The Senate Committee on Basic Education says it will pursue the amendment of the law establishing the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, to enable it to limit the age of candidates writing the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME to 16 years and above.

Vice-Chairman of the committee, Senator Akon Eyakenyi, who gave the indication during the committee’s oversight visit to JAMB headquarters in Bwari Abuja, said the committee had identified two major areas to be addressed in the proposed amendment for the exam body to function better.

Senator Eyakenyi said “Our own work is that of making laws, to legislate; we have identified two major areas that we need to go into the process of amending the act establishing JAMB.

That’s the area of support we will give.“Other than that, we also intend to pass on what we have seen today to the appropriate MDAs, the Federal Ministry of Education to ensure the support that JAMB needs is given to them.”

The committee noted that candidates should not be admitted into the university below the age of 18 as age has a lot to do with their learning ability.

Senator Eyakenyi also commended the board for the smooth conduct of the 2021 UTME, stating that the exercise was free from malpractice as each candidate had different questions to answer while describing JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede, as a round peg in a round hole, who knows his job.

The committee however queried why JAMB had almost 100% performance of its 2020 budget and over N500 million devoted to staff welfare apart from their regular salaries.

Responding, JAMB Registrar, Prof. Oloyede, told the committee that the board does not have powers to disqualify any candidate on the basis of age, stating that individual institutions can decide on who to admit as it is the case with University of Ibadan which does not admit candidates below 16 years.

Prof Oloyede explained that the budget of the board was only 75 per cent implemented as the government issued a directive that 25 percent of funds budgeted should be returned to the federation account.

He said staff of the board were properly taken care of to avoid the temptation of colluding with fraudsters to commit malpractice while conducting it’s exercises across the country, stating that part of the expenses were on their local travels, transportation and allowances.

He added that JAMB also sought the approval of the wages and salaries commission to pay its staff 13th month salary every year.

Speaking on the issue of low cutt off marks for education candidates, he said the issue of determining cut off marks was because of competition, adding that even if education cut off marks are reduced to 120, institutions will not be able to fill up to 50 per cent of their carrying capacity.

On the general performance for UTME in 2021, he said the board has been able to use the profile code and NIN to arrest the issue of multiple registration, adding that in 2021, NIMC supplied pictures of candidates in addition to the one captured by JAMB at the point of registration.