at the centre kicked off.
She said: “I don’t know what caused the delay but the process was well coordinated and went smoothly. there were no complaints about the computers used.”
Also at the digital bridge institute in the Utako area of the FCT, examinations started early without hitches.
However, a candidate, Ni’ima Garba, who just finished her test that was held during the second session scheduled for 9 a.m said she started almost half an hour late because she experienced difficulty putting on her computer.
She, however, said it was fixed and she was allowed the complete time for the test.
An IT staffer, Tope Ayo, said JAMB’s head of media and protocols, Mr Benjamin, had earlier visited the school and that he expressed satisfaction with the process.
At the Leads British International School CBT centre in Abuja, the early morning downpour forced the examination timetable to be tinkered with.
Emmanuel Ezeh, a candidate at the centre who was supposed to sit the examination by 9 a.m had his time shifted to 11 a.m because of the delay experienced before the first session could hold.
The candidate, however, said the accreditation process was hitch-free. “I was accredited within minutes,” he said, adding that he didn’t see any of his colleagues that were denied accreditation because of technical challenges.
However, another candidate, Michael Abbah, who was also scheduled for 9 a.m said there were a few hitches witnessed during the examination.
“Many of us witnessed that some questions were not complete so it was difficult to answer them,” he said.
Mr Abbah said when the candidates complained to the officials, they were told to leave the incomplete questions blank.
The candidate, however, noted some of his colleagues answered the incomplete questions.
PREMIUM TIMES observed that the face mask protocols were not strictly observed at the centre as some candidates could be seen entering the halls without facemasks.
A group of female students from Regina Pacis College in Garki, Abuja, were chauffeured in their school bus after taking their papers.
A staffer of the school who accompanied the students, Agatha Adikwo, said: “Many of our students are in different CBT centres within the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) for the exams”.
“We dropped them in their different centres. We have someone assigned to each centre to ensure they don’t have challenges. In the end, we come and pick them up,” she said.
Exam postponed in Ekiti
Meanwhile, NAN on Friday reported that the first batch of the examination at Ekiti State University (EKSU) CBT centre in Ado-Ekiti was postponed indefinitely due to a faulty biometric system.
The agency said its reporters who monitored the exercise across the 12 centres in the state, reported that the development left some of the affected candidates stranded for hours.
It said as of 11 a.m when the centre was visited, the first batch of the candidates, who were scheduled to begin their examination by 7a.m, had yet to be cleared through the biometric, as the system was malfunctioning.
NAN reports that the development also created an altercation between the parents of some of the affected candidates and the JAMB’s chief external examiner in the state, Smaranda Olarinde, who was on a monitoring visit to the centre.
Some of the parents, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that they had arrived in the state a day earlier with their children and that they had been at the centre as early as 6 a.m. only to be confronted with the biometric issue.
A candidate, Gideon Adejuyigbe, was said to have expressed disappointment with the indefinite rescheduling of the examination.
Adejuyigbe said the situation had further been compounded by the fact that some of the candidates were expected to commence their West Africa School Certificate Examination (WASCE) in a few days.
NAN reports that the second batch of candidates at the centre was later cleared through the biometric to undertake their examinations at about 1 p.m.
Mrs Olarinde said the clearance for the second batch of candidates was made possible due to the efforts of the JAMB technical personnel in the state.
Addressing the affected candidates, the JAMB official said that their examinations had been rescheduled and asked them to always check their profile portals for information on the new date.
“We have been working round the clock to ensure that the technical problem is resolved but as it is now, your examination will be rescheduled.
“Candidates for the second batch are already in the hall and they will be followed by the third batch. So I want to implore you to be patient and always check on your profile portals from now on for developments on the examination,” she said.
Earlier, the JAMB Coordinator in the state, Akeem Alaaya, said that the exercise recorded significant improvement over the previous ones.
“In a situation where you have only two or three candidates being absent out of 200 in a centre, I think it’s 95 per cent improvement compared with the previous exercises where more than 20 candidates could be absent in a centre.
NAN reported that other centres visited included: JAMB Ekiti office centre on New Iyin Road, Ado-Ekiti, Afe Babalola CBT Centre, Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti Centre and Federal University, Oye-Ekiti centre, amongst others.
Smooth sail in UI
Two CBT centres are taking part in the examination at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State. One of the centres is located at the university’s Faculty of Technology on the institution’s main campus and its Distance Learning Centre, located off-campus along Shasha road.
Some of the candidates who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on Friday said apart from the heavy rain which delayed the commencement of the first session of the examination, the whole process was said to be seamless.
At the distance learning centre, the process was more organised with a clean environment, while many canopies and chairs were provided for parents who had accompanied their children and wards to the centre.
Meanwhile, business owners such as food sellers, recharge card sellers and transporters, especially commercial motorcycle operators also recorded improved patronage.
At the UI”s distance learning centre in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, food vendors and other business owners who said they came from the main campus to sell at the centre, noted that they paid a sum of N2,500 before they could be allowed to set up their items.
They said the fee would allow them to operate at the centre throughout the UTME examination this year.
Kehinde Yekebu, a baker, who has a space at the Student union building (SUB) on the UI campus, said business has been good since the rain stopped.
“I never thought I could sell this fast because the rain dealt with us this morning. I was drenched but thank God it paid off, I have a few snacks left,” she said.
Another vendor from the Faculty of Arts, who identified herself simply as Mrs Liasu, said she arrived quite late due to the rain but hopes to record more sales in subsequent days.
At the only POS centre, Grace Olanrewaju, said she is happy they allowed her at the centre as more people patronised her than on the campus due to the ongoing prolonged workers’ strike.
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