NECO: Zamfara, others in N2 billion exam debt

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has disclosed that some state governments are owing the National Examination Council (NECO) about N2 billion for registration of their students for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE). It lamented that the debt is taking a toll on operations of the council.

Zamfara, Adamawa, Kano, Gombe, Borno and Niger State governments were named as owing the examination body for the students they registered in 2019.

NECO’s Director of Finance and Account (DFA), Jacob Ekele, disclosed this recently when the agency appeared before the investigative hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance.

He spoke about indebtedness to the Council while explaining the reason for the shortfalls in the remittances made to the federal government.

According to him, Zamfara State topped the list of the indebted states with N1.2 billion, followed by Adamawa with N281.4 million, Kano owes N240.4 million; Niger owes N234.4 million; Borno owes N40.2 million while Gombe owes N7.2 million.

This is coming as over 1.3 million candidates registered to sit for the ongoing 2021 SSCE (internal) examination being conducted by NECO.

Sonny Echono, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education

The examination commenced on July 5, 2021, and will end on August 16, 2021.

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Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echono, while monitoring the exercise in some schools in Abuja, noted that part of the challenges in conducting the examination was a number of states that offered to register candidates from their states and eventually refused to pay.

He disclosed that a particular state is owning about N2 billion over the years, saying the council had to approach the Ministry for help in order to effectively conduct the ongoing examination.

Echono said, “One of the issues is that we have encouraged NECO to start enforcing; because we have many notorious states, there is a particular state that is owning over N2 billion for many years.

“State Governments offer to pay examination fees for candidates from their states but when it comes to the actual payment, they don’t do it, and that has strapped NECO. They suffer so much, they have to even apply to the Ministry for some kind of support to conduct the examination,” he said.

He said this was difficult because the policy of the goverment is for some of the agencies to be self-sustaining.

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Echono, commended NECO for the smooth conduct of the exercise, saying from what he observed and reports from other parts of the country, the exercise is going on smoothly.

He said the goverment was particularly impressed with measures taken by the Council to curtail the incidence of examination malpractice has been a concern in the conduct of public examination in the country.

He added that NECO has also improved in the area of logistics for movement of the examination materials, noting that at the Government Secondary School, Garki, and Federal Government Boys College, Apo, Abuja, where he monitored, question papers arrived on time.

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