The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the business plan for ECOWAS Biometric Cards intended to replace the current ECOWAS Travel Certificate. It is a contractor-financed project that will cost N14.7billion.
ThisDay reports that at the FEC meeting, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday, Minister of the Interior, Abdurahman Dambazzau, told journalists that the project was according to a recommendation of West African regional leaders since 2016 because the ECOWAS travel papers could easily be faked.
Dam bazzau said biometric cards were expected to be issued to about 13 million persons over the next 19 years. He said in order to make it easier for Nigeria, the project would incorporate the National Identity Number (NIN). It is hoped that the new cards will help safeguard Nigeria’s borders.
FEC equally announced a reduction in the cost of obtaining Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) application forms from N5, 000 to N3, 500, starting from January 2019.
The meeting also announced a cut in the cost of Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) organized by National Examination Council (NECO) from 11,350 to N9,850 and that Basic Education Certificate handled by NECO would now be N4,000 as against N5,500.
Following the announcement by JAMB that it remitted N7.8billion as proceeds from sales of Unified Tertiary Examinations (UTME) application forms in 2017, the House of Representatives in May 2018 tasked the Federal Ministry of Education to reduce the cost of JAMB forms.
The lawmakers warned JAMB against becoming a revenue generating body at the expense of students (applicants).
Briefing State House correspondents after the FEC meeting that lasted over three hours, the Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu, said the reduction is as a result of the pleas from parents.
According to him, “Since the new administration came into office as well as a change in management and prudent management by JAMB, we have been able to see that most of what have been charged doesn’t have to be because a lot of it have been siphoned by corrupt officials.
“So, in yielding to parents’ plea, the president directed that we should look into the possibility of reducing the charges.
“So, accordingly, from January 2019, JAMB fees will be reduced from N5, 000 to N3, 500 for UTME; Senior Secondary Certificate Examination charge organised by National Examination Council (NECO) will reduce from 11, 350 to N9, 850 while Basic Education Certificate handled by NECO is reduced from N5, 500 to N4, 000.
“As I said, our concern is not to make money as such because we are not a revenue generating agency. Since we found that JAMB has been able to bring into government coffers about N8 billion, we said we should reduce the burdens on parents.”
Asked if the reduction was a move to woo electorate ahead of 2019 presidential election, Adamu said the underlying factor is that the people must feel good impacts of the government.
“A good thing doesn’t have to have a reason. Whether it is because of election or not, I think parents deserve to have the fees reduced. And I think there is no better time to do a good thing than now,” he said.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the Council also approved 11 ecological interventions projects for N9, 600, 415, 324 in Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Cross River, Adamawa, Bauchi, Jigawa, Niger ABU Zaria, Kaduna States and Abuja.
He said the projects are spread in Lagos – jetty and shoreline protection facilities; flood and erosion control in Oyo town, Oyo State; erosion control of flooded areas/road improvement in Owo, Ondo State; erosion control of flooded areas in Akampa, Cross River; road and stem water defiance in Federal College of Education in Yola, Adamawa State; road and bridges at Dutse Saki village in Buguru Local Government Area in Bauchi State; erosion control at Kazaure in Jigawa State; intervention at Main Campus Phase II Site at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State; erosion and flood control at Kontagunra council area of Niger State; gully erosion and road improvement at Army Post Service Estate, Kurudu, Abuja and erosion and flood control at Asharawa area council in Phase II, Abuja.
The president’s spokesman also said the council also approved three industrial wastes combined incinerators for environmental-friendly destruction of counterfeit and substandard regulated products. It was approved for NAFDEC at the sum of N267, 585, 160.
In his take, the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Sulaiman Hassan, said the council approved two memos. “The first one is the furnishing of the federal secretariat complexes in three states of the federation, Akwa in Anambra, Gusau in Zamfara and Yenagoa in Bayelsa at the cost of N3.48 billion.
“It is the duty of the federal ministry Power, Works and Housing to provide decent accommodation for federal agencies and other offices in various states of the federation to make their workings easier and more comfortable for better results.
“So these complexes have been completed and ready for inauguration before the end of the year,” he noted.