The National Examinations Council, NECO, has procured 8,000 units of biometric capturing machines to tackle identity theft and other irregularities during the exercise of the May/June 2019 Senior School Certificate Examination, SSCE.
It also procured 20 Hilux vans in an effort to speed up the distribution and delivery of its examination materials, and address other logistic problems hindering the delivery on its mandate.
Commissioning the vehicles and machines in Minna, Niger State, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arch Sonny Echono, said that the biometric capturing machines were essential to ensure the credibility of NECO exams.
Echono urged the management of NECO to ensure that the 20 Pickup vans are well maintained and utilised for the benefit of the nation and humanity.
The council disclosed that the 8,000 biometric capturing machines were procured at the rate of N500 million while the 20 Toyota Hilux vans were procured at 327,800,000.
The procurements followed a directive by the Nigerian Government to all agencies conducting public examinations to clean up their registration process to restore credibility in the exercise.
Use of Scratch Cards
Meanwhile, the Chairman Governing Board of NECO, Dr Abubakar Sadiq, announced that the exam body has eliminated the use of scratch cards and adopted pin vending to check the activities of fraudsters who may take advantage of the system to defraud.
Sadiq decried the level of impersonation saying it has become a major problem to public examination in Nigeria.
He stated that the biometric capturing machines would reduce incidents of identity theft up to 90 or 95 per cent.
On whether the 8,000 biometric capturing machines can serve the 10 thousand NECO centres across the country, he said one machine can be used in two schools to verify candidates at registration and before they commence any SSCE exams.
He said that with the purchase of 20 new Hilux vans, examination materials would arrive their destination on time and eliminate arbitrary postponement of the examination, stressing that the last time government procured vehicles for NECO was in 2013.
Computer Based Test
Sadiq also noted that although NECO has the capacity to adopt the Computer Based Test, CBT, method like the Joint Admissions and Matriculation board, the council would continue with the paper pencil method for the time being.
Also speaking, the Acting Registrar, Mr Abubakar Gana, said the biometric verification machines and the 20 Toyota Hilux vans were procured late last year with full approval from the Governing Board of NECO and the Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP.
Gana, who also spoke on the industrial harmony in the agency, said the peaceful atmosphere was as a result of priority given to the staff.
He said NECO has saved well over N2 billion through its prudent management of funds, and that the agency would save even more in the future as it had fully integrated its transactions into the Treasury Single Account, TSA.
He added that leakages were being blocked and reduced to the barest minimum at the agency, as the exam body was ensuring prudent management and utilisation of the nation’s scarce resources.