Abia State

By John Okiyi Kalu (JOK)

Abia state has many CBT centers, unlike many other states, and hence needed only 2 days to take care of her registered students.

Is that a sign of the state of ICT in Abia State?

All I can say is that more than 80% of Nigerian states are still writing UTME even when they have less registered students than Abia.

There were challenges everywhere. For instance, a goofy security man at the e-library complex switched our pre-set power system on Saturday night and power surge burnt 38 computer systems at the Centre.

Of course we were prepared for all eventualities and our technical team led by Prince Jacob scrambled late on Sunday night and removed and replaced the systems before JAMB arrived for Monday exam. At 7am we were ready and open for the exam with the LAN reconfigured and new Air conditioners brought down to replace the ones destroyed by the power surge. By 2.30pm on Monday we had competed the two daily sessions without a single challenge.

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Nationally there were challenges with the exam.

Some centers were writing exams at 1am for an exam that was supposed to have ended at 4pm of the previous day. Many students could not write at all and so many students lost time during the actual exam because of technical glitches.

The experienced national challenges include power outage or failure from generators that destroyed computers, IP conflicts in LAN, software issues etc.

Obviously most of the challenges are local to the CBT centers as against JAMB servers at Abuja.

When the mock exam failed it was from the JAMB server at Abuja and a product of sabotage, possibly by the old contractors. Someone pulled a plug at the network provider’s location and the CBT centers could not access the server.

I blame the new Registrar only for not managing transition well even though he wanted to save money from the previous cost of the exam involving about N2b. But I am reluctant to totally blame a man who wanted to reduce cost and deploy local talents to execute a national project. He used a new consultant that is home grown.

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His intentions are good but the way he went about it alienated some directors who were used to chopping from the system. Those Directors and the emasculated former contractor/consultant will likely run to the media with stories of mass failure of UTME/JAMB 2017 examination.

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We are in Nigeria where a good man can quickly be made a devil without people asking about facts behind the story. But the new Registrar should reduce his dependence on consultants but assign roles to his directors. With time he will get what he set out to achieve.

All the students that are yet to write in other states should not panic. They will all write the exam. I believe the authorities at JAMB are currently planning to move students from neighboring states to Abia and others that have resources to help.

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We will surely help if asked to take students from neighboring states.

Already the Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has directed that more CBT centers be set up in rural Abia to ensure that next year folks can write exams from all the LGAs without having to move to where CBT centers are currently available. The new centers will also be used to prepare our students for the CBT exam and thereafter used to teach ICT across the state. We are working on the plan which will involve private and public entities and hopefully it will be delivered.

Abia is not the number one education state in Nigeria by accident.


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